Friday, May 29, 2009

Preview of Fall 2009 Speakers

This Fall is shaping up to be another great one for speakers (all dates subject to change). Jordan Christy will give a reading from her new book, How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World, due out August 13 from Hatchette Book Group and then have a Q & A session with the English club in the afternoon (September 11). The very next week, as part of the Humanities Symposium, Janisse Ray (see the summer reading list!) and Pulitzer-prize winning poet Mary Oliver will be reading, among others. Just in time for Halloween and the second film, Samantha Morgan-Curtis will be back for the second installment her Twilight lecture series (yes, this time on New Moon - October 30). Many more to always, check BU English for updates!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

2008-9 Year in Review, Part 3 (Spring Speakers)

(submitted by English major Logan Allen): In March, John Gallaher, author of three books of poetry, professor of creative writing at Northwest Missouri State and editor of The Laurel Review, gave a talk on his experiences as a poet and editor and a reading of his own work.

In April, Bret Lott, author of the novel Jewel, came to speak at a convocation event. Lott read some of his work-in-progress, a section of an introduction he is writing for a new edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. As a Christian writer who doesn’t write Christian novels, he was asked to write an essay that would also serve as an introduction arguing why Christians should read secular work. The real treat, though, came later that day, when Lott made a special appearance for the English Club. Attendees were able to ask anything about Lott or his opinion on writing.

Answering a series of questions, Lott admitted that he hadn’t always been a writer. He was never a proficient writer in high school, and upon entering college, never gave it a second thought. He had, however, always been an avid reader.

He excelled in college, but decided to drop out after his sophomore year. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, and he didn’t think he was going to figure it out in a classroom. So he got a job delivering soda pop up and down the Pacific Coast Highway along the Southern California coastline.

The job was great, he thought. The view from the driver’s seat was magnificent, he was young, it was the 1960s, and he had little to worry about. After a year of that he realized in a moment of panic, “I don’t want to sell soda pop for the rest of my life.”

He decided to ease back into school by taking a night class at a community college in the Los Angeles area. As fate would have it, the only available class was a creative writing class. On one occasion, the teacher read one of his sentences to the class and said, “That’s a writer’s sentence.” In that moment, he knew he wanted to be a writer. And now he is the author of eight novels, three short story collections, and a memoir.

When asked about his writing process, he laughed and said, “Do you really want to know?” Before he begins writing, he strives to recreate a writing environment that he feels was the scene in which he composed his best work in the past. “It’s not superstition,” he assured the group.

Lott prefers to write in the morning, rising at 5:30 AM to don his writing uniform—loose sweats and wool socks. He pours his coffee into a mug that he always uses while writing, and presses the play button on his stereo, spinning a CD that, to him, carries the mood or feeling of whatever he is working on. “I don’t care if it takes me a year to write the book, I’ll listen to the same CD every morning,” he said. His desk is strewn with notes, memorabilia, photographs, and anything else that might inspire his writing.

He closed the session encouraging the group to think back on a time when the writing was excellent and try to recreate it and see what happens. He said he had a great time at Belmont, and Belmont certainly enjoyed having him.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Reading 2009

(submitted by Professor Sue Trout): In the Fall, the Sigma Tau Delta/English Club will probably read and talk about Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Toni Morrison’s a mercy. They are beautiful books that come highly recommended by Drs. Cox and Curtis! Here are more suggestions from your teachers and fellow book lovers:

Dr. Wells offers Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Henry IV Part One. Those going on the Blackfriars trip in October will see both of these plays.

Dr. Smith says, "Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood!
Ray's coming for the Humanities symposium in the Fall, and it's a wonderful read."

Dr. Harris: “For fun I love The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry. It's a beautiful book and it's set in Paris. How could you go wrong? Also worth reading: Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies & The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.”

Dr. Monteverde says, “Well, one of my favorite books of all time is Precious Bane by Mary Webb. This is the book with a narrative voice I wish I had been able to create. “

Professor Gustke recommends Willa Cather's A Lost Lady.

Dr. Pinter adds, “I absolutely love Three Cups of Tea and think our students would, too. I also like Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith. There's a stunning book about the west I found by accident last year. It's like a mosaic of fiction, non-fiction (not real non-fiction) and pictures (I think you'd like it): The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins.

Professor Doner reports, “Some suggestions: Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleve, Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat (memoir). I read that President Obama is reading Netherland by Joseph O'Neill--it's a new novel still out in hardback--set in New York--I read about it on Amazon--and it looks very interesting--just thought I would toss that into the mix, too.”

Dr. Holt says, “These aren't particularly ‘literary,’ but they are excellent books and great reads: Broken For You, Stephanie Kallos; Love Walked In, Marisa de los Santos; The Virgin of Small Plains, Nancy Pickard.

And Dr. Sisson shares, “Here are three books I’ve enjoyed recently—the first incredibly engaging and endearing; the second profound, sad, and cathartic; the third delightfully funny but also thoughtful: Jonathan Safron Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Professor Tewes recommends this one as well!); Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking; A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.

Dr. Hutchins is recommending a book and a movie: “I'm recommending an Australian author: Tim Winton, The Riders. And since that's actually set in Ireland, I'll send along a film recommendation: everyone should see The Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

Dr. John says, “My pick is A.S. Byatt's Possession. It's a long, sweeping romance - perfect for the beach-reading English major."

And the Trout recommendation is Pat Conroy’s South of Broad—it won’t come out until August, so after you’ve read all of the others, check this out with me. I love reading Conroy—he’s from South Carolina, and his books always begin with great promise. Then there’s a point where he usually jumps the shark—let’s figure out where that might be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr. Monteverde Wins Presidential Faculty Achievement Award

To the surprise of no one, Dr. Maggie Monteverde has been named this year's recipient of the Presidential Faculty Achievement Award. This prestigious, highly competitive award is given annually to a BU faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to student life outside the classroom. As anyone can attest who knows Dr. Monteverde's tireless work with CCSA and other student groups, this award was well-deserved! Congratulations, Dr. Monteverde!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dr. Corrine Dale Recounts “Herstory”

(submitted by English major Logan Allen): This Spring marked the final semester of Dr. Corrine Dale’s twenty-three year career at Belmont. In honor of her accomplishments, her friends and fellow faculty members celebrated her career with the establishment of The Corrine Dale Award for Achievement in Writing About Gender, unveiled at a reception following her May 2nd presentation entitled “A True Herstory of Gender Criticism.” Allison Berwald was honored as this year’s recipient of the award for her essay entitled “Take Back the Night: A Discouraged Discourse of Dissent.”

In her talk, Dr. Dale gave a candid account of her experiences of gender inequality throughout her academic career as a student, professor, and scholar. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique ignited Dr. Dale’s activist spirit for female equality in academia, inspiring her to reject the social constructs of what a woman should be.

In graduate school, women writers were not part of the curriculum. The program’s entirely male department favored the “Frontier Myth,” a method of analyzing literature that predominantly valued the male characters’ perspectives. Female characters and literature about the home and family were ignored and categorized as Sentimental Literature, not a serious genre.

Following graduate school, Dr. Dale became a tenure-track professor at Texas A & M University, where five of the one hundred professors in the English department were women. Dr. Dale and her female colleagues strove to correct gender inequalities around campus, including integration of faculty socials that culminated in a threat to take legal action.

Dr. Dale even fought sexual discrimination in the student body, secretly helping a female student file a lawsuit against the university for denying the student admission into a student organization because she was a woman. After a seven-year lawsuit, the student finally won but was horribly ridiculed by her fellow students.

In 1980, Dr. Dale won an MLA award for an essay of feminist criticism she had written. Although she traveled to New York for the convention and dressed for the occasion, the award was given no mention. And back at Texas A & M, Dr. Dale was awarded tenure but discouraged by her superiors to continue her studies of feminist literature, calling it a fad.

Leaving Texas A & M she returned home to Tennessee and also found a home at Belmont. “It was a relief,” she said. Since then, she has taught classes in American Literature, women writers, and Asian literature, and collaborated with other Belmont faculty to produce other academic projects.

Dr. Dale has no specific plans for retirement other than spending more time with her sons, feeding her love of travel, and continuing her research and study of her various literary interests, admitting that she has always thought of herself as more of a student than a professor. This is not a final goodbye, though, because she will be back in the Fall to participate in the Humanities Symposium.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Five Questions with Stephanie Reich

In the third of this series on our graduating seniors, we ask five questions of Stephanie Reich, an English Writing Award winner and (as you can see from the picture of her reading at Literacy Day) an avid English Club participant.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

My most valuable experience as an English major was Critical Reading and Writing. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the various types of literary criticisms, and felt comfortable experimenting with them in a "safe" environment (i.e. no judgment from upper classmen). I felt every assignment was relevant to my learning, and I think I learned more in that class than any other that semester. The class also reaffirmed my decision to change to an English Lit major as I found myself actually excited again to do homework.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

I don't think I can honestly answer this question. My favorite writers before becoming an English major were all I think I have rekindled my love of the short story and all who can master this art.

What post-graduation plans do you have?

I plan to not think about anything academic for two whole months as I finally have a "carefree" summer not filled with summer school classes. I will then throw myself back into the turbulent waters of higher education as I complete the 1 portion of the 4+1 program at Belmont pursuing my MAT. I will be student teaching during the day and taking grad classes at night. I hope to graduate in 2010 with my Masters and a license to kill....any negative preconceived notions about literature.....but really a license to teach high school English.

True or False:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


Any shout outs on your way out?

Shout out to Dr. John as I walk across the graduation stage (inside joke?).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five Questions with Abby Barnhart

In the second of our series of profiles of graduating English majors, we find out more about Abby Barnhart, this year's co-President of the English club.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

Building relationships with professors that challenged me and made me love learning, an internship that taught me how to use skills outside of the classroom, camaraderie with other English majors, the English club, the Literary Journal... all of these things layered on top of each other to create a wonderful experience in a welcoming family of English majors, minors, and professors. I get teary-eyed thinking about not sitting in a classroom with people who love literature and puns as much as I do.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

Right now, my favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude. Ask me again in a few weeks... I've definitely added some old, dead white guys to my favorites list that I never liked too much before Trout's class (Melville, Hawthorne, Poe).

What post-graduation plans do you have?

Immediately, I'm going to me employed (hooray!) as an independent contractor with Thomas Nelson Publishers where I did my internship. I'll be writing press releases, handling marketing campaigns, and weaseling my way into book editing (hopefully!). Farther than that, it's hard to see. I'll keep you posted.

True or False:
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

EVERYTHING depends upon this . . . I even reformatted it for you :)

Any shout outs on your way out?

Too many. Shout outs to the thief who ate Dr. Sisson's mint brownies from the faculty lounge fridge, to the 10 more people who have now read Moby Dick, to the 08/09 English club for reading all my e-mails, to the delicious plums (so sweet and so cold), to the first group of Writing Fellows, to anyone who has ever tried to lay out a Literary Journal in InDesign, to Dr. Hutchins for telling me I could write creatively and making me believe it, and to Wheeler for housing the English department only metaphorically while all its majors trekked to Inman for every class.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

M.A. Thesis Celebration and Writing Award

The M.A. Thesis Celebration will kick off at 4:30 on Thursday in the Leu Art Gallery with opening remarks by Graduate Director Dr. James Wells before presentations by Janelle Fann ("Instruments of Healing: Narrative & Memory"), Rachel Ficter ("Quest for Identity: Using Self-Portraiture to Reflect and Build Self"), and Mark Sursavage ("'The Scene of the Miracle': The Remystification of Language in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Home"). Kyllikki Persson will also receive this year's M.A. Writing Award for her paper, “Playful Chopin: A Multitheoretical Approach for Teaching The Awakening.” There will be refreshments following the presentations.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dr. Curtis to speak at Nashville Public Library

Friday, May 22, Dr. David Curtis will be giving a talk entitled "Defending a Life: John Adams Writes Back" in conjunction with the traveling exhibit "John Adams Unbound." The first 50 pre-registered attendees will receive a complimentary lunch. Please register for the lunch by Friday, May 15. For information or to register for the lunch, call 862-5804 x6092 or email See the abstract in the comments list.

The exhibit, described at the link above, will be at the Downtown Public Library from May 16 - June 25.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Five Questions with Andrew Cole

This week, we're going to profile a few of our graduating seniors with their responses to five questions I asked them last week. First up is Andrew Cole. Andrew is the recent co-recipient of the Carl Chaney Award, given to the outstanding male English major; he also won one of this year's English Writing Awards.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

The highlight of my time in the English department has been the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with members of the faculty. Because our classes are so small, it's a natural fit that the teachers get to slow down and know each of their students on a personal level. I would consider all of the teachers I have had during my time in the department mentors and great friends.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

Most of my favorite authors coming into college (Steinbeck, O'Connor, Conrad, Eliot) have carried through the four years that I have been here, but I have also added to that list Graham Greene and Robert Penn Warren with some of the stuff I have read in my English classes.

What post-graduation plans do you have?

I'll be moving to New York in June to work for a company called Type A Marketing. They provide public relations and marketing services to shows on Broadway and touring across America... I'll be in their touring division. From here to anywhere, right???

True or False:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

False... so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the funky chickens.

Any shout outs on your way out?

Ummm... I guess all the awesome English teachers I had... and I suppose also the ones I didn't because there are quite a few professors I'd still love to have... but not enough to postpone graduating!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lineup for Senior Seminar Presentations

Next Tuesday, May 12 in Massey 103. Here's the order of the presentations:
Abby Barnhart: 10:30-10:45 a.m. (on Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow); Liz Hunton : 10:45-11:00 (ditto); Andrew Cole: 11:00-11:15 (on The Color Purple); Stephanie Reich: 11:15-11:30 (ditto); Heather Pearson: 11:30-11:45 (ditto); Sean Giddings: 11:45-12:00 (All the King's Men and Great Expectations); Jason Hardy: 12:00-12:15 (All the King's Men); Kelda Williamson: 12:15-12:30 (ditto); Christine Piana: 12:30-12:45 (ditto); Lauren Smallwood: 12:45-1:00 (ditto); Hannah Klimetz: 1:00-1:15 (The French Lieutenant's Woman). For abstracts of these presentations, see the comments section below. Come out and support these seniors!

Next week: Graduating Senior Profiles!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Writing Center Finals Hours

Dr. Bonnie Smith would like everyone to know that the Writing Center is open during Final Exams. Call 460-6241 or come by and see Kristin for an appointment.

Wed., May 6: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Thurs., May 7: 9:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Fri., May 8: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Mon., May 11: 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Tues., May 12: 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Dr. Smith says, "Y'all come!"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Word on The Road

When we scheduled our discussions of Cormac McCarthy's The Road in English club last November, we thought the release of the film was imminent; as it turns out, the release was delayed for reasons explained here. Well, we finally have a release date on the film adaptation of this gripping novel: October 16, 2009. Rumor has it that Professor Trout is already organizing a mass group trip to see the film, directed by John Hillcoat and starring Aragorn--er, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, and Guy Pearce.

(Thanks to Meg Tully for the release info.)

Good Luck

The English faculty would like to wish all of our students good luck (and especially good health) during your final exams and projects!

Upcoming Event: Senior Seminar Presentations Next Tuesday

All are invited to the final presentations in Dr. Sisson's ENG 4900 class, which will take place next Tuesday, May 12 in Massey 103. Presentations will begin at 10:30. Come celebrate the brilliance of our seniors!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sigma Tau Delta Inductees - Spring 2009

Sigma Tau Delta is the International English Honor Society. Congratulations from the English Department to the following English majors who were inducted in a ceremony at Dr. Annette Sisson's home on April 19:

Logan Allen
Allison Berwald
Brian Ray Clark
Kindall Duke
Ashley Lynn Francis
Logan Franks
Sarah Gaskin
Crystal Gimesh
Mackenzie Grosser
Nathan Alan Haney
William Hoekenga
John Michael Huff
Michelle Elizabeth Reed
Nicole White

2008-9 Year in Review, Part 2 - English Club/Sigma Tau Delta

With great leadership from Abby Barnhart and Carly Escue, the English Club and Sigma Tau Delta had a banner year, helping out with convos throughout the year, especially during the Humanities Symposium and Women's History Month; engaging in discussions of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Bret Lott's Jewel; and making posters, choosing books, and participating in record numbers last month during Family Literacy Day. Congratulations!

Monday, May 4, 2009

2008-9 Year in Review, Part 1 (Fall Speakers)

As we hurtle toward final exams, graduation, and the promise of summer beyond, I thought it might be good to review some highlights of the year that was in the English Department. In September the School of Humanities hosted the 7th Annual Humanities Symposium: Debate, Dissent, and Dialogue. Featured speakers included Michael Berube, Daniel Frick, and Belmont alum Masood Raja (pictured at right). English faculty Bonnie Smith, David Curtis, Sue Trout, and Maggie Monteverde also delivered talks at the very well-attended symposium.

In October, Samuel Crowl gave two lectures, "Professing Shakespeare" and "Kenneth Branagh: Flamboyant Realist." Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis got us ready for Halloween (and the first Twilight movie) with her talk, "Stephanie Meyer: Putting the Bite on Classic Literature," which played to a packed room in LCVA.

November brought us poet Lisa Williams, reading from her Barnard Women Poets Award-winning collection, Woman Reading to the Sea. Lisa, a Belmont English alum, also talked to a group of students about her life as a professor and poet the following afternoon.

In December we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton with a mini-symposium featuring English professors Maggie Monteverde, James Wells, Marcia McDonald, and Doug Murray.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Humanities Symposium Writing Contest Deadline Extended

(submitted by Dr. Danielle Alexander) The deadline for submissions to the Belmont Humanities Symposium Writing Contest has been extended to May 14. Belmont students of any class level or major are invited to enter their poetry, fiction, or nonfiction work in the Humanities Symposium 2009: Nature and the Human Spirit writing competition. Winners will be chosen for all three categories, and winning entries will be featured in readings held in conjunction with the Symposium, which is scheduled for September 2009.
Length requirements:
Poems: no more than three individual poems (up to a maximum of five pages of poetry);
works of fiction: 3,500 words (or about 10 pages) maximum; or
works of nonfiction: 3,500 words (or about 10 pages) maximum.
All entries should include:
A cover sheet with the name of the writer and the title of the work(s), and the category (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) in which the work should be entered
A manuscript that does not contain the name of the writer, but which is typed (double-spaced) and whose pages are numbered
Entrants may enter in multiple categories, but may not submit more than one entry in any given category.
All entries should explore (discuss, evoke, celebrate, consider, meditate upon, enact) the Humanties Symposium 2009 theme: nature and the human spirit.
Please submit entries to Dr. Danielle Alexander, WHB 206A (in the bin on her office door or in her English Department mailbox).

English Department Receives Poetry Stand

(Submitted by Dr. Danielle Alexander): Here's a picture of the Poetry Stand, our newest English Department asset, built and donated to us by Bret Macfadyen of the Art and Invention Gallery in East Nashville. It is portable and will be stored in my office (right now it's still up at the gallery). It will be available for fundraising, spontaneous poetry events, etc.--whatever we (students and faculty) can think of.

Corinne Dale Lecture and Reception

Professor of English Dr. Corinne Dale, who is retiring this Spring after 23 years at Belmont, will be giving a lecture at 3:00 entitled "Living Proof: A True Herstory of Gender Criticism." A reception will follow the lecture at 4:00. Both events will be on the 4th floor of the Inman Building.

Join us in honoring Dr. Dale!

Apples to Apples Smackdown at 10

The English Club will hold its first annual year-end "Apples to Apples" no-holds-barred tournament at 10 today in WHB 209. (Action photos in a future blog post.)