Daily Archives: April 18, 2014

Reading: Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman

The Creative-Writing Reading Series is thrilled to bring to Colorado for National Poetry Month internationally acclaimed poet Robert Hass, former US poet laureate, and poet Brenda Hillman (2013 National Book Award finalist) for a free public poetry reading & discussion of the vital link between poetry and ecology.

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7:30PM at CSU’s Lory Student Center in the North Ballroom. Hass and Hillman are among our most important contemporary American poets. This is a rare opportunity to hear them, given their limited travel schedule. Please join us for this very special event. The reading is free and open to the public.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Yale Younger Poets Prize, among other accolades, Hass has been a tireless advocate for public engagement of poetry and co-founded River of Words, which seeks to engage schoolchildren in eco-literacy by providing teachers with interactive, interdisciplinary curricula. He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

Poet Brenda Hillman is the author of nine books of poetry and winner of a Guggenheim, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as a Pulitzer Prize nominee and 2013 National Book Award finalist.

The Reading Series encourages community involvement in and awareness of the literary arts and seeks to engage a broad spectrum of the community across disciplines, within and beyond the university. Special thanks to CSU’s Department of English, Dean Ann Gill, the College of Liberal Arts, OGSW, and ASCSU for their generous support of this event.

Exciting Experiential Internship in Zambia!

English Department Students,

There’s talk about an exciting opportunity to go to Africa… for three-weeks…and with the possibility of earning up to three undergraduate or graduate internship credits! Would you be interested in such a thing?

Dr. Ellen Brinks will be taking students to Livingstone, Zambia over Summer 2015 to do experiential learning and internships through African Impact, and she’d like to know how many English students might be interested in participating.

“I don’t know. What would I be doing?!?”

The course would run for three weeks and center on a personalized project within the Livingstone community that fits your own interests. There are lots of internship projects – such as teaching, leading a reading club, math club, or adult literacy club, helping with afterschool activities at school or at a youth community training center, as well as offering HIV education – that would be suitable for any concentration or area of study in English and for which you could gain up to three internship credits. Additional projects in the areas of health care, sports, community development, conservation, wildlife care, and reforestation initiatives are available, though you would not be eligible for English internship credit if you elected to design your stay in Zambia round these activities. (Click here to check out project descriptions.)

“Why would I want to go to Africa?”

This experiential course would likely count for E487 or E687 credit. It gives you a very unique international internship opportunity in a stable and beautiful country, Zambia. You will be residing and working in the town of Livingstone, right at Victoria Falls, a center of African eco-tourism and safari tours. (Livingstone is the size of Fort Collins). The program likely ties in to coursework you have done in the areas of world literature in English, literacy, and teacher training. And most of all, it enables you to use your skills to give back to others in this friendly and welcoming community.

“How much would it cost?”

Projected expenses run around $5000, which includes airfare, tuition, vaccinations, and a bunch of other stuff, for three weeks in Africa.

“I think I’d be down for that!”

For the sake of making this potentiality of going to Africa an actuality for English students, we don’t need to know if this is definitely something that you would do. We only want to know if this is something you would seriously consider doing.

If this sounds like an important opportunity that you want available to you come summer 2015, please send me a non-committal reply expressing your interest by May 2nd, 2014.

Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator

Announcing the Dr. Thomas R. Mark Assistive Technology Room

To faculty, retirees, and interested students from Maxine Mark
Re. Thomas R. Mark, September 10, 1924 – November 12, 2010.

mark“Dr. Thomas R. Mark taught in the Department of English at Colorado State University for more than four decades before his death in 2010.  During his last years as a professor and during his retirement, he was afflicted with macular degeneration. As his sight diminished, he continued to pursue his independent scholarly life with the assistance of a computer reader.

On May 29, 2014, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. a reception will take place in the Event Hall of CSU’s Morgan Library. This reception celebrates the completion of the Thomas R. Mark assistive technology room in Morgan Library, was well as the funding of the Mark Family Endowment. Thomas would be exceedingly happy to know that students are pursuing their academic endeavors with the visual aids provided in his room, and using the library resources supplied by the Mark Family Endowment. You will receive an invitation to see the room, inspect what it has to offer, and learn more about Thomas Mark and the reasons for setting up the room in his honor.

Thomas Mark taught was a scholar of 17th century literature, taught Shakespeare and Milton, occasionally Dante, challenging and delighting hundreds of students many of whom were writing him and meeting with him until he passed away. I still hear from his students from time to time.

He was born and raised in New York City and lived for several childhood years in Hungary. Consequently he spoke both Hungarian and English like a mother tongue. He attended a gimnazium in Budapest and then graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1942. After serving in the Army as a combat medic with the 102nd Infantry Division in the European Theater and being awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism, he returned to Brooklyn College and received his Ph.D. from Columbia. His crowning publication, which took years during his teaching career, was his translation of Imre Madach’s The Tragedy of Man, a 19th century poetic drama. It was a work of love and is rated by one of Hungary’s world renowned comparative literature professor’s, Mihaly Szegedy-Maszak, as the best in English. Professor Szegedy-Maszak, now a friend, was an exchange professor at Indiana University in Bloomington for at least six years.

It is now my and our sons’ pleasure to honor Tom as the person and scholar he was. He was a Coloradoan at heart, a wonderful loving and witty husband and father, and a man devoted to his students’ well-being and intellects. I and sons Gregory and Brian would like his name to live on in a very important way. Those of you, who knew him well, also knew of his macular degeneration. Though the news was devastating to him, he determined to retain the sight he had and turned to technology to aid him. To continue his scholarly life while he taught and later to continue reading independently, he learned to use a computer reader. Though books were his love, he knew he must accept what technology had to offer him: it saved his life.

This room, dedicated to him as a husband and parent, scholar and teacher, is our tribute as the Mark Family Foundation. Tom would be exceedingly happy to know that students are able to continue their academic lives as he did with the visual aids provided in this room. He would value as well the resources provided by the Mark Family Endowment and the CSU Library. He would want every student to know the wonderful life of reading books or listening to music that he, too, enjoyed during his lifetime.”



News of Note from the Week of April 14th

Things are blooming at Eddy Hall

Things are blooming at Eddy Hall, image by Jill Salahub

  • There’s a review of various work Dan Beachy-Quick has written at Pleiades: http://www.ucmo.edu/pleiades/news/Tayson.html, and a short essay about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, “The Fragile Bow: On Imagination and Atrocity” is published at Ghost Proposal: http://www.ghostproposal.com/issue4/danbeachyquick.php
  • Tatiana Nekrasova-Becker and Tony Becker will be presenting their topic, Evaluating a Project-Based Activity: Moving from Theory to Practice at the K-12 and University Level (Integrating STEM Content and Foreign Language Education), on April 19th at the 2014 Symposium on Languages for Specific Purposes in Boulder, CO.
  • Lisa Langstraat, Sue Doe, Emily Morgan, Nancy Henke, and Vani Kannan presented a roundtable at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, 4C’s, on March 21. The presentation focused on the CO150 course reader, The Ethics of Higher Education, and a research study conducted in the fall on the potential effects of curriculum and curricular intervention on student, faculty, and public attitudes toward academic labor issues. Maria Maisto, President and Executive Director of the New Faculty Majority, was respondent.
  • The latest issue of AWP Writer’s Chronicle includes a feature interview on Camille Dungy.
  • Last weekend, Roze Hentschell participated in a seminar at the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in St. Louis. She presented new work, “Paul’s Boys: Actors, Choristers, Students, and Children in St. Paul’s Cathedral Precinct,” which is part of her book-in-progress.
  • Airica Parker’s poetry will appear in CALYX Vol. 28, No. 2.

Upcoming Events of Interest

  • April 21, 2014: Literature MA Showcase at Cranknstein, 215B N. College Avenue. Monday, 4:00-7:00pm – Remarks and presentations start at 4:45 pm.
  • April 24, 2014: Reading Series – Robert Hass & Brenda Hillman (Poetry), Thursday, 7:30pm North Ballroom in the Lory Student Center.
  • April 27, 2014: Slamogadro Poetry Slam – Avogadro’s Number will be hosting a Poetry Slam on the final Sunday of every month, April 27th is the first one. 7:00pm signup 7:30 start – All are welcome.
  • May 1, 2014: Reading Series – Kaelyn Riley & Ben Findlay MFA Thesis Reading (Poetry & Fiction), Thursday, 7:30pm University Art Museum.

Faculty Profile: Pam Coke

pamcokeAssociate Professor Pam Coke: B.A., English, University of Northern Iowa; Teaching certification in English and French; Ph.D., Language, Literacy, and Culture, University of Iowa.

Professor Coke teaches courses in adolescents’ literature, intermediate composition, teaching composition, teaching reading, teaching language, and teaching methods. Her research interests include the transition from elementary to secondary school, gender and education, teacher collaboration, and teacher education. She has published articles in English Journal, Statement, SIGNAL Journal, California English, The Ohio Journal of English Language Arts, Academic Exchange Quarterly, and Education.

Faculty Profile: Pam Coke
~by Evelyn Vaughn

What brought you to CSU?

I graduated in a great year before the big crash, so there were still a lot of great jobs at places all over the country. What brought me to CSU were the colleagues. I remember when I went back (I did my graduate work at the University of Iowa), I told my advisor that I was absolutely in love with the people here. CSU was my first interview. To have it be your first was terrifying, and to just feel so at home somewhere when you were just visiting from Iowa — I went back and told my advisor that everyone was fantastic. And she said “Nobody’s really that fantastic, they probably put on a really good show for you.” Well, I’ve been here twelve years and it’s still a pretty good show, so if they’re still putting on a show, they’re sustaining it really well.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in English, the Humanities?

What really inspired me was the opportunity to engage with people, to engage with text, and to engage with ideas. That’s really what inspired me to go into English and the humanities.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Teacher, because we used to play school all the time in the basement. But my sister was always the teacher and I was always the student, because I loved the learning. I went into teaching because I love the learning – I never get to stop. I still learn every day. I don’t go to bed until I’ve learned something new for the day.

What special project are you working on right now?

I have two book projects going on right now that are pretty exciting. I finished field research – I did two years of study in schools in rural Colorado, looking at the transition from elementary school to secondary school from the perspective of the students and teachers. I got to follow the same students. As 6th graders, I interviewed them about what they thought middle school would be like. I got to interview the same group of students the next year as 7th graders, and talk with them about what that transition actually looked like for them. I’m working that into a book right now about educational transitions.

The other one is a chapter abstract that I just had accepted for a book on teaching adolescence literature.

What moment in the classroom stands out as the most memorable?

I had a pretty special group in my Teaching Methods class in the fall. A really hard-working, good-hearted group that I will remember. On the last day of class, I shared with them something that happened to me when I was teaching middle school. They talk, when you’re teaching K-12, about the 7 year cycle – approximately every 7 years, you get the class from hell. It was in my 3rd year that I got the class from hell. I went and talked with my boss about how much I was struggling with this group – it was a range of things, there were behavioral issues, there were motivational issues, and I had gone and interviewed their teachers from kindergarten all the way up through 6th grade. I was trying to figure out what teachers tried with them, what worked, what didn’t work – I really was trying to get into the psyche of this group.

Eventually I went and talked with my boss and he gave me a really unusual piece of advice. He paused, and he said “Pam, I want you to go and get a rock.” and I thought, “How big?” And he goes, “I want you to go and get a rock, and I want you to put it on your desk where you can see it every day.” And I said, “Okay, can I ask why I am getting a rock?” And he said, “Yes. I want you to have something on your desk that reminds you that you do not work with rocks. You work with people. A rock you can pick up and move from one place to another. You can break it; you can use it as a tool. You can manipulate the rock. People are not rocks. They have thoughts, feelings, emotions.” To this day, I have a seashell on my desk that reminds me of that.

On the last day of the methods class, I shared that story with my students and I gave them each a rock. We had a Facebook group, and they all posted how much that meant to them. They said “You turned us into the first class that ever cried over a rock.”

What is your favorite thing to teach? Favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is challenging my students and myself to look at something in a different way. One of the things I love about the humanities is the thinking about the thinking and looking at things from different perspectives. I really love that moment when you can really challenge what somebody is thinking about something. In my Teaching Reading class, I asked my students “What’s going to count as reading in your class?” We all agreed that if I have a print-based book, that’s going to count as reading.

But then you start to problematize it. Something like Twilight – does that count as much as reading Pride and Prejudice? And then we talked about e-readers – does that count as reading? And I started to lose some students there. Then I said, “How about audiobooks?” And then I lost even more. My husband and I were both reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was reading it on my e-reader. He was listening to it on an audiobook. At night, we would come home from work and talk about what we had read. So I said, “So you’re telling me that because I was reading it on an e-reader, I wasn’t really reading it? And because he was listening to it on an audiobook, he wasn’t really reading it?” And yet, we could both sit down and talk about the ideas that Roth was putting forth. I got many angry emails after that class saying, “I thought I knew what reading meant. You’re messing with my head, now I’m thinking about things differently.” And I said, “Good. Now we’re having an education.”

That’s my favorite thing about teaching. When they swear at me under their breath because I’ve made them think about something in a different way, I’ve done my job.

What advice would you give a student taking a class in the English Department?

I would advise a student taking a class in the English department to truly take advantage of the opportunity to engage with that class. By that, I mean do the reading, talk with your professor, go in during office hours, talk with other students in the class, talk with your roommate. Really use this time when you have an audience with which to engage with ideas. I think the most shocking thing to me was meeting people who neither cared to read nor saw the value of reading or writing in their everyday lives. You’re at this great moment where you’re surrounded by people who share those values, take advantage of it. Talk with people, get as many perspectives as you can.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

My best piece of advice is one I still share to students, and I bet I share it at least once a week. One of my mentors who was at the University of Iowa when I was there, when I said that I was trying to think about what I want to be when I grow up, she said “When you’re looking at the big picture like that, look around you, and see how people live their daily lives.” Some jobs sound really exciting, but they have moments of excitement. The rest of it is pretty mundane. She said really look around – how do the people doing the kinds of work you’re interested in, how do they spend their daily lives? She said to find someone you want to pattern yourself after. That’s the way to do your career.

When I interviewed for jobs, that’s exactly what I did. I looked at the people around me. I asked better questions about what their life looked like on a day to day basis. It was the best piece of advice I ever got, and I still give that as career advice. Think about how you want to spend your day to day life, because when you look back at the end, your life is made of individual days. You want to know you spent them well.

What don’t your colleagues know about you?

Every year, I try something that takes me out of my comfort zone, because I like remembering what it’s like to be uncomfortable. On our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Disney World. We went to one of the water parks and we did the plummet, where you drop off into water. That was exhilarating. Two years ago, I took a motorcycle class, I now ride a motorcycle. Last year, it was triathlons. This year, I’ve already done one. That was making my own pasta. Next year we’re going to do foreign travel. Every year, doing something that takes me out of my comfort zone.

What is your favorite word and why?

My husband and I love playing with the word rural. If you just say it, you’re fine. But if you stop and think about it, it’s a simple word that will make you question your very existence.