Monday, November 30, 2009

Please Consider

We know that at this time of year many of our readers consider which organizations to support through their philanthropy. We hope that you will consider making an end of the year gift to the GW English Department ... and we would like to think that the liveliness of this blog has made evident to you why we might be worth supporting.

You may use a credit card and contribute via this link. Please ensure that you designate your contribution for the ENGLISH DEPARTMENT. To donate by check, please write "English Department" on the memo line, make the check payable to GW, and mail your gift to:
The George Washington University
2100 M Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, D.C. 20052

To give by phone, please call 800-789-2611. All contributions are fully tax deductible, and every penny is put towards advancing the English Department's academic mission. Your contribution makes an immediate and substantial difference for our teachers and students.

We owe the extraordinary achievements of the past few years to our generous supporters. On behalf of the faculty and our students, we thank you for thinking of us, and for your continued generosity.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thomas Mallon in the NYT Book Review

Congratulations to Tom Mallon for the excellent review of Yours Ever: People and their Letters in the New York Times Review of Books. An excerpt:
It is next to impossible to read these pages without mourning the whole apparatus of distance, without experiencing a deep and plangent longing for the airmail envelope, the sweetest shade of blue this side of a Tiffany box. Is it possible to sound crusty or confessional electronically? It is as if text and e-mail messages are of this world, a letter an attempt, however illusory, to transcend it. All of which adds tension and resonance to Mallon’s pages, already crackling with hesitations and vulnerabilities, obsessions and aspirations, with reminders of the lost art of literary telepathy, of the aching, attenuated rhythm of a written correspondence.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The English Department Thanks Its October Contributors

Our gratitude to those who generously supported us last month:
  • Ms. Jenny Anne Burkholder (1993)
  • Mr. Lawrence M. Dennee (parent)
  • Dr. Richard M. Flynn (1987)
  • Prof. Christopher Sten (faculty)
  • Ms. Jennifer Lyman Wagner (1990)
All contributions directly support our department's mission. You can donate online here. Please make sure that you designate your gift to the English Department ... and thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Poetry Tour of Washington

Including our own Jane Shore. Check it out!

From the site:
The Washington, DC, Poetry Tour reveals our nation’s capital through the eyes of its great poets, including Archibald MacLeish, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Elizabeth Bishop, among many others. From the hallowed halls of the federal buildings to neighborhood side streets, the tour features poems written in and about DC, as well as photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis.
Narrated by inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander and produced by the Poetry Foundation, the tour showcases archival and contemporary recordings of DC poets, scholars, and musicians, all shedding new light on DC’s historic landmarks.
Poetry lovers in the city can download the audio tours and maps to explore the National Mall and Northwest DC, or take a walking tour beginning at the Library of Congress and ending in Dupont Circle.
But you don’t have to be in DC to explore the city’s poetry with the tour. You can take the virtual tour, either by following the sites in numbered order starting at the Library of Congress, or by creating your own order click by click.
Whether they were perusing the stacks of the Library of Congress, walking the U Street Corridor, or visiting the National Zoo, some of our greatest poets have been intertwined with the history of our nation’s capital. The DC Poetry Tour features poems by legendary American poets who have called DC home, including Georgia Douglas Johnson, Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, May Miller, Sterling Brown, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, and Randall Jarrell. In addition to these seminal voices, you’ll hear contemporary poets—including A.B. Spellman, Jane Shore, Naomi Ayala, Reb Livingston, Reuben Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Myra Sklarew, E. Ethelbert Miller, Sarah Browning, and Linda Pastan—talk about the ways in which DC inspires their writing today.
Whether virtual or actual, the Washington, DC, Poetry Tour is a new way to discover the unique history of our nation’s capital.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tom Mallon @ Politics and Prose

Politics & Prose Bookstore
Thomas Mallon
author of
Yours Ever:
People and Their Letters

Saturday, November 21, 1 p.m.
5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW • Washington, DC • (202) 364-1919

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Best Course of the Spring Semester? Jewish Literature Live!

Thanks to generosity of English Department alumnus David Bruce Smith, we will again be offering our Jewish Literature Live course in the spring semester (English 172.15). Students read novels by renowned writers of contemporary Jewish literature ... and the authors come to the class to discuss their work. This class, offered by one of the most revered member sof our faculty, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Here is the official course description:
Thanks to donor David Bruce Smith, here's an opportunity to speak directly with the authors whose books you will read in this unique course. We will read 7 or 8 works of Jewish literature, talk about them, write about them, formulate questions about them, and then the author of each book will come to campus  to have a conversation with the class.  Requirements: Response papers and written questions, final exam, attendance at 3 readings. Some of the established or emerging writers include: Rebecca Goldstein (Mazel), Myla Goldberg (Bee Season) Cynthia Ozick (Puttermesser Papers) and Peter Manceau (Songs for the Butcher's Daughter). 
And here is an impressive list of the prizes that the writers who will be visiting the class have won:

Gabriel Brownstein
  • Finalist for the Koret Jewish Book Award (2002), for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W
  • PEN/Hemingway Award (2002), for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W The Man From Beyond was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Historical Novels (2005) 
Myla Goldberg
  • Harold U. Ribalow Prize (2001), for Bee Season
  • NYPL Young Lions Award finalist (2001), for Bee Season
  • Hemingway Foundation/PEN Awarad finalist (2001), for Bee Season
Rebecca Goldstein
  • National Jewish Book Award (1995), for Mazel
  • Edward Lewis Walant Award (1995), for Mazel 
  • MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially know as “The Genius Award” (1996)
  • National Jewish Book Honor Award, for collection of short stories entitled Strange Attractors 
  • Koret International Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought (2006), for Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity 
  • Whiting Writer’s Award (1993), for The Dark Sister 
  • Guggenheim Fellowship and Radcliffe Fellowship (both 2006) 
Dara Horn
  • Harold U. Ribalow Prize (2007) for The World to Come 
  • National Jewish Book Award (2003) for In the Image and (2007) for The World to Come 
  • Edward Lewis Wallant Award (2002) for In the Image 
  • Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction (2003) In the Image  
  • Named to Forward’s 50 (2009), Media and Culture 
Howard Jacobson
  • Ballinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize (1999), for The Mighty Walzer 
  • The Man Booker Prize, longlisted (2002) for Who’s Sorry Now and (2006), for Kalooki Nights 
  • Jewish Quartley Literary Prize (2000), for The Mighty Walzer
Faye Moskowitz
  • PEN Syndicated Fiction Award (1993) and (1994)
Cynthia Ozick
  • Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (1996), for essay collection entitled “Fame and Folly” 
  • National Book Critics Circle Award (2001), for a collection of essays entitled Quarrel & Quandary 
  • National Book Award, finalist (1997) for Puttermesser Papers and "The Pagan Rabbi, and Other Stories" (1971) 
  • International IMPAC Dublin (1999) shortlisted for Puttermesser Papers 
  • National Jewish Book Award (1997), for Lifetime Achievement 
  • PEN/Nabokov Award (2008) 
  • PEN/Malamud Award (2008) 
  • The Man Booker International Prize (2005) shortlisted
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Mildred and Harold Straus Living Award from the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters

Friday, November 13, 2009

DC, Diaries, and Deans Seminars: The Life of Thomas Mallon

One day Thomas Mallon looked out his office window in Rome Hall and had a strange sense of déja vu. "I look out into the apartment of one of my characters," he said. Mallon's novel Fellow Travelers was set in 1950s DC, at which point the dorm West End was an apartment where he placed one of his protagonists who worked nearby at the State Department.

This may have been one of Mallon's eeriest coincidences, but DC had always had a significance for Mallon and his writing. Most of Mallon's novels are set in DC: Henry and Clara, about the couple who shared the box at Ford's Theatre with the Lincolns on the night of the assassination, Two Moons, which takes place at the old observatory in Foggy Bottom, and his next book will be on Watergate, an international phenomenon, but also part of Mallon's backyard. "I live in the historic district of Foggy Bottom. I love the neighborhood. I love Washington. I've lived here only for six years, but I've spent a lot of time in the city over the past thirty," he said. "My house was built in 1890, it works on my imagination."

Even though Mallon is a native New Yorker (where he has an apartment still), he has always felt welcomed by DC. He said, "It's one of those cities that isn't too enormous for a writer to wrap his mind around. Almost like Albany for William Kennedy. I've always felt at home here." Mallon finds DC has a hidden literary scene also. "If you got to a party in Washington they assume you're a political writer. A novelist seems more exotic. Whereas in New York, saying you are a writer is the same as saying you are a waiter who really wants to be an actor," he said. The city is especially crucial to Mallon's work as a writer of historical fiction. "Washington is an interesting place for a writer. You have two kinds of history operating at once, national and local history. I take these big national stories and personalize them," he said.

Mallon had been writing about DC for so long that it was only a matter of time until he moved here permanently. He read an article about the books university presidents like to give to guests and found that former president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg used to give out Mallon's novel Two Moons. "I wanted to have a perch at a university so I wrote Trachtenberg in 2003," he said. Since teaching here, Mallon has noticed fundamental differences between his time teaching at Vassar and at GW. He finds his colleagues much friendlier compared to the "fractious" atmosphere of Vassar's department. He said, "I am always gratified by how nice colleagues are by telling me they're read something I've written or attending a reading of mine."

GW students also offer a welcome change, "GW students are cheerful, eager, forthright in a very friendly way. They engage you and are adversarial in a friendly way," he said. Mallon has been teaching a creative classes a year as well as various Deans Seminars. He has previously enjoyed teaching one on Lincoln's assassination and looks forward to teaching one this spring on diaries.

Mallon's latest publication, Yours Ever: People and Their Letters, is essentially a companion volume to his previous book on diaries from fifteen years ago. "I kept interrupting the book to write novels. It took a long time to read this material and soak yourself in these letters. It was a very off and on process," he said. This is Mallon's seventh nonfiction book, another of which he notes has an obscure theme. He said, "My subjects in literary criticism have been odd subjects like diaries, letters, plagiarism, these odd precincts of literary history." Mallon admits he is not unbiased in his selections of letters. "I am opinionated in a somewhat arbitrary way. The book is very personal. I don't feel the need to be comprehensive," he said. The collection resulted in letters not just of famous writers, but politicians, prisoners, and soldiers from the Middle Ages to current day.

When Mallon is not teaching or writing books, he contributes to the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and the Atlantic Monthly. "I read and write all day long. I've done that my whole adult life," he said. "I cannot imagine doing anything else." This is no surprise, for one of Mallon's most vivid memories from childhood was when his mother read him his favorite picture book one evening and he suddenly took over, realizing he could read. He said, "I understood at that moment that I could read. To me, it was as if I'd just been born."

Mallon feels extremely grateful that he has been able to organize his life around his passions and as he said, "Teaching is an extension of that."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Cause for Celebration: The Launch of José Muñoz's Book

The room was packed. Latecomers were forced to stand in the back of the room next to the champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries. To many GW students Thursday is the start of the weekend, but the GW English Department was celebrating for a different reason, the launch of Wang Visiting Professor José Muñoz's latest book, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.

The book is a new critical feat in the realm of Queer and Performance studies, so naturally something of such significance deserved a noble introduction. Gayle Wald, who has known Muñoz for over fifteen years, did the honor, "A good theory book inspires our own work," she said.

Muñoz was impressed with the introduction, joking he had nothing more to say. He continued to say that his time at GW had been better than he could have hoped. He said, "This semester has been rejuvenating. The general collegiality has been completely engaging. I have one more month here and I hope to benefit from that collegiality."

Muñoz went on to describe the book as a, "a polemic against dominant strand in queer critique." He turned to material that had been "haunting" him since graduate school, primarily the work of German Idealism in relation to Queer Theory and politics. This eventually led him to the idea of utopia, but Muñoz is careful to emphasize the book is not about optimism. "I really do not believe in optimism," he said. "How do you have hope without optimism? Hope is a mode of insisting on ontological state."

The book itself focuses on "wacky" interests such as Warhol's factory, Stonewall of the 1950s, and The New York School of Poetry. "In the tradition of utopias, I am writing about oddballs and maniacs," Muñoz said.

Muñoz read from the introduction first. "Queerness is performative . Not a being, but a being for here and the future," he read. Next he jumped to the conclusion in between which, "All this stuff happens," Muñoz said jokingly. The conclusion of the book, "Take Ecstasy With Me" is named after a Magnetic Fields song. Muñoz writes about the timeliness of Queer Theory. He read, "Queerness is not yet here. Thus we must always be future bound in our designs and desires." He encourages the reader to "look beyond the here and now" to something "fuller, vaster, more sensual, and brighter." Muñoz touched on this idea again during the Q&A period. "The argument is for the then and there as opposed to the here and now," he said.

Muñoz finished to a room full of applause. Champagne corks ready to be popped for one of the most influential scholars right now.

Muñoz's book will be published by NYU Press on November 30, 2009.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Open Student Reading This Thursday

Calling all creative writers:

There will be an Open Student Reading this Thursday, November 12! The event starts at 7pm, but sign-up will begin at 6:30pm. The reading will be held at the Lenthall House (606 21st St. NW, between F and G). Expect refreshments and entertainment from your fellow genius writers who will be reading mostly fiction and poetry. The event is hosted by our amazingly talented Creative Writing Department. We hope to see you there!

Book Launch Celebration for José Esteban Muñoz

Please join us for a book launch celebration
José Esteban Muñoz
Wang Visiting Professor of Contemporary English Literature

Cruising Utopia:
The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Thursday November 12 2 PM
English Department Seminar Room
Rome Hall 771

Professor Muñoz will read from and discuss his new book.
Champagne, sparkling cider, and snacks will be served.
Professor Muñoz will be introduced by Gayle Wald
All are welcome. Please come!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

An Awe-inspiring Evening With Greg Pardlo

Someone once told Greg Pardlo, GW's newest creative writing professor and poet, that academia could ruin his poetry. After Thursday night's poetry reading however, Pardlo should have no fear that he is losing his talent, if anything, his talent is increasing.

For a man with many awards to his name, Pardlo is incredibly humorous and humble. He made many playful shout outs to the audience from faculty ("You knew that line was coming Faye Moskowitz!") to students ("And to my homies in the English department, Sasha and Justin.") This also means that Pardlo is very open in discussing what actually inspires his poetry too.

"Each project has a certain obsession that guides it," he said. For his book Totem this obsession was the painterly art. "I wished I could be a painter," he said. "So it was the intersection between painters and poets." This lead to a reading of his poem on a bar fight with Jackson Pollack called, "Title It Shotgun Wound" to a the story of a tryst between artists, Georgia O'Keefe and writer Jean Toomer, titled "Restoring O'Keefe."

Pardlo garners his inspiration from many sources, but he emphasized that the typical student excuse "nothing ever happened to me, I grew up in a suburb" does not work. "You have to find something," he said. "Look, I grew up in the suburbs too, but I had never written about the suburbs. So I tried to find passion and meaning in the suburbs." This thought process culminated in a poem aptly titled, "Suburban Passional."

At this point in the reading Pardlo had reached his current poems written during his time as an academic. Those who doubted his ability to meld all texts and contexts into poetry as an academic were instantly proved wrong. He said, "My new poetry is about exploring my life or one's life in texts. All of you English majors understand that the songs we listen to, the movies we watch, the books we read, are texts." One of Pardlo's most distinctive poem explores a common phrase often found in slave narratives, "I was born." In his poem, "Written By Himself" he catapults off of this theme to epic proportions, eventually landing him in the current issue of The American Poetry Review.

Pardlo is a poetic force to be reckoned with. GW is lucky to have him.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vandalism of the English Department Achievement Board

One of my first initiatives as chair of the English Department was the dedication of a large bulletin board by the main office to the achievements of our faculty and students. Publications, posters, and media mentions adorn the board, yielding to any visitor ample evidence of how accomplished a department we are.

Unfortunately over the past few weeks we've had repeated episodes of vandalism that appear to be someone's attempt to censor some of its contents.

Gina Welch is a much admired teacher of creative writing in the department. Every time we hang an image of the cover of her forthcoming book In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church, someone rips the page from the board. I can't tell if the crosses on the cover or the contents or both are what is annoying someone enough to tear the paper from the bulletin board repeatedly (three times so far that I know of).

Julia McCrossin is an accomplished teacher in the department as well as a PhD student here. Her work was recently featured in the New Yorker and The Hatchet. We posted a copy of the Hatchet story, as well as the cover of The Fat Studies Reader, a book to which she contributed an essay. Someone ripped both from the board recently.

These petty acts of destruction bother me even more than the recent theft of our computer projector from our seminar room. It is annoying and costly to have to replace technology. But removing and destroying materials on our bulletin board gives evidence of darker, more hateful motives. A university that treasures the free exchange of ideas has no place for such crimes.

As chair of the English Department, I wish to express my strong support for Gina Welch and Julia McCrossin. The removal of their materials from our board in no way diminishes the pride we feel in having them as members of our department.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcoming Gayle Wald, the New Department Chair

Gayle Wald wants you to know that her office door is always open. As the new department chair after January 1, 2010, Wald hopes to bridge the imaginary gap between faculty and students. "I want to engage the undergraduate majors. To give them a feeling of belonging to something through events and enhanced advising," she said. "It's also important that we do what we can to foster a graduate student community."

Wald only sees herself as building off of an already strong department. "I'm not coming in with an agenda. We're in a good place right now. The faculty is really strong and the student satisfaction is high," she said. Yet changing leadership is vital to a department, she said, "It's good to have new ideas and new leadership." As the deputy chair for the past three years Wald has been acting almost as a "vice president" as she puts it, mostly working with promotions of faculty.

Now as the new department chair, she sees it as her time to help the people who have helped her all along. "I have been here since 1995," she said. "This department has been really supportive and I have respect for my colleagues. It's nice to have the opportunity to give back and be in the position to give opportunities to faculty members." Wald is aware the job will have its challenges, but she is eager to work with everyone.

One if Wald's duties will be keeping the faculty happy. "We have an incredibly ambitious research active faculty. So I will try to provide resources for the faculty to pursue that research," she said. This new administrative position does not mean that Wald will be absent from the classroom. Department chairs typically teach undergraduates every year through the English 40W courses such as Jeffrey Cohen's Myths of Britain and Wald's eventual Literature of the Americas course.

Though Wald hopes to see students outside of the classroom, as mentioned above, she intends to increase the interaction between students and the department. Wald believes many students do not realize there is a very welcoming intellectual niche within the department. She said, "One thing that disappoints me is when I see potential English majors who want to transfer. It is often because they do not have the intellectual cohort they need."

Although she will do her best to curb the intellectual isolation, Wald also emphasizes that students need to be proactive as well. "Students under use professors as resources. They seem to be intimidated and shy, but they do not need a reason to come to office hours," she said. However professors are not the only resource in a departmental niche. "Students often are the best advisers to other students," she said. "I advise students to talk to friends they trust."

Wald herself found an intellectual cohort like the one she describes during graduate school at Princeton. "There was a lot of intellectual energy towards black culture so there was a cohort of graduate students interested in the same things," she said. This lead Wald to her current research on Black culture studies, a topic she says bridges English and American Studies. Currently she is on sabbatical to research her new book on a significant black television program, "Soul!," on PBS from 1968-73. "It was a groundbreaking black variety show. It was broadcast at a time when there was few opportunities for black thinkers to appear on TV," she said. The project naturally developed after she finished her book on Rosetta Tharpe and has been captivating her interests ever since.

Though Wald may not be in the office right now, we look forward to seeing her next semester. And we hope to see you at one of her many department events!

Monday, November 2, 2009

GW's future is uncertain, and that's not a bad thing

We have at our helm a president who is no longer quite so new. Steven Knapp is beginning to leave an imprint upon the institution, most notably in a reshuffling of important administrators. EVPAA Don Lehman is retiring. A search for a new provost is underway: this person will be responsible for the day to day operations of the institution. Leo Chalupa is our new VP of Research. Change is coming and will continue to arrive.
Not to sound like a business manual, but with change really does come opportunity. Here are some ideas, not all of them my own. Many of them have appeared in some form on this blog previously.
  1. GW needs to embrace a wider view of the strengths it possesses, as well as teh resources and alliances Washington offers. Yes, this city is a center for policy and politics. But DC is also a world center for the arts and humanities (the Kennedy Center, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress) as well as the sciences (National Science Foundation, NIH, NIMH)
  2. The university is a community consisting of its adminstration, its faculty, its students, and its alumni. Those who develop GW's policies and its visions should involve all these groups from the start, and not in a token manner, so that we are not placed in a situation of complaining about living with procedures or an aspirational identity that we did not help to develop.
  3. We require more members of the full time faculty. We do not possess a sufficient number relative to the number of our students.
  4. We need more spaces for community formation. We need dedicated places, large and small, outside the classroom and beyond office hours where faculty, students, and alumni can interact. These are the spaces in which innovation is born. My favorite examples are Kelly House at U Penn and the Humanities Center at Harvard because they work. I know that such space is being built into GW's new Engineering and Science building, with good reason. Don't the humanities and social sciences merit such space as well?

The English Department Thanks its Recent Donors

Two faculty members and a student helped us to raise more than two thousand dollars in the last cycle. The money will help with a readings series and with undergraduate and graduate students research projects. We deeply appreciate the generosity of:
  • Natalie Carter (student)
  • David McAleavey (faculty)
  • Tara Wallace (faculty)
If you have not contributed to the department recently, or if you have never had the chance to support us with your philanthropy, please consider doing so now. Every contribution we receive goes directly to making this a better place for our faculty and students. Every achievement this department has been able to attain is enabled by the support of people like you. More information is to your right, in the "Contribute to GW English" panel. Thanks! 

GW English in The Hatchet Again

We love having our accomplishments and our ambitions publicized.

This kind of story, though, we would be happy to do without.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Atypical Evening with Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's hair sticks out in all directions, almost as if each curl has some obscure thought attached to it. Most of those thoughts lead to award-winning novels, such as The Handmaid's Tale, about a Utopian society gone dangerously wrong as they often do in literature. Atwood's latest novel, The Year of the Flood, also features an ill-fated Utopia that blends an odd mix of the Garden of Adam and Eve and science. Another successful idea plucked from that crown of curls, however the book tour may not have faired as well.

Atwood is the author of dozens of novels, poems, and essays so obviously she has done the routine book tour too many times to count and was looking for something a bit different. Yet in this search for innovation, she also decided to completely detach herself from the process. Yes, Atwood is present at her events, such as the one held at Lisner Auditorium this past Friday, but until the Q&A period she was not as engaged.

The novel has three strong narrators, hymns (Atwood invents a complete religion, songs included), and general dramatic appeal so this translated to a dramatic reading by three GW students playing the three protagonists, with sporadic hymns sung by a chorus of GW students, and occasional narration from Atwood. Although GW's talent was showcased with its three impressive actors and engaging choir, I could not help but feel a little perplexed as to how this was billed a "Margaret Atwood" event when the most she contributed was a few bits of sardonic wit throughout her narration. I did not seem to be the only confused audience member. The crowd anxiously checked their programs before the event started, asking each other what this event was supposed to be. It was said to be a dramatic reading on the ticket, but I think we all assumed this would only take up a fraction of the evening, not the entire evening.

What we really came to see was exhibited during the Q&A. What was most fascinating was her response to an intriguing question about what it is like to invent an entire religion. Atwood easily identified the importance of song, food restrictions (in her novel the religion advocates vegetarianism), and a leader (in this case a man calling himself Adam One) in various religions. By looking at religion from this angle, we were reminded why we need authors, to help turn our world inside out and examine everything.

Throughout this Q&A period, Atwood demonstrated her sarcastic humor and charisma. I believe we could have used a bit more of that during the event itself. Although the event was unique and certainly no fault of the performers, I will have to admit I am a bit old-fashioned and would take an author reading any day.