~from intern Courtney Satchell

benschraderBen Schrader
Adjunct instructor for Ethnic Studies Department and Political Studies

What are you working on?
For scholarly purposes? Right now I’m working on this idea building off of Carol Paton’s Sexual Contract and Charles Mills’s Racial Contract into something called the “Soldier Contract.” Cause it’s Soldiers who uphold this idea of sovereignty which these social contracts are embedded in.

Favorite Book?
Travels With Charley in Search for America by John Steinbeck because it talks about this need to travel and it takes a deep look at different identities and what it means to be American and how vastly different it can be no matter where you are and yet the same.

Advice to CSU Students?
Take this seriously. Do the Readings. We’re not assigning things to make you bored. These things will impact you for the rest of your life.

What is your biggest goal?
To be infectious with my thought in order to make positive change.

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  • On November 16 and 17, Camille Dungy spoke at the University of Arizona Poetry Center as part of their Climate Change & Poetry Series. “Starting in October 2016, the UA Poetry Center features eight world-class poets as they address what overlaps, contradictions, mutual challenges, and confluences the categories of Climate Change & Poetry share with each other; in a series of investigative readings, we hope to offer some answers, some questions, and some new ways of thinking. In this second installment of readings built around a common question, we wonder: what role does poetry have in envisioning, articulating, or challenging our ecological present? What role does poetry have in anticipating, shaping – or even creating – our future?” http://poetry.arizona.edu/climatechange
  • Harrison Candelaria Fletcher’s newest book, Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams, just received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, whose editors also chose it as a “Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection” for January. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/harrison-candelaria-fletcher/presentimiento/
  • Todd Mitchell spoke on the Author Panel last weekend at the Loveland Library Author Showcase. He also spoke with the IRS after they read one of his books (the IRS is the Poudre Library’s Interested Reader Society of teen readers. If you’re interested in finding engaged teen readers, contact the IRS. They’ll give you hope for our future).
  • In recent months, John Calderazzo has run science communication workshops for the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, the Graduate School, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. He continues to both volunteer and consult for the City of Fort Collins’ Climate Action Plan. John will also be the Guest Judge for the 2017 Waterston Desert Writing Prize. You can find out more about it here: http://www.writingranch.com/waterston-prize-for-desert-writers/
  • Bill Tremblay’s commentaries on drawings by Norman Olson will appear in Lummox #5, forthcoming 2017.
  • Felicia Zamora’s (MFA ’12) second book, & in Open, Marvel, has been accepted by Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press for publication in 2017. She also has a new poem in Tupelo Quarterly, a poem in a special election issue of Tarpaulin Sky Magazine, a poem accepted at Mid-American Review where she was a runner up for the 2016 Fineline Competition, a new poem accepted in The New Guard where she was semi-finalist in the Knightville Poetry Contest, three poems in the newest issue of Witness Magazine, four poems available in the newest issue of West Branch featuring women and the avant-garde, and she is currently participating in the Tupelo 30/30 Project for the month of November.

 

2016 Graduate Showcase Awards

 

English Department Distinction In Creativity Award – The Distinction in Creativity award is presented in Collaboration by the Graduate School and Office of Vice President for Research. This award recognizes the passion and personal contributions of these talented graduate students, and honors their commitment and efforts in their area of work.

1st Place – Kelly Weber

2nd Place – Cedar Brant

 

College of Health and Human Sciences Excellence in Creativity

Alyson Welker

 

greyrockreview

Greyrock Review: Get your work published!

Fiction: 5,000 word limit, format should be double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Galibri fonts. Two pieces of your best work may be submitted.

Nonfiction: 5,000 word limit, format should be double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Calibri fonts. Two pieces of your best work may be submitted.

Poetry: Up to 5 poems may be submitted, each poem should be placed on a separate page in a single document. If poems have a visual formatting component, please use Adobe PDF files. Otherwise, Word (.doc files) are preferred.

Visual Arts: Any visual art form is accepted, excluding video. Please photography your work and submit digitally. 300 dpi and CMYK colored .TIFF file is preferred.

For more information please visit http://greyrockreview.colostate.edu or email Baleigh Greene at bmgreene@rams.colostate.edu

Submissions accepted from October 3, 2016 – December 16, 2016

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~from intern Haley Huffman

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Special Instructor Sharon Grindle

Cloudy and cold days make Sharon Grindle just the tiniest bit homesick for the coast. Originally from California, Grindle moved to Colorado to pursue her dreams of teaching. “I’ve known for a long time, I think, that I wanted to be a teacher.” Grindle recalls childhood memories in which she begged her sisters to play school so she could pull out her easel and impart her wisdom on her pretend students.

Grindle’s parents recognized her passion for academics and pushed her to excel in many different areas. While this opened up a lot of opportunities for her, it also made it very difficult for her to choose a major when she got to college. Grindle describes herself as being very “humanities oriented,” which gave her some direction, although she remained undeclared for two years.

Grindle took three English classes with the same professor, which led to that professor pulling her aside for a wake-up call. Her professor had noticed that she exhibited a lot of the behaviors he liked to see in English majors and she definitely thought like an English major, leading her professor to the conclusion that she should probably give up the game and declare herself an English major. She also added two minors to her degree, Communications and Leadership Studies. “This is me acknowledging that I’m going to be an English professor, right?”

After graduating with her custom-created English professor starter pack, she took a gap year before applying to grad schools. That one year away from the classroom solidified her desire to teach. So the hunt for grad schools began. “I looked for graduate programs that … would pay me to teach so that I could just teach and go to school.” There weren’t any schools that met the requirements in Grindle’s home state of California, but in an effort to still be close, she chose schools in the western states.

Grindle decided on Colorado State University because of the comprehensive training that is provided for teachers. CSU offers a weeklong training course to prepare teachers for the classroom, while most other schools offer a half-day.

Ten years later and Grindle still resides in Fort Collins, occasionally missing the coast, but life as an English teacher keeps her busy.

One part of teaching is scholarship work. “A lot of the ongoing scholarship that I do is keeping up with shifts in thinking in the field. I do a lot of reading.” But Grindle has been making time to produce scholarship as well. She presented a conference paper last year on the Marvel series Daredevil. “I was looking at the way different characters in Daredevil talk about the vigilante.”

Marvel seems to be the inspiration for most of the scholarship that Grindle has planned for the future. “I’m kind of a big nerd.”

Grindle is not only looking at Marvel productions through the lens of an English teacher, but she is also examining the psychology and ethnic studies components. Grindle has plenty of fodder for her future scholarship endeavors, as Netflix continues to produce Marvel series like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The Marvel characters have been around for decades and tend to reflect our cultural pressures, which is what makes them so interesting to study. The end goal for Grindle and her Marvel studies is to work with fellow professor Ashley Davies to produce a book containing their research and scholarship on Marvel productions.

Grindle’s passion for the humanities not only shines through her scholarship work, but through her teaching philosophies as well. “The humanities is all about self improvement, having a well-rounded education, learning how to think and how to be a resistant, critical thinker.” Grindle’s advice for studying the humanities, and English in particular, is to come with an open mind. “Most English Department classes are about asking you to consider different opinions.”

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~from intern Haley Huffman

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The Writer’s Harvest isn’t just a bounty of award winning literature, but it is also a food drive for the Larimer County Food Bank. It is an opportunity to provide food for those less fortunate. A community gathered to share a passion for the humanities in an art gallery that was stark in appearance, but felt very warm and inviting.

Well-lit white walls with small works of strategically framed artwork enclosed the audience. I felt a little out of place because everyone there seemed so cultured and this was certainly not my average weeknight activity, and this was my first reading. I stood in the back wondering to myself what etiquette accompanied a literary reading and how I was supposed to behave.

The audience

The audience

The atmosphere warmed up drastically after the reading began. As everyone settled in, their attention shifted to the readers. My own focus shifted too and my worries about fitting in drifted away.

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher gave a vibrant reading that transported the audience to the deserts of New Mexico with beautiful descriptions of the landscape and of his family bonds. Fletcher read several passages that reflected on his bond with his mother and their collective bond to the land. Fletcher’s words and descriptions completely blew me away and I could picture myself standing in the middle of the desert, with the red sand blowing around me. Fletcher read about the warm nourishing wind that blows through New Mexico and Professor Dungy likened that wind to the literary community that gathered that evening.

The theme of nourishment continued as Tess Taylor read from her latest book of poetry Works and DaysWorks and Days is about her experience working on a farm in New England. Farming is an experience that I don’t necessarily identify with as I’ve never worked on a farm, but Taylor’s descriptions made perfect sense. Her poetry was moving and elegantly combined farm life with the changing of seasons and the inherently human thoughts that both evoke.

The evening was dedicated to feeding Larimer County with non-perishable food donations, and it also fed the souls of the audience with literature. After experiencing my first reading, I realized that no one is paying attention to what other people are doing. The experiences that are portrayed through the readings captivate everyone’s attention and transport them all to different places, together.

Donations

Donations of non-perishable food brought to the reading

 

The Larimer County Food Bank is always accepting monetary donations and non-perishable food. For every $1 donated, they provide $5 of food. For more information visit: www.foodbanklarimer.org.

 

 

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~from intern Courtney Satchell

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David Mucklow
MFA Poetry
Instructor of E210: Beginning Creative Writing

What are you working on?
I’m working on a lesson plan for this afternoon.

How do you spend most of your time in the Eddy?
Using the computers for lesson planning and my own homework. I also have two classes here, Matthew Cooperman’s Crossing Boundaries and Sasha Steensen’s Graduate Poetry Workshop.

Describe the Eddy in One Word:
Fluid.

What is your favorite poem?
Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg By Richard Hugo because of was the first poem I read that really inspired me to write about places, and the rural places I grew up. It is a wonderfully sad poem.

What is your advice to CSU English majors?
Read and write a lot and equally. Have lots of discussions with classmates and friends on what you’re reading. That discourse is important to building community.

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Winter lights in Old Town Fort Collins, image by Jill Salahub

Winter lights in Old Town Fort Collins, image by Jill Salahub

  • Dan Beachy-Quick has new poems in The Literary Review, American Poetry Review, and a long lyric in the Kenyon Review which can be read here: http://www.kenyonreview.org/journal/novdec-2016/selections/dan-beachy-quick/
  • Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala (English/INTO CSU) and Dr. Maite Correa (LLC) will be presenting the following paper at the annual meeting of them American Association for Applied Linguistics this coming March 2017 in Portland, Oregon: “Evaluating Pathway Program Effectiveness at an English Language Center in the Era of Public-Private Partnerships in US Higher Education.”
  • Bill Tremblay has been asked by a book club at the Boulder Bookstore to read from and answer questions about Walks Along the Ditch, Tuesday evening, November 15.
  • Take a peek to see what’s new at the Community Literacy Center with SpeakOut! http://pub.lucidpress.com/cfbccb5f-512a-47fc-b172-87674d4e6bfb/

greyrockreview

Greyrock Review: Get your work published!

Fiction: 5,000 word limit, format should be double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Galibri fonts. Two pieces of your best work may be submitted.

Nonfiction: 5,000 word limit, format should be double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or Calibri fonts. Two pieces of your best work may be submitted.

Poetry: Up to 5 poems may be submitted, each poem should be placed on a separate page in a single document. If poems have a visual formatting component, please use Adobe PDF files. Otherwise, Word (.doc files) are preferred.

Visual Arts: Any visual art form is accepted, excluding video. Please photography your work and submit digitally. 300 dpi and CMYK colored .TIFF file is preferred.

For more information please visit http://greyrockreview.colostate.edu or email Baleigh Greene at bmgreene@rams.colostate.edu

Submissions accepted from October 3, 2016 – December 16, 2016

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~from English Department Communications Intern Courtney Satchell

Gregory Pardlo's poem, "Philadelphia, Negro"

Gregory Pardlo’s poem, “Philadelphia, Negro” from his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Digest

When I went to go see Gregory Pardlo read at the ballroom in the LSC recently, I had been in a bit of a rush. Under the belief that I was late, I hurried to the LSC building where I ended up running into Camille Dungy, who had arranged Pardlo’s visit to CSU. While I was relieved that I was not late, and everyone was just getting there, I still felt a little nervous.  

Gregory Pardlo had, after all, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry with his book Digest. To say I felt a bit starstruck was an understatement. I had studied his work in a classroom setting and his poetry can only be described as amazingly subversive and dense. One can easily spend hours with his poetry and still not completely understand it.

Lyrical language and rhyme can often determine how the flow of a poem works and where the reader (who might not have the benefit of hearing it performed) needs to put emphasis. It also gives a poem some aesthetically pleasing qualities, but that is not all that makes up a poem. There is this misconception that form needs to be approached separately from content.   Form is not what defines the content, rather content shapes form and they’re crucial to each other.

What makes Pardlo so brilliant is not just his push back against the conventional lyric form but also his subversion against people’s assumptions. Pardlo cross references American pop culture, historical events, and literature to break down this idea that “Americans are culturally distinct.” He uses these points to fuel his imagination.

Image from The Guardian

Image from The Guardian

“Imagination is the starting point to subverting other’s assumptions despite the fact you can’t control other’s world views.” That is what makes Digest so powerful. It  isn’t simply the plethora of literary references that are woven throughout the work but rather the layers of meaning that Pardlo asks his readers to examine. Digest poses some real questions about identity and race.

Pardlo’s smart use of form challenges the reader’s concept of authenticity and constructions of race and how it plays into the reality that we have created for ourselves. His poem, “Written by Himself,” is the perfect example of this. It plays with traditional narrative tools such as slave narratives to play with preconceived notions about blackness, yet Pardlo, at the time of writing this poem, by his own words had only been south of the Mason-Dixon Line twice in his life. The poem emphasizes this issue with reference to Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman” Speech, which had famously been altered to make Truth, who has been enslaved in the north, sound southern.

While I’d like to claim the title of poet for myself, my own personal work is nowhere near as well crafted as Pardlo’s and I was trying my best to act cool about this whole thing with arguable success. Thankfully, as I found a seat beside my fellow classmate Cesar, that nervousness that had made me jittery had calmed down and as the reading began only excitement remained.

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The night had a family focused theme, a theme that is echoed all throughout his work. As he read from his book, the poems he selected either directly spoke to his interpersonal relationships with his family (i.e “Attatchment: Atlantic City Pimp” and “Problema 4”) or how moments with his family would inspire a poem. When he gave the audience background to these poems he said “I am deeply interested in the ways we fuck up family.”

His poems spoke on fatherhood and how his relationship with his own father shaped his writing and his experiences as a father himself. When asked by an audience member about how he was able to write such personal and not always flattering portraits of his family, he responded that how we write about other people tells us more about ourselves than it does about the subjects of our writing, and it is crucial that when we immortalize another person through our writing that they must already be “a whole and complete person.” The use of caricatures is a sign of poor writing.

Overall the night was light and fun; Pardlo’s explorations and reflections upon his own writing were beautiful and funny.

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Courtney Satchell, Camille Dungy, and Gregory Pardlo

I didn’t get a clear idea of his thought process behind his writing until the graduate seminar he held with Professor Dungy the next day. This seminar was a great opportunity for me. Since I am only an undergrad, it would have normally not been open to me. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was excited to once again have an opportunity to speak with him since I had been so hopeless the night before, but I couldn’t guarantee that my nervousness wouldn’t once again get the best of me.  

However, before I could even come up with a game plan, I ended up running into Professor Dungy, Gregory Pardlo, and Laura (the graduate student who had been in charge of introducing him the night before) right in the parking lot. Introductions were quickly made as we walked over to the Morgan Library where the seminar was being held. As we walked and talked I began to feel more comfortable, and I even began to tell this nonsense fact about Elizabeth Taylor. As this slipped from my lips the conversation began to flow and the awkwardness melted away. I no longer felt as nervous as I had before. It was in that moment that Pardlo stopped being a famous Pulitzer prize winner and instead became a person to me.

During the seminar, I had the chance to really understand his thought process behind his writing. Pardlo’s writing style resists the traditional lyrical form in Digest. Despite the fact that he proclaimed himself to be as “conservative as possible” in regards to the poetry cannon and his regard for lyrical poetry, Pardlo specifically resisted  lyric forms in his work because complying with those forms would not allow him to do the work he wished to do. “The Lyric poem is the California Roll of poetry” he said, as he described his focus on form within his work. 

His approach really speaks to me because as a poet, there is this expectation for poets to have mastery over classical form, like the sonnet, and while I can appreciate those forms, forcing myself to use those styles is a disservice to the creative talents.

Courtney Satchell and Gregory Pardlo

Courtney Satchell and Gregory Pardlo

His visit meant a lot to me. Not just as a writer but also as a student. I always had dreams of becoming a writer, a dream I was actively discouraged from. I was told that writers, especially poets, do not make enough money to support themselves, and it wasn’t an achievable dream especially for me. Of course I didn’t let it stop me from pursuing those goals. I became an English Major with a focus in Creative Writing anyway, and I do my best to write as often as I can, but sometimes I can get discouraged.

It can be too easy to listen to those voices that tell you that you don’t belong. Seeing Pardlo gave me a much needed reminder that my dreams are achievable and that I am not alone.


The final reading of Fall 2016 is TONIGHT! Free and open to the public. More info here: http://english.colostate.edu/events/creative-writing-reading-series-writers-harvest-festival/

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~from intern Courtney Satchell

Marissa Mullen doing homework in the Eddy Computer Lab

Marissa Mullen doing homework in the Eddy Computer Lab

Marrisa Mullen
Double major in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies

What are you working on today: Thought memo for Dr.Souza’s ETST 405 [Ethnicity, Class, and Gender in the U.S.].

What do you normally work on in the Eddy?: Writing papers. I also hangout in the Ethnic Studies Department.

Favorite Literature class/teacher: I’ve never actually had to take an English Class, so I’d say my favorite professor is a tie between Dr.Souza and Dr. Tom Cavana.

What is your favorite book/lyric/quote?:  My favorite book would be 1984, because I think it represents an out of world experience but the contents of it apply to our daily lives.

What is your biggest goal?: To get into grad school.

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~from intern Joyce Bohling

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Nancy Henke with the Puget Sound in the background, along with a sculpture that’s part of the Seattle Art Museum.

Nancy Henke
Senior Teaching Faculty
MA English: Literature, 2010 (she’s also an English department alumna!)

What brought you to CSU?

I came to CSU in 2008 as a graduate student.  I had gotten offers from several different schools and I had narrowed my choices to either Georgetown and CSU.  I chose CSU for several reasons, one of them was because I really wanted to stay in the West and had heard Fort Collins was an amazing town (which of course it is!)

What made you want to stay?

During grad school I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) teaching CO150 and I absolutely loved it.  About halfway through my grad program I decided that after graduation I’d try to get a full-time teaching position with the English department and I was lucky enough to achieve that goal.  I started as a full-time instructor in Fall of 2010, teaching CO150, literature courses, and doing professional development with GTAs who were teaching composition.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I like the variety quite a lot.  I teach a variety of different classes (composition and several different literature courses), I work with graduate students – observing their CO150 classes and reviewing their grading and feedback on student papers, help develop CO150 curriculum, and help run the Composition Placement program.  Plus, teaching naturally lends itself to diversity in since I can always try out new assignments and readings.

Why are the Humanities important?

Wow! There are so many answers to that question.  I’d say that the two big things that come to mind are that the humanities help teach someone how to think.  They require productive thought: making connections, drawing conclusions, and thinking big.  And knowing how to think – how to puzzle through difficult questions – is a valuable skill for a lifetime.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in English, the Humanities?

When I was an undergraduate I changed my major four times. I started out thinking I’d major in Political Science, then switched to German, then Communication Studies, then History, then finally landed on English.  I ended up with English because I liked the intellectual challenge of literary studies. I still do, in fact.  I was constantly confronted with texts, old and new, that I found helped me think about the modern world in new ways.  I found that fascinating: that a text from the Early Modern period could help me see and understand the world I was living in.  I still love that about literature and try to get my students to think in those ways, too.

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Nancy Henke with her favorite non-fiction author, Bill Bryson, who visited campus last March.

What special project are you working on right now?

I imagine you mean work-related project, but all I can think about is the patio my husband and I are building in our backyard! We’re not really fans of grass (I hate watering it, my husband hates mowing it, and I’m allergic to it) so we’re ripping out grass in our backyard and putting in pavers/cobblestones.  It’s a ton of work.  My weekends have been occupied with that. A few weekends ago we moved seven tons of road base into our backyard, and pretty soon we’ll start laying out about 1500 pavers (!) to make the patio.  But it will look great when we’re done.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

It changed, as I imagine is true for most people.  I always liked school, so being a teacher was always on the list.  For quite a while I wanted to be an archaeologist, actually.  I love rocks and thought the idea of uncovering fossils was impossibly cool.  Even though I didn’t pursue that, I still love rocks and fossils.  I have rocks displayed all over my house.  And I have a pretty impressive rock collection (all of which I’ve found myself).

What moment in the classroom stands out to you as most memorable?

I think it was probably when I was an undergraduate, rather than since I’ve been an instructor.  My Shakespeare prof was talking about some play (I truly don’t remember which one) but somehow he started telling a story about how his best friend died in Vietnam.  It was a really gruesome death that I won’t recount here, but needless to say his friend was tortured and killed in the war.  He used that story as a way of demonstrating a larger point about humans’ inhumanity toward each other, and I never forgot it.  Funny that I’ve completely forgotten the text he was talking about, but the actual “big picture” point will probably stick with me forever.

What is your favorite thing to teach? Favorite thing about teaching?

I love different classes for different reasons.  I’m teaching E270 (Intro to American Lit) this semester and it’s one of my favorites.  I love seeing the changes in American literature over the past 400-ish years and making connections between American literature and American history.  I also really love E140 (The Study of Literature) since we explore so many genres in that class and it lends itself nicely to looking at pop culture and popular texts.  And CO150 was my first teaching love!  It was what got me hooked on teaching.

I think my favorite thing about teaching more generally is how much I learn as a teacher.  My guess is plenty of instructors say that, but it’s true.  I learn so many new things every semester and I can’t imagine a more satisfying career for me than one where I can learn something every single day.

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Nancy Henke at the top of Pike’s Peak.

What advice would you give to a student taking a class in the English department?

Visit your professors’ office hours!  I can’t even count the number of times where I wished and hoped a student would come by my office for help.  And it’s a great way to get to know your professors’ interests – academic and otherwise.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

When I was a GTA, the Director of Composition at the time, Sarah Sloane, told all the GTAs advice she had received or read somewhere along the way.  It was something to the effect of, “The good news is that you can teach a terrible lesson and students may not really notice.  The bad news is you can teach a great lesson and students may not really notice.”  I think about that on tough teaching days (and try not to think about it on great teaching days).

What’s your favorite word?

Schnarchen.  It’s the German word for “to snore.”  When I teach E140, the Study of Literature class, it’s my go-to example of onomatopoeia.

What are you currently reading?

I’m about halfway through The Known World by Edward P. Jones.  I’ve been stuck at that point for a few weeks.  At certain points in the semester it seems that my reading consists mainly of readings for class and student papers, so my personal reading slows down a bit.

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Nancy Henke in Arches National Park.

What don’t your colleagues know about you?

Most people probably don’t know I’m a painter.  I started taking an acrylic painting class earlier this year and have just loved it.  I love arts and crafts in general, and for years my main crafty hobby was scrapbooking.  I still have a ton of scrapbook stuff and still do it once in a while, but now my focus is painting.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

In my whole life so far, one of my proudest accomplishments was when I was an undergraduate.  I was the commencement speaker at my college graduation.  That was pretty amazing. I got to give a speech to thousands of people, which was actually really fun.  It was one of my best days.

More recently, I’d say I was pretty proud last semester being a finalist for the Ann Gill Excellence in Teaching Award.  And this summer I was chosen to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar at the University of Oklahoma where I studied westward expansion in the early American republic.  It was fascinating.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

In addition to painting and building patios, which I mentioned earlier, I’m also a runner.  I do races here and there, most recently the CSU Homecoming 5k, and I plan to do a half-marathon in the spring.  My husband and I like doing house projects, I love working in my vegetable garden in the spring and summer, reading (of course), and traveling when I can.  I’m visiting family in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving and spending some time in Washington, DC and northern Virginia after Christmas. I have a lot of international destinations on my wish list, but those are more expensive and take a lot more planning: Japan, India, England, Australia, New Zealand.

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Nancy Henke at Colfax Marathon Relay in 2015.

Anything else you want to add?

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day about if we got the chance to travel in time, but could only go forward in time OR back in time, which we would choose.  I would choose to go back in time to see what it was like to really live in some of the time periods I study (like going back to colonial America – any time in the 17th or 18th century – would be completely fascinating to me.  Though I’ll admit I would want to kind of be a spirit that could float around invisibly and just observe stuff but not have to interact with anyone or drink the water.)  He’d choose to go forward in time to see what happens to humanity.  I think it’s an intriguing question…you should add it to the list of questions you ask people when you interview them!

 

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~from English Department Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub

After a brief hiatus, the English department Colloquium has returned. For those of you who don’t know, colloquium is an event where we gather, with fine appetizers and drinks in hand, to enjoy one another’s company and hear about the work that our colleagues are doing. All department faculty and graduate students are welcome, and the event is typically held at the home of Louann and David Reid.

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As promised, department faculty and graduate students gathered with fine appetizers and drinks in hand.

After a bit of socializing, typically two faculty present their work, with a discussion following each presentation. Stephanie G’Schwind, Director of the Center for Literary Publishing, facilitates the event — everything from helping to make plates of snacks and welcoming people as they arrive, to introducing the speakers and facilitating the discussion. As anyone who has read an issue of the Colorado Review already knows, she’s a master at bringing voices together, engaging an audience, and keeping things organized as well as beautifully presented.

For this most recent colloquium, the presenters were Assistant Professor Doug Cloud and English Instructor Kristina Quynn.

Doug Cloud presented his in-progress work on how speakers conceal animus toward marginalized groups in public discourse. He shared the results from an analysis of recent “bathroom bill” and transgender-rights discourse, to show how speakers are able to make prejudicial claims about transgender people indirectly. He proposes that understanding and revealing these techniques can help us be smarter consumers and producers of public rhetoric.

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Before starting, there was a short lesson from department chair Louann Reid on how to adjust the new leather couch for maximum comfort, which led to an interesting fact you might not know about Doug Cloud — he worked at an IKEA during graduate school. “I used to sell couches and that’s a good couch.”

Once we all got settled, Doug started by saying “I’ll jump right in, like I do with most things — eyes closed, head first.” The title of his talk was, “An Incitement to Essentialism: Recent Conservative and Religious Rhetorics on Transgender Rights and Their Implications.” He said that we often see two sides of an issue as needing to fight each other or remain locked in some sort of opposition until someone “wins,” when actually we could see such engagements as a drug and a bacterial strain or two fencers might approach each other — each on their own “side” but not needing to be at war. Rather they can dance with each other and adapt. “Movements and counter-movements influence one another’s rhetoric.”

Doug considered examples of the rhetoric in petitions written by six different conservative organizations, crafted in response to three events that brought transgender identities into the national spotlight in the past year: HB2 in North Carolina, the bathroom policy at Target, and Obama’s letter to schools about the issue. It was in part a fascinating look at the many ways we try to define gender, and what our definitions reveal about what we value and believe. While Doug admitted, “It’s hard to nail down the effect of any rhetoric or discourse, even tougher to predict what impact it will have,” working with this issue and writing about it is his way of “staying on the bus.” A good discussion followed, and it’s probably safe to say we didn’t answer all the questions involved with this complex issue that night.

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Kristina Quynn talked about the phases of CSU Writes so far: where it started last year, where it currently is, and where she sees it going. She touched on the reasons she started CSU Writes (including her own research agenda), the writing productivity research and models of women’s collectives that guide its vision, and some of the wonderful success stories of graduate students and faculty who have participated in CSU Writes organized retreats, workshops, and writing groups.

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Kristina’s original search was a personal one, “I was looking for a writing group for myself to support my own work.” Her search led to starting CSU Writes, originally funded through a grant awarded to her by The Ripple Effect. Although the writing productivity research and models of women’s collectives guided her vision of the project, she knew it couldn’t just be for women, that it should be open to everyone — all genders, graduate students and faculty, undergraduates and staff. The project began with Writing Groups, Drop In writing sessions (Show Up & Write), and workshops.

Kristina learned some things early on in the project, about what was needed and by whom, and more importantly about who the project might best serve. She realized that the project should focus on purely academic writing, and refocused the program to support the needs of academic writers (Faculty and Graduate Students) writing projects with the goal of either publication or degree completion. Last year, the project worked with 277 writers, fostered 36 writing groups, held 16 workshops on the 4 topic that writers struggle with most (space, time, energy, and style), had 126 Show Up & Write sessions, and invited one guest speaker. Kristina also published an essay in an edited collection, had another accepted for the MLA Approaches to Teaching Series, had 3 conference paper proposals accepted at MSA & MLA, and has recently finished work co-editing a collection on experimental literature and criticism soon to be coming out at Palgrave Press, thus meeting her original personal goal for the project.

CSU Writes had writing retreats for graduate students that were very popular. Almost too popular. There were 30 spots and after the first few days the first retreat was open for registration, there were 65 applications, and Kristina had to contact me to take down the website submission form. Students who attended practiced writing a lot in healthy, sustainable writing sessions as a writing community. One of the most popular aspects of the retreat was Professor (now Emeritus) John Calderazzo’s session on capturing audience through storytelling.

One of the surprises of the retreats, and of the program in general, is that large numbers of international students who are looking for help for their writing as English Language Learners, that there’s a real need there, but CSU Writes offers support primarily for writing productivity, which isn’t exactly the right fit for student seeking ESL/ELL support.

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Kristina describes what she does facilitating writing groups as being the Match.com for academic writers at CSU. She confessed she even used wedding planning software to help her match writers together into workable writing groups. “There’s a lot of romance involved,” she joked. The primary way she matches people is through their schedules, stated interests, and the length of the project they are working on, but admits that whether their writing group will work out over the long-haul or not is another matter — “Chemistry is more of a mystery.”

During the discussion, John Calderazzo asked her, “how do you measure success?” Kristina answered:

  • Are graduate students experiencing speedier time to degree?
  • Can participants see an overall improvement in the writing?
  • Are participating writers feeling more comfortable and content with their writing practice?

She also suggested that measuring success by tying it to grant money is a bad idea.

Kristina talked about what seems to be at the heart of the struggles of academic writers, and what in turn points to the solutions: space for writing, time to write, maintaining momentum and energy. She suggested that accountability to a group and some practical skills, like using the Pomodoro Technique (which Catherine Ratliff introduced at the graduate student writing retreats), and separating drafting from editing, are some of the benefits of CSU Writes. She also asserted that “binge writing is bad” and suggests “writers are putting off large writing projects to the last minute.” She closed with stating, “I suspect that a lot of the crankiness on campus has to do with a lack of writing.”

It was a great event, and a good time was had by all. Stay tuned for information on next semester’s colloquium, and we hope to see you there.

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