Buffy Hamilton spoke on February 11th as part of the English Department’s Speaker Series, “Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” The title of her talk was “Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies,” described this way,

How might libraries deconstruct the ideas and power relations that influence the ways they reinforce and distribute specific literacies and literacy practices to better understand their role as sponsors of literacy in their communities in a more nuanced and robust way? By using Deborah Brandt’s concept of sponsors of literacy, libraries can situate and contextualize their work to frame their work as co-learners in a participatory community of learning who can collaboratively construct the possibilities of print, digital, information, and new literacies – rather than being a paternalistic sponsor that deliberately and/or unintentionally marginalizes the experiences and literacy histories of the people libraries serve.

This first presentation was streamed live via Google On Air Hangouts. Buffy Hamilton’s talk “Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies” can be viewed here: http://www.theamericancrawl.com/?p=1341

Antero Garcia had this to say about the presentation, “As I mention in the introduction to this series, I am hoping attendees (and viewers) will consider the dialogue that unfolds across these five different speakers. What intersections can we imagine in the work we do with and for young people across the U.S. today? Kicking off our CSU speaker series this week, Buffy Hamilton’s presentation ‘Metanarratives of Literacy Practices: Libraries as Sponsors of Literacies’ helped us challenge our notions of what’s possible in libraries and how these spaces should be thought of critically as ‘Sponsors of Literacies’ – building off of research by Deborah Brandt. It’s been a true pleasure getting to learn from Buffy (even if it means she’s been stranded in Fort Collins longer than she planned due to an insane season of weather). If you aren’t already reading The Unquiet Librarian, what’s wrong with you?”

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

“Come on in,” she said; a middle aged woman with a southern twang waved at me from inside of the room, and I immediately felt welcome amidst the crowd of unfamiliar faces. Surrounded by nothing but professors and English education majors, I had no clue what to expect from the first Speaker Series of the semester. After about five minutes the speaker was introduced by CSU’s own Professor Antero Garcia; it turned out that the nice lady who greeted me was the speaker for the evening —  Buffy J. Hamilton, a librarian at an Atlanta, Georgia high school who spoke on the topic of libraries as sponsors of literacy.

Hamilton began by using Debra Brandt’s (an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) ideas on sponsors of literacy, focusing on how literacy for individuals is related to the economics of literacy. Hamilton mentioned that although many students are able to use their tech savvy gadgets to download apps and be active social media users, a lot of them don’t know how to upload an email attachment. Her main objective was to get the audience to understand that students, elementary through high school, need ways in which they are actually excited to participate in gaining knowledge inside and outside of the classroom.

It was interesting to see all of the activities she used to encourage students grades K – 12th, activities that not only kept their interest but kept them learning as well. One of the neat ideas she presented was YOUmedia; a program for middle school and high school students at some of the Chicago Public Library’s. YOUmedia allows students to have access to thousands of books, laptops and desktop computers, and software programs, which increases their digital media skills. This along with other programs nationwide increase students’ involvement in educational activities that promote learning while having fun doing it.

As I mentioned earlier, there was an abundance of English education majors in attendance, but the information that was given is beneficial to anyone interested in the well-being of our youth’s education.

We were all once children who had the opportunity to go to our school library and gain access to the many resources that it had to offer, but a lot of the school library programs across the country are being cut. It is up to people like us, those who are invested in education, to step up and involve ourselves in promoting fun ways to learn so that more students are likely to engage themselves and succeed in their education.

Buffy Hamilton and Antero Garcia

Buffy Hamilton and Antero Garcia

Hamilton left me with a better understanding of how important the presence of a library is to student’s education, especially when it comes to reading and writing. I left their more knowledgeable than when I came. Plus the cupcakes and fresh fruit that were offered was also nice, and after her talk they were devoured by almost everyone in attendance.

If you’re interested in learning more on the topic, please visit Hamilton’s blog at http://theunquietlibrary.wordpress.com/.

~Brianna Wilkins

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester the department will host nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

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• Name: Astrid Hanson
• Major: English
• Year: Senior
• Concentration: Creative Writing
• Favorite English Class: E333 – Critical Studies of Popular Texts with Roze Hentschell. “Roze is a great professor. I also liked that we had no exams, we just wrote essays.”
• Currently reading (for leisure): “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami
• Advice to students: “Always read because you’ll fall behind really fast if you don’t.”
• Dream Job: Editor
• Misc:  “The English department is helpful in finding you internships and careers if you’re interested.”

Please note: this edition of Humans of Eddy was originally published on the English Department’s Facebook page on February 6, 2014. Read more about this series.

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Richard McCann (http://www.richardmccann.net/) writes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. He is the author of Mother of Sorrows, a work of fiction, and Ghost Letters, a collection of poems, as well as other pieces published in collections and various magazines. McCann has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University. He is currently working on a memoir, The Resurrectionist, which explores the experience and meanings of illness and mortality through a narrative exploration of his experience as a liver transplant recipient.

English Department Communications Intern Evelyn Vaughn attended a reading McCann gave January 30th 2014 in the CSU Art Museum at the University Center for the Arts, and has the following to share:

Sitting at the Richard McCann reading, I wondered if showing up on this snowy night would be worth it. Really – even as an English major and a passionate student of English, I wondered if I should leave early. It was starting to snow, after all. I had dragged my statistics major roommate along for her car – she was certainly not enthused. And when we left that night, there would be a new three or four inches of the white stuff on her Ford Escape.

Some of the audience at the reading that night

Some of the audience at the reading that night

As Richard McCann was introduced, my roommate joked that McCann’s book of short stories was called Mother of Sorrows – “how uplifting.” As he began to read one of the stories from the book, even he remarked that this was the sort thing he would read to a depressed child. In “The Fairytale” McCann detailed his own mother, who, before her death, had said that a smoker’s cough would always remind him of her. It was to my utter surprise that the line that moved me the most that night would come from this story — “She told me I was her best friend. She said that I had the heart to understand her. She was forty-six. I was nine.”

It was amazing to me that in one night, in one room even, the mood could change from jokes about the reviews McCann received on Goodreads and the knit “Batman costume” behind the podium to a moment of remembrance shared between people. For McCann, remembrance of his mother. For others, maybe, remembrance of their own loved ones. For me, it was remembrance of how literature can bring people together. Even on a snowy night in the middle of winter in Colorado, passionate English students and faculty – even statistics students dragged along for the ride – showed up to hear one man read his work.

Author Richard McCann and the previously mentioned "Batman costume"

Author Richard McCann and the previously mentioned “Batman costume”

And later, it became clear it was not just simply his work to him. It was his heart. As his second story demonstrated, it was all of the things he felt that he could only express through writing. The story “The Resurrection” recounts his experience following a liver transplant he received. A story he wrote, he said, because he “felt this anger and desire to travel down to the places people said were unspeakable.”

As we listened to his self-named “survivor guilt” about his transplant in “The Resurrection,” my roommate and I no longer questioned our decision to show up to the UCA as Colorado dumped snow on Fort Collins. When it was all over, I looked to my right where she was sitting and found her just as rapt as the rest of us. Indeed, the reading series hosted by the English Department is not just place to go because your beginning creative writing class requires you to. It is a place to go to appreciate literature for what it really is – the human connection that transcends time, that allows us to express things that we never thought we could face, that moves us to tears or laughter – it is the embodiment of all that makes us human.

~Evelyn Vaughn

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, College of Liberal Arts, and the Armstrong Hotel. These events are also sponsored by a grant from the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, a premier supporter of arts and culture at CSU. Please help grow this fund with a gift at: http://president.colostate.edu/lillabmorgan/index.aspx.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail mary.ellen.ballard@gmail.com.

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Stephanie G’Schwind, director of CLP and editor of Colorado Review, is happy to report that the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Center for Literary Publishing.

The grant will support the publication of two more titles in the Mountain West Poetry Series (Rebecca Lindenberg’s Logan Notebooks, forthcoming June 2014, and Derek Henderson’s Songs, forthcoming November 2014), as well as payments to Colorado Review authors.

Ms. G’Schwind says, “As a teaching press — the only one of its kind in Colorado — we are passionate about providing students an environment in which to learn about and participate in small press publishing. By doing this, we are feeding the literary ecosystem, training the next generation of editors.”

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The English Department has two new interns, Brianna and Evelyn, working on telling our story in various ways. One of the ways they are doing so is a project we are calling “Humans of Eddy,” (inspired by the project “Humans of New York“). We plan to showcase the people of Eddy in their “natural habitat,” doing what they do here.

We’ll introduce you to the vibrant and diverse humans who inhabit Eddy Hall (and beyond) and all the interesting things they are working on and thinking about.

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From Jill Salahub, English Department Communications Coordinator: “I am so happy to introduce the English Department’s Communications Interns for Spring 2014, Brianna Wilkins and Evelyn Vaughn. Just like the position description stated, these two are engaged, self-motivated, responsible, creative, and enthusiastic CSU students with good communication and writing skills who are going to help tell the story of the English Department. Some of the projects they are currently working on: faculty and alumni profiles, articles about department readings and events, regular features for the department’s upcoming blog, and a project we are calling Humans of Eddy Hall.”


Brianna and Evelyn

Brianna says, “I am currently finishing my senior at Colorado State University, and will receive my bachelor’s degree May of 2014. I’m an English and Journalism double major, and what I enjoy most about both is that I can use my words to inform people about topics that I’m passionate about. I hope to find a career in public relations after I graduate, and use the critical thinking skills that I’ve gained from the English Department to advocate for and advance the company that I work for. When I’m not busy with school I love to spend time with my friends and family, or catch up watching my favorite TV shows and movies on Netflix.”

Evelyn says, “I’m an English major at CSU with a concentration in Creative Writing. I am currently a junior. Before coming here, I went to Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, CO and I have lived in Colorado for almost ten years. Aside from being a student, the things that fill my time are reading, writing, playing videogames, and watching sitcoms. Sitcoms because I can’t sit still for any longer than a half hour to watch TV! On a related note, I also love hiking, backpacking, and river rafting. I make excellent coffee, and I have FIVE younger brothers. I’m excited to be interning for the English Department, and look forward to getting to know it and its people better!”

Welcome, Brianna and Evelyn!

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Hello! My name is Louann Reid. I have been department chair since 2011 and a faculty member at CSU for 20 years. I am thrilled that we are launching this department-wide blog. In it we can showcase the people, programs, and publications that are the life and shape of our vibrant and diverse department.  We hope that alumni, faculty, and both current and potential students will find much of interest here.

Under the editorship of Jill Salahub, posts from our communications interns and others, and feedback from you, the readers, this blog will become a virtual community of readers, writers, and thinkers who are passionate about all that English studies offers. In my posts, I will highlight department news or comment on relevant topics circulating on the Internet or on social media. Sometimes, like today, I will share a favorite text. This is one of my favorite poems by CSU Professor Emeritus Mary Crow and comes from her collection, Borders.

Hard Things: Colorado

Home: Goat mountain, frozen hillside,
shale rubble on the slope
where I struggled to climb
against the slipping and slippery
scrim up to the small caves,
lairs of mountain lions, or old graves
full of fine dark dust.

I used to drive home, feeling the weight
lift off my shoulders mile after mile.
Friends asked how I could bear
living so far out, but I loved
driving toward the light, turning into the gate,
the dog and horses racing to greet me,
the sound of the river pounding against
my ego, my pitiless self.

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