Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois


Footnotes: The English Department Newsletter

Volume 57 | April 8, 2013| Number 25

FROM THE GRADUATE STUDIES OFFICE

Spring 2013 – Dates to Remember 
April 12: Deadline for Graduate Student Academic Services office to receive the final exam
Certificate of Result
April 12: Last day to withdraw from the current term without a grade of W
April 12: Last day to elect credit-no-credit option for a semester course or to change from
credit-no-credit option to a regular grade
April 12: Last day for student to drop a semester course without a grade of W (without
approval)
April 12:  Last day to add name to May degree list.  Must use Web Self-Service
April 19:  Last day to complete deposit of May doctoral dissertations
April 26:  Last day to elect credit-no-credit option for a second half-session course or to change
from credit-no-credit option to a regular grade
April 26:  Last day to drop a second half-session course
April 26:  Last day to complete deposit of May master’s theses
May 1: Instruction ends
May 2: Reading Day
May 2: Last day to add or drop a second half-session course with approval (a W is recorded)
May 2: Last day to add or drop a semester course with approval (a W is recorded)
May 2:  Last day to change a grade of DFR (in a non-thesis course) or I, awarded last fall to
prevent F by rule
May 3 -10: Final examination period       
May 12:  May degree conferral (Commencement)
May 17:  Last date for receipt of completed petitions in the Graduate College for graduating
students

Summer 2013 – Dates to Remember
5pm May 10:   Deadline to cancel summer 1 (4 week) and SF (summer full term) registration if not registered for any other summer course
May 13:   Instruction begins
May 17:   Last day for student to add a S1 course
May 17:   Deadline to submit forms to elect to audit a course for S1
May 27:   Memorial Day, All campus holiday
May 31:   Last day to elect credit/no-credit option for a S1 course or to change from credit/no-credit
option to a regular grade
May 31:   Last day to drop a S1 course without a grade of W
May 31:   Last day to withdraw from S1
5pm June 7:   Deadline to cancel SS1 Independent Study and summer 2 registration if you are not
enrolled for any other summer course
June 7:   Classes end
June 8:   Final examination period
June 10:   Eight week courses and SS1 Independent Study courses begin
June 21:   Last day to add a first half-session course (S2a)
June 21:   Last day to add an 8 week (S2) course
June 21:   Deadline to submit forms to elect to audit a course for S2
June 28:   Last day to elect credit/no-credit option for a first-half session course (S2a) or to change
from credit/no-credit option to a regular grade
June 28:   Last day to drop a first-half session (S2a) course
June 28:   Last day to take final exam for Aug doctoral degree
July 4:    All campus holiday
July 5:    Last day to add name to Aug degree list.  Must use Web Self-Service
July 5:    Deadline for Office of the Registrar to receive the final exam Certificate of Result
July 8:    Second-half courses begin
July 12:    Last day to complete deposit of Aug doctoral dissertations
July 19:    Last day to complete deposit of Aug Master's theses
July 19:    Last day to withdraw from S2 without a grade of W
July 19:    Last day for student to drop a S2 or SS1 Independent Study course
July 19:    Last day to elect credit/no-credit option for a S2 or SS1 Indep. Study course or to change
from credit/no-credit option to a regular grade
July 19:    Last day to add a second half-session (S2b) course
July 26:    Last day to drop a second half-session (S2b) course
July 26:    Last day to elect credit/no-credit option for a second half-session (S2b) course or to change
from credit/no-credit option to a regular grade
August 1:   Instruction ends - (noon)
August 1:   Reading Day - (1pm)
Aug 2-3:    Final examination period
August 5:   August degree conferral (no commencement)
August 9:   Last date for receipt of completed petitions in the Graduate College for graduating students

 

COLLOQUIUM

Center for Writing Studies’ Colloquium Series
Xiaoye  You
Associate Professor of English & Asian Studies
Penn State University

April 18, 2013
4:00-5:30 p.m.
Room 126 LIS

“Cosmopolitan English and the Arts of Dwelling Places”

In writing studies, research and pedagogy dealing with differences and diversity have been framed primarily within theories of multiculturalism. Much of the multiculturalist approach to differences is entrenched in the nationalist project, trying to guard cultural and ethnic sovereignty within the nation-state. The transnational flows of people, capital, and cultural products make the sovereignty-anchored approach hardly adequate for dealing with differences in research and teaching. Writing studies needs alternative frames and approaches that both acknowledge the usefulness of boundaries and at the same time interrogate and break them down. A candidate for this purpose is cosmopolitanism. Of its various formulations across time and geographical space, cosmopolitanism carries a fundamental meaning: while one may be defined by kindred relations, ethnicity, race, nation, gender, sexuality, or class, one also has moral obligations to those outside his or her groupings due to shared humanity; further, he or she has the agency to develop and sustain new allegiances across cultures, communities, and languages. In writing studies, this perspective enables us to perceive human-connectedness as being deeply underpinned in the various accents and uses of English in everyday life and literary culture. Linguistic, cultural, and ethnic differences are not things to be contained but matters to be respected and appreciated, and to be explored to recover and protect the multifaceted, intricate human connections severed by various artificial borders. In my talk, I will first propose a cosmopolitan perspective to understand English and then illustrate the importance of this perspective by examining the arts of building an online community by Japanese users of English.

For more information, contact Teresa Bertram at 333-3251 (tbertram@illinois.edu)

 

2013 GRADUATE CREATIVE WRITING AWARDS

FICTION

Amy Hassinger, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is the author of two novels. Deemed “superb” by O, the Oprah Magazine and “truly penetrating” by Salon.com, Nina: Adolescence (Putnam 2003) was translated into Dutch and Portuguese, won a Publisher’s Weekly Listen Up! Award, and was selected as Audio Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine. A May 2006 Book Sense Notable pick, The Priest’s Madonna (Putnam 2006) was translated into Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Indonesian. Her third novel, After the Dam, is in revision. Amy has received a 2013 IAS Professional Development Grant and a 2006 Finalist Award in prose, both from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Mama, The Common Online, South Dakota Review, and Fourth Genre. She is a Faculty Mentor with the University of Nebraska’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program.

Nine writers submitted stories this year.  Here are the judge’s comments.

Josephine M. Bresee Memorial Award in Short Fiction, $500: Laura Adamczyk, “Girls”
The best fiction both captivates and moves us: captivates us with its unique voice, its precise and energetic language, its perfect or unusual form; moves us with its deeply felt expression of human yearning. “Girls” so captivated and moved me that, as with all my favorite stories, I wished I had written it. Frannie, the narrator, is full of nostalgia for her own lost innocence, but never sentimental. The story she tells—surviving the trauma of her parents’ divorce while entering the strange and disturbing territory of adulthood—is tantalizingly real and simultaneously surreal, much like the dreamworld of memory. The author presents dozens of evocative images—Frannie’s father’s gold cans of beer disappearing like “the light outside moving from blond dusk to dark;” the mailbox in front of her grandmother’s house bearing the name Bullock, “the block letters scrawled angry and childlike;” the man who appears in the upstairs rooms wearing a three-piece suit, who chews (or pretends to chew) a toy car and who lures Frannie and her sisters into a game of “scratch the itch.” The threat of betrayal and violence, of permanent damage, lurks beneath each of these actions, but the narrator tells her tale with such restraint that while we feel the virulence of threat, its exact final shape is never spelled out, only suggested. The resulting story is rich and subtle and breathtaking, redolent of the pain and confusion of childhood as remembered from a distance.

Robert J. and Katharin Carr Graduate Fiction Prize, $300: Eric Thomas, “The Book of Tobin”
“The Book of Tobin” is told with an authoritative voice that manages to be both absurd and serious, playful and strikingly wise. The first sentence of the story presents a tight knot of conflict that begs to be loosened: “Tobin woke up earlier than usual because his wife wanted to be close to him, and Tobin did not want to be close to his wife.” Next, we see Tobin and his wife curled in bed like “anchovies in a bed of olive oil”—and we’re off and running, following Tobin through his disaffected marriage, his physical and psychic mutations. Soon, we meet the story’s narrator—a persona of the writer, the creator of Tobin—trapped in his own misfiring relationship. The meta-story has the effect of magnifying the whole, enlarging it and creating a wider sense of possibility, more room to play. “The Book of Tobin” takes risks—occasionally it plays the edge of absurdity a little close to silly, and the characters can seem cartoonish—but their attempts to connect to one another, to conceive (a child, a character, a self) are, in the end, dead serious.

Honorable Mention: Nafissa Thompson-Spires, “Mutatis Mutandis”

 

POETRY

Geri Doran Geri Doran’s first collection of poems, Resin, won the 2004 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.  Her second, Sanderlings, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards and twice runner up for the Dorset Prize.  She holds degrees from University of Florida and Vassar College.  A former Stegner Fellow and Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholar, she was recently awarded a 2013 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.  She travels overseas whenever possible; stateside, she teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Nine poets submitted poems this year.  Here are the judge’s comments.

Carol Kyle Award for Poetry, $400: Lucilena Williams, “Reading Trakl,” “The Neighbor’s Lemons,” and “Practicing ‘Tsuchi Dango’”
Poetry is a conversation, and the poems in this tantalizing group are luxuriantly in conversation—with writers, philosophers, botanists and gardeners, with the whole botanical, sensual world.  Essentially poems of mind, these are also, radiantly, poems of place. Excursions into the readerly life (books both poetical and taxonomical) return always to ground, for this is a speaker who wakes “thinking of late August blackberries.” Lithe in their movements though geography and time, richly textured, these poems form a seamless fabric as the poet reaches across dimensions, from Trakl’s “magnificent silence” to the garden of the “oriental poppy flaring up in oranges, beebalm and dianthus nodding along.”

Robert J. and Katharin Carr Poetry Prize, $300: Natalie Mesnard, “Tendril,” “Urtica dioica,” and “Quaver”
From first reading, I found these poems mesmerizing, not least for their willing temptation of risk, their rich veins of danger and daring.  Deep imaginative strengths (wildish metaphors, a slant worldview) are matched by scrupulous care in line and word.  My sense as a reader is of a poem unraveling, travelling, yet within a detailed, circumscribed space:  the “blue logic” of “Tendril” or the after-storm moment, which, we are told, is “autumn’s first courtesy.”  These poems manifest an ardency Dickinson herself might have admired, as they seek and restore the “wild calm of the untamed.”

Honorable Mention: Angela Hine, “Flood”

 

2013 UNDERGRADUATE CREATIVE WRITING AWARDS

FICTION

Jeff Parker is the author of the novel Ovenman and the story collection The Taste of Penny. His short fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, n+1, Ploughshares, Tin House, and many others. He’s co-edited two anthologies of contemporary Russian prose, and his nonfiction book about Russia, Igor in Crisis, is forthcoming in 2014. Currently he is the Director of the DISQUIET International Program in Lisbon, Portugal, and he will join the faculty of the MFA in creative writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the fall.

Sixty-six writers submitted stories.  Below are the winners and the judge's comments.

John L. Rainey Prize, $1,000 (sponsored by Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity): Ethan Madarieta, “Tension, Resistance”
“Tension, Resistance” is the story of the repatriation of the wooden leg of Mexican General Santa Anna from a military museum in Illinois to Mexico. It’s a quest story of the highest magnitude. And it makes good on its title. This is a tense, tense piece. The wooden leg is pilfered in the first paragraph and the museum security guard who invites the bookish thieves for a battle re-enactment at the Alamo, keeps the nervousness high. The powers of description (a steak is “like a thrombus being pushed from a wound”) and observation (her wry narrator admires her co-conspirator’s attempt to distract the museum guard during the theft while wondering how much of his speech is bullshit and how much is really him) coupled with the hilarious dialogue and elegant sentences (“Elaine was in the back seat, spooning Santa Anna’s prosthesis, and not having eaten but a few bites of blood-pinked potato the night before, she felt a faint levity similar to the preliminary effects of anesthesia”) make the piece a real romp. The end is shocking and morbidly funny.

Charles and Susan Shattuck Prize, $500: Rebecca Kaplan, “Your Significant Other Called and Wants You Back”
A woman pleas for her lover’s return over the answering machine in this dazzling, voice-driven story. The woman in question is a tad OCD—make that a lot OCD--so it’s delightfully all over the place, a perfect example of a story fueled by high-octane language. Not a beat is off, not a tic is out of rhythm. Clocking in at one of the shortest submissions in this contest, the bigness of the emotional and physical world outside of the story’s bounds is voluminous.  It breaks hearts in under two pages, and that is a mean feat.

Josephine M. Bresee Memorial, $400: Amanda Toledo, “In Corners Thrown”
An unlikely MacGuffin presents itself in the first few pages of “In Corners Thrown:” A mysterious box to be picked up by a townswoman’s scandalized daughter (scandalized it turns out, because of her homosexuality). Our heroine, a strong and clever fellow townswoman, who starts the story by imagining snipping off her husband’s humongous nose with the garden shears, is ambivalent until the story takes a fairy tale turn and piques her interest in just what effect the mysterious box may have on her if she opens it. The title character is incredibly well drawn, and we never lose sight of her as the vivid and real woman that she is— flawed and honorable and appalling and generous.

Leah Trelease Prize, $300: Dana Byerwalter, “Ossuary”
A Czech-American girl visits her homeland for the first time in part to see the church that she’s named after, one decorated throughout with human bones. When mispronounced in English, her name sounds like “Aura”. When pronounced correctly it leads to her slanderous nickname “Whore-a,” which has caused all sorts of problems back home. On top of the important stuff of the great cross-cultural stories, she is a normal teenager, a curious one who wishes that she had a normal name like her friend Brittany. But being in the church she’s named after produces a strange effect and she finds herself drawn to the architecture of this space, a physical space that resonates with her in ways that she can’t explain. The story is a clever and disturbing examination of the ways in which cross-cultural experiences distance and separate us from ourselves. In the end, they can make us to very unusual and very dangerous things.

Honorable Mention:

David Huettner, “Cancer Monkey”
Herald Feim’s is not your standard redemption story. It’s a hilarious riff related to Philip Roth and Woody Allen. The author can work a line, and there is zero patience here for any sentence that doesn’t hit. On top of the line-level pyrotechnics, the story agreeably jumps back and forth in time. Most of it is told while the car is falling through the air into a body of water. In the end, there is the promise of a redemption of sorts, but the story wisely cuts out just before it’s clear which way it might go. What’s left is a Dali-like portrait of a man already gone well over the edge.

 

POETRY

A.E. Watkins is the author of Dear, Companion, released in 2012 by Dream Horse Press. His work has appeared in Copper Nickel, Denver Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry, Ninth Letter, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. He has also published critical work on seventeenth-century poet George Herbert.  He holds an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Literary Studies at Purdue University.  As an alumnus of the University of Illinois, he is honored and humbled to judge this contest to which he used to submit.

Sixty-three writers submitted poems.  Below are the winners and the judge's comments.

Folger Adam, Jr. Prize, $1,000 (sponsored by Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity): David Huettner, “After the Hospital”
Conjuring the subtle surrealism of a Charles Simic or (more cinematically) a Michel Gondry, “After the Hospital” depicts a scene of domestic trauma that is wildly and appropriately uncanny. The principle subjects are all exposure and exposed – a husband spilling truths as moths that prove for the mother who must hear them hard, winged pills to swallow.  The language – staggered as the stairs where much of the scene happens – offers not the fluidity of lyric romance but a rough, appealing texture evocative of quotidian strangeness. Consider when the mother’s hair begins “blooming with moths / that flap with such a newspaper noise.” Consider when the objects of the scene offer their odd, sympathetic unraveling: “The kitchen sink drips drill bits”; “The hot cooking pans sprout steel wool fungus.” In its highly effective close – “The father, he begins to weep crushed ice. / The mother, she begins to sew herself shut” – the poem is itself shut down and sewn up in a heap of sorrow. This is not the click of a too neat close, but rather the kind of closure that is earned through numerous pains, each the size of a pinprick.

Thatcher H. Guild Prize, $500: David Chambers, “On the Zephyr to California”
“On the Zephyr to California” is America through and through. It is the America of a rich, albeit brief, cultural heritage as it reaches back to the Beats, to Thomas Wolfe, to Walt Whitman, all the way to manifest destiny.  In this apostrophe to Wolfe, the speaker, having fallen for the author’s books, imagines they are amorous “co-pilots of time and memory” on a westbound train. In such a context, the wonderfully lyric sentiment, “I walk with you down the aisle Wolfe, and what matrimony of experience do I find crossing the / Colorado Rockies,” takes on numerous, complementary valences.  The America of this poem is also one of social progress that builds and strains from tradition, and in this light, the theme of gay marriage is well situated within a form borrowed from Whitman, a form at once experimental and hallmark. “On the Zephyr to California” is itself a “hand-built America,” one that shows a supple dexterity and the kind of craftwork that makes a poem seem more nature than product.

American Academy of Poets Prize, $100: Kelsey Wiora, “Shucking Corn”
A poem impressive for its efficiency and depth, “Shucking Corn” depicts a simple interaction between the speaker, as a child, and their mute mother. Simple, indeed, but also wrought, as indicated by its abrupt opening: “Mother looks like a brain patient.”  The notion of brain surgery is echoed in the scene’s primary action – the child’s and mother’s hands peeling back corn husks and uncovering “a layer of tangled // corn silks.”  This action is both domestic and violent, as “white / hands rip husk away,” but there is a kind of empathy suggested when the hands are likened to “doves hopping / through a cattail forest.” The poem offers several other recurring images that are folded into the layers of the poem, and their symbolism is well situated in the straightforward language, allowing the reader to pull back the husk of the poem and take hold of its entangled threads.

Honorable Mentions:

Jessica Sung, “wearing the quiet hours”
In the poem’s closing image, the speaker looks out from her bus seat at a woman waving back, but sees also the mirrored image of “identical seats / suspended just outside my window.” As in this image, “wearing the quiet hours” looks to a world haunted by reflection and repetition, to the beauty and banality of domestic relationships that, like fresh cut flowers, “live on so little // only to bloom.” The drawn out heartbreaks of days and weeks are here compacted into singular images more immediate and intense.  Compressed, like the glass of a vase or a window, the poem powerfully conflates the beauty it contains and the sorrow it reflects.

Karolina Zapal, “Where the Apple Falls”
Large, sprawling, and provocative like its dominant symbol – of personal history as timberland – “Where the Apple Falls” reveals the growth and shifts in the relationship between a mother and son. The poem utilizes a disjunctive language reminiscent of Woolf or Stein to convey the child’s budding awareness of the depths and complexities of his parent: “her eyes sad for the first time went somewhere without me / she said look son here is my past where I followed.” As the speaker follows further into the mother’s history, he finds himself sympathetically and similarly trapped within the forest of her past. The journey for both speaker and reader is often mysterious, startling, and stunning.