Tag Archives: Events


From department chair Louann Reid: Homecoming was a hit! Thank you to Pam Coke and Rebecca Kennedy, who organized the event, and to the scores of people who helped make it successful. Marnie, Sheila, and Sue helped us prepare and clean up; work-study students Kayla and Mike were instrumental in some design and implementation tasks; lab monitor Jeffrey distributed programs; communications intern Ashley and Communications Coordinator Jill (who also put together a special slideshow) took pictures the whole time; Joelle Paulson gathered and posted alumni stories to the blog beforehand and helped prepare the invitation; and Marilyn Bistline of the CLA Development Office helped us with a mass mailing of invitations.

There were more than 80 people; some alums brought children; and a few have children they’re encouraging to attend CSU. There were alums from 1950 through 2013 or 14. First-gen and first-year students were invited, and a few of them did attend; several helped out with directing people and distributing programs. Sean Waters played guitar, and Airica Parker stepped in to cut and serve the cake. English ed. students led tours of the building, having been trained to do so by Bruce Ronda. A few faculty from Ethnic Studies and Philosophy stopped by.


Sean Waters takes a break while his road manager Pam Coke looks on

Four previous chairs joined us, starting with John Pratt from 1974 through Rosemary, Pattie, and Bruce. Cake crumbs were embedded in the conference room carpet. Stephanie created a tremendous display that included the FIRST Colorado Review, which included e.e. cummings, Ray Bradbury, and a host of other writers who are pretty well known.


The centerpiece of the event was unveiling a dedicatory and celebratory poem for our return to Eddy, written by all four poetry faculty. Camille first read it aloud, then Matthew and Sasha spoke about the process and the title, respectively, and then they read the poem again, dividing the lines as they had written them, with Camille and Sasha reading their lines and sharing Dan’s and Matthew reading his 4 (it’s a sixteen-line poem). We have an 18×24 framed copy to hang somewhere in the department, and we printed a limited edition of 200 broadsides so that everyone on the faculty and staff can have their own 9×12 copy. Jessica Crouch of Wolverine Farms Press was a pleasure to work with on this project.




If I have forgotten anyone, please know that my memory isn’t a match for my gratitude. My thanks to you, too.

And we completely ran out of cake.

See the full set of pictures on our Facebook page

Tags: , ,


NCTE’s Seventh Annual National Day on Writing is being celebrated today. The theme this year is #WhyIWrite. NCTE answers the question “Why a National Day on Writing?” this way:

In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, NCTE established October 20 as The National Day on Writing.  The National Day on Writing

  • points to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university (see The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor),
  • emphasizes the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions, and
  • encourages Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.

This past week, NCTE@CSU held an event in honor of the National Day on Writing. They hosted a writing blackout for middle school, high school, and college students on campus. For 30 minutes, attendees and hosts sat quietly and focused on writing. NCTE@CSU provided snacks, beverages, and prompts, and attendees came prepared to share ideas and discuss writing. English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic attended the event and had this to share.

Quote from NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing, http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/writingbeliefs

Quote from NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing, http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/writingbeliefs

There’s nothing quite like sitting down with a group of writers fueled by coffee and ink, whether it’s in a Starbucks or the basement of Eddy Hall.  This past Thursday, NCTE@CSU helped to celebrate the National Day of Writing, providing inspiration, caffeine, and a hashtag. Pen-and-paper and doc-and-keyboard types both gathered together for an hour of writing and a little bit of musing, occasionally pausing to tweet:






Some penned children’s stories on superhorses and alligators, others channeled Dr. Seuss, and others journaled in leather bound books they’ve had for years. Some said they prefer to write in little chunks, still others said once they start they can’t stop, either overcome by passion and vision or fear they’ll forget how their story is supposed to end.

Most said their urge to write started at a young age, encouraged by parents or teachers or publications in one of those Celebration of Young Poets books you had to pay $30 out-of-pocket for (they published one of my third grade poems about horses galloping through a field). Whether we looked back on our own early writings with nostalgia or a little bit of cringing (I do more of the latter), it served as a reminder that we are always growing and changing as writers. “You can find your voice, but there’s no mic drop when you’ve finally created the perfect piece,” commented Vice President Emily Rice.

If you’d like to find out more about the National Day on Writing, visit the NCTE website.

Tags: ,

Colloquium: a usually academic meeting at which specialists deliver addresses on a topic or on related topics and then answer questions relating to them.

A few times each semester, the English department hosts a colloquium. All department faculty and graduate students are invited. 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. For the first colloquium of this year, there were four presenters, and English Department Communication Intern Ashley Alfirevic attended, took some pictures, and wrote a reflection to share. The presenters were:

  • Ellen Brinks talked about her experience leading students to Livingstone, Zambia, this summer through Colorado State University’s Study Abroad program (and African Impact).
  • Dan Beachy-Quick talked about the Crisis and Creativity Symposium he hosted this summer as part of his Monfort Professorship.
  • Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor talked about their work this summer creating pop-up museums around Hudson, New York, for the Prison Public Memory Project.
Presenters Ellen Burns, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor

Presenters Ellen Burns, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor

~by English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic

Admittedly, I felt a little nervous walking into Department Chair Louann Reid’s house. This open house colloquium would be full of sophisticated grad students and professors, colleagues in an intimate space, and I felt woefully immature in comparison.

“It’ll be fine. This will be great on the blog,” I concluded. When I opened the door to walk in, a little bit of the siding on the screen immediately fell off. “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, I broke the door to the Department Chair’s house!” I thought. It was a small piece of plastic and Louann insisted it wasn’t important, but I was mortified, convinced it was a bad omen for the rest of the evening.

However, the warmth and the friendliness from both the people I knew and the ones I had just met suppressed my undergraduate-esq panic and quickly gave way to conversations about the documents from the Pop Up Museum that Tobi Jacobi and Ed Lessor set out on the table.

The old documents from the New York State Training School for Girls fascinated all of us milling around the table. A reform school for “delinquent” girls in the twenties and thirties, the documents ranged from formal, typewritten causes of admission – usually “willful misbehavior” – to handwritten letters to mom from homesick teenagers.


After appetizers and drinks, we sat down to listen to the creative activities faculty were engaging in outside the classroom. Addressing their inspiration to create their programs, the unexpected problems they faced, and the outcomes they didn’t expect, Ellen Brinks, Dan Beachy-Quick, Tobi Jacobi, and Ed Lessor all talked about the summer projects that changed the way they look at teaching.

Ellen began, saying that an independent trip to Zambia made her wonder how CSU students could make a real impact in a leaning environment without fundamentals like textbooks. After quick approval from CSU Education Abroad and some lengthy convincing of parents following the Ebola crisis, Ellen gathered together a group of undergraduates for a life-changing experience. “Sometimes failing is the best thing that can happen,” she said of her students.  When teachers in Zambia didn’t always come to class, the CSU students were left to come up with ideas to teach the energetic kids, inventing sentence relay races. Learning from the collectivist culture of the Zambian children, who often help each other grasp new material with each of their individual talents, the CSU students came together to form a community of support for one another. “Zambia was a flower that continually opened for us,” Ellen reflected, adding that growing from challenges in unfamiliar environments and experiential learning is crucial to the developing student.  Plus there were more picturesque moments, like “a lunar rainbow over a waterfall.”

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project.

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project during the trip to Zambia this summer.

“Funny you should say that about the lunar rainbow – that’s what inspired my project,” Dan joked.  His Crisis and Creativity Symposium emerged from a desire to bring humanities back into the way science deals with the major crises of our day, bridging the gap between STEM and the liberal arts. “With these crises, you either recover from them or you don’t,” he said, wanting to create a repository for mutual knowledge by gathering together faculty from all different branches of the university. Through the sheer amount of detail and planning that went into the symposium, “I learned about myselves… I mean myself,” he laughed. “Some of myselves definitely divorced during this process, and I don’t think they’ll be talking anytime soon.” While the workshop mostly confirmed things he “had long suspected,” he wanted to help return such workshops to their studio roots and help bring our philosophies back to a state of theater and play.

spontaneous poem

A spontaneous poem emerges at the Crisis and Creativity Symposium during a Maker’s Space session led by Michael Swaine, a core member of an artist collective called Futurefarmers, and Del Harrow, a sculptor and Assistant Professor of Art at CSU


“Do we have anything about waterfalls for this segue?” Tobi asked Ed. Their project came about through a “Pandora’s box of stuff” found at a garage sale, where a local New York woman purchased the box full of documents from the Training School. Tobi was contacted to work on the project, and she worked in tandem with Ed with his anthropological expertise. The Pop Up Museum itself came about through a series of challenges when trying to find ways to bring the documents to the community. Little quandaries, like worrying someone might eat all the cookies when they had a limited budget for such things, were contrasted with more ethical dilemmas like whether the documents detailing prisoner’s STD test results fell under HIPA. The project emphasized a need to give voice to those former female inmates and to give a voice to those who want to learn about it now, bringing the connections out of academia and into the public.


At the end of the evening, everyone reiterated how wonderful it was to hear the creative, innovative ways our English Department was making an impact outside of the classroom. It no longer mattered whether I was an undergraduate; the pride in our faculty and our department was unanimous for everyone in the room.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic recently attended an NCTE@CSU event about Banned Books and had this to share.

Perhaps instead of Banned Books Week, we should call this Challenged Books Week. On Thursday’s NCTE@CSU Meeting, I learned about how often parents challenge books found in a library, a school, a publishing house, or even a Barnes & Noble.


Jeremy Wolfe

Thankfully, Jeremy Wolfe – a Community Business Development Manager from Barnes & Nobel and the guest speaker for the evening – informed us that however challenged they may be, Barnes & Noble (B&N) does not support attempts at censorship*. Their guiding principle at B&N is that they will offer a diverse and extensive selection, and they will continue to offer their customers freedom of choice. Their censorship policy says that while they do not personally endorse every book they sell, they do endorse their customers right to choose what they want buy.

If there is a demand for a book – and if it’s banned, there usually is – then B&N will continue to sell it. As a matter of fact, if a publisher formally recalls a book, copies usually fly off the shelves before the bookstore even gets the request. “All the conspiracy theorists want it,” Wolfe joked. Raina Telgemeier’s YA book Drama is one of the best selling novels in the store and ranks tenth on 2014’s Most Challenged list. Laughing, Wolfe remarked that, “Since we’re mainly focused on profits, we’re allowed to be a little insensitive to niche complaints.”

Jeremy Wolfe talks to NCTE@CSU at the Banned Books event

Jeremy Wolfe speaks at the NCTE@CSU at the Banned Books event

But here’s the confusing part: what’s the difference between being challenged and banned? And how does it keep the book from readers? It’s much harder to ban a book through the legal system of the United States, as it must be proven to cause real and significant cultural harm; only Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl have been legally banned. It’s far easier to challenge a book on a per state or per community basis, restricting access to potential readers by changing availability or excluding it from schools and libraries. Most of the data collected is on books that have been challenged, since they cannot be banned nationwide.

Interestingly, books are most often challenged for sexually explicit material and least often for violence and homosexuality. Children’s sexual education books are often challenged on the grounds of child pornography for their illustrations. “It really reveals what bothers us as a culture,” Wolfe notes. “Often, the reasons books are challenged are two sides of the same coin.” For example, the top challenged book of 2014 – Sherman Alexi’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – emphasizes in its classroom teaching guide that it promotes family values and multiculturalism, but it is most often challenged on the grounds of being anti-family and culturally insensitive. Speaking of cultural insensitivity, there’s another apparent trend in the numbers: Caucasian authors get a bit of “buffer time” compared to authors from diverse backgrounds. Alexi’s book was challenged in three years, whereas it took seven years for challenges to John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

Parents make almost 50% of challenges, with patrons accounting for 10% and administrators accounting for 9.5%. Librarians say that if can convince a parent to come in and discuss their problems with, say, Walter the Farting Dog, that’s half the battle. Most are able to have a dialogue and the challenges are dropped. However, if a parent progresses to a written complaint, the next step is often a rally for a public outcry.

No matter who is attempting to censor literature, whether it be a parent or administrator, both The Office of Intellectual Freedom and the NCTE offer resources to help librarians and teachers. Pam Coke, the Undergraduate Coordinator for English Education, pointed out that the NCTE even offers legal council for teachers dealing with challenges to classroom books.

“Banning books is a means of control. It’s all about power. Censorship is about fear,” Wolfe noted. “At the end of the day, it’s about trusting other people to hear information that they might disagree with.”

All statistics are from the Office of Intellectual Freedom. Please visit http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks for more information.


*Barnes & Noble has banned one book from their shelves: a how-to guide to for male pedophiles that arose during the advent of self-publishing.

To find out more about Banned Books Week, visit the official website.

Tags: , ,

by English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic

Poetry lovers filled the LSC’s North Ballroom for the first of this semester’s Creative Writing and Reading Series. The room had a palpable buzz while waiting for Mary Szybist, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry with her latest creation, Incarnadine. The eager chatter and persistent clanging of the cash register in back quickly silenced for introductions. “We’re here to inspire, explore, and reimagine the familiar,” said Morgan Library representative Bruce Hallmark.


Because the openers had already introduced her, Mary began by introducing us to her poetry. The first piece, an elegy for a former student, provided a description of “Heaven in Miniature,” somehow creating a tangible version of an afterlife by “counting up the things you love and realizing you lack nothing,” like counting all of the things in your pockets to remember if you brought your keys. Mary’s poems somehow make death feel vaguely familiar and conciliatory, adding before her poem about fish eyes that, “One of the great things about poems is you can talk to the dead.” Some poems make an observational interlude between suffering and ending — the flickering signal of a firefly being consumed by a spider, Lucifer and light blending in a poem of “courtship and hunger,” or seagulls feasting on the wounds of a whale, asking, “why wouldn’t such sweetness be for them?”

But Mary’s poems are anything but morbid. They’re simple and beautiful, sometimes funny and always genuine. Her language is accessible, and the lilt of her voice makes you feel like you’ve known her for a very long time. She read another poem using language about Nabokov’s Lolita, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski, and Mary’s Annunciation, combining the power imbalances and sexual charge of all three to let them “shimmer all at once” with “intolerable tenderness.” She read another about teenage girls assembling a puzzle, a realistic and light-hearted poem that treats their comments about the veins in a grandmother’s hands and the allure of a velvet bikini with equal weight. She concluded her reading with a poem called “The Lushness of It,” and said, “You’d be as good as anyone, I think, to an octopus.”

At one point, Mary pressed the pages of Incarnadine wide and showed us the poem “How Not to Speak of God,” shaped round like a sun with radiant light extending from it, and said, “We often confuse faith and doubt, which we too easily think are different sometimes.”

What Mary’s poems discussed the most, and what I found the most relatable, was her struggle with the icon of the biblical Mary. She said she grew up loving her, but now toils to conceive her as an icon for women. Some poems were from the biblical Mary’s perspective, addressing the things women say yes and no to, what women are dutiful to, and what it means to be a mother. During the question and answer session, someone asked about her “fascination with Christianity.”

“It’s funny you call it a fascination,” she said, almost with a tone of curiosity in her voice. “To me it was so deeply alive. It was my world.” Mary went on to describe that after her break from Christianity, it was necessary to create religious figures differently in her imagination because “ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. They’re still in you even if you don’t believe the same way.” She said a sense of ownership in her poems converted the biblical Mary from a symbol, an object of contemplation, into someone she can have a relationship with.

As someone who attended Catholic school until college, who ended each school day with the Memorare (a prayer honoring the Virgin Mary), and had a rosary hanging on my rear-view mirror, Szybist’s poems hit me in such an old, odd place. I understood her “fascination,” her struggle in dealing with religious figures that you loved as a girl now that you are a woman. After her reading, I felt like I had a revelation of my own, not one that made me want to announce or denounce anything or anyone, but simply extend warmth and friendship towards the women, iconic or otherwise, in her poetry.


Mary Szybist signing the book of one of our new freshman English majors


Tags: , , , , ,


Please save the date for the Department of English Homecoming Celebration: Friday, Oct.16, 2015, at 2 p.m. on the third floor of Eddy Hall.

The renovation of Eddy Hall is complete, and the Department of English is preparing for an open house to celebrate our return! Whether you live in the area or will be traveling to Fort Collins for the weekend, we would love for you to join us for our Homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 16th. Drop by the third floor between 2 and 4 p.m. There will be a band, tours of the new building, refreshments in the Whitaker Conference Room, and a special presentation at 3 p.m. We would like to get a sense of how many of you might be able to join us so we’ll be sure to have enough refreshments. Please RSVP to Louann.Reid@colostate.edu.

We hope you can join us. Whether or not that’s possible, we would like to feature stories from you on our department blog. What are some of your favorite memories from your time with the Department of English at Colorado State University? Did you have a favorite class or instructor? A really memorable experience with fellow students? We would love to hear any stories you are willing to share – short or long. Please send your favorite memory (a paragraph in length, at least) and an accompanying photo to Joelle Paulson at jpaulso2@gmail.com by the end of September.

We look forward to seeing you Friday, Oct. 16th, for your Homecoming!

Louann Reid
Professor and Chair
Department of English

Pamela Coke and Rebecca Kennedy
Faculty and Homecoming Organizers

Tags: ,

by Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic


Tom Buchanan of The Great Gatsby may be one of the most disliked characters in the history of American Literature. His hateful attitudes are apparent from the outset with his praise of the (misnamed) Rise of the Colored Empires, saying, “Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

While Fitzgerald used Tom Buchanan as a vehicle to condemn eugenics, many other canonical authors and intellectuals of the early twentieth century openly embraced Francis Galton’s idea that genetics should be used as a “better breeding science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of race.”

Dr. Ewa Luczak, Associate Professor of American Literature at the Institute of English Studies at the University of Warsaw, discussed the prevalence of eugenics in early twentieth century thought and its influence on two of the period’s most established authors. Her presentation, “‘A Truly Angelic Society’: Eugenics and American Pre-World War II Literary Imagination,” left me both intellectually confounded and deeply disturbed. To think two authors from my very first American Literature class – Jack London of “To Build a Fire” or Charlotte Perkins Gillman of (one of my personal favorites) “The Yellow Wallpaper” – were such proponents of “the betterment of the human race” left two of my icons shattered.

Dr. Luczak revealed that eugenics was considered a scientific, even socially progressive, norm in the United States before World War II. “Forward-thinkers” from Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Chicago all thought of this racial hierarchy as an intellectual rejection of the outdated Enlightenment, with its focus on human brotherhood, and Christianity, with its belief in creationism. Promoters endorsed either Negative Eugenics – anti-miscegenation laws or sterilization – or Positive Eugenics – propaganda for fitter families and scientific measurements that proved racial superiority.

Luczak shared her personal struggle with these subjects with the audience. She detailed her feelings of shock when she first encountered some of her research, and it’s apparent how committed she is to exposing the eugenic tendencies underlying some of our most important national works.

Though literature classes study Jack London for his place in the Naturalism movement, his beliefs in the natural world extended so far as racial Darwinism. His book The Kenton-Wace Letters, written with Anna Strunsky, is an exchange of debating notes between Wace, who encourages human breeding, and Kempton, who believes in romantic love. London wrote Wace’s parts and viewed marriage as a rational, domestic selection, and later broke off his romantic involvement with Strunsky because of her Jewish heritage. His The People of the Abyss chronicles the life of the poor in London’s East End, based on his immersion in the slums for research. In his letters, London describes the poor as “beasts,” saying they had degraded into a new species of human more akin to the animal world than civilization. His post-apocalyptic The Scarlet Plague conveys similar themes of eugenics.

While courses normally praise Charlotte Perkins Gillman as a leading American writer during the first wave of feminism, her focus on pure sociology quickly turned into inhumane gynocentric eugenics. Gillman latched onto ideas promoted by “progressive” eugenicist Lester Ward, who regarded women as the true racial leaders who had the power to control human breeding by their selection of mates.  Building on this, she wrote The Crux as a novel of Positive Eugenics choices, saying women should marry for “love and good judgment.” However, it is her trilogy of a female utopia that horrifyingly allows for extreme forms of Negative Eugenics. The first of the trilogy, Moving the Mountain, explains that a more “socially progressive” United States has been reached because, “We killed many hopeless degenerates, insane, idiots, and real perverts after our best methods of cure.”

Dr. Luczak’s presentation revealed a pervasive belief in the United States that two of academia’s most revered authors, Jack London and Charlotte Perkins Gillman, endorsed eugenic ideologies in their texts. Dr. Luczak’s talk introduced a shift in my perspective when thinking about these particular authors and what they wrote, authors I read in one of my formative literature courses. I’m still struggling with how to understand this new perspective, and how I might apply it to my future reading. There’s value in looking more closely and discovering the blind spots we might find, in ourselves and in our literature.


Tags: , ,

Communications intern Ashley Alfirevic relaxing with a book under the trees on the south side of Eddy Hall, a popular site for such things

English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic relaxing with a book under the trees on the south side of Eddy Hall, a popular site for such things

  • Gerry Delahunty presented his paper “Amnesty International (AI) and Philanthropic Fundraising (PF) Appeals: A Comparative Move Analysis” at the 26th Annual Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics at Aalborg University, Denmark, on August 20, 2015. His presentation proposal, “Language, Text, and Ideological Opposition in Amnesty International (AI) Appeal Letters on Behalf of ‘Prisoners of Conscience'” has been accepted for the 5th New Zealand Discourse Conference, December 7-9, 2015 in Auckland University of Technology.
  • Debby Thompson’s essay “As She Kissed the Cow” (about human-animal relations) will appear in the fall issue of The Missouri Review.  Her essay “After the Knife” (about school shootings) will be posted on The Kenyon Review Online in the winter.
  • Todd Mitchell presented a session on creating comic books at Fort Collins’s first Comic Con.
  • Aby Kaupang Cooperman was recently named the Fort Collin’s Poet Laureate. An interview and poems can be found in The Courier on pages 9-10. Fort Collins Courier, Summer/Fall 2015 She will conduct workshops, readings and filed trips throughout the upcoming year.
  • Abby Kerstetter had a poem accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of Tinderbox Poetry Journal. The poem is called “Augury with Deer.”
  • Bill Tremblay’s adaptation of Aaron A. Abeyta’s novel, RISE, DO NOT BE AFRAID [Ghost Road Press, 2003] is a finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival’s screenplay competition for feature films.
  • In August, Felicia Zamora (MFA ’12) won the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse with her chapbook length manuscript, Of Unkowing. Her manuscript Silence for the Rest of Class was a finalist in the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Press Book Contest where three of her poems are highlighted on the Tarpaulin Sky website. She was a finalist in the Sonora Review 2015 Poetry Prize and the 2015 poetry prize from Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose. She has a poem in the recent edition of the Potomac Review, and poems forthcoming in Cimarron Review and Zone 3.
  • The CSU Writing Project (CSUWP) had a busy summer, offering 6 programs that served approximately 100 youth and 25 teachers in the northern Colorado region:
    • The crown jewel was the two-week Youth Science Civic Inquiry institute (YSCI) held at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, which helped fifth-graders from Irish Elementary and Putnam Elementary gain literacy skills, social action strategies, and science knowledge around water use and protection issues in Fort Collins. You can read more about YSCI and see the students in action in a recent feature on SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1L6urx8.
    • CSUWP also held three on-campus writing workshops for elementary, middle school, and high school students, a Writers Colony for teachers, and a study group focused on social justice issues in education.

    • Finally, in August, we held our annual summer institute, where teachers (including 6 English Dept. alumni) across disciplines and grade levels honed their skills as writers, teacher leaders, and teacher researchers.

    • Cindy O’Donnell-Allen also participated (along with Holly LeMasurier from the Museum of Discovery and PSD Literacy Coordinator Kelly Burns) in a design institute for a national cohort of the Intersections Project, sponsored by the National Writing Project and the National Science Foundation. Read more about it: CSU, museum host science/literacy program for local 5th graders.

Upcoming Events

September 16, 2015 Students and faculty are invited for Dr. Ewa Barbara Luczak’s talk “’A Truly Angelic Society’: Eugenics and American Pre-World War II Literary Imagination,” based on her forthcoming book from Palgrave Macmillan. A reception will follow. 
September 17, 2015 NCTE@CSU – 5:30-6:30pm, Eddy 5 “The Life of the Banned Book” 
September 17, 2015 CSU Creative Writing Program – Reading Series, Mary Szybist- 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. 7:30pm Lory Student Center, North Ballroom 
September 24, 2015 Years of Living Dangerously, Episodes 1 and 2, BSB A101, 7-9pm, free. Jointly sponsored by Changing Climates at CSU and School of Global Environmental Sustainability. 



CSU Writes is up and running with “Show Up & Write” sessions (102 Shepardson Hall from 1-2:50 on M-W-F). The fall workshops begin with introductions to writing group participation!!  It would be wonderful to write with you at the sessions or to have you participate in a group! CSU Writes is a new program that organizes and fosters writing groups for faculty, graduate students, and creative/life-writers who write for publication or degree completion. Not only does the program provide a range of writing group options to suit the multiple long-term writing needs of our academic and creative community but CSU Writes also offers workshops, regular drop in writing sessions, and consultations. If you (or your students) are interested in joining a writing group this fall, please, plan to attend one of the introductory workshops on Tuesday 9/15 (in Clark C359) or Wednesday 9/16 (in Clark C358) from 4 – 5:30p.

You can find additional information and sign up for a writing group at: http://english.colostate.edu/csu-writes/

CSU Writes is funded through the RIPPLE EFFECT but is open to all writers in the CSU community.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Homecoming & Family Weekend, October 15th – 17th, is an event for alumni, families, community members, and friends of CSU. It’s a time when we come together to celebrate the past, present, and future of Colorado State University. An integral part of that past, present, and future is the CSU English department. Recently there’s been lots of excitement with the hiring of new faculty, the arrival of the 2015 freshman class English majors, various engaging events, and our return to a refurbished Eddy Hall.

To celebrate that return, our homecoming along with CSU Homecoming, the English department will be hosting our inaugural Homecoming open house on Friday, October 16, 2015, 2:00-4:00 PM. We will be celebrating our return to the newly remodeled Eddy with music, food, fun, and, of course, words, beautiful words. Alumni and friends can make their way to the third floor and check in at Eddy 300, and we will have refreshments available in the Whitaker Conference Room. We will be offering tours of the building, with stops in the CSU Writing Center and a remodeled classroom. English Department Chair Louann Reid will offer some words of welcome and rededication at 3:00 PM, followed by a special presentation in honor of the occasion. We hope you can join us for this very special event.

And what about that past, present, and future? As we were packing up Eddy Hall to move out for the remodel, we discovered several copies of Words and Deeds, a newsletter edited by Jim Tanner and Jim Work in the 1970s, who described it this way:

Words and Deeds is a newsletter in which the energetic (if not divine) deeds of the Colorado State University Department of English become words for the world at large. Published two times a year in Fort Collins, Colorado; distributed to our faculty, staff, students, friends, and competition.

Spring 2015 English Department Communications Intern Kara Nosal used these newsletters and other sources to put together a timeline that gives a sense of our history as a university and a department.


English Department Timeline

1879- Colorado State Agricultural College is born. It is comprised of twenty students and three professors in total.

1879- E.E. Edwards, president of the college, acts as the lone English teacher.

1886- Elizabeth G. Bell is the first English professor hired by the college.

1885- The library holds “1,000 bound volumes.”

1904- Virginia Corbett is named Professor of History and Literature.

1914- B.F. Coen heads the English and History Department while Corbett is reduced to an Assistant Professor. (Coen runs a tight ship! He requires each freshman to write a 150-page theme before moving on to upper-division classes)

1917- (From the Summer 1975 edition of Words and Deeds): During World War I, “All students who volunteered or were drafted to go to the front [lines] were to be given automatic passing grades and full credit in all classes.”

1920- Alfred Westfall and Ruth Wattles both become Associate Professors in the English and History Department.

1928- The first meeting of the “Scribbler’s Club”—an exclusive 12-member group for upperclassmen studying creative writing— is held

1929- There are twelve English faculty members

1935- Colorado Agricultural College changes its name to the Colorado State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts (Go! Fight! Win CSCAMA!)

1939-Willard O. Eddy is hired as an instructor in English, and History and English are separated into two distinct departments

1941-The large ballroom of Johnson Hall is used as a barracks to house some of the 1400 uniformed personnel on campus during the Second World War

1943- Alfred Westfall publishes, “What Speech Teachers May Do to Win the War” in the Quarterly Journal of Speech

1945- Colorado State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts changes its name to Colorado A & M (Interesting fact: Spring 2015 English Department Communication Intern Marina Miller’s great uncle was in the last class to graduate as Aggies)

1945- English faculty members number 13

1958-The Fine Arts Series is established after a fine-arts festival is held

In 1962, you could get your textbooks at the CSU bookstore and a carton of Salems.

In 1962, you could get your textbooks at the CSU bookstore and a carton of Salems.


1963- The original Eddy Hall is constructed

1965-1969- The Colorado State Review is established but due to funding cuts its initial run only lasts for four years

1975- The Intensive English Program (now INTO CSU) begins

1976- Colorado State Review is revived thanks to Wayne Ude and Bill Trembelay of the Creative Writing Program

1977- English faculty number 41 and 90 courses are offered

1979- Kate Keifer establishes the Writing Center in response to the national writing and literacy crisis, an educational drought in which many students arrived to college without adequate composition preparation

1981- Colorado State University is the first in the nation to create a computer-supported writing laboratory

1987 – Someone made a sandwich, (we haven’t uncovered much information about the 80s and early 90s in our research, but we’re pretty sure this is accurate)

1996- CSU professor, translator, and poet Mary Crow is named poet laureate for Colorado, (She would later be reappointed in 2000)

1997- The infamous Fort Collins floodwaters rip through Eddy Hall, destroying 500,000 books collected by professors

Photo of people riding their bikes past Eddy Hall during the CSU flood of 1997 on July 29, 1997. Photo courtesy of CSU Photography, Department of Creative Services.

Photo of people riding their bikes past Eddy Hall during the CSU flood of 1997 on July 29, 1997. Photo courtesy of CSU Photography, Department of Creative Services.

1997- The Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum (ASCC) lays out the standard core classes for all students in the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences

2003- Use of the just-established Online Writing Center begins. Students of the required Writing Arguments composition classes learn how to download important documents and upload papers to professors

Today- We have four hard-working staff members and 82 faculty members

Summer 2015 – The new-and-improved Eddy Hall finished!

October 16th, 2015- Inaugural Homecoming English Open House, 2:00-4:00 PM


Note from Kara: Of course, this is not a complete timeline of the English Department. As I scanned through pages and pages of newspaper articles, department meeting minutes, and newsletters, I began to gain a better understanding of CSU’s English program as a whole. I realized how many of my own past professors have been nationally-recognized authors, award-winners, and overall game-changers, helping the English program to flourish. From my research I gathered that the English department has a long history of passionate people who constantly push for more opportunities for their students. Know that there’s much more to these English professors than meets the eye; they might even be willing to share some of their past lives with you if you ask!

If I were to begin to list the members of the faculty who have altered the English Department for the better, I’d have to list the whole faculty and the timeline would be a mile long! No one, past or present, is exempt from making our English program what it is today.

Tags: , , ,

by Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic


The comfortable blue armchair in the middle of the Children’s Section at Old Firehouse Books felt like a stark contrast to the reading about to start. Compared to the bright soothing covers on the shelves, the sleek new book jacket of Dr. Robinson’s new novel Death of a Century depicts a gargoyle solemnly watching over a foggy Parisian morning. In between small talk with fellow English students in the audience, I wondered if Dr. Robinson’s own writing would sound like the novels assigned for his “American Prose Since 1900” course that I took with him the fall before. If it did, it would be compelling, fluid, and violent (recalling our disturbing end to the course with Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian).

Though his novel already gave off a decidedly noir vibe, Robinson himself stood before the audience in an open, relaxed manner. With cowboy boots and a classically western appearance, he already looks not quite a part of this century, something he later confirmed when someone asked a question about the setting of his book. “I like the direct world of the twenties and thirties,” he said as he pulled out an ornate pocket watch. “This is how I tell time. I don’t like cell phones.”


A fellow CSU colleague introduced Robinson, commenting on his history of firefighting both literally – flying helicopters over western wildfires – and figuratively – managing to teach and grade students while producing three novels to date. Used to working under pressure, Dr. Robinson defines himself as a “sprint writer.” Being a full-time professor doesn’t leave much time for long-distance writing, not allowing a day or even a few hours at a time to do the work of writing. “I just sit down and get a couple hundred words on the page,” he stated casually. While some of the writers in the room were left in awe of this notion, these moments – some 2,000 hours of moments, to be exact – add up to more than two years of his life.

Before starting, Dr. Robinson explained that each epigraph in Death of a Century comes from the hours of research he conducted for the novel. “Write what you know about versus what you know… it’s about the essences of life,” he mused before quoting Warren G. Harding: “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing… Let’s get out of the fevered delirium of war.”

With that, he continued into the first pages of the book. Stoic protagonist Joe Henry is a veteran and newspaper writer, reporting on World War I battles with a removed sense of scientific observation in order to distance himself from his own painful flashbacks and nightmares. After finding his best friend and fellow veteran Gresham murdered in his home, Joe must flee to Paris when he becomes the prime suspect in the investigation. He must discover who is behind the murders and why they’ve chosen Gresham… and stolen his manuscript.

As he read about, “The rain, steady and loud, [in] feathered rivulets of water down his windshield” (Robinson 9) with the same lilt he read passages of Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon or Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” to our class, I had to remind myself that this was not (at least, not yet) a classic of the canon. Although, Robinson mentioned, several canon members from the Lost Generation do make cameos in Century. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemmingway (and his notorious missing valise) all make appearances, though he pointed out that, “the story is not about them.”

The passages selected for the reading previewed a novel full of intrigue, an exploration of the human consciousness rather than a whodunit. “It’s more about the reasons why, not the murder itself,” Robinson comments. Yet despite the thrilling plot line, the glamour of noir, and a prose rooted in classical modernism, I had one simple question on my mind: “When you were teaching our class, you mentioned that your editor wanted to change two words in the text that you made up. Did you get to keep the words?”

He chuckled, “There are now four words. I figured if Faulkner can make up words, so can I.”

And so, with that mystery solved, it was time to delve into the thriller that is Robinson’s Death of a Century: A Novel of the Lost Generation.





Tags: , , , ,