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 <>.

Plath publishes anthology of Carver criticism

A volume of essays on short story writer Raymond Carver, edited by Professor James Plath, has just been published.  Critical Insights: Raymond Carver is part of the Critical Insights series put out by Salem Press.  Jim not only edited the volume, but provided two essays for it, “On Raymond Carver,” on Carver’s career and influence, and a contextual essay, “The Carver Triangle: Lost in an Edward Hopper World.”

Terkla and Diaz named finalists for Professor of the Year

Professor Dan Terkla and Professor Joanne Diaz are among the five finalists for 2013 Professor of the Year in the annual election conducted by Student Senate. Their selection was all the more impressive given the large number of candidates identified in the first round: over 150 students submitted nominations for almost 80 faculty members.

Congratulations to both of you, and good luck as the process unfolds! We wish you could both be named 2013 Professor of the Year.

Lyrical Graffiti event April 8

Lyrical Graffiti’s last event of the year will take place on Monday, April 8th in the Davidson Room.

The show will start at 7:00 with an open mic, then proceed to a performance by two-time National Poetry Slam champion Sierra Demulder.

Any piece of music, poetry, fiction, etc. under five minutes can be performed in the open mic session. All students are welcome to sign up, but the spaces are somewhat limited, and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information contact Stephen Whitfield (

Come and see the show, or better yet, be a part of it!

FAQ: Nikki K. Pape President’s Award for Excellence in Writing

Submissions for the Nikki K. Pape President’s Club Award For Excellence in Writing are due by Monday, April 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm.  Graduating seniors compete for a cash award by submitting to the English department a portfolio of the best, most original writing they have done while at Illinois Wesleyan.  Included in the portfolio may be any or all of the following:  fiction, drama, poetry, journalism, creative non-fiction, or literary criticism. Judging is by a committee of English department faculty; the winner is announced by the President during the graduation ceremony.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What kind of work should I include?  Should I include work in more than one genre?

There is no set answer to this question.  Consider your choices in this regard a balancing act.  On the one hand, including different genres of your writing–critical work as well as creative work, for example, or Argus articles as well as poetry or creative non-fiction–can demonstrate breadth and flexibility, both of which are strengths in a writer.  On the other hand, your writing will be judged primarily on its quality rather than its breadth.  If including works from multiple genres would dilute the overall quality of the portfolio, you should leave out the weaker material.  Turn in the work that will demonstrate your strengths as a writer, whatever they are.

Q. How much writing should I include in the portfolio?

Again, there is a balancing act here.  On the one hand, a larger portfolio can can allow you to demonstrate that you didn’t just write a few good pieces, but rather have produced consistently excellent work in a variety of writing situations.  At the very least, you should include enough work to comprise a genuine portfolio, not just a single paper or creative work.  On the other hand, turning in a large portfolio that is uneven in quality will reflect poorly on your ability to select material and to judge the quality of your own writing.  Turn in a substantial portfolio of your very best work.

Alumni update: Ashley Lauren Samsa’s blog posting published in The Guardian

Ashley Lauren Samsa’s (06) blog posting, “Say no to armed guards in schools,” was published in the prominent progressive London newspaper The Guardian on February 20.  “I pitched it to them and they accepted it,” writes Ashley.  “I work as a freelance writer in addition to teaching, so I pitch a lot of pieces to various outlets. Aside from the HuffPo article a few years ago, this is the first major publication to accept a pitch of mine, so it is very exciting.”

Responding to calls in the wake of the Newtown shooting by the NRA and congressional Republicans to increase the presence of armed guards in schools, Ashley writes, “After seven years of teaching high school in the south suburbs of Chicago, I know that the presence of police does not enhance the educational experience; in fact, it can diminish it. . . . I want to protect the safety of the students in my classroom more than anything else, but adding guns to our schools is not the way to do it. A society that polices its schools like it does its prisons can only lead to students with lives more like convicts than children.”

Congratulations, Ashley–keep up the fine work!