English House gets three new squirrels

Quad squirrels are a favorite of Illinois Wesleyan students, so much so that the squirrels have appeared in The Argus student newspaper without doing anything other than looking cute.

But a family of squirrels has made their home in the big hackberry tree by the English House back door, and their litter is news. Three baby squirrels were born in May, after most students left for the summer. One of them has a white tail, which makes the squirrel distinctive from all others on campus.

And you thought nothing ever happened while you were away!

The Delta is at the English House

The new issue of The Delta, IWU’s journal of literary criticism, is out and waiting at the English House for interested students to pick up a copy.

The Spring 2011 issue features six essays written for classes over the past year: “Belonging to the Self: Problems with Identity Formation in Thea Astley’s The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow and Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory,” by Jackie Connelly; “Be a Man, Be a Woman, or Be Silent: Gender Identity in Le Roman de Silence,” by Christy Spees; “Sisterly Redemption in Goblin Market: The Fallen Woman and the Female Christ,” by Korey Williams; “And I Temporary: Novel as Continuum in The Sound and the Fury,” by Casimir Frankiewicz; “Deceit, Revelation, and Collapse in Richard III,” by Brandon Dorn; and “Spreading the Message: Reading and Writing Wittgenstein’s Mistress,” by Nicole Travis.

There has always been a student-run literary magazine at IWU, but the names have changed over the years. This is the sixth year for The Delta, which is edited by students.

Alumni update: Katie Brokaw

Katie Brokaw (’02) writes that this month she is defending her Ph.D. dissertation on “Tudor Musical Theater: Staging Religious Difference from Wisdom to The Winter’s Tale” at the University of Michigan. In the fall she will begin a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor of British Literature and Culture at the University of California-Merced, where she will teach texts from the medieval and early modern periods. Katie, who got her Master’s at Cambridge (’05), adds that she’s happy to talk to English majors interested in graduate school. That means, majors, come fall you can get her email from the UC-Merced website and start networking!

Reading with Lincoln receives award

When participants in this year’s Sigma Tau Delta Book Club read and discussed Professor Robert Bray‘s latest book, Reading with Lincoln, they knew it was a good read crammed full of facts and insights into the books that shaped Abraham Lincoln’s life and decision-making. What they didn’t know was that it would soon be named winner of the 2010-11 Russell P. Strange Memorial Book Award from the Illinois State Historical Society, awarded to the best book that’s related, either intimately or tenuously, to Illinois history and culture. Bob just got the news, and we congratulate him! Reading with Lincoln was also a finalist for the 2011 Lincoln Prize, which produced a field so strong this year that the jury decided to award all of the finalists Honorable Mention,  “an occurrence that has rarely happened.”

From the dust jacket:  ”Through extensive reading and reflection, Abraham Lincoln fashioned a mind as powerfully intellectual and superlatively communicative as that of any other American political leader. Reading with Lincoln uncovers the how of Lincoln’s inspiring rise to greatness by connecting the content of his reading to the story of his life.

“At the core of Lincoln’s success was his self-education, centered on his love of and appreciation for learning through books. From his early studies of grammar school handbooks and children’s classics to his interest in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Bible during his White House years, what Lincoln read helped to define who he was as a person and as a politician. This unique study delves into the books, pamphlets, poetry, plays, and essays that influenced Lincoln’s thoughts and actions.”

National Poetry Month reading slated for April 20

A National Poetry Month reading has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, at Heartland Community College, CCB 1406.

Featured poets will be IWU’s Joanne Diaz, whose book The Lessons won the 2010 Gerald Cable Book Award, and Matthew Guenette, author of Sudden Anthem (winner of the 2007 American Poetry Journal Book Prize) and American Busboy (a finalist and editor’s choice of the 2010 University of Akron Press Poetry Prize).

To get to Heartland College from IWU, take Main Street north past ISU to Raab Road. Turn left on Raab and look for Heartland College on the right, just past the Corn Crib baseball field.

Come to the Tributaries’ release party on April 12

The Spring 2011 issue of Tributaries is back from the printers, and you can get a free copy this Tuesday, April 12, at an 8:00 p.m. release party in the Turfler Room of the Memorial Center.

Editors invite you to come and celebrate, “because everyone could use a little more creative writing.”

The new issue features work by . . . oh, heck, I’m not going to tell you. Just come to the party and find out!

Student film premieres Saturday at 7 p.m.

English-Writing major James Podrasky (’11) collaborated with third-year art major Katya Kobrina to produce a 16-minute film, “Honey Dreams,” which will premiere on Saturday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium of Ames Library. Another screening is scheduled for Monday, April 11, at 9 p.m., same location.

James said he wrote the script and co-directed with Katya, who did the majority of the filming and editing. It’s their second collaborative effort using equipment from 9×9 film club. According to James, it’s “mainly a simple love story, but somewhat hallucinatory. There is a brief scene featuring some male nudity in a non-sexual, though ritualistic, context, as well as two scenes involving some blood that might be disturbing to some.” In other words, if the M.P.A.A. were involved, this short film might pull a PG-13 or R rating—though, as James was quick to remind, “this is a no-budget student film, so I don’t think that it will be too realistic to handle.”

Student creative writing winners announced

BABBITT’S PRIZE FOR SHORT FICTION

Winner: Nicole Vavalle

This year’s judge, Jeremy M. Davies, chose Nicole Vavalle as the winner of the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction for her short story “Forsaken,” praising Vavalle for “understanding that the battle is always fought on the level of the sentence. Hers twist and turn and often end up in surprising places, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the process.” Vavalle will receive $50 cash and $50 in store credit from Babbitt’s Books in downtown Normal, Illinois. Honorable mention went to junior Mari Fike. Jeremy M. Davies, who is an editor at Dalkey Archive Press, is the author of the novel Rose Alley (Counterpath, 2009).

THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS PRIZE

Winner: Stephen Whitfield

Judge Robert Archambeau selected first-year student Stephen Whitfield as winner of the Arthur William Hinners and Louise Hinners Sipfle Poetry Prize, presented by The Academy of American Poets. Archambeau noted that Whitfield’s poetry was of “consistently high quality,” and that Whitfield had “a way of making strong, sometimes startling, similes and metaphors.” Whitfield will receive $100 and a certificate from The Academy. Honorable mention went to senior Christy Spees. Archambeau is the author and editor of numerous books, including Home and Variations (Salt, 2004), a collection of poems, and Laureates and Heretics (Notre Dame, 2010), a work of criticism. He teaches English at Lake Forest College.