English major to present at Powell conference

English major Leann Stuber, a senior from Tinley Park, Ill., will be one of the presenters at this year’s John Wesley Powell Research Conference on Saturday, April 18th. She’s scheduled for Session 7, and faculty and students can hear her presentation at 11:00 in Room E101 at the Center for Natural Sciences.

IWU lays partial claim to Powell, who taught at Illinois Wesleyan and took students with him on one of the first study afield trips. But Powell is most famous for his explorations of the Grand Canyon. A statue of the one-armed Civil War veteran sits in Ames Library, but he’s also celebrated in Green River, Wyoming (site of the pictured statue), the starting point for his historical trip.

Chapman wins teaching award

At this morning’s Honor’s Convocation, Professor Wes Chapman was announced as the recipient of the 2010 Kemp Foundation for Teaching Excellence Award (formerly The Pantagraph Award for Teaching Excellence). In describing his selection, Provost Beth Cunningham noted that Wes thinks of himself in unassuming terms—a department workhorse—but that he’s had a special relationship with and a positive effect on so many students since coming to IWU in 1991. Singled out was the “literary boot camp” that he takes students through as they struggle with, then master literary theory in Practical Criticism. But as his students know, all of Wes’s classes could have been cited.

For those who are counting, Wes is the sixth in a department rich with excellent teachers to win the university’s highest teaching honor (the others being Professors Pamela Muirhead, Robert C. Bray, Kathleen O’Gorman, James Plath, and Mary Ann Bushman). Congratulations, Wes!

Spring Tributaries are at the English House

The Spring 2009 Tributaries are in, so next time you’re at the English House stop by the front desk and grab a copy. Illinois Wesleyan University’s creative arts journal features poetry and prose by Holly Aldrich, Jessica Block, John Brotherton, Nadia Danilovich, Alex Iorio, Jordan Jeffers, Samantha Long, Matt Katch, and Leila Ann Whitley, and artwork by Emily Jaster, Samantha Kopas, Linda Marie Martin, Laurie Peterson, and Erinn Tobin. 

Congratulations to editors Jessica Grace Block and Leila Ann Whitley and their staff—Holly Aldrich, Emily Akins, Andrew Dorkin, Amy Fairgrieve, Kaz Frankiewicz, Matt Katch, Hannah Kiefer, Caitlin Milligan, Laurie Peterson, Kristen Piotrowski, Stephanie Rosenbaugh, Nicole Travis, Erin Vogel, and Mike Whitfield—on another fine-looking issue.

STD colloquium this Thursday

On Thursday, April 9, Sigma Tau Delta is hosting another literary colloquium at the home of Professor Bob Bray (413 Phoenix Ave., just east of Shaw and Holmes Halls). The two presenters will be Emily Franzen, who will share her work on Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, and Garrett Rapp, who’s been writing about the fools of Shakespeare. No word on this, but pizza and soda has been customarily provided, and the odds are good that there will be refreshments.

Senior wins writing awards; reading announced

Senior Kaelyn Riley, of Lexington, Ill., was announced as this year’s winner of both the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction. Amelia Benner received Honorable Mention in the Babbitt’s competition, while Caitlin Carr earned Honorable Mention for the poetry competition.

It’s the second time that the same student won both writing awards. Christine L. Pacyk did it in 2000. Illinois Wesleyan University began offering the Arthur William Hinners Poetry Prize presented by The Academy of American Poets in 1979. The Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction was first offered in 1997, when it was known as the Clockwatch Review Prize for Short Fiction. The contests are open to any IWU student.

The campus and community will get the chance to hear Kaelyn (pictured) and runners-up read their work on April 14 at 4 p.m. in the Merwin Gallery.

Jason Bredle, who earned an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, judged the poetry this year. “Kaelyn Riley’s poems explode with youthful wonder and mature intelligence,” he wrote, “aware of poetic conventions yet not afraid of breaking those conventions, and always willing to take risks if the poem deems it necessary. Fearless, really, in their manipulation of language to discover new places, these poems are really exciting.” Bredle is the author of Pain Fantasy, published by Red Morning Press; Standing in Line for the Beast, winner of the 2006 New Issues Poetry Prize; A Twelve Step Guide, winner of the 2004 New Michigan Press chapbook contest; and A Pocket-Sized Map of My Heart, a self-published collaboration with Leigh Stein. He lives in Chicago.

Riley’s short story, “Lapse,” impressed John Keene, who earned his M.F.A. from New York University and judged this year’s fiction contest. He called “Lapse” a “brief but penetrating realist portrait of a husband’s dawning recognition of his wife’s serious illness. Told from and through the perspective of the protagonist, an unnamed literary scholar and paterfamilias, the story manages to depict, with considerable subtlety and gravity, how his armature of knowledge, his defense mechanisms, and his clear sense of his wife, family, and the world all fall away before the reality of the tragedy that befalls him.” Keene singled out “the author’s skill in alternating between the protagonist’s interior mental states and the shifting quotidian reality in which he moves,” as well as “the adroit use of details to depict the protagonist’s professional and personal lives. The final, poignant image of this husband helplessly but lovingly sitting beside his wife, increasingly devoured by her illness, as she in turn polishes off a bag of marshmallows, encapsulates the depth and power ‘Lapse’ as a whole achieves.”

Keene is the author of the award-winning novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995), and of the poetry collection Seismosis (1913 Press, 2006), with artwork by Christopher Stackhouse. A longtime member of the Dark Room Writers Collective of Cambridge and Boston, he is an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University.

MUSE issues call for papers

Students interested in participating at the next MUSE: An Undergraduate Literature Conference sponsored by IWU’s Alpha Eta Pi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, have until Sunday, April 19, to submit an abstract of 150-200 words summarizing the paper’s thesis, main points, and critics used. Complete papers are not wanted at this stage—only abstracts. 

Along with the abstract, please include your name, current address, current telephone, email address, fall contact information, institutional affiliation (non-IWU students are eligible), year in school, a working title for the paper, and any audio/visual needs you may have. You will be notified after May 10 of your proposal’s final status. If accepted, you will then need to confirm your attendance at that point.

Submit abstracts to: muselitconf@gmail.com. That email address is also good for any questions you may have. MUSE submissions coordinator Linda Martin and STD co-presidents Marie Huey and Mike Whitfield are hoping for another big turnout this year. The MUSE conference is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2009. In addition to a keynote speaker and panels on post-graduate options, MUSE will host multiple sessions of student paper presentations throughout the day. Each paper session will contain three presenters, with each presenter given 20 minutes to speak and a 15-minute Q/A period to follow. This means that papers should be 8-10 pages long.