Program News & Initiatives

Creative Writing Graduate Program  |  Shakespeare and STEM  |  English Education Undergraduate Program  |  Medieval and Renaissance Studies  | 

Creative Writing Graduate Program

Marianne BoruchThe Creative Writing Program was greeted with the spring news that Roxane Gay is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. This fall we will welcome Kaveh Akbar as an Assistant Professor in Poetry.  Kaveh’s most recent poetry collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, was published in fall of 2017 by Alice James Books.  Also joining us in the fall as a Visiting Assistant Professor will be Terese Mailhot, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Heart Berries, which was published in February of 2018 by Counterpoint. In current and former student news, Joy Harjo selected 2015 MFA alumna Emily Skaja’s poetry manuscript, Brute, for the 2018 Academy of American Poets. Walt Whitman Award. Please join me in congratulating Megan Denton Ray (2018), winner of this year’s Academy of American Poets Thomas H. Scholl and Elizabeth Boyd Thompson Poetry Prize for "A Crown of Sonnets for Emily."  For the fourth year in a row, the annual Literary Awards selected an MFA student for the Budd and Betty Knoll Award for Best of Contest. This year’s winner was Diana Clarke (2019), for her fiction entry, “The Wife Store.” Perhaps most importantly, the Creative Writing Program said farewell, but not goodbye, to our cherished colleague, Marianne Boruch, who retired from teaching at the end of the 2018 spring semester.

Shakespeare and STEM

John TompkinsSince 2014, Purdue English graduate program alumnus John C Tompkins (PhD, 2013) has been serving as the Lecturer in Technical Communication for the Lyles School of Civil Engineering here at Purdue University. His job is teaching professional writing and speaking skills to new engineers, skills seen as vitally important by the alumni advisory council and the industry at large. Since classes in the STEM fields often require progress reports on team projects, students are familiar with the basics of presentation software. Tompkins finds, however, that they lack confidence in their ability to speak to groups and can get bogged down in details when presenting engineering material to the layperson: serious problems for a profession as public-facing as civil engineering. His solution has been to introduce elements of theatrical practice and rehearsal to the classroom. Students are required to memorize and recite a monologue from Shakespeare for the class. The monologue serves two purposes: preparation for delivery entails acting exercises designed to make students more comfortable on stage, while mastering Shakespeare’s language teaches them the importance of voice tone and emphasis in conveying meaning. Further, Shakespeare’s training in classical rhetoric provides numerous examples of persuasive techniques to remember and adapt when students move from reciting lines from the Bard to making arguments of their own.

English Education Undergraduate Program

The undergraduate English Education program earned National Recognition in 2017, part of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation process required of all teacher education programs at Purdue. It was the only program in the College of Education to achieve this status upon initial submission of its Specialized Program Area report.  Professors Tara Star Johnson and Christian Knoeller were integral to the report’s successful submission.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

MARS students and faculty were well represented at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 2017) at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Some of the highlights involving English Department faculty and students were a roundtable sponsored by Arthuriana organized and presided over by Professor Dorsey Armstrong on “Fair Unknowns,” two sessions on “Shifting Shape and Changing Form” organized by Jessica L. Auz and Aidan M. Holtan both from Purdue and sponsored by MARS, and a session on “Scandinavian Studies” organized by Professor Shaun Hughes on behalf of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies. Christina M. McCarter, winner of the 2016 Thomas Ohlgren Award for Best Graduate Student Essay in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, presented her prize-winning paper, “Malory and Authorship: The Production of Material Form in Le Morte Darthur,” in a special session on “Malory’s Morte Darthur.” The winner of the 2017 Thomas Ohlgren Award for Best Graduate Student Essay in MARS was Aidan M. Holtan for her paper: "Reading Dismemberment in the Monstrous and Hagiographic Bodies of Old English Literature." A version of this paper will be presented at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies in May 2018.

On November 9, 2017, MARS hosted its annual symposium, “The Meaning of the Reformation: A Medievalist and a Modernist Discuss.” This year's speakers were Professor Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Department of English, University of Notre Dame and Professor Thomas Pfau, Department of English, Duke University. This year’s symposium was co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Department of History, and the Program in Comparative Literature and was one of a series of events celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Special thanks to Professor Michael Johnston of the Department of English who was instrumental in bringing Professors Kerby-Fulton and Pfau to campus and who took care of the bulk of the organizational details.

The MARS 22000 course for Fall Semester 2018 will be “Figures of Myth and Legend 3: Magic & Marvels: Tolkien from Page to Screen.” taught by Professor Shaun Hughes.

Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia

LewingsThis fall Professor Charles Ross produced a 10-minute film based on an episode in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia:  Purdue student Brianna Lewings plays Zelmane in a film version of Sidney’s Arcadia, Fall 2017. See the website at devoted to Professor Ross’s new edition of The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.

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