Sunday, December 7, 2014

GW English Alums on the Move: Laura Greenfield at Hampshire College

Dr. Laura Greenfield
GW English PhD '07
Laura Greenfield (GW English PhD 2007) is founder and executive director of Women's Voices Worldwide, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting social justice around the globe by educating women and girls to be powerful speakers in all areas of personal, academic, professional, and civic life.  Since 2013, she has been a visiting associate professor of Education and Communication at Hampshire College.  She was recently featured on Hampshire College's "Faculty Friday" spotlight.  Read the entire post here.  Here are some highlights:

"Currently, Dr. Greenfield is the Director of the Transformative Speaking Program, a new initiative launched in 2013 which provides resources to students to develop as powerful speakers (public speaking, group discussion, interpersonal communication) and resources to faculty for support in bringing speaking instruction into their courses. The program is in the second year of its pilot phase, and Dr. Greenfield’s primary work thus far has been to hire, educate, and oversee a group of Hampshire students who are providing peer speaking mentoring to students.
Dr. Greenfield first came to Hampshire when representatives of the college contacted her with requests to provide speaking workshops and classes. 'Over the years I had the opportunity to learn from students, faculty, and staff about their interests in greater speaking resources. I fell in love with the school and the people here—the support for individuality, creativity, and innovation coupled with a commitment to justice in action resonates deeply with my philosophy of education. In response, I created a proposal for a pilot speaking program, and the rest is history!'"

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Judith Plotz to Receive Children's Literature Association Award

Professor Emerita Judith Plotz
At the June 2015 meeting of the Children's Literature Association, GW English Professor Emerita will be awarded the Anne Devereaux Jordan Award for Outstanding Achievement in the field.  The award recognizes significant contributions in scholarship and/or service to the field of children's literature.  Professor Plotz is well-known in a wide variety of scholarly fields, including British Romanticism, colonial and postcolonial literatures, and children's literature.  She is the author of Romanticism and the Vocation of Childhood (Palgrave, 2001) and numerous other scholarly articles and projects.

The Anne Devereaux Jordan Award is considered annually and given as merited; it is the highest honor in the Children's Literature Association.  Congratulations, Professor Plotz!

Monday, November 24, 2014

18th Century and More with Professor Seavey

Michel de Montaigne
GW Students!  Professor Ormond Seavey's courses for spring afford some great opportunities for exposing yourself to a wide range of literature, from its early American beginnings to the classic Education of Henry Adams, published in 1907.

English 3490 Early American Literature and Culture
CRN: 43931, Tue/Thur 3:45-5 PM
Beginning with a Shakespeare text which represents a bridge between the turbulent early modern period in Europe from which Renaissance literature emerged and the domain of uncertainty of the New World, this course considers some of the imaginative costs and benefits of the Euro-African settlement of the Americas between the beginning of the seventeenth century and the end of the eighteenth century.  It is a story filled with problems, accommodations, excuses, and conflicts, with some suggestive successes mixed in.  Although this course deals to an extent with historical materials, its approach is a literary one, assuming that careful interpretive distinctions of the sort used to reveal the meanings of poetry and fiction are needed to answer the most interesting historical questions. 

English 3810.12 Special Topics: Politics, Skepticism, and Literature
CRN: 45497, Tue/Thur 11:10-12:25 AM

Skepticism, the ironic approach to existence, coexists somewhat uncomfortably with the activities of politics, but skeptical approaches to public and personal life emerge in the early modern period with the writings of Erasmus and Montaigne.  In the Eighteenth Century as irony comes to its richest appearance, it can be seen in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and even in the historical writings of Gibbon.  Turning to the American Nineteenth Century, an era when skepticism tended to be discounted as an adequate approach to experience, Emerson revisits Montaigne’s Essays in an effort to incorporate skepticism into an aspect of idealizing affirmation.  The course moves toward the profound negations of Henry Adams, a figure carefully spraddling domains of imaginative expression and public life in Washington, with his Education of Henry Adams. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Politics, Sex, Sentiment! (And a fulfilled GPAC Oral Requirement)

Hogarth, Beggar's Opera
GW Students: another class to consider for Spring 2015.  This class now fulfills the GPAC Oral Requirement.

The Eighteenth Century:  The Theatre of Politics, Sex, and Sentiment

Professor Tara G. Wallace
CRN: 47695
Tuesday-Thursday 9:35-10:50 AM

In 1660, after two decades of Puritan rule, England regained its monarchy and its theatres, and both court and stage enthusiastically embraced the spirit of liberty enabled by the new regime under Charles II, the Merry Monarch.  Theatrical productions took advantage of technological innovations and the availability, for the first time, of actresses to play female roles … and the modern theatre was born.

This course looks at a selection of playtexts produced during the long 18th century (1660-1800), considering both ‘literary’ elements and the cultural information the plays convey.  We will trace the movement from libertinism to sentimentalism, and discuss the culture wars enacted on the 18th-century stage in plays such as Congreve’s The Way of the World, Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, and Shridan’s The Rivals.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Toni Morrison and William Faulkner: Race, Memory and Aesthetics

GW Students: Another great course for Spring 2015! Study Toni Morrison and William Faulkner with Professor Evelyn Schreiber (president of the Toni Morrison Society).

English 3820W.10, CRN 42671, "William Faulkner and Toni Morrison:  Race, Memory, and Aesthetics"

Major Authors: Toni Morrison and William Faulkner: "Race, Memory, and Aesthetics" : This course links authors Toni Morrison and William Faulkner through the ways in which their fictional and discursive practices reflect on each other.  Specifically, we will examine how the texts of both authors reenact and resist racism and patriarchal structures; how they explore the ways in which memory and the past construct identity; and how they experiment with style.  We will consider the ways in which the texts illuminate a continuum in American literature through discussions of socially constructed identity and issues of race, class, and gender.  In addition, the class utilizes cultural studies and psychoanalytic critical approaches to the texts of these authors.  The reading list includes Beloved, Song of SolomonThe Bluest EyeAbsalom, Absalom!The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August.
This course fulfills the Minority or Postcolonial Literatures (d) requirement for English Majors.

The Cultural Memory of Slavery in Literature and Film

GW Students!  We'll be featuring a few of our Spring 2015 courses here over the next week.  Consider signing up for English 3570: The Cultural Memory of Slavery in Literature and Film, taught by Professor Jennifer James.  The CRN is 48139, TR 2:20-3:35.

 The upcoming two hundred-year anniversary of the end of the Civil War has renewed debates about our nation’s complex relationship to the history of slavery. The recent success of major theatrical films about enslavement has given new urgency to enduring questions about the relationship of art to cultural memory. Can a traumatic event like slavery ever be captured in literature, film or other art forms? What can art accomplish that history “proper” can not? Who has the “right” to depict that history? How do artists explain their need to take on this difficult subject? To think through these and other questions, we will read a variety of literature beginning with 19th century slave narratives and ending with examples of 20th century neo-slave novels, such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Octavia Butler's Afrofuturist novel, Kindred and Edward P. Jones' The Known World. Selected films will include Django Unchained, Lincoln, Twelve Years a SlaveJefferson in Paris and Sankofa

Transvisceral: The 2015 EGSA Symposium

The George Washington University
February 6, 2015
Paper Proposal Deadline: December 12, 2014

Keynote speaker: Sharon P. Holland, Professor of American Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Raising the Dead: Reading of Death and (Black)
Subjectitivity (2000) and, most recently, The Erotic Life of Racism (2012).

In this symposium, we hope to explore the interplay of bodies and affects, ideas and
corporealities in literary, artistic, historical, and cultural productions. We acknowledge that
“visceral” refers both to bodily viscera and to deeply rooted emotions and affects, “gut feelings”
that are frequently opposed to intellectual reasoning. But what is the relationship between viscera
and the visceral? What fears, what desires are produced by the translation, transformation,
transition, and transportation of viscera and the visceral? After all, as we have recently seen,
viruses move between and within bodies, but not as quickly as our fears about them do. How
does the transvisceral play into sociopolitical, racial, and gendered anxieties? Moreover, what is
the place of the extra-logical, embodied visceral in the intellectual space of the academy?

With these and more questions in mind, the GWU English Graduate Student Association board is
proud to announce its Fifth Annual Graduate Student Symposium entitled Transvisceral, taking
place on February 6, 2015. We invite papers that explore bodily and affective crossings in the
fields of race, nationality, queerness, disability, animal studies and ecocriticism, and all other
subjects that explore the mingling of bodies and/or emotions. How do bodies cross into each
other, and how do we understand, articulate, and map the visceral feelings those crossings
evoke? Moreover, how do we understand our own transviscerality in the academy? How do we
negotiate the ability of our objects of cultural analysis to evoke visceral reactions in us and our

The English Department of the George Washington University has areas of strength in Medieval
and Early Modern Literature, Crip/Queer Studies, British and Postcolonial Studies, and
American Literature and Culture. To encourage innovative dialogues, we welcome papers from
diverse time periods and disciplines, including, but not limited to the following topics:

Animal Studies
Border Studies
Canon, disciplines, and interdisciplinary
Critical Race Studies and post-raciality
Cultural Studies
Cyborg Studies and virtual reality
Death and Dying Studies
Digital Humanities
Disability Studies
Ecocriticism and ecopoetics
Embodiments and identity
Fat Studies
Gender Studies
Queer Theory

The EGSA board is currently accepting paper submissions for our symposium. Please send your
300 word paper submissions, along with your contact information, to Haylie Swenson at by December 12, 2014. Please include the words “EGSA Conference
Submissions” in the subject line of your e-mail.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paul Steinberg, JMM Seminar Alum, Publishes A Salamander's Tale

Jenny McKean Moore seminar
alum and author Paul Steinberg
"A Salamander's Tale is about Drugs, Sex, Lust, Rock 'N Roll, Time, and Death"

Paul Steinberg, a longtime psychiatrist in Washington, graduated from GW's Jenny McKean Moore seminar.  His book, A Salamander's Tale: Regeneration and Redemption in Facing Prostate Cancer, comes out next April.  We talked to him about his time at GW, his work life, his relationship to literature, and his forthcoming book.

You were a student of Tilar Mazzeo by way of our department's Jenny McKean Moore seminar, whose focus your semester was creative non-fiction.  What was that experience like?  Had you taken any literature/creative writing courses before this?

 I found the creative non-fiction course extraordinarily helpful, especially in learning the "craft" of writing, also in figuring out timing, the most succinct way to put in a punch-line.  I had never taken a creative writing course previously, although I had taken plenty of English courses in college.  I had wanted to be an English major, but at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960's, the rigidity of the English Department was striking.  Although I had six years of Latin under my belt, the department chair insisted I had to take six semesters of a modern language.  Fo'get about it!  I ended up majoring in Political Science since it had the least demanding requirements; and it allowed me to take plenty of English courses and also complete the pre-med requirements. 
The seminar with Tilar Mazzeo was fascinating in terms of the dynamics of the group: As a psychiatrist I was struck by the not surprising shame and embarrassment of several of the younger members of the seminar as they read their work.  As a person in his 60's, I didn't give a damn about being revelatory.  Let it all literally hang out and give it a shot.  I have nothing to lose.  The shame component - and some tough critiques from some of the members - made several people run away.  All the more time for my work, I say unashamedly selfishly.

You're a psychiatrist here in Washington.  In what ways did a career spent hearing other people's stories prepare you for intensive reading in creative non-fiction?  Were there particular writers you found especially useful, inspiring?

Every human being has a story; and each of my patients over the years has inspired me with their resilience, their efforts to survive despite significant traumas, severe depression and anxiety, and other conditions created by the environment or one's biology and genetics.  I was fortunate to have been trained as a psychiatrist in what some people have called "the golden age" of psychiatry.  My colleagues and I learned techniques for doing excellent psychotherapy, whether from a psychodynamic and psychoanalytic point of view or from a cognitive-behavioral point of view.  We were not just medication pushers, in the way that many psychiatrists are practicing now.  In the early 1990's, with the advent of managed care, psychiatrists essentially priced themselves out of the psychotherapy market and began to focus on pharmacological treatments.  I was fortunate to have an eclectic and well-rounded training that has allowed me to see all the nuances in most of my patients.

Writers whom I found especially useful and inspiring: I came of age with the great Jewish writers of the 1950's and 1960's - Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Joseph Heller, even relatively unknown writers like Myron Kaufmann (Remember Me to God), with a little John Updike thrown in for the WASPy point of view.    Although I mostly try to read non-fiction these days, I loved the remarkable writers of the first half of the 20th century - Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos.

As a student-health psychiatrist, before I developed prostate cancer diagnosed in 1984, I taught an Honors course at the University of Maryland in College Park in the early 1980's - a course entitled "The Inner Life: The Nature of Dreams and Passions."  More than anything, it was a great excuse to teach some early Philip Roth novels including Portnoy's Complaint (Students loved it - and I still can't get over the punch-line at the end from the previously silent Viennese psychoanalyst, "So now ve may begin").  Also I included Roth's The Professor of Desire, plenty of Kafka, with a few John Updike stories thrown in. These writers did not hold back - they pushed the envelope at the time.  And I've tried to do the same.

Your book, A Salamander's Tale: Regeneration and Redemption in Facing Prostate Cancer, came out of that seminar experience.  In what ways (creatively and pragmatically) did that seminar help in the writing of the book?

As I noted above, I wanted to learn the craft of writing, and the seminar provided all the stuff I was lacking.  I had previously written a number of pieces in the Op-Ed section and the Science section of the New York Times, as well as pieces for the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere.  But making non-fiction into something creative that reads like a novel was a skill I did not have.  Kudos to Tilar Mazzeo for helping me with this skill.

From the summary I've read, you use the salamander's regenerative capacity as a way to talk about human beings and their capacities to overcome injury - physical and emotional.  Can you say something more about that?

 As much as I love the salamander for its regenerative capacities, I love the fact that evolution has taken us from cold-blooded animals like the salamander to warm-blooded animals like ourselves - with the remarkable evolutionary development of the human brain.  A salamander can survive for months while its tail or even part of its heart regenerates; but we human beings, warm-blooded, would have all sorts of bacteria growing in the wound site, and we would not survive.

So, we now have huge brains and enormous cognitive abilities - most of which we do not use as productively as we could.  We lose something special in going from cold-blooded to warm blooded; but we gain something even more remarkable.  The second half of the book, in fact, takes a look at how we can bust and debunk myths about sex and sexuality, about the gods, about time and death.  It may be a bit pretentious, but I often tell friends that A Salamander's Tale is about Drugs, Sex, Lust, Rock 'N Roll, Time, and Death.

Do you have any advice for would-be writers among our students?

Advice for would-be writers: Again, everyone has a story.  Something happens in everyone's life.  After all, none of us get out of here alive.  We're all busy living and busy dying.  There's a story in all of that, whether it's presented in the form of fiction or non-fiction. Life is full of crazy events; and truth can be stranger than any fiction.  Take advantage of the crazy bounces of life; and use them, instead of suppressing and dismissing them.  Then learn the craft, and tell your stories in as entertaining and creative way as you can.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monstrous Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Join GW English and GW MEMSI next week for the Monstrous Knowledge Symposium!  More details available on GW MEMSI's blog here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Successful Residency: Simon Gikandi

This week marked the completion of another visiting residency for GW English, sponsored by the Wang Endowment.  Simon Gikandi, Professor of English at Princeton University and editor of PMLA, and author (most recently) of the critically-acclaimed Slavery and the Culture of Taste (Princeton UP, 2011) was with us from October 26-October 31.

The residency included visits to our two Critical Methods courses (a course required for all majors), an extended seminar with graduate students and faculty (in which we discussed Slavery and the Culture of Taste and several PMLA essays), and our first-ever undergraduate seminar with a Wang Distinguished Professor-in-Residence (in which students discussed Nigerian writer Sefi Atta's story "Yahoo Yahoo" with Professor Gikandi).  Most importantly, on Tuesday, October 28, Professor Gikandi delivered the annual GW Distinguished Lecture in Literary and Cultural Studies to a packed house in the Mavin Center.  The lecture, which was also sponsored by GW's Africana Studies Program, was titled "Archives without Subjects, Subjects without Archives"; the talk used poetry from across three centuries, as well as a wide range of sources, including records of the deaths of enslaved Africans during the Middle Passage, to identify corporeal traces of subjectivity in what Professor Gikandi termed the "crypt" of slavery's objectifying record.

Archives without Subjects, Subjects without Archives
Photo: Professor David Mitchell

Simon Gikandi with GW English Faculty
Daniel DeWispelare, Jennifer James, Kavita Daiya,
and other audience members
Photo Provided By: Professor Kavita Daiya

This visiting residency was created through a gift by Albert Wang and his family that has, since 2009, supported professors such as Edward P. Jones (now a member of the GW English Department), José Esteban Muñoz, J. Jack Halberstam, and Michael Bérubé.  The gift from the Wang family is one of the largest philanthropic commitments to GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences' Department of English.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

November 13: Jericho Brown Reading

Poet Jericho Brown will be giving at reading at GWU on
November 17

A cursory look through some of Jericho Brown’s poetry such as “Heart Condition” or “Langston Blue” reveals a straightforward poetic style that conveys not-so-straightforward themes and emotions. There is an undeniable force behind the words of Brown’s poetry.

In a recent interview with the Poetry Society of America, Jericho Brown outlined some of the guiding principles he keeps in mind while writing a poem, stating: “I strive to be clear – not obvious. I am neither afraid of nor married to difficult or accessibility. I mean to write poems that are felt before they are understood.” And that is exactly what he does in his most recent book of poetry, The New Testament.

Brown’s second book of poetry, The New Testament, infuses myth, fable, elegy and fairy tale to explore themes of race, masculinity and sexuality. Brown’s reconceptualization of the New Testament has received an array of advance praise from authors and publishers alike. A review published by NPR aptly identifies the muted power present in Brown’s new book: “What’s most remarkable in these poems is that, while they never stop speaking through gritted teeth, never quite make the choice between hope and fear, they are always beautiful, full of a music.”

Jericho Brown's forthcoming book of
Prior to The New Testament, Brown published another well-received book of poetry entitled Please, which examines the intersection of love and violence. In addition, his work has been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, Oxford American, The Nation, and Nikki Giovanni’s 100 Best African American Poets. 

Brown was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned his undergraduate degree from Dillard University, an MFA from the University of New Orleans, and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He has previously taught at the University of San Diego. He is now an assistant professor in Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta. 

For his first work of poetry, Please, Brown was awarded the American Book Award. Additionally, for his work in creative writing, Brown has been honored with the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and a Whiting Writer’s Award.

Please join the GWU community in welcoming Jericho Brown to campus on November 13, during which time he will be reading selections from his work at 7:30pm in Gelman Library.

We encourage you to explore some of Jericho Brown’s poetry, which is available on his website, as well as here and here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Aaron Hamburger Leads DC Reads Discussion November 5

This year's DC Reads selection is Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears.  Join GW English's Aaron Hamburger in a discussion of the book in relation to Washington, DC (particularly the Logan Circle neighborhood) on November 5 at 7 PM.  The discussion -- and samples of Ethiopian food! -- will be at the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pramila Venkateswaran, GW English PhD, Named Suffolk County New York Poet Laureate

Suffolk County New York Poet Laureate
Pramila Venkateswaran

Professor Pramila Venkateswaran, who received her PhD from GW's English Department in 1988, recently became the Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, New York.  We chatted with Professor Venkateswaran about her selection as laureate, her poetry, and her memories of the GW English department:

1.    When did you graduate from GW?  What was your degree?  With whom did you study?

I graduated from GW in 1988. My dissertation advisor was Prof. Judith Plotz.  My Ph.D. was in English; my dissertation was on  “Romantic Irony in the works of Thomas Beddoes.”

2.    Are there particular professors at GW whom you remember more than others?  Why?

My favorite professors were Judith Plotz and Robert Combs. Plotz got me to think more analytically in the area of literary criticism (later known as critical theory) and Combs’ comprehensive knowledge of European, particularly German poets, and his ability to make his students ask penetrating questions about modern poetry enhanced my love for poetry. Although I did not take courses with Lucille Clifton when she was poet-in-residence at GW, I hung out in her office showing her my poems and talking about the significance of punctuation and how it affects the line in a poem.

3.  How much of your education took place in India?  Were there significant differences between your Indian and American schooling?

 I did my Masters in English in Bombay University and came to GW for my Ph.D. In the Indian university system, I did not have any choice in courses in my major, which was English literature. We worked our way all the way from Chaucer to the moderns, read most of the novels of the 18thand 19th centuries, and all the major literary critics. Since the exams we took at the end of our B.A. were national exams, we had to know these writers really well to be able to sit for these exams and pass them.  So when I arrived at GW, I found the comprehensive exams for Ph.D. (8-hour exams in 4 areas) to be more or less an extension of my Indian exam-taking experience. What excited me about GW was the opportunity to explore different courses and have the choice to venture outside of a strict curriculum, such as taking a course on Epistolary Writing in the 18th Century at the Folger Library or a course on the Transcendentalists.

4.  How long have you worked at Nassau Community College?  What are some of the courses you teach?

  I started teaching at NCC in 1990. At first I worked in the Writing Center and then from 1995 I started working in the English Department.  I teach Freshman Composition and English electives, such as Modern Poetry, Survey of American Literature, Poetry Writing, Creative Writing, Introduction to Women’s Studies, and Goddesses in World Religions. 

5.  You have just been named poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island.  How did that come about?  What does the job entail?  How do you yourself conceive of the position, both locally and nationally?

I was among a list of names that were submitted to the poet laureate committee for consideration. The nominations were based on their track record of publication and poetry service to the community. Since I had already published 4 books of poetry and had many poems in national and international journals and had been featured at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, I was asked by the committee if I would like to serve as poet laureate. I agreed, since it seemed like the right time for me to do this work.  As poet laureate, I give readings all across the county, organize readings at different venues and arrange for poets in the community to be featured at these venues, and bring poetry to places where it is not known to happen, such as farms, hospitals, government offices, and beauty salons! I have so far organized readings at farms, veterans hospitals, elementary schools, and breast cancer survivors groups.  I also mentor a couple of young poets. I think laureateship is important for it brings attention to poetry and its function in society.  I was surprised when I had to go to the Suffolk Legislator to be officially assigned the position, reminding me of Shelly’s words about poets being the “unacknowledged legislators"!

6.  How would you characterize the kind of poetry you tend to write? Are there particular poets by whom you've been influenced?

I am not sure what label would fit my poetry. Some of my poetry is feminist and political, while some of it explores our relationship to nature and the spirit. I write both in free verse and in form and love to play with language. My major influences while in India were modern Indian poets like Nissim Ezekiel and Arun Kolakar, and after I came to the U.S. I became devoted to Carolyn Forche and Adrienne Rich and many more.  I carry with me the melodies of Sanskrit poetry—a lot of which we knew by heart growing up since they were part of Indian devotional culture. I admire many European poets, such as Anna Swir, Rilke, Zbigniew Herbert, and Paul Celan.

7. Do you have any thoughts to share with GW English majors who are thinking about their professional and creative futures?

My advice to students of creative writing is to write every day, even if it is just a line. The Sanskrit term “sadhana” or discipline is important if one wants to become reasonably good at a task. And if you are reading a poem by your favorite poet, study the poem carefully by going over every line and word to understand the structure of the poem, your pencil marks littering the poem, helping you grasp the creative process of the writer. Modeling your favorite writers can be a beginning to later finding your own style and voice.  Even if your work after graduation may not relate to your major, you may find that the act of reading and writing sustains you in more ways than you can imagine.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Literary Pumpkin Carving with Faculty and Librarians!

Bring your own pumpkin and sculpt your masterpiece in the company of GW's coolest faculty and librarians.  Carving implements will be provided along with cookies, cider, and nerdy-cool conversation.

Judging begins at 4pm and prizes will be awarded for the best literary adaptation, best team (bring your friends), and best overall pumpkins.

Costumes aren't required, but are definitely encouraged!  Extra cookies and instant respect if you arrive dressed as any literary or classical character.

Monday, October 13, 2014

RSVP Today: Simon Gikandi's Oct. 30 Undergraduate Seminar

For the first time since the creation of the English Department’s mini-residency, the Wang Distinguished Professor will give a seminar just for undergraduates!

Simon Gikandi, 2014-15
Wang Distinguished Professor
This year’s Wang Distinguished Professor, Simon Gikandi will be leading this special event on October 30 at 2:15 PM in Rome Hall 771.

A specialist in the literature of the African diaspora, Gikandi is currently a Professor of English at Princeton University and is also an editor of PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association of America. He has published several books and articles and his recent book Slavery and the Culture of Taste has won the Melbern Glasscock Center for Humanities Research Award; the Melville Herskovits Award for the most important scholarly work in African studies; and the James Russell Lowell Prize for an outstanding scholarly work by a member of the Modern Languages Association.

For the seminar, Gikandi has chosen a long, short story written by the Nigerian writer Sefi Atta, entitled, “Yahoo, Yahoo.” Atta was born in Nigeria in 1964 and graduated from Birmingham University in England. Besides her writing, Atta is also the founder of the Lagos-based production company Atta Girl. This company supports her program Care to Read, which is dedicated to earning funds for charities through literary readings. Her short stories have been published in journals such as Los Angeles ReviewMississippi Review and World Literature Today.

Gikandi's seminar will cover the
novella, "Yahoo, Yahoo," by
Nigerian writer Sefi Yatta
“Yahoo, Yahoo,” along with much of Atta’s work, highlights the problems and challenges that confront the African continent. Students that want to participate in the seminar will need to read the story beforehand and be prepared to engage in discussion.

If you’re interested in participating in this seminar, please RSVP by e-mailing Professor Robert McRuer, Chair, the Department of English at: Once you’ve registered, Professor McRuer will forward you the reading for this event.   

The Wang residency was created through a gift by Albert Wang and his family that has, since 2009, supported residencies by professors such as Edward P. Jones (now a member of the GW English department), José Esteban Muñoz, J. Jack Halberstam, and Michael Bérubé. The gift from the Wang family is currently one of the largest philanthropic commitments to GW Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English.