Korey Williams ’12 wins thesis award

Korey Williams ’12 has won the Colloquium Thesis Award for his Master’s Thesis, titled The Harder Parts, in the University of Chicago Master of Arts Program in the Humanities.  The project, which included both a creative component and a critical component, was described by Colloquium editors as “a collection of lush, sensual poetry chronicling a tragic, queer romance that unfolds across many sweltering southern nights,” followed by an “afterword” consisting of a “defense of African-American poet Richard Bruce Nugent’s ‘Smoke, Lilies and Jade’ against claims of whitewashing and racial exclusivity.”  The thesis can be found in its entirety here.

Korey is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Cornell University.

Congratulations, Korey!

Presentation on UX Design by Brandon Dorn ’11

Wondering how an English major will help you after graduation? Come to a talk on Thursday, 2/19, by English alum Brandon Dorn ’11 on how his work as an English major (and more generally his background in the Liberal Arts) helped him in his work with User Experience Design.  A description of the talk is given below.

UX and the Liberal Arts

Everything we have ever made has an interface. A hammer has a handle, a car has a steering wheel. Today, most things have screens. Chances are your parents’ refrigerator has a screen. The people making these screens and the applications that run in them have two choices: to design it around the technology and what it can do, or to design it for people and what they can do, and want to do. The former way is how we get frustrating things like credit card readers in grocery stores with buttons on the screen that you can’t press. The latter is how we get intuitive, useful, even delightful applications like Spotify. This approach, designing digital things for real people, is called User Experience Design.

Liberal Arts students are told that they are being trained how to think critically. This is truer than they know. What to do with that ability is the question they face when graduating. The inquisitive, diligent, self-starting, open-minded way of thinking that IWU students typically absorb over their four years is the very same approach encouraged, even required, in the field of User Experience (UX) Design. Although these kinds students may not be familiar with the process of designing digital applications, the insight they bring into how people think, feel, and behave is what makes them the best candidates for this ambiguous, far-reaching discipline.

Given by an IWU alum, this presentation describes UX Design, who’s doing it, what Liberal Arts students bring to it that others typically don’t, and provides recommendations for students who may be interested in the field.

Thursday, February 19th at 7:00 PM in the Welcome Center Auditorium

Reading by Carole Maso on February 18

The Department of English is delighted to welcome acclaimed author Carole Maso for a reading from her work-in-progress, The Bay of Angels. Maso describes the work as a “war-inflected novel” concerned with beauty as well as suffering. The form of the novel, according to Maso, “embraces fiction, essay, memoir, poetry, photographs, drawings and other ephemera.”

The reading will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, in the Merwin Gallery of the Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus.
A brief Q & A and book signing will follow the reading.

This event is free and open to the public. It is supported by additional funding from the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Women’s and Gender Studies, the Office of the Provost, and IWU Pride Alliance.

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!