Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Jenny McKean Moore Reading Series Presents: Amber Sparks

Join us for the next Jenny McKean Moore Readings Series Event, featuring fiction writer, Amber Sparks. This event has been rescheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 20th, at 7:30 in Monroe Building.

Sparks' most recent work, The Unfinished World: and Other Stories, is a collection of short fiction that, as Amazon notes, is "...populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors―[they] form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving...." Ms. Sparks' reading is sure to be a delightful experience that combines both the surreal and the personal. 

Amber Sparks currently resides in DC. She is a self-proclaimed lover of, "books and art and politics and grammar and theater and music and video games and history and technology and all kinds of movies, especially monster movies and noir and spaghetti westerns and the Marx Brothers." Her writing has been compared to such literary voices as Kelly Link and Karen Russell. For more on her most recent book, check out this in-depth review.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Composing Disability Returns: March 22-23. Keynote Speaker: Liz Crow

We are pleased to announce that Composing Disability, GW's biennial Disability Studies conference, returns on March 22-23, 2018. The full program will be posted soon, and the keynote for this event is UK-based artist-activist Liz Crow. Crow is the founder of Roaring Girl Productions and works with performance, film, audio, and text. Her work has been shown at the Tate Modern and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as on television and at festivals internationally. Her most recent project is the 2015 performance piece Figures, a mass-sculptural performance that makes visible the human cost of austerity and urges action against it.  Using excavated raw river mud and taking up residence on the streets and foreshore of central London, Crow sculpted 650 small human figures, each one representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity. With making sessions coinciding with tide times on the nearby Thames, at the incoming tide, the newly-sculpted figures were moved to safety. At each low tide, the artist returned to sculpt more figures, in an endurance ritual that spanned 11 consecutive days and nights in all weathers.
Liz Crow sculpting on the banks of the Thames
in the 2015 performance piece Figures

Composing Disability is sponsored by the Department of English, the English Graduate Student Association, the GW Student Association, the Disabled Student Association, the University Writing Program, Disability Support Services, and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement. It is also sponsored by C-AHEAD. The full program will feature leading scholars from the US, Canada, Brazil, and the UK.

The theme for this year's conference is "Crip Politics and the Crisis of Culture."  In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as Word of the Year, putting forward an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The “post-truth” era in part marked the emergence of a new and global authoritarianism evident in multiple locations around the world. It also marked a moment in which the neoliberal consensus, itself no stranger to evasions of the truth, was in crisis, from Brazil to the United Kingdom, from France to South Korea, from Mexico to Spain, and of course the United States. The fracturing of the neoliberal consensus has happened on the left but—especially with the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency—has consolidated even more on the right, even if the extreme racism, nationalism, and protectionism of the new authoritarianism generally masks an even deeper entrenchment of a global austerity politics that protects global finance and sustains neoliberal business as usual.

What might disability politics, disability arts, and disability studies look like in this “post-truth” era or in other eras in which the term word of the year might resonate? Does the “post-” in “post-truth” invite us to interrogate the making and breaking of history, and of time itself? What is the relationship between alternative facts and speculative fictions? How have crip bodies, minds, and behaviors been caught up in these, and other, cultural crises across time or space? How have disability politics and theory always contended with ableist evasions of basic facts connected to disabled lives, experiences, knowledges? Conversely, in what ways does the new authoritarianism present decidedly new challenges for crip politics and theory?  Composing Disability 2018 takes stock of the current moment while recognizing that what we might term “the crisis of culture” is not located solely in the present moment.  The panels and papers featured at this event pose these and similar questions across various historical periods and cultural locations of disability.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Honors and English Students to Hold Public Symposium December 9

Still from Floating Skyscrapers (2013), Tomasz Wasilewski, dir.
Professor Robert McRuer taught two courses in the interdisciplinary field of LGBT studies this fall, and students in both classes will be coming together on Saturday, December 9, to present their work-in-progress.  Students from both “Transnational Queer Film Studies and LGBTQ Cultures” (English 3980W) and “Intro to LGBT Studies” (Honors 2053) will be presenting at this event, which is free and open to the public.  English 3980W is held every fall; this was the ninth instantiation of the class.  It is simultaneously taught in Prague to students from the Czech Republic (and across Europe) by Professor Kateřina Kolářová of the Charles University Gender Studies Program.  For one week each November, Professor McRuer’s students travel to Prague to meet their counterparts and to attend together the MezipatraQueer Film Festival (Mezipatra means “mezzanine” in Czech, signifying a place in-between, in the middle).  This course is offered in partnership with the Short-Term Study Abroad Program. Honors 2053 fulfills a Humanities requirement for the Honors Program; this Fall 2017 was the second course that the program has offered in LGBT Studies.  Students in Honors 2053 read and viewed a range of material connected to Queer Origins, Queer Spaces, and Queer Bodies.  Both courses can be used to fulfill part of the requirements for GW’s minor in LGBT/Sexuality Studies.

Students in both classes invite you to attend this public symposium highlighting their work-in-progress.  Four sessions will be held Saturday, December 9, in Phillips Hall 412 (the Dean's Conference Room), from 10:45 AM-5 PM.  The schedule is below.  Come out and support this innovative student work and this unique collaboration between English and Honors.

Free and Open to the Public

10:45 AM-12:00 PM: Embodied Imaginaries
Makenzie Briglia, “Changing Sex in Iran: Gender Performativity and Surgical Interventions”
Colleen Grablick, “Queering Eating Disorders: The Discomfort and Failure in Women’s Appetites”
Tara Kosowski, “Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Navigating Queer Utopia in ‘San Junipero’”

12:00 PM-1:00 PM LUNCH BREAK

1:00 PM-2:15 PM: Queer Innocence and Villainy
Elizabeth Brownstein, “Jacob’s New Dress: Children, Queerness, Futurity”
Ariana Patsaros, “Queercoding Villains in Contemporary Film”
Gwendolyn Umbach, “Queerness and Other Self-Confidence Narratives in Children’s Lit”

2:20 PM-3:35 PM: Across Queer Time and Space
Anthony Hannani, “Questing Labels: Transnational Ambiguity of Queer Identity”
Anna Peacher-Ryan, “‘The Whole Adoption Thing’: Racial Melancholia as a Queer Experience”
Clara Mucci, “This Time It’s Different: Homonormativity and Queer Politics on Will and Grace
Dominick Reynoso, “Love Behind Closed Doors: The Politics of Space and Queer Gentrification in Greenwich Village

3:40 PM-5:00 PM: The Queer Gaze
Rachel Kaufman, “(Queer) Eye Candy? The Warwick Rowers and the Imagery of Homonormativity”
Vanessa Newsom, “Gay Experiences in Poland: Cinematic Representations in the City and the Countryside”
Nicolas Nevins, “‘Threat to America’: Senator Tammy Baldwin's Revolutionary Career and Lee Edelman's No Future
Ryan Carroll, “Fuck Everything: Anti-Sociality and Homonormativity in The Living End and Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Jenny McKean Moore Reading Series Presents: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

The Jenny McKean Moore Reading Series picks up again this Thursday, on November 9th, with a reading from New York Times Bestselling Author, Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Her latest book, Balm, has received widespread acclaim. The Washington Post wrote, “In gorgeous, compassionate prose, Perkins-Valdez continues our national conversation about people working together to heal our communities,” and Publishers Weekly said of Perkins-Valdez, that she “moves gracefully among her three protagonists’ viewpoints as they struggle to claim their authentic gifts and free themselves of the pain of their pasts. Her spare, lyrical voice is unsentimental yet compassionate.” With such enticing reviews as these, Perkins-Valdez’s reading is sure to be engaging!

Balm is centered on the lives of three dislocated people, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp, who are all trying to find some semblance of home, leaving behind the desolation of a Post-Civil War South. Madge has the gift of knowing other people’s suffering, and Sadie can commune with the dead. Hemp is struggling to find his family in a northern city that shines with possibility. Yet, for these three characters, redemption and salvation are hard to achieve as they battle to escape the aftermath of a war that left the country divided. “Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.”
Dolan Perkins-Valdez is a full-time English professor at American University, teaching both literature and in their MFA program. She also teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. She is the Two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee, and has been awarded the First Novelist Award from Black Caucus of American Library Association, and received the DC Commission on the Arts Grant. Perkins-Valdez has also been a finalist for both the Hurston Wright Legacy Award for Fiction and Robert Olen Butler Prize for Short Fiction. She also had the honor of writing the Introduction to an edition of Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave that was a New York Times bestseller. Perkins-Valdez, a Harvard undergrad, finished GW's graduate program in English.   

This Thursday’s event starts at 7:30 in room 702 in Gelman Library.

Spring 2018 Upcoming Courses: Essential Shakespeare and Shakespeare, Race, and Gender

Two Shakespeare Courses in Spring on Film and Race


Come sharpen your skills of analyzing canonical stories the society tells about itself. The world is made up of stories. Stories full of sound and fury. Great stories are often strangers at home. One of the greatest storytellers is Shakespeare. His plays defamiliarize banal experiences and everyday utterances while offering something recognizable through a new language and form. These stories connect us to other times and places. 

In spring 2018, the English department will offer ENGLISH 1340W Essential Shakespeare and ENGLISH 3441 Shakespeare, Race, and Gender, both taught by Alexa Alice Joubin. 

ENG 1340W Essential Shakespeare
Spring 2018, Tuesday and Thursday 12:45-2::00 pm 

This general education course introduces you to the riches and beauty of the world of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories. It is designed for everyone, and no prior knowledge is required. We will explore how Shakespeare and his company represented racial, cultural, and gender differences through travel, colonialism, and fantasy. As we identify key components of Shakespeare’s work, you will acquire essential tools for enjoying Shakespeare’s plays as both literary works and films. 

The course emphasizes performances of Shakespeare on screen. Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted for the cinema since 1899 in multiple film genres, including silent film, film noire, Western, theatrical film, and Hollywood films. This course examines Shakespeare’s romance plays, histories, tragedies, and comedies and their adaptations on screen. 

ENG 3441 Shakespeare, Race, and Gender
Spring 2018, Tuesday and Thursday 2:20-3:35 pm

This seminar will explore how the early modern and modern ideologies about race, gender, class, religion and sexuality shape Shakespeare's plays and their afterlife on stage and on screen. You can hone your skills of close reading and evidence-based argumentation. You will also be able to connect critical analysis of historical texts to your professional life beyond the classroom. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Jack-O-Lit 2017 Was A Great Success!


The English Department's annual Jack-O-Lit gathering had a great turn out this year! Many students joined the English faculty in sharing cookies and cider, as well as carving pumpkins into some very creative designs. Maggie Benda and Oona Intemann won Professor Daniel DeWispelare's new book, Multilingual Subjects, On Standard English, Its Speakers, and Others in the Long Eighteenth Century, in the Pumpkin Carving Contest with their Harry Potter themed carving. Also present were members of Wooden Teeth, GW's student-run literary journal, who passed out issues of their first zine. If you see one floating around campus make sure you pick one up to enjoy the beautiful art and poetry as well as some spooky song suggestions for your last minute Halloween Party. This year's Jack-O-Lit will be hard to top, but we look forward to seeing you all this time next year for some more festive fellowship!