Faculty and Student News
New Arrivals
News From Recent Graduates
Reports and Reflections
Forthcoming Events

Faculty and Student News

Apropos, which publishes UMF students’ academic papers in humanities, arts, social sciences, and honors courses, recently printed its 2005/2006 issue. Editor Jennie Ferris (Elementary Education), assisted by the journal’s editorial board [which is made up of both faculty and students, including professors Michael Burke and Scott Erb, and students Evan Gleason (English) and Kristen Jacques (English)], chose seven essays for the issue (written by UMF students Ben Mason, Amy Ferrari, Bianca Sea Garber, Evan Gleason, Kyle Winslow, Nate Rawson, and Travis Scott Lowe). Three of those essays, Ben Mason’s “Freedom, Freak Shows, and Social Pariahs in Morrison’s Beloved” (1st), Nate Rawson’s “Sexuality and True Womanhood in Joyce” (2nd), and Bianca Sea Garber’s “An Exploration into the History of ‘Feminine’ Antislavery Literature” (3rd), were selected as the top essays and the writers awarded cash prizes. Apropos is currently encouraging students to submit essays from 2006-2007 classes.

Linda Britt’s play, “Bottom of the Ninth”, was performed in a staged reading by the Freeport Community Players on June 4.  In addition, a new one-act musical, “School’s Out,” with music composed by her son Colin, was just performed on August 25 and 26 by the Community Little Theatre Children’s Workshop in Auburn.

Eric Brown’s essay “The McDonaldizing of Macbeth: Shakespeare, Class, and Scotland, PA” was published in the April 2006 issue of Literature Film Quarterly 34.2. Another essay “Shakespeare’s Anxious Epistemology: Love’s Labor’s Lost and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus” (originally published in Texas Studies in Literature and Language) was reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism 98, ed. Michelle Lee (Detroit: Gale Group, July 2006). A book chapter, “Popularizing Pandaemonium: Milton and the Horror Film,” appeared in Milton and Popular Culture, ed. Gregory Semenza and Laura Knoppers (Palgrave-Macmillan, June 2006). He also presented a paper in May, “Orphic Modes in Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus,” at the 41st International Conference on Medieval Studies.

Michael Burke’s book The Same River Twice was recently published by the University of Arizona Press and is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Don’t miss Michael’s reading from the book on October 26.

Sylvie Charron, Professor of French, traveled to Le Mans and Angers Feb. 15-22 to discuss our partnership with the two French universities, prepare our Semester in France program, recruit French Assistants, create a new partnership with the Beaux Arts in Le Mans, increase exchanges between our education program and the IUFM (Teacher’s college), and to prepare for a UMS delegation trip that took place in May through the project Maine-France under the sponsorship of Chancellor Westphall.

Jonathan Cohen reports that a paper entitled “Some Jewish Reflections on Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration” has been accepted for publication in the journal Crosscurrents.  The paper includes, besides a reading of Locke’s Letter (1685), a reading of Moses Mendelssohn’s response to Locke in Jerusalem (1783), as well as some thoughts about how these issues stand today in the US, Israel, and elsewhere.

In October at the Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Christine Darrohn will present a paper entitled “Hearing Echoes: The Aural Interchanges of A Passage to India” as part of the panel “Modernist Aurality: Sound, Technologies, and Cultural Perception.”  The paper explores the representation of listening across cultural boundaries in E.M. Forster’s novel in the context of early twentieth-century aural technologies (especially the telephone, phonograph, and modern architectural acoustics).

Tiane Donahue served as Visiting professor, Université de Lille III,  February-March 2006, was awarded Calderwood Writing Initiative and Davis Family Foundation Grants, and was a member of  2005-2006 Project Maine-France planning committee. Additionally, she has presented the following conference papers: “Analyzing University Student Writing: New Methods, New Insights,” International Applied Linguistics Conference, Madison, Wisconsin, July 2005; “When Copying is Not Copying: French Composition Pedagogy,” Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism, Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 2005; “Formation des Enseignants: Problèmes Actuels,” Institut Universitaire de Formation de Maîtres, Versailles, France, May 2006 (Invited Speaker); “Geographies of Higher Education Writing Research: Priorities and Challenges in Three Countries” Writing Development in Higher Education, Milton Keynes, UK, May 2006; “Looking Outward: WPA Work in International Context,” Writing Program Administrators Conference, Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 2006.

She has also had the following articles and chapters published or accepted for publication: “Notes of a Humbled Writing Program Director: Dialogues with High School Colleagues.” The Writing Instructor : English Education (Purdue University Press), in press; “When Copying Is Not Copying: Plagiarism and French Composition Scholarship,” in Vicnius M (Ed) Originality, Imitation, Plagiarism, Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, in press; “L’écrit universitaire comme objet de recherche: Méthodes et enjeux pour une lecture analytique,” in Perrin-Glorian, MJ, and Reuter Y (Eds) Les méthodes de recherches en didactique, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion 2006.

Levi Galloway(English) is one of several students in the Humanities with an interest in theater. He writes: “I began my theatrical experience by hunting down Theatre UMF and by acquiring a job as a scenic technician. I had little experience in theatre before this, but have always had a burning interest. Within the department I was greeted by upperclassmen and professors whom I found to be invaluable sources of boundary pushing experience. Since then I have acted in four plays (Marvin’s Room, Enchanted April, House of Blue Leaves, and Edith Stein) and have been involved technically in every show. I am currently a number of Alpha Psi Omega (the theatre fraternity), the president of TUMF, the shop foreman, technical director, actor, and I’m trying my hand at directing for the one act festival.”

Michael Johnson received a John Topham and Susan Redd Butler Faculty Research Award from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, which supported a research project at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana, where he worked with the Emmanuel Taylor Gordon manuscript collection.

Several Humanities Department faculty were recently awarded promotion/tenure for 2006-2007: Eric Brown, Christiane Donahue, and Michael Johnson were awarded tenure by the Board of Trustees and will be promoted to Associate Professor. Gretchen Legler and Jennifer Reid have been promoted to Professor.

New Arrivals

The Department of Humanities welcomes two new faculty members,

Elliot Welch (Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy) and Misty Beck (Visiting Assistant Professor of English). 

News From Recent Graduates

BFA student Heather Campbell was accepted in to the MFA Program in Poetry at the University of New Mexico.

Kristen Jacques (English) was accepted for graduate study at both Pratt Institute and Simmons College for Library and Information Sciences.

BFA student Kate Russell is attending the MFA Program in Fiction at the University of Indiana.

Valerie Suffron, BFA grad, is attending the MFA Program in Fiction at the University of Ohio.

Devon Sprague, BFA grad, is attending the Stonecoast MFA Program in Fiction, and is a staff assistant for the literary journal Postroad.

BFA grad Tryfon Tolides’s first book, An Almost Pure Empty Walking, was published in the Penguin Poets series on July 9.  The manuscript was one of the winners in the 2005 National Poetry Series.  He is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Houston.

Aaron Witham, BFA grad, reports that “Tessa Parmenter and I are going to be publishing an online journal of poetry, and potentially non-fiction and fiction this fall.  We want to be nation-wide, but also an outlet for students in the writing program at UMF, and we’ll be urging them to submit their work.”

The Department of Humanities awarded two scholarships for the 2006/2007 school year. Nate Rawson (English) was awarded the Eleanor Wood Scholarship. Bianca Garber (English, Creative Writing) was awarded the Maude L. Parks Award.

Reports and Reflections: Jonathan Cohen “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”

OK, so how’s this for a globalization experience: This summer, in the Harel mall outside of Jerusalem, at the world’s first kosher McDonald’s (there are now two or three others, all in Israel), I lunched on a “Value Meal” of – brace yourself – McKebab.

Kebab, for those of you who don’t know, is a Middle Eastern specialty consisting of ground lamb and spices, usually rolled into a sort of fat cigar shape (and not to be confused with shishkebab, which is whole chunks of meat grilled on a skewer).  The ground meat makes it a natural for McDonald’s, and sure enough they serve it not rolled but squashed into a patty so it matches their usual burger-making equipment.  But it did come on authentically Middle Eastern pita bread, not a Western-style bun, and, kebab-lover that I am, I have to admit it was quite delicious.

But I didn’t come to Israel to have McKebab – I came to dance.  Specifically, I came to Israel (along with my family) to dance at my niece’s wedding.  And dance we did, that very night, outdoors on a hillside facing the setting sun and the coastal plain, in an intimate wedding party of 600 people.  That is not a typo.  The bride and groom have connections with many yeshivot (religious academies), and the custom is to invite everybody.  I’m glad they did, not just because that kind of crowd creates intense excitement, but also because these people can dance.  They have no other physical outlets, after all – they don’t play basketball or anything – so when they get out on the floor, they dance with total abandon (men and women separately, of course).  Music came from a band led by a Hasidic fiddler, and they were hot – no “Fiddler on the Roof” stuff from them.  It was quite an evening.

And all in all it was quite a visit.  We not only jumped waves in the Mediterranean Sea but also floated on our backs in the Dead Sea (the latter a shocking bright turquoise, surrounded by pink bare hills, its water so saline you have to struggle to put your feet down when you’re done floating, and you have to keep your wet hands away from your eyes).  We not only dug for archeological finds in caves 2300 years old – and found a few things – we also saw skyscrapers and high-speed rail lines not five years old.  We not only read the book of Isaiah from a 2000-year-old scroll, we also shopped in a restored 2000-year-old mall (that’s not a typo either).  Israel is a fabulous place naturally, geographically, geologically, historically, culturally – you all simply must go.

You can’t imagine going right now, though, I bet, because of the matzav (Hebrew for “situation”), the Israelis’ euphemism for their perennial lack of geo-political security.  And though I brushed off friends’ worries for us while we were away, I admit there’s cause for concern.  The day we flew in was the day some still-unidentified Hamas splinter group tunneled under the Gaza border, blew up a tank, left three Israeli soldiers dead or injured at the scene, and took hostage the fourth, a young man named Gilad Shalit; the day we flew out was the day Hamas staged a copycat attack at the other end of the country, yielding two more captive Israeli soldiers, and touching off a full-scale war.  (All three are still in captivity.)  Since we had originally planned to travel in the north (known in Israel as the Galil – the Biblical Galilee), but decided at the last minute to stay just in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I suppose you could say we were just a couple of weeks and a travel decision away from having Katyushas fall on our heads.

But I have to tell you we never felt unsafe.  On the one hand, the only hot spot while we were there was Gaza, and we were always two or three hours away (you don’t feel unsafe in Farmington when someone gets mugged in Boston, do you?).  And on the other hand, routine precautions for security are built into Israeli life.  For example, every restaurant larger than a kiosk has a security guard checking bags and people at the door – the restaurant puts a 12 shekel security surcharge (about $2.80) on the bill.  Our hotel room in Jerusalem had a view not only of the fabled Mount Zion but also of the security fence that blocks suicide bombers from easy entry into the country.  And the road to my brother-in-law’s town (in the West Bank, but in an area that’s been Jewish of long standing) has an anti-sniper barrier on one side.  When you hear about these measures you think about the attacks which required them, but when you’re there, they’re just walls and surcharges.  Life goes on.  Survival is simply part of the warp and woof of everyday life.

In America the military is part of some families’ lives but not others.  In Israel, everyone – everyone – is either in the army or has first-degree relatives in the army, so military call-ups and actions are not something you just read about in the newspaper.  And when someone is hurt, or killed, or captured, everyone feels it.  Whenever we went to synagogue during our stay, services included a special prayer for captives – the prayer dates to ancient times, when kidnapping Jews for ransom was a common practice (and maybe is making a comeback?) – and though Gilad Shalit is just one person, everyone in the room stood each time the prayer was said.

And in the end this too is Israel: continual reminders of a continuous war.  I wish it weren’t like that.  I wish that whole stupid war had never happened.  I wish Hezbollah and Hamas could quickly get to the realization that the Egyptians, Jordanians, and at least some Palestinians reached a long time ago – that Israel is just not going to go away, that the Israelis are not imperialist colonizers who can be terrorized into running back to their home country.  For this is their home country.  Unlike the British in India, or the French in Algeria, the Israelis are at home.  They are not going anywhere.  They are building skyscrapers and riding high-speed rail lines and digging for archeological finds and cooking up McKebab.  They aren’t running away.  They’re just living.

The evening of the day I had McKebab, just before my niece’s wedding began, I went into the hotel bathroom and found several of my new nephew’s army buddies stripping off their olive drab uniforms and putting on the plain white shirt that’s traditional Israeli wedding wear for males (the groom included).  They went and danced their hearts out (at one point they all dropped to the floor and did pushups in time to the music), and then at midnight they changed back into uniform and headed back to the border with Gaza.  I found the sight of them incredibly poignant.  But I’m sure they didn’t think of themselves that way.  It’s just life in Israel.

Forthcoming Events

October Events

October 10

11:30am-1:00pm: English Club Meeting. 101 Roberts

October 12 A Day in Celebration of James Joyce

11:30am-12:45pm: Reading of “Cyclops” episode from Ulysses, featuring Dara Maguire, Dan Gunn, Dan Ryder, and other students and faculty.  Roberts C-23

4-5:15pm: “Reading Ulysses”: panel of student papers, by Nate Rawson, Jennie Ferris, and Deborah Scammon. Student Center NDH A

7:30pm: Lecture/Performance on Joyce and Music, featuring Kevin Dettmar, Professor of English at Southern Illinois University and author of The Illicit Joyce of Postmodernism and Is Rock Dead?, with performances by Steven Pane, piano, and Dan Woodward, tenor.  Nordica Auditorium.

October 26

7:30pm: Michael Burke, The Same River Twice. Thomas Auditorium

November Events

There will be a staged reading of Linda Britt’s play, “Bottom of the Ninth,” performed by faculty members from the Department of Humanities. More information about date, time, and place of the performance will be forthcoming.

To submit news items, please contact: Michael Johnson, Editor: michael.johnson@maine.edu

Angie LeClair, Production Design, aleclair@maine.edu