A grant from the National Endowment of the Arts will support a community-wide conversation about the Ernest J. Gaines novel “A Lesson Before Dying” during the coming school year.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse English Department received a $14,000 Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It will be used to bring nationally recognized speakers to La Crosse and generate community-wide conversations around the book.
“We want it to be a community, grass-roots read,” said assistant professor Kate Parker, one of the grant’s co-authors. She hopes up to 3,000 area readers take part.
Partners in the project include the La Crosse Public Library; libraries at UW-L, Viterbo University and Western Technical College; area schools; and several local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
UW-L is one of only 77 organizations nationwide that received grants totaling more than $1 million for Big Read projects running September 2016 June 2017. The goal of Big Reads, according to the NEH, is “to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.”
Another grant co-author, assistant professor of English Bryan Kopp, expects the Big Read to build community. “Slowing down and reading a book is a great way to connect with one another,” he said.
Community events planned for the Big Read include a kick-off event featuring Sister Helen Prejean, a social justice activist featured in the film “Dead Man Walking.” Other workshops and speaker presentations will be held this winter. Smaller groups will be encouraged to hold their own events while reading the book.
Parker, Kopp and the third grant co-writer, assistant professor of English Heidi Jones, worked with the public library to select the book from a list of 38 titles. “A Lesson Before Dying,” Gaines’ eighth novel, published in 1993, is a story about a young teacher pairing up with an uneducated young adult after he is wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder and sentenced to death in a small, fictional Cajun town.
“This is a book that invites us to think in unexpected ways about pressing social issues,” Parker said.
The faculty authors say there will be more formal and informal opportunities for students interested in promoting literacy — or just reading a good book — to become involved throughout the year. A full schedule of Big Read events will be announced in fall.
English Capstone Presentations April 27, May 3rd, May 4th and May 5th
On April 27, May 3, May 4, and May 5 the English Department will hold three Capstone Presentations for Majors in Rhetoric & Writing and Literature (ENG 413 and ENG 484). The presentations will all be held in 330 Cartwright. The colloquia are free and open to the public. A brief question-and-answer period follows each presentation. Light refreshments will be served. Please drop in for any or all of the following presentations:
Wednesday, April 27th,330 Cartwright Center
Ellen Brown: "Transforming Gender?: Outlander and the Mobilization of Gender Narratives"
Dylan Elliott: "'Not That There's Anything Wrong With That!' Analyzing Representations of Queer Identity in Seinfeld"
Emily Moua: "Animal-Aberration: Deconstructing Anthropocentrism in Nishioisin's Monogatari Anime Series"
Blaire Robertson: “Victorian Portrayals of Families in Jane Eyre and Mary Barton”
Brooke Robison: “Relative Reality: Narrative Building in In Cold Blood and Making a Murderer”
Eric Steffen: “‘O Earth, Pale Mother!’: Questioning Nature as Sanctuary in Into The Wild”
Tuesday, May 3rd, 330 Cartwright Center
Zachary Olson: "Language and Class Division"
Rongqing Jiang: "Video Producing: For the Audience"
Sam Petersen: "Sample at Your Own Risk: How Copyright Laws Obstruct Creativity in an Age of Digital Media"
Samantha Loomis: "Redefining Journalism in the 21st Century: An In-depth Look at the Impact of Citizen Journalism"
Spencer Mertes: "Public Relations and the Public: An Evolving Relationship"
Amy Kempf: "Design Tactics of Local Government Websites: comparing La Crosse, Minneapolis, and New York City"
Jonathan Cook: "Generalities of the Political Rhetoric in the 2016 Presidential Campaigns"
Lara Spilmon: "The Importance of Redefining the Term Rape: A Closer Look at the Language Used to Define It and the Role Society Plays"
Jintian Li: "Social Media and Public Relations: The Implications of Facebook for Marketing Public Relations"
Amber Middleton: "Rhetoric of Grant Writing Manuals"
Alayna Stein: "The Man Who Deconstructed a Genre: The Ethical Complexity of Reporting Psychological Research Revealed Through Critical Discourses Analysis of the Work of Oliver Sacks"
Danielle Watterson: "Comic Revisionism: The Evolving Archetypes of Superheroes"
Fangfang Li: "Twitter and Weibo: The Localization of Social Media in America and China"
Wednesday, May 4th, 330 Cartwright Center
Lauren David: “A Feminist View of Edna St. Vincent Millay and the Woes of the Literary Canon”
Rachel Hoffmann: “A New Definition of Literature: How The Digital Age is Altering The Literary World”
Carly Radiske: "A Look at the Relation of Race, Class and the Grotesque in William Demby's Beetlecreek"
Keagan Safstrom: “Changing the Grizzly Man Narrative: A Shift from Humanism to Posthumanism”
Charleton Skinner: "Siddhartha: From Nihilism to Belonging"
April Wildes: "Evaluating The Binary of Animals and Humans in Alice in Wonderland"
Thursday, May 5th, 330 Cartwright Center
Daniel Wirtz: "People Should Be People: The Media and its Rhetorical Effect on How We View Personhood"
Yu Cai: "Minimalism: From Arts to Life"
Abbey Grall: "Let’s Talk Pretty: Challenging the Conventional Representation of Womyn and Beauty Standards Through Photography"
Liqi Yi: "Website Localization"
Sarah Busse: "Personality and Rhetoric: An Analysis of how Extroversion and Introversion Shape Language Choices"
Aijing Song: "Science Writing for the Public"
Madelyn Kulas: "The Horses and Their Boys: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Buying and Selling of Draft Horses"
Haolin Huang: "Dream and Reality: Robots In Film History"
Danielle Cook: "Like, Comment, Share, Consume: Advertising to Today’s Teenagers"
Lingyuan Xiong: "Examining the Role of Social Media in Crisis Management"
Sam Smith: "Snapchat: The Social Aspect Through a Rhetorical 'Filter'"
Yu Huang: "The Sharing Economy is an Alternative Capitalism"
Xiaoqian Zeng: "Cross-Cultural Web Design: How to Effectively Communicate Between Cultures"
Matt Leitner: "The Role of Oral Tradition in the Catholic Church: Undermining Written Scripture in the Eucharist"
Brittany Lofgren: "'A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words': The Rhetoric and Marketing of Images"
Kyndra Rothermel: "Knowing versus Retaining: A Comparison of U.S. and British Education Systems"
Kasey Overgaard: "Rhetoric in Advertising: How Print Ads Affect Consumer Behavior"
Steam Ticket Literary Journal Vol. 19 Release Party--THIS THURSDAY, April 28, 4 p.m.--The Eagle's Nest, 1914 Campbell Rd. Help the students in English 320 celebrate--we'll have brief readings, briefer speeches, free appetizers, stories about our production process. We're proud of this excellent issue that our hard-working and discerning editors and readers have assembled!
At 4:00pm on April 21st in 150 Murphy, the TEDxUWLaCrosse Salon Series will present "Fatletes, Health, and Our BMI Obsession: A Cultural Discussion of Branding Fat as the Enemy."
At a TEDx salon, attendees watch TED Talks, listen to speakers, and have discussions about the talks they witnessed. Salons re-engage the audience in the presentation model through the critical element of lively discussions, allowing attendees to actively participate in the event and shape the conversation.
Fat is a culturally-loaded word—we reference it in terms of amounts in food, leverage it as an insult, worry about it as a state of being, chastise it as a moral failure, medicalize it under the guise of health, and discuss it it in broad strokes as a crisis and a high priority for erasure. Primarily, then, fat is culturally-articulated and understood as synonymous with bad and unhealthy—this understanding, however, encourages humans to collapse understandings of health and wellness with appearance-based body assessment.
Dr. Marie Moeller describes the salon, “This session responds to and challenges the way we understand fat—instead of being a visual marker of health, this talk reframes understandings of the way fat is culturally-treated, medicalized, shamed, hidden, and oppressed by our varying governing institutions—political, educational, medical, legal, juridical, and many others. Let’s understand, in other words, the complexity that is ‘fat’.”
Dr. Karen Hart will present "The Icy White Queen in a Green World: Investigating Ecocritical Consciousness in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and Disney’s Frozen" from 2:30-3:30, Friday April 22, in CWH 113 as part of the English Department Colloquium Series. What is an “ecocritical” or “green” consciousness and why is it important to investigate in popular culture? What are the ambiguities of “green” consciousness in Andersen’s “Snow Queen” and Disney’s Frozen (a loose adaptation)? Which is more “green” and potentially subversive: “The Snow Queen” or Frozen? To answer these guiding questions, Dr. Hart has investigated the meaning of “green” consciousness in relationship to a “master” consciousness, and has integrated modules into my Gen Ed ENG200 Fairytale class to explore the young adult/student response to these stories after learning these concepts. She also has considered my own experiential and theoretical concerns with Frozen as a parent and fairytale scholar. Through sharing her discoveries, Dr. Hart hopes this colloquium will open up a dialogue about the challenges and impediments to, and value of, creating and maintaining a green consciousness.
Dr. Stephen Mann will present, "Locating the 'Q' in Inclusive Excellence: Non-normative gender and sexuality in undergraduate catalogs and general education curricula" on Friday April 1 from 2:30 to 3:30 in CWH 113 as part of the English Department Colloquium Series. Inclusive Excellence (IE) is a framework adopted by many universities across the United States. According to UW System, IE "is a planning process …[whose] central premise … holds that [academic institutions] need to intentionally integrate their diversity efforts into the core aspects of their institutions," including "academic priorities, leadership, quality improvement initiatives, decision-making, day-to-day operations, and organizational cultures." In this presentation, Dr. Mann will discuss a new long-term project in which he is exploring how the ideologies present in the IE framework, especially as they pertain to "academic priorities" within the purview of academic affairs, do (or do not) reveal themselves in actual practice -- or, more specifically, actual linguistic practice. How and to what extent are these ideologies present in the language of catalogs, syllabi, class lectures, and class discussions? The presentation will first outline the project as a whole: scope, goals, methodologies, and timeline. The primary focus of the presentation, however, will be preliminary findings from the first phase of the project: a corpus linguistic analysis of an undergraduate catalog in which he examines language related to non-normative gender and sexuality. Because it documents academic requirements -- e.g., general education, major, minor -- the catalog could be viewed as a repository of the "academic priorities" of an institution. he will discuss how an analysis of word counts, affixation, and collocations within an undergraduate catalog can provide insight into the level of success of a university's IE initiatives and the extent to which non-normative gender and sexuality are "included" as part of a university’s implementation of Inclusive Excellence practices.
Matt Cashion, UWL Professor of English, is the author of two novels, How the Sun Shines on Noise (2004) and Our 13th Divorce (forthcoming). His short story collection, Last Words of the Holy Ghost, won the 2015 Katherine Anne Porter Prize. The book is currently a finalist in Foreward Reviews 2015 Indiefab Book of the Year Awards. Kirkus Reviews calls it, "A sublime collection that uses compassion and subtle humor to capture heavy moments in lives lived on the margins." Born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, Cashion earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. He has worked as a reporter, a short order cook, a bartender, a piano mover, and as an airport tollbooth attendant. He has been teaching Creative Writing (and a few other things) at UWL since 2006.