Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Issues Summer's End Celebration

This afternoon's celebration of New Issues Press united former and current WMU authors and students and faculty and community members at Bell's Eccentric Café. New Issues Press Editor Bill Olsen welcomed guests to the readings by poets and writers John Rybicki, Heather Sellers, David Dodd Lee, Diane Seuss, and Jamie D'Agostino. Bonnie Jo Campbell (supported by Managing Editor Marianne Swierenga), auctioned off a plethora of paintings, rarities, and hilarities, and Whiskey before Breakfast provided the musical background. Among the guests were President John Dunn, Provost Tim Greene, and Cynthia Running-Johnson.

Friday, August 28, 2009

news about Vincent Reusch

Jaimy Gordon reports that Vincent Reusch, recent PhD grad, got a job at Concordia College, Minnesota--a fiction position.

Dan Mancilla

Dan Mancilla, who has his MFA from WMU, and who is entering our PhD program this fall, is one of three finalists for the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award. (from Jaimy Gordon)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meet Karl Sandelin: 2009-2010 Distinguished English Department Alumnus

Karl R. Sandelin was born on October 16, 1928, in Helsinki, Finland. At the age of 20, when studying languages at the University of Helsinki, the Institute of International Education granted him a scholarship for a year’s study at Western for which he arrived six weeks late in 1948. Having had only three years of exposure to English in school and with limited comprehension of English, he managed to negotiate through Dr. Brown’s “Shakespeare” and Mrs. Heinrich’s “Rhetoric” classes and learned that expressing oneself in writing was not a chore but an opportunity and a joy. Western granted him an extension and in 1950 he was able to finish his Bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in German and Group Science. Returning to Finland for his compulsory military service, in 1951 Sandelin continued studies at WMU toward his Master’s degree in the Teaching of Languages, which he finished in 1953. In 1954 he began service in the U.S. Army, gained U.S. citizenship, served as tank commander in a training unit and in army intelligence in Germany. Following army service, aided by an ability to communicate ideas and concepts (attributing this to his studies in English) and fluency in multiple languages, his career ultimately was in international commerce. His working career was with Kalsec, a local company that produces spice, herb, hop and vegetable extracts for use in food, beverage and pharmaceutical applications. In 1958 he became Vice President for Production and in 1970 he assumed responsibility for International Operations for Kalsec, overseeing the management of a production facility in Ethiopia and its agricultural production of raw materials. He also directed Kalsec’s worldwide raw material acquisition and the export of Kalsec products, in 1987 receiving the “Michigan Exporter of the Year Award”. Before and after his retirement from Kalsec in 1988, he was engaged in a variety of community activities and volunteer work: Kalamazoo School Board member 1966-70, governor of Rotary District 6360, elected representative to the Rotary International Councils on Legislation, Senior Warden of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and founder and President of Kalamazoo’s “Walking Together,” a non-profit community initiative aiming at reducing illnesses that are preventable through increased physical activity. Karl will be honored by the College of Arts & Sciences and the University in late October, and he will address students, faculty, and staff of the English Department during its Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony on March 25, 2010.

Job opening in Creative Writing/Fiction

Western Michigan University invites applications for a tenure-track academic year position in Creative Writing (Fiction), to begin December 14, 2009, at the rank of Assistant Professor, pending budgetary approval.

Salary: Competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience, with an excellent benefits package.

Required Qualifications: MFA, Ph.D., or DFA in English required; a significant publication record, including at least one book of prose fiction; a proven record of excellence in undergraduate teaching; a strong promise for excellence in graduate teaching. Experience in any of the following is not required, but will be considered an asset: Editing; publishing; administration; publications in other areas of Creative Writing.

Western Michigan University (WMU), located in Southwest Michigan, is a vibrant, nationally recognized student-centered research institution with an enrollment of nearly 25,000. WMU delivers high-quality undergraduate instruction, has a strong graduate division, and fosters significant research activities. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has placed WMU among the 76 public institutions in the nation designated as research universities with high research activities.
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until position is filled. Applicants must visit to apply and should include a letter of application, a vita, graduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a non-returnable writing sample and, if available, teaching evaluations to: Dr. Richard Utz, Chair, Department of English, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331. For information on the department, please visit:

Western Michigan University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer consistent with applicable federal and state law. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.

Job may be of interest

Seeking female with an educational degree or equivalent and experience working with middle school girls to run an after-school program for girls from 4th through 6th grades, four days a week, Monday through Thursday, from 3:00 to 6:30, starting in September, 2009.
This applicant must have excellent organizing and people skills. She must be able to work with and understand the issues involved in the lives of inner-city, middle school aged girls. The position would require developing and scheduling activities, seeking volunteers for each day, coordinating the planned activities, the people offering the activities, and the materials needed for those activities. The daily activities include, among others, life skills, a reading program, and homework help.
Interested women, please send resume to Dr. Patricia Ann Quattrin, Director, Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-esteem, P.O. Box 840, Benton Harbor, MI 49023.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Art Auction at the Summer's End Celebration

We have a fabulous selection of donated items for our art auction. There are a number of beautiful ceramic items from artists like Hannah Fisher, Brenda Quinn, and Joan Carcia. Oil paintings by Erin Scott. Metal sculpture by John Running-Johnson. Letterpress edition of In the Palm of Space by Herbert Scott, printed by Sutton Hoo Press. Three Fiber Collages by Marie Combs made with hand-made paper, dryer lint, and found materials. Other items include new t-shirts, Japanese prints, Chinese rugs, and fortune-telling cards in six languages.

Come to New Issues's Summers End Celebration and Gala Fundraiser and make your bid! August 30th, 2-6 p.m., Bell's Eccentric Café.

Study & Intern Abroad Fair

The 2009 Study & Intern Abroad Fair is planned for 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 in the Bernhard Center South Ballroom.

For questions, please contact:
Krystal Bresnahan
Study Abroad Fair Coordinator
Haenicke Institute for Global Education
Western Michigan University

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Comparative Drama Summer Issue

Comparative Drama's Summer 2009 issue was published earlier this month. For a complimentary copy please e-mail

Comparative Drama Volume 43 • Summer 2009 • No. 2
This volume contains the following contributions:

From Great Women to Top Girls: Pageants of Sisterhood in British Feminist Theatre
Rebecca Cameron

Diamonds, Maidens, Widow Dido, and Cock-a-diddle-dow
David Golz

Sermons, Exegesis, and Performance: The Laon Ordo Prophetarum and the Meaning of Advent
Robert C. Lagueux

Evicted In—and From—Toronto: Walker’s Beautiful City at Factory Theatre
J. Chris Westgate

Lay Performances of Work and Salvation in the York Cycle
Andreea Boboc

The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics, and the Practical Spatial Arts 1580-1630by Henry S. Turner
Reviewed by Jennifer Low

Contemporary Latina/o Theater: Writing Ethnicityby Jon D. Rossini
Reviewed by Brian Eugenio Herrera

The Cultural Uses of the Caesars on the English Renaissance Stageby Lisa Hopkins
Reviewed by Barbara L. Parker

Ancient Rome in Early Operaby Robert C. Ketterer
Reviewed by Michael Ewans

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kahn-Loftus in the News

One local teacher just completed a nation-wide project to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools. A.J. Cargo of Oscoda Public Schools was among those selected to participate in the intense four-week summer invitational institute hosted at North Central Michigan in collaboration with their home site, Michigan State University's Red Cedar Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, June 22 - July 16. Now in its fourth year, the Petoskey satellite program is part of a $22 million federally funded national grant started in 1974 and held every summer at over 200 colleges and universities nation wide. "Over thirty years of research supports the believe that 'teachers teaching teachers' is the most powerful and effective professional development that exists in American education" says satellite director Toby Kahn-Loftus of East Jordan and Western Michigan University. "I've been blessed to work within the writing projects' summer institute model for many years and time and again teachers involved in the project report that it is a life changing experience. The notion that teachers spend 16 intense days exploring their identity as writers and as teachers of writing is truly unique. Time after time, I have observed stellar teachers discover their professional and personal voice and begin to finally see their own expertise as vital to the integrity of their school communities." Teacher consultants working with Kahn-Loftus were co-director Stasha Simon and Suzanne Nayback of the Public Schools of Petoskey, Dan Polleys of Boyne City Public Schools and Ken Winter of North Central Michigan College. Nayback also served as director of the Spartan Writing Camp North that was launched three years ago for children ages 8 to 10. Each year, Top-of-the-Mitt has added a new dimension to their site work. This August they are offering an outreach tech institute at NCMC for area teachers that supports the use of new digital literacies in area classrooms. Additionally, the site has been tapped to offer a professional development series this coming school year through the Char-Em-Intermediate School District on "Inside Writing" to teams of teachers from across northern Michigan. [Source: Harbor Light (Newspaper), 7/29/09]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our students, our field(s)

On Wednesday, English Department Faculty met to discuss the possibility of more integrated and consubstantial practices in teaching, scholarship/creative activity, and governance. Based on a common text, Bruce McCominsky's English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s), faculty debated the connections among Literature and Literary Criticism, Linguistics and Discourse Analysis, English Education, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric and Composition. More focused discussion will follow during the course of this academic year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Heller's "How the Moon Regained Her Shape"

Saturday, August 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.--Janet Heller will be selling and autographing her fiction picture book for children about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, 2006) at the "Reading Rocks in Rockford" festival in Rockford, Michigan, at the Park by the Dam.

October 30-31, 2009 Janet Heller will be at the International Reading Association's Great Lakes Regional Conference at the DeVos Place Convention Center at 303 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. On Friday evening, Oct. 30, from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m., she will be part of a group of Michigan writers and artists presenting songs and shows for the conference participants. On Saturday, Oct. 31, she will be at the Authors and Illustrators Breakfast from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.and will autograph her fiction picture book for children about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, 2006). She will also give two presentations entitled "Using Stories and Nonfiction for Kids to Combat Bullying" from 9 to 10 a.m. and "Using Poems to Get Kids to Write" from 12 to 1 p.m.

WMU MFA Dan Mancilla

Dan Mancilla, who has his MFA from WMU, and who is entering our PhD program this fall, is one of three finalists for the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grad Students:

Note that all incoming graduate students are required to attend:
1) The English Department Graduate Convocation, which is Tuesday, September 1, from 3-5 PM
2) The Graduate College's New Student Welcome Fair, which is Thursday, September 3, from 3-6 PM

Orientation sessions for:

August 31-September 4, from 9-4
3027 Brown Hall, with Cheryl Almeda

September 1-September 4
Will be contacted by Dr. Jonathan Bush

September 3, from 9-2
2037 Brown Hall, with Jil Larson

September 3, from 9:30-12:30
2045 Brown Hall, with Richard Katrovas

If you have any question, please email Dr. Todd Kuchta or Dr. Jana Schulman at

Classroom/Syllabus Opportunity

Not too long ago I (Nic Witschi) came across some display cases in the third floor rotunda of Waldo Library that have in them some excellent exhibits featuring elements from Special Collections & Rare Books. Upon further investigation I was delighted to learn that such exhibits are often produced by student workers at the Collection, and that at present a number of very fine and informative cases have been put together by students in English. I sent my compliments to the Head of Special Collections, Dr. Susan Steuer, and the resulting conversation led to the following invitation to our classes. Please contact Prof. Steuer if you have any questions, interest, or ideas . She writes:

"In addition to the exhibits our student workers develop, we have worked with some classes in which students develop a one-case exhibition as an assignment, and we would be delighted to work with any interested faculty in English who would like to explore using this kind of assignment in their courses when it is feasible.

"We have also developed exhibitions for particular courses (in history, art, English, engineering and medieval studies) which support the pedagogical goals of the course, such as examples of different types of color reproduction methods (for art and
engineering) or a brief overview of the way a text was presented (printed, illustrated and edited) over time (in English or History). Sometimes these are formally mounted in cases, and sometimes, when class sizes allow, we set materials out and let students look through them during a class meeting time or as preparation for a
particular day's discussion.

"Our goal is to support the curriculum and help in any way we can with teaching and research at WMU, so please pass along any of this information that you find of use to anyone you like. We are always glad to have more people aware of our collections and services. Please let me know if you would like further details.

"Sue Steuer

"Susan Steuer, Ph.D.
"Head, Department of Special Collections and Assistant Professor
"Waldo Library
"Western Michigan University

Update for Dr. Connie Weaver

Dr. Connie Weaver will begin serving in her new position as Heckert Endowed Chair of Reading and Writing in the Department of Teacher Education this fall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Connie's updated contact information follows:

507 Edgehill Drive
Oxford, OH 45056

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pakistani ambassador a guest of the 2009 Prague Summer Program

l-r:  Krista Katrovas, Professor Richard Katrovas, the ambassador 
with his family and Professor Stuart Dybek at a party 
the ambassador hosted in his home 
for PSP participants and faculty on July 22

The Ambassador of Pakistan to the Czech Republic, H.E. Mr. Athar Mahmood, was invited to participate as a special guest in the 2009 Prague Summer Program hosted by Western Michigan University in partnership with Charles University.

The four-week program ran from July 4 to July 31 and included 95 students from WMU and all corners of the United States.

The Ambassador greatly appreciated participating in workshops conducted by PSP Director Professor Richard Katrovas in creative nonfiction writing, and the PSP fiction workshop led by Professor Melissa Pritchard of Arizona State University. The ambassador said he found the program to be extremely useful and productive not only for writers, but also for those interested in the art of creative writing.

Visit the Prague Summer Program's Web site

Reading Tonight!

Bonnie Jo Campbell will be reading and discussing writing at the Kalamazoo Public Library downtown tonight at 6:30!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Robinson and Swan speak to Medievalism seminar

On July 30 and August 4, Drs. Carol Robinson and Jesse Swan addressed Richard Utz's graduate seminar on Studies in Medievalism via Skype. Robinson, who teaches at Kent State Trumbull, is one of the most widely known experts on the subject of Neomedievalism and founding member of MEMO, the Medieval Electronic Multimedia Organization. She is also editor of the essay cluster on "Medievalism in Video Games" in Studies in Medievalism XVI: Medievalism in Technology Old and New, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2008.
Swan, who teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, is coeditor, with Richard Utz, of Studies in Medievalism XVI: Postmodern Medievalisms, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005, and of The Year's Work in Medievalism 2002, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2003. He spoke to the seminar and guests (Drs. Beth Bradburn and Grace Tiffany) about "Medievalism, the Book, and Post-Counter-Reformation Anglo-Catholicism, Or, Another Way To Appreciate Elizabeth Cary."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slawinski edits Sukey Vickery

Sukey Vickery’s Emily Hamilton is an epistolary novel dealing with the courtship and marriages of three women. Originally published in 1803, it is one of the earliest examples of realist fiction in America and a departure from other novels at the turn of the nineteenth century. From the outset its author intended it as a realist project, never delving into the overly sentimental plotting or characterization present in much of the writing of Vickery’s contemporaries. Emily Hamilton explores from a decidedly feminine perspective the idea of a woman’s right to choose her own spouse and the importance of female friendship. Vickery’s characterization of women further diverges from the typical eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century didactic of the righteous/sinful woman and depicts, instead, believable female characters exhibiting true-to-life behavior. A presentation of this novel accompanied by Vickery’s poetry, letters, a diary fragment, and a few nineteenth-century responses to her work, Emily Hamilton and Other Writings is the first complete collection of Vickery’s writings. For more information on the volume and to read an excerpt, click HERE.

Sukey Vickery was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1779. At age twenty-two she became a published author when her poems appeared in the Massachusetts Spy. Two years later her novel Emily Hamilton appeared in print. After her marriage in 1804 she ceased to publish but continued to write. She died at the untimely age of forty-two.
Scott Slawinski is an assistant professor of English at Western Michigan University and the author of Validating Bachelorhood: Audience, Patriarchy, and Charles Brockden Brown’s Editorship of the Monthly Magazine and American Review.

New Issues Gala Fundraiser

Western Michigan University's literary press, New Issues Poetry And Prose, is happy to announce the Summer's End Celebration & Gala Fundraiser. Please join us at Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. on Sunday, August 30, from 2 to 6 p.m. A $5 donation is requested at the door, and food and refreshments will be available.

New Issues poets and Michigan writers John Rybicki, Heather Sellers, David Dodd Lee, Diane Seuss, and Jamie D'Agostio will read briefly from their poetry. The inimitable Bonnie Jo Campbell will serve as auctioneer for a variety of excellent paintings, rarities, and hilarities. Whiskey Before Breakfast will perform traditional dance music.

New Issues Poetry And Prose, a non-profit literary press, was established in 1996 by poet and Editor Herbert S. Scott. New Issues publishes eight to twelve new titles each year with a focus on contemporary poetry. New Issues enjoys support from WMU, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the generous donations of a supportive arts community. For more information about the press and this upcoming community event, call Marianne Swierenga at (269) 387-8185 or visit the press's Web Site at

'American Salvage' delves into lonely, modern working-class small-town Michigan life

'American Salvage' delves into lonely, modern working-class small-town Michigan life

Bonnie Jo Campbell creates stories that somehow dig deep while also soaring

Well, it looks as though Illinois writer Jean Thompson, with her recent collection "Do Not Deny Me," has middle-class Midwestern life pretty well covered for the year. Now here's Bonnie Jo Campbell in "American Salvage" taking on the question of life among Michigan working-class folks, and making stories that dig deep and somehow soar at the same time.

She sets most of her stories in a small Michigan town that has been saturated with methamphetamine, a place suffering the torpors of a declining Rust Belt economy and all of the usual small-town modern times pains -- loss of love, splintered families, despair about the future -- as well. Even the happy families, such as that of Jerry and his wife, Natalie, must fight off assaults from invading nature, from ermine to bees to snakes. Jerry can't sleep because of a hole in the baseboard of their bedroom, fearing that anything "could move into that empty space and lurk there, a bat or a squirrel or bugs or some awful art of himself, maybe."

That worry turns out to be in many of the other stories, except it's people from town, the neighbors, who assault one another. In the story "King Cole's American Salvage," from which Campbell takes the title for the collection, an ex-con named William Slocum Jr. robs an auto salvage yard owner, beating him nearly to death, all so he can buy his beloved girlfriend Wanda some methamphetamine "to keep herself going since she had lost her job" and help her pay her mortgage. He beats the salvage yard man so badly with a length of galvanized pipe that the victim's blood spills over the money Slocum finds in his pockets.

In one of the most chilling passages in recent fiction -- all the more so because of the matter-of-fact way the writer presents it -- Slocum presents his girl with the cash. " 'Here's your house payment, babe.' 'Look at you,' she said, but she was looking at the money. With two fingers she lifted a 50-dollar bill from the stack and held it away from herself. 'Willie, this money's covered with blood.' 'Sorry about that.' Slocum looked at his hands, which were also covered with blood. 'We can wash it in the sink,' Wanda said."

Alas, what these people do to one another can't be washed away or erased. Even the children suffer from a deadening of expectations, as we hear when a schoolgirl, run over by a man racing along the road on a foggy morning, lies waiting for help, considers the miseries of what may come in her life. "What if the future were camouflage and gray and sour, phlegm and dirty snow, wounds and scars and boys killing helpless pond creatures?"

Humor is a toothless meth addict, joking with her earnest ex-husband that she has committed incest with her former stepson. And though the future envisioned by the most level-headed adults, as in the mind of Doug, the victim of an accident, takes on a certain lyrical force, it remains bleak nonetheless: "The universe seemed darker than he'd realized, and larger, which made each thing in it, including him, smaller. Years ago, smart-aleck schoolboys like him ... should have learned more than their grammar and arithmetic. Why hadn't they learned the way bodies could break and how slow and difficult it was to heal?"

In these stories about cold, lonely, meth-drenched, working-class Michigan life, there's a certain beauty reaching something like the sublimity of a D.H. Lawrence story. Few of the stories have endings that seem resolved. Because of their despairing feel, and their shape and form, they seem quite lifelike.

Alan Cheuse is an author, a writing teacher at George Mason University and a book commentator for NPR's "All Things Considered."

--Taken fro the Chicago Tribune

"American Salvage"

By Bonnie Jo Campbell

Wayne State University Press, $18.95, 171 pages

America Salvage

National Public Radio book reviewer Alan Cheuse has just reviewed
AMERICAN SALVAGE, Bonnie Jo Campbell's (1998 MFA) third book of fiction,
which has just gone into a third printing. Cheuse says many all good
things, compares Campbell to D.H. Lawrence, and refers to a particular
scene in the title story as "one of the most chilling passages in recent
fiction." AMERICAN SALVAGE was published by Wayne State University
Press as part of the Made in Michigan series.

One of the stories in the collection, "The Inventor, 1972,"
has won the 2009 Eudora Welty Prize from /Southern Review./

Campbell teaches at the Pacific University low residency MFA program in
Oregon, and currently she is is running around promoting AMERICAN
SALVAGE, so if you want her to come to her town, just contact her on
facebook or at her website: