English poet comes to IWU

Poet John McAuliffe, co-director of the Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester, Britain’s largest single-site university, will read his poetry in a special appearance on November 5, 2009. The reading will take place in the Davidson Room of Memorial Center and is scheduled for 10:50 a.m. Two creative writing classes will attend, but the event is also open to other students and poetry-lovers.

McAuliffe is the author of A Better Life (2002) and Next Door (2007), and his poems have also appeared in TLS, Poetry Ireland Review, Metre, PN Review, Poetry London, and Poetry Review. It’s a good chance to hear an award-winning poet from the U.K. and also learn about Manchester’s popular summer writing program.

Tributaries to host “Spooky Slam”

Nathaniel Strauss (’10) and Stephanie Nudelman (’10) will be featured at a special Spooky Slam on Thursday, October 29, with a student slam to follow. There may not be blood, but there will be prizes, candy, and refreshments—all sponsored by Tributaries, IWU’s biannual literary magazine. The fun (or trauma) starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center.

New book by alum “maps” ignored African American authors/editors

Eric Gardner (’89), who is Chair, Braun Fellow, and Professor of English at Saginaw Valley State University, has written a book that is stirring up the field of African American literature and history. Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature (University Press of Mississippi), recovers the work of early African AMerican authors and editors who have been left off maps drawn by historians and literary critics and calls for a large-scale rethinking of the nineteenth-century African American literary landscape.

Unexpected Places is exactly the kind of book most needed in the field right now,” writes John Ernest, author of Chaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History.

According to Gardner, “The book was a natural outgrowth of my fascination with archival work—and so was several years in the making. When I ‘found’ Black journalist Jennie Carter and then early Black playwright William Jay Greenly in the midst of other scholars’ rediscoveries that have changed our sense of Black literature, I knew I needed to think through just why so many early Black writers still needed recovery and how that recovery might change . . . well, might change everything about the field.”

In addition to revisiting such better known writers as William Wells Brown, Maria Stewart, and Hannah Crafts, Unexpected Places offers the first critical considerations of several important figures, including Jennie Carter, Polly Wash, Lizzie Hart, and William Jay Greenly. The book’s discussion of physical locations leads to a study of how region is tied to genre, authorship, publication circumstances, the Black press, domestic and nascent Black nationalist idealogies, and Black mobility in the nineteenth century.

Gardner writes, “Geography was key to my thinking about this subject. Growing up in Illinois, I always assumed that I and my Midwestern ancestors were far from questions surrounding, say, slavery–and certainly far from the early development of Black literature in the urban centers of the Northeast. I was wrong—as were most critics in the field. Early Black struggles for literacy and literary culture happened across the nation. I’m hoping that the book will let folks in Ohio and Indiana and Missouri and Nevada and California and all sorts of other ‘unexpected places’ know that a Black literary past might be as close as their own backyard.

“I was already fascinated by historical digging when I got to Illinois Wesleyan, but when I had a chance to combine and build on those skills in one of Bob Bray’s classes to better understand an intriguing writer—Belle Owen, a little-known Illinois author—I was hooked on doing literary history.”

New edition of The Flowers of Evil released

Recently, the paperback version of Professor Emeritus James McGowan’s translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal got a literal facelift and a new ISBN. Oxford University Press opted for a racier cover of the work, which, in his introduction, Jonathan Culler called “the most celebrated collection of verse in the history of modern poetry.” Since McGowan’s new translation appeared in 1993 it’s been a steady seller in the Oxford World’s Classics series. Les Fleurs du Mal, an acknowledged classic of French literature, contains 101 poems, many of which inspired debates on morality. It was published in 1857, 10 years before the poet’s death.

Faculty update: three conferences and a sermon

This past weekend, three English department faculty were on the program at three different events. Professor Joanne Diaz presented a paper on “‘The Rufull Register of mischief and mishap’: Penance and Juridical Testimony in The Mirror for Magistrates” at the First Annual Law and Literature Symposium, sponsored by the Villanova University (Pennsylvania) School of Law and Department of English. Meanwhile, yours truly presented a paper on “The Not-So-Great Diver: Intrusions (Authorial and Otherwise) in Tender Is the Night” at the 10th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference in Baltimore. And Professor Robert C. Bray, author of the award-winning biography Peter Cartwright, Legendary Frontier Preacher, delivered the Peter Cartwright Memorial Sermon at the United Methodist Church named for him in Pleasant Plains, Illinois. This October 10-13, Professor Dan Terkla‘s paper on “The Duchy of Cornwall and Hereford Mappaemundi: Heritage, Patronage, and Commemoration” will be presented at the 50th Anniversary Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries in Raleigh, North Carolina.

North Central Review seeks undergrad submissions

They may be CCIW rivals, but when it comes to writing they’re just another opportunity . . . and the editors of the North Central Review have written to say that they welcome submissions from undergraduate writers everywhere. The Review only publishes undergraduate writers, and students must include proof of undergraduate status (photocopy of student ID without the number). With every submission of fiction, poetry, drama, creative non-fiction, or mixed-genre pieces, students should also include their name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Submissions should include no more than five poems and two prose pieces; prose submissions should not exceed 5000 words each. For more details, see their Web site. Deadline for the fall issue is OCTOBER 15, while the deadline for spring is FEBRUARY 15. Send submissions via mail (North Central Review, CM#235, North Central College, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville, IL 60540) or email (nccreview@noctrl.edu).