TTh 3:00-4:15 p.m., Shingleton Hall 8

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Junot Diaz Resources, with Thanks to Dr. Andrea Smith

Thanks for an energetic discussion with and your probing questions for Wednesday's guest lecturer, Dr. Andrea Smith, Assistant Professor of Spanish here at SU. Copious thanks, also, to Dr. Smith for introducing Dominican author Junot Diaz and his freshman novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to us all. I found Dr. Smith's lecture quite valuable for placing the novel's rich tapestry of cultural references within their linguistic, cultural, and historical contexts. I hope that you all did, too. I expect that Dr. Smith's lessons will continue to inform our future class discussions on the novel.

As promised, Dr. Smith has provided valuable online resources including her powerpoint presentation [here] and a comprehensive website attempting to demystify the numerous Dominican references in Diaz's novel [here]. Enjoy your reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Junot Diaz Wins Another Big Literary Award

Photo: The Gardian
He won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which we'll begin this week, and now Junot Diaz wins the largest-paying major award for a short story, the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story prize for his work "Miss Lora" about an underage boy who enters a romantic relationship with a female teacher. Read an interview with Diaz in The Gardian here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Small Reference to "A Small Place"

Image: cover of Edwidge
Danticat's 2013 novel
Claire of the Sea Light
Thank you all for an energetic discussion of Edwidge Danticat's ironically titled story "Seeing Things Simply." I could barely keep up with the number of hands shooting into the air, all of you wild with urgency to discuss various aspects of the story. Profuse thanks to SU President Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons for visiting our class and for jumping full bore into the fray, offering valuable insights on Haitian daily life and pointing out the overarching theme of the story: oppression. These are the most exciting, fun, and rewarding kinds of class discussions--and how wonderful to share with a welcome guest!

In our discussion of the character Catherine's exploitation of Princesse, I mentioned a long essay by Jamaica Kincaid called "A Small Place." Google Books offers an 11-page preview [here]. I defy you to finish this preview and not buy the entire book on Amazon. If you'd like to read the reflective exercise (including an excerpt of Kincaid's essay) that I gave to my GCP Trinidad and Tobago group last year, click [here].

Finally, for those of you interested in the blog I created for that trip, click [here]. Any questions about Trinidad, Tobago, or the GCP program? I'm happy to answer questions or gush about how great the trip and program are.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Call for Writing Contest Entries

Attention undergraduate student writers! 

The Shenandoah University English Department invites submissions of original poetry and short stories for the annual S. Gordden Link Poetry and Bruce C. Souders Fiction Writing Contests. Each contest prize is $250. Submission deadlines for both writing contests: extended to March 18.

Poetry entries may consist of no more than five poems. Short stories may be no longer than 5,000 words. Students who submit manuscripts must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours) at Shenandoah during both semesters of the 2012-13 school year. Submitted manuscripts must be unpublished in any other form. Each entry should identify the writer on only the cover sheet to ensure anonymity until judging is complete. The English faculty will judge all submissions and its decisions are final. Submit one typed copy of each entry to Jo Strader in the Office of Arts & Sciences located in Henkel Hall, Room 206, or via email at Contact Associate Professor of English Joanne Jacobs at for more information.