Thursday, March 25, 2010

Important English Club Meeting Friday at 10

(submitted by Prof. Trout): We have an English Club meeting tomorrow at 10 in Humanities 209. We will be preparing for Literacy Day. I know it has been a busy week but we really need your help. I will be forwarding the list of participants that Carly has put together so far--we need more of you to come. Last year the English Club broke records with our particpation, and we want to do even better this year. Even if you have never attended an English Club meeting you are still a member. If you cannot attend and still want to participate, let me know asap. See you in the morning!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Women's History Month Keynote Speaker Wednesday

At 10:00 Wednesday in the Massey Boardroom, Dr. Lisa Marie Hogeland, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati, will be discussing whether young women (and men) are still resistant to feminism in what some consider to be an age of post-feminism, fifteen years after she published the article “Fear of Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies” in Ms. Magazine. Academic Convo will be available for this event.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ron Hansen Coming to Belmont March 24; English Club Meets Friday

(submitted by Prof. Sue Trout and Carly Escue): As many of you know, Ron Hansen will be at Belmont next Wednesday the 24th. Hansen is a highly acclaimed novelist best known for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He writes often about the American West and is generally considered a revisionist writer. He has agreed to make special time for our English majors and minors next Wednesday afternoon--2-3:30 in the Multimedia room of the Bunch Library (2nd floor)--when he will talk with you about being a professional writer and he has agreed to answer whatever questions you might have. Please put this on your schedule for next week--really, really.

In anticipation of this event, the English Club will be meeting this Friday at 10 in WHB 107. During this hour, Dr. Cox will give a general introduction to Hansen as a writer. I will then be glad to discuss Mariette in Ecstasy if anyone has had a chance to read it.

If you have a Nashville Public Library card, you can go here: to read Mariette in Ecstasy for free! Just search the catalog with that title. An ebook version of the novel will show up in the seach results.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BU English Alum Shawn Knight A One-Man Show

Shawn Knight, BU English Alum and current adjunct instructor, is performing his one-man show, Gershwin in Blue, this weekend at the Belmont University Black Box Theatre.

Gershwin in Blue is a 75-minute show about George Gershwin's influential life and music. From his Russian immigrant parents to his struggles to write his beloved opera, Porgy and Bess, Gershwin in Blue details the life of this amazing composer.

So catch us up on your life since getting your B.A. at Belmont a decade or so ago.

When I graduated from Belmont, I earned my MA in English from Auburn University, then I pursued my MFA in Theatre Performance, which I earned from the University of Louisville. I did a year-long internship at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, which had just won a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Then, I returned to Nashville, where I quickly found a home with the Nashville Children's Theatre (my first role there was as Horton the Elephant in Suessical) and back here at Belmont, first working as a tutor in the Writing Center and now teaching third-year writing.

What have been some of your favorite roles/experiences as an actor?

I have managed now to play Horton the Elephant twice, and I love his kindness and perseverance. I have also enjoyed playing Mozart in Amadeus, which is one of those incredibly challenging pieces for an actor. Mozart never appears in that play at anything less than the height of some emotion--whether that be anger, lust, elation, or sorrow--and to throw oneself into that nightly is exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

Is your acting something separate from your life as a university teacher? Or how does acting inform your teaching?

I don't see acting, teaching, or writing, as being all that disparate, given that the goal of each is to communicate. Perhaps they require slightly different approaches, but they all aim to share information, and quite often emotion, with an audience. In each instance, this requires clarity and creativity. I also think the energy I bring to the stage acting is the same kind of energy that can grab the attention of students and make a course appealing that (let's face it) many students do not look forward to taking.

What is the Gershwin show about, and how did you develop it?

One semester in an acting class at the University of Louisville, our entire course consisted of one task: research, write, and perform a one-person show about a famous dead historical figure. I wanted to choose a figure who would allow me to use my singing, acting, and piano-playing skills; Gershwin seemed an ideal choice. As I researched his life, I looked for a clear character arc to explore in what would ultimately end up being 60-75 minutes of performance. U of L has one of only four African-American Theatre programs in the country, so issues of race and creative rights were always being discussed in the department. When I began to read about Gershwin's work on Porgy and Bess, and the criticism he received as a white composer writing a black opera, I knew what this play would be.

What else should we expect to see you in soon?

Starting April 13, I'll be playing Wilbur in Charlotte's Web at the Nashville Children's Theatre, and I'm hoping to have the Nashville premiere of my other one-man show (based on the life of Cole Porter) in the fall sometime. Beyond that, I have a few offers that have come my way lately for some new play readings, but I'm not sure which I'll be able to participate in.

The show runs March 19, 20, and 21 (Friday through Sunday), at 7:30 PM each evening, at the Belmont University Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $5 per person, with half the proceeds going to the Belmont University Theatre Scholarship Fund.

No reservations required. Cash only at the door.

For more information, email Shawn at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

By Shannon Smith

On March 2, 2010, Belmont University students and faculty celebrated the 106th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, in a convo event in Massey 109. The celebration of Seuss’ life and work commenced with a group reading of his popular The Foot Book, followed by a discussion of his pleasing word choices, unusual rhyme schemes, and unique illustrations.

Dr. Rachael Flynn-Hopper, from the Department of Education, provided listeners with a wealth of little-known information about Geisel. Dr. Seuss is renowned, of course, for the 48 children’s books he published. What many don’t know is that he also wrote for publications such as Vanity Fair, devised advertising slogans, and even created the first animated training films for the soldiers in World War II. While attending college at Dartmouth, Seuss was the editor for the campus humor magazine. After publishing a piece that got him fired from the job, he adopted the name “Seuss” so he could still contribute.

Seuss classified himself as a doodler by trade and at heart; many have unsuccessfully tried to imitate his intricate drawing style. Seuss also selected colors that would be distinctive.

Dr. Seuss’ goal in writing children’s stories was to encourage kids to read. His first book was And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. This work was turned down by 27 publishers before a friend agreed to do the job. One of his most popular books, Green Eggs and Ham, was written in response to a bet that challenged him to write a book using 50 or fewer words.

Our celebration slowly came to a close as we read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day and watched a clip from an animated version of The Sneetches, a Seuss story that symbolically examines the folly of racial discrimination. We parted quoting the wonderful Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Shannon Smith is a Senior BU English Major.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writing Tips from Margaret Atwood and Others

Dr. Curtis thinks it would be a good Spring Break idea for you aspiring writers to read this article published in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago with writing tips from this Fall's Humanities Symposium keynote speaker Margaret Atwood and many others:

(Dr. Curtis especially likes Elmore Leonard's contention that "[t]o use an adverb [to modify the word 'said'] (or almost any way) is a mortal sin.")


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pre-Spring Break English Club Meeting Friday

English Club President Carly Escue wants you to know that this Friday at 10:00 in WHB 107, the English Club will be meeting to brainstorm Literacy Day themes. If you were a judge for the Elementary schoolers' poetry, remember that today is the deadline for getting your second round scores to Chris Pilny.

We'll also be introducing the book we'll be reading in anticipation of Ron Hansen's visit after Spring Break.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mid-term Movie Break

Wednesday evening at 7:00 in the Beaman Student Life Center, the Program Board is showing Where the Wild Things Are. Though there's no convo, free admission and snacks have been promised. To whet your viewing appetite, check out Gia Vangieri's October review of the film.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BU English Alum Needs Your Help

(from BU English Alum and current Instructor Kristen House): Hi Belmont! Andrew and I entered our short film, "I had weekends in Paris; I wore sparkly things" into The Doorpost Film Project. It's a multi-stage festival competition with a grand prize of $100,000! We were selected into the first round of 100 merited films (out of a pool of thousands!) and now we need your help.

To get through to the next round (of 20 films), we must survive an online vote. The process takes a little effort, and I am really nervous about the outcome. I'm recruiting you because we need that Belmont spirit behind us!

Go to; and register. Then you'll see a link at the top of the page that says "voting." The system will present five films to you (none are longer than 7 minutes), which you must watch in their entirety before you rank them with your vote. If you could watch a few batches for us, and vote our film UP! we would be much appreciative. It is a process - but maybe you'll have some free time over spring break that you can dedicate to independent film!

Also, this batch of entrants are interesting and beautiful. Please recruit anyone among your friends (or students!) who you think would enjoy watching some independent shorts! Thank you so much!

Dr. Curtis Named Associate Dean

Dr. David Curtis, Chair of the English Department, has been selected to be the Associate Dean for the School of Humanities starting June 1. Dr. Curtis's new position became available when Dr. Monteverde was promoted to Assistant Provost for international education last August.

The English Department will be selecting a new Chair some time later this month.

Monday, March 1, 2010

English Majors Kick Off Women's History Month

Dr. Caresse John and Dr. Sarah Bowles, faculty co-sponsors again of Women's History Month at Belmont, invite you to the first event of this year's celebration--a student panel discussing Feminism at Belmont. Panelists include BU English majors Amaryah Armstrong, Nathan Haney, Gia Vangieri, and Shawn Willis. PG convo will be offered at this event, slated for Wednesday, March 3 at 10:00 in Beaman A & B.

Stay tuned to the blog for details on further events in this series!