Department News, October 2016
Photo: Marshall Alcron, Chair and Professor of English
We held a symposium on the work of James Miller in September 2015. Professor Miller (1944-2015) focused in his career on a wide range of topics in African American literary and cultural studies across the 20th and 21st centuries. He was the author of Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial (Princeton University Press, 2009) as well as numerous essays focused on African American literature, music and history. A panel of invited scholars addressed the remarkable reach of Jim’s work. Barbara Foley addressed the connections between modernism, race and labor movements. Farah Jasmine Griffin talked about the African American novel and questions of justice. Paul Gardullo, a doctoral student of Jim’s, shared how Jim’s teachings continue to influence his work at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Finally, writer and faculty member Edward P. Jones brought the house down with a reading from his short story collection, Lost in the City.
Photo: Professor James Miller (1944-2015)
The department is delighted to announce the hiring of fiction writer Jung Yun as assistant professor of creative writing. Professor Yun started teaching this fall, and her first novel, Shelter, was published by Picador this year. The central character in Shelter, Kyung Cho, lives in Massachusetts with his wife Gillian and their young child. The couple is struggling financially following the 2008 housing crisis. The novel, in fact, opens with a meeting between them and a real estate agent who is helping them weigh their options for navigating financial crisis. Kyung himself is the son of successful Korean immigrants who live nearby. As Kyung and Gillian talk with the real estate agent, the three are suddenly jolted by a disturbing image out the window in the backyard. A woman is slowly approaching, naked and traumatized. It is Kyung's mother, Mae. Something terrible has happened. We encourage everyone to find out what happens next in this novel that The New York Times has called “gripping” and “captivating.”
Photo: Assistant Professor Jung Yun
This fall, Patty Chu, Jennifer Chang and Daniel DeWispelare joined David McAleavey at the University of Macau for a symposium with that university’s faculty and students. Professor McAleavey is a GW Global Humanities exchange professor at Macau this semester. Everyone shared expertise and experiences in hopes of fostering collaboration in the arts and humanities. As part of the trip, several University of Macau graduate students gave the faculty a brief tour of old Macau, which included the chance to admire the façade of the church of St. Paul, a relic from the time when Macau (also spelled Macao) was a Portuguese colony.
Photo: Professors DeWispelare and David McAleavey (back row), Jennifer Chang and Patty Chu (front row), flanked by University of Macau graduate students.
- Professor David McAleavey published the poetry volume Rock Taught (Broadkill River Press, 2016).
- Professor Jeffrey Cohen and Lowell Duckert, PhD ’12, published the edited collection Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water, and Fire (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
- Ayanna Thompson’s co-authored Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach (Bloomsbury Arden) was published in 2016.