English Department Creative Writing Faculty Reading

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Join the wonderful creative writers of the English Department for a reading on February 18th. Hear work by Rone Shavers, Hollis Seamon, Kenneth Krauss, Barbara Ungar, and Daniel Nester. The reading will take place at 7 p.m. in the Standish Rooms.

Hope to see you there!

Barbara Ungar’s “Immortal Medusa” Named One of the Best of the Year by Kirkus Reviews

immortalCongratulations to Barbara Ungar on her latest book, Immortal Medusa, being one out of only seven books of poetry named by Kirkus Reviews as the Best Indie Poetry of 2015!

You can read the review here and get a copy of Immortal Medusa for yourself here.

An Interview With Marshelle Woodward, the Newest English Faculty Member

On a brisk afternoon in early December, Jessie Serfilippi, a graduate assistant in the English program, sat down at Tierra Coffee Roasters with the newest member of the Saint Rose English Department faculty, Dr. Marshelle Woodward. They discussed her love of books, her foray into literary studies, and the classes she’ll be teaching this spring.

How are you liking Albany so far?

I’m really enjoying Albany. I think what I actually like the most about Albany is how close it is to so many other places. I have friends who live in Binghamton and Hartford, Boston, and NYC, so it’s like this great hub to travel and see other parts of New England. Coming from the South, I’m getting to see a lot of places that I’ve read about and heard about my whole life but never seen.

I also like the diversity of the city. You can find lots of quirky little coffee shops and hole-in-the-wall little bars and restaurants.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Kentucky. I spent the first 22 years of my life there. I went to college at a liberal arts school called Georgetown College, which is near the University of Kentucky in the Lexington area. While I was there I got to study abroad at Oxford through a program the school had. I studied Old English poetry there for a semester.

It was really important to me to find a school to teach at that reminded me of my own undergrad because it was such an important experience in my own life.

How did you come to study English?

When I went to college I thought I was going to be a double major in history and political science, which were two different departments at my school. I thought I would be a lawyer. In my first semester I took an honors composition course and we read Hamlet. I wrote this very involved research paper that led me to things written by King James and other 17th century writers, and it was so interesting and stimulating. I realized I needed to be an English major.

That summer I would go to the bookstore after work. I was reading The Phantom Tollbooth there and thinking about how much fun it would be to teach classes forever, just read books and talk about them. I went home and emailed my professor and said I want to do what you do.

I originally thought I wanted to study children’s literature, which was at the time an emerging field, but there weren’t a lot of programs. It was growing, but during the financial crisis all of those programs were cut back. So, relatedly, I decided to specialize in something else and maybe teach children’s literature on the side if I get a chance. I chose Renaissance literature and, particularly, 17th century poetry and prose. The period just clicked with me. I was fascinated by the medical science of the period, and the sort of correspondences that people saw in the cosmos. I loved Milton, I loved Paradise Lost, his great epic poem, so that’s what led me there. I also tended to write the best papers in those classes.

What classes are you teaching next spring?

I’m teaching ENG-105 and my thematic focus is going to be Local Horror Stories & Urban Legends. I sort of transition from horror, to urban legends, to detective stories, because the class is all about learning to write academic research. I like to think about how we investigate the unknown and move from the supernatural to the natural world. I’m excited about that one. I’m teaching ENG-230, Early British, and I taught that this semester. It’s on the theme making knowledge in Early Modern England. We look at all the different forms of knowledge and how literature was seen as a sort of technology for knowing the world. I’m also teaching ENG-240, which is on Metaphysical Poetry. I’m very excited about that one. That’s a new class.

What do you expect from your students?

I expect curiosity, dedication, and a degree of resilience. I teach difficult literature. I expect my students to be sort of able to dwell in that difficulty, trusting that we’re going to find some kind of understanding on the other end. I expect them to be okay with difficulty and with the process of working through complex texts together. 

What book makes you excited to teach?

Paradise Lost makes me really excited to teach because the poetry is sublime and Satan is an amazing character. I get excited to introduce my students to that text and remember what it was like to read it for the first time.

What are some of your favorite books, food, and movies?

My favorite Shakespeare play is King Lear. For fun I like to read fantasy novels, like books by Patrick Rothfuss and Lev Grossman.  I love the essays of Michel de Montaigne and Thomas Brown.

My favorite food is Southern-style food, biscuits and gravy.

I love Mad Men, and most recently I’ve been watching Jessica Jones and Master of None.

When you’re not teaching, you’d rather be…

Probably in Toronto where my husband teaches. And I’d also rather be watching Netflix with my cats.

The 2017 Ottoline Prize

Submit to win $5000 and publication by Fence Books

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The 2017 Ottoline Prize opens to submissions today, November 15th. The prize is open until 11:59 p.m. EST on December 15th, 2015.

The Ottoline Prize awards publication and $5,000 to a book-length work of poetry by a woman writing in English who has previously published one or more full-length books of poetry. Previous winners of the Ottoline Prize are Stacy Szymaszek and Lauren Shufran. The submission fee is $28, and all entrants receive a complimentary subscription or renewal to Fence. The winning manuscript will be published in the Spring of 2017 by Fence Books.

Named for Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell (1873–1938), beloved under-sung patron of the Bloomsbury Group, The Ottoline Prize existed in previous incarnations as the Motherwell Prize, and the Albert Prize before that. A full list of winners can be found here.

Our mailing address is:
Fence Magazine, Inc.

SL-320, University at Albany
1400 Washington Ave
Albany, Ny 12222

Click here to submit to the Ottoline Prize

Our Recent MA Graduates.

In a survey, 80% of alumni respondents indicated that they are employed in an area that draws on the skills developed in their graduate studies at The College of Saint Rose.  We spoke recently to a couple of our graduates.  Here’s a sample of what they say.

Emily LaPointe, Communications Coordinator at Northern Contours: “I know that pursuing and earning my MA in English has enriched my life and emilywas a big factor in being hired for my current job. . . .  It’s something that precedes me in almost all introductions: ‘This is Emily. She has a couple of English degrees.’ It has given me confidence and credibility when it comes to a lot of the tasks associated with my job. . . .  I just always felt like my career options were really open if I had degrees in English. . . . My boss just said to me a couple weeks ago, ‘Man, I never knew how much we needed a writer around here!’ Score one for English majors! . . . I think the person I am today is largely a product of my course of study in English.”

Kelly Weiss, Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional at The College Experience Program:  “My English graduate study imbued me with kellya sense of confidence that I simply did not have before my experience at St. Rose. . . .  After graduation I began working at the College Experience Program, which is an innovative educational opportunity for students with disabilities.  The determination, self-discipline, time management, and advanced writing skills that I learned during my graduate studies proved to be invaluable to me at my current job. Much of my professional work involves writing and teaching. My experiences in the classroom as a student gave me the practical experience I needed to succeed. Ultimately, my time at Saint Rose turned out to be more meaningful for my career than I initially realized.

Recital: Halle D. Cairns, Soprano, BA in Music and English

Photo Dr, Brian Sweeney                                                                                                  Photo–Dr. Brian Sweeney

Halle D. Cairns, Soprano, at her Senior Voice Recital on Sunday, Nov 8, 2015, at the Massry Center for the Arts.  She is from the studio of Ms. Lucille Beer and was accompanied by Trevor Kahlbaugh on the piano.  Halle hopes to pursue a career as a music librarian.

Dr.  Brian Sweeney who attended the recital said, “I know from the classroom Halle’s talent for literary analysis. This was my first opportunity to hear her interpret texts as a vocalist. I always enjoy discovering how multi-talented our English majors are.”

Christina Romeo another English major and friend in the audience  said, “Watching Halle was enchanting. Her last piece from the Sound of Music had me tearing up. I could tell it was sentimental to her, and she projected that to the audience.”

The Midwest Graduate Students Conference on Writing.

The Midwest Graduate Students Conference on Writing.  

Radical Writes: Composition, Creative Writing, and New Media will be held April 14-16, 2016, at Southeast Missouri State University

Presentation Sessions: Friday and Saturday, April 15 & 16.  Keynote Presentation: Thursday night with Michael Martone!  Reception and tour of Faulkner Collection and Rare Book Room: Thursday.  Banquet and Open Mike: Friday night.  Panel on Saturday: Writers in the Workplace.  Drawings for books and prizes.  Another great line for your CV, to help you compete in today’s hiring market

Paper proposals

  • Graduate student proposals are due December 10, 2015.  Email  mphegley@semo.edu
  • Any student currently enrolled in a graduate writing program may propose a presentation
  • Proposal abstracts are submitted electronically and should be 300 words maximum. May be a reading of original creative work with a brief introduction to its theme or raison d’etre or any topic on creative, technical, new media, literature, composition writings, such as: Intersections of cross genre writing; Blurring boundaries in writing; Contemporary literature; Innovative pedagogies;  MemWars: Defining fact and fiction; Creativity and composition; Friend Me with Your Best Shot: Social media strategies;  It Takes a Village: Collaborative Writing and/or Collaborative Learning; Gamification; Issues and Trends in Visual Rhetoric (documents, page layout, book covers, art/a/fact, etext, edesign, etc.)    Contact: Dr. Missy Phegley, mphegley@semo.edu or Dr. Susan Swartwout, sswartwout@semo.edu

Conference Information Website: http://www.semopress.com/events/radical-writes/