Alumni follow-up: Jac Jemc wins Paula Anderson Book Award

myonlywifeJac Jemc’s novel, My Only Wife, which as noted in the July 11, 2013 posting below was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, has won the Paula Anderson Book Award.  The award, for which Jac will receive $1000, is granted for the best work of literary fiction published by a small or independent press.  She has also published a new story in the online literary magazine Bodega, and her first full-length collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time, is due out in October 2014.  Congratulations, Jac–keep those award-winners coming!


O’Gorman’s Exam Accepted for James Joyce Symposium

Professor Kathleen O’Gorman’s most recent project, “Ulysses: The Exam (Word and Image),” has been accepted for presentation at the symposium of the International James Joyce Foundation in Utrecht, in The Netherlands. The Joyce Foundation holds its symposium every 2 years over “Bloomsday,” June 16, the day on which the events of Ulysses take place. This year’s symposium will run from June 15 – 21.

Dr. O. describes how her “exam” came about:

The project was inspired by my practice of wearing earrings coordinated with the texts I teach—a long-time practice that’s entertained me and many years’ worth of students in all of my classes. Occasionally over the years, I’d offer a few extra credit points at the end of an exam if students could come up with a viable explanation for why the earrings I was wearing on exam day would be appropriate for a particular text covered on the exam. It occurred to me this past semester when I was teaching Ulysses—a text with which I always have a lot of fun—that I ought to come up with a whole quiz asking that same question about multiple pairs of earrings, since there were so many I hadn’t had a chance to wear. (For Ulysses, I have several pairs per chapter, and I can never quite wear all of them, given the limits of the semester and considering that I keep buying more, as they cross my path.) The quiz would just be for fun, not for an actual grade. I mentioned it to the students, and they loved the idea, as long as it was just for fun.

We took the exam as a collective activity in class at the end of the semester, and we had a great time with it, with one person’s textual references often prompting someone else’s additional response. In other words, the exam—which, let me be clear, I would never really give for a grade to a class—relies on and reinforces the associative capacity of language and the literary use of leitmotif as a narrative strategy as it asks readers of Ulysses why a particular visual image (a particular pair of earrings) would be pertinent to the text. The responses are clusters of textual associations centered on the individual images. I think the students were quite surprised at how well they knew the text; they were really quite impressive, especially considering how obscure some of the references are. While the exam is playful, it is also deeply, rigorously tied to a knowledge of the text.

The department’s office coordinator, Kathie Bradley, has helped formatting it and making it accessible in a variety of media so that Dr. O. can also submit it for possible publication in addition to presenting it at the symposium.

Alumni Update: Anna Deters

Anna Deters (05) sends word that she successfully defended her PhD dissertation this past May at Washington University in St. Louis.  In addition, her article, “‘Glorious Perverseness': Pride and Domestic Heroism in Richardson’s Novels” won the 2012 Eighteenth Century Fiction Best Graduate Essay Contest.  The article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of the journal (available via Project MUSE). Congratulations, Anna, and may your successes prefigure a long and successful academic career.

Travis Williams (10) wins art contest with Ulysses drawing

timthumb.phpTravis Williams (10) has won the Year of Ulysses International Art Competition, sponsored by the Modernist Versions Project, with his life-size drawing of a human body based upon James Joyce’s Ulysses.  The drawing was first produced for Professor Kathleen O’Gorman’s class on Joyce in 2009.  Travis describes the inspiration for the drawing in this way:  “In a chart published in Stuart Gilbert’s James Joyce’s Ulysses: a Study, each of the eighteen episodes of Ulysses are shown to correspond to an episode or character of The Odyssey and, with the exception of three episodes, to a specific organ of the human body. Using this systematic diagram as my guide, I have reconstructed Joyce’s Ulysses in the form of a life-size drawing of the human body, illustrating each organ using only words from the corresponding episodes of the novel.”

The announcement of Travis’s win can be found here; a digital reproduction of the work itself can be found in the Digital Commons, here.

Congratulations, Travis, on having your exceptionally creative work get the international recognition it deserves!

Fall Colloquium coming up on October 1

The Fall Semester Colloquium, sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, will take place next Tuesday, October 1st, at 5 PM in the Evelyn Chapel basement. Iggy Romack ’14 and Visiting Assistant Professor Molly Robey will each be presenting some of their work.
The event is open to all English majors and minors.  Come find out about some of the work being done by English faculty and students!

Ashley Samsa (06) published by The Guardian

Ashley Samsa’s (06) piece, “Enough with the teacher bashing. It’s not helping students or anyone else,” was published in The Guardian today (July 11, 2013).  As recorded in a previous Around the House posting, The Guardian published last February a blog posting Ashley submitted; this time, however, the editors contacted her to see if she was working on something they might want to print.  Congratulations, Ashley, on impressing the editors of The Guardian as you have impressed us!

Alumni Update: Jac Jemc shortlisted for PEN Award

Jac Jemc’s (05) novel, My Only Wife, has been put on the short list for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.  The PEN American Center awards the prestigious $25,000 prize to the author “whose debut work–a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2012–represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.”  Congratulations, Jac, and best of luck to you in the competition!



Terkla selected to give Oxford lecture

Professor Dan Terkla has been asked by Nick Millea, Maps Librarian at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, to deliver the Michaelmas term lecture for The Oxford Seminars in Cartography (TOSCA) this November.  Dan also has been an invited speaker in the Maps & Society Lectures series at the University of London’s Warburg Institute and in the Cambridge Seminars in the History of Cartography. His work over the past two decades has made him a leading authority on the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the 700 year-old world map at Hereford Cathedral in the west of England.  Dan was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, in 1998.

Nick Millea writes this about the Oxford series: “It has always been TOSCA’s intention to blend the ‘big’ names in cartography with cutting edge research from newcomers in the field to present our audiences with stimulating subject matter.”

Alumni update: Amy Fairgrieve


Amy Fairgrieve (12) has been selected to receive a $5000 Phi Kappi Phi Fellowship, one of only 51 such awards nationally.  The fellowship will help her as she enters the PhD program at the University of Minnesota this Fall.  “In many ways applying to graduate school was full of lots of uncertainties about what graduate schools were looking for and how to go about choosing from the numerous options for MA and PhD programs,” she writes. “U of M appealed to me because of how seamlessly the program fits with my research interests. My Research Honors project at IWU focused on Cognitive Literary Theory and I would like to continue work in that area; U of M offers unique opportunities for students and faculty outside of the cognitive sciences to engage with research from those fields, and the English department really encourages interdisciplinary study. Those factors sold me on the program.”

Congratulations, Amy, and all the best to you in the next phase of your academic career!


Poetry Reading by Katy Didden May 15

Katy Didden, author of The Glacier’s Wake and winner of the Lena Miles Wever Todd prize, will be giving a poetry reading this Wednesday, May 15 at 4 p.m. in the Joslin Atrium. Katy Didden is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships and her poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and The Missouri Review. To learn more about her work, visit her website at <>.