English department announces 2020 student awards

We’re excited to announce our 2020 senior award winners and the winners of our annual writing contest.

2020 English Department Senior Awards

The end of spring semester traditionally is a time to honor, in person, the hard work and accomplishments of our graduating seniors. As believers in metaphor, the English Department won’t allow separation or measly screens to become an obstacle to celebration — for as Walt Whitman wrote, “a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” In this spirit the faculty recognize sustained excellence in literary studies through our senior awards. A couple of months not seeing these students in person remind us how much they have contributed to the vitality of our department during their time at Geneseo. Our congratulations!

William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus.

Winner: Sean McAneny

Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise.

Winners: Clio Lieberman, Margaret Pigliacelli, Brianna Riggio

Calvin Israel Award in the Humanities

Presented annually to a senior with an outstanding academic record and a strong support of the humanities.

Winners: Claire Corbeaux, Abigail Ritz, Helen Warfle

Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior English major who has exhibited those attributes exemplified in the life and career of our colleague Joe O’Brien: a demonstrated record of academic excellence, a spirit of volunteerism, and a sterling moral character.

Winners: Sandy Brahaspat, Julia Merante, Don Rothwein

2020 Geneseo Writing Contest

As physical journeys have narrowed during the coronavirus epidemic, many of us have become reacquainted with the power of writing to open up new spaces. The English Department has the pleasure of recognizing excellence in student critical, creative, and self-reflective writing though its annual writing contest. The contest is open to the whole campus, and this year’s winners, ranging from first-year students to graduating seniors, represent the following programs: the English Literature and Creative Writing tracks, Women and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, the Film Studies minor, Adolescent Education certification, the Edgar Fellows program, French, Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Communication, Geography, Psychology, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics. The winning entries were written for classes with ANTH, AMST, ENGL, FMST, HIST, HONR, and INTD 105 prefixes, and sometimes also produced by students writing outside class for the sheer love of language. Congratulations to all!

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105

Winner

Sarah Fadlaoui, “Carlisle in the Great War”

Second place

Maria Pawlak, “Conformity in the United States and its Effect throughout the Twentieth Century”

Third place

Madisyn Pausley, “Parable of the Sower as a Warning for Climate Change”

Honorable mention

Nicole Lallier, “Human Migration: Displacement from Disaster”

Jérôme de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies

Winner

Brianna Riggio, “Can He See the Forest for the Trees?: The Eagle Tree

Second place

Sean McAneny, “Approaches to Teaching Age in King Lear

Research Paper

Winner

Rachel McLauchlin, “Maternal Horror: Women’s Bodies as Monstrosity in Macbeth

Second place

Claire Corbeaux, “The Threat of Greed and the Cultivation of Community”

Third place

Shannon Curley, “Space, History, and Tourism in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Honorable mentions

  • Ashton McCormack, “Benefits of Entomophagy”
  • Alissa Moeller, “American Slavery and Historical Silences in the Journal of Women’s History

Self-Reflective Writing

Winner

Sean McAneny, “Addressing Slavery’s Legacy at the Academy”

Second place

Emma Short, “Fame, Fandom, & The Woman in the Spotlight”

Third place

Abigail Ritz, “This Is Paratext”

Honorable mentions

  • Claire Corbeaux, “Realizing Service Learning”
  • Brianna Riggio, “Ableist Constructions of Communication Disabilities and Identity”

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay

Winner

Sean McAneny, “Against the King’s Two Bodies: Richard’s Corporeal Authority”

Second place

Claire Corbeaux, “Wuthering Heights, Quantum Entanglement, and Loving One Dead”

Third equal

  • Rosa Mesbahi, “Dismantling Dualisms: Exploring Agency and Victimhood in Purple Hibiscus
  • Abigail Ritz, “Disability as Doozy: Kurt Vonnegut’s Use of Disability as Metaphor in ‘Harrison Bergeron’”

Creative Non-Fiction

Winner

Aliyha Gill, “Sisters”

Second place

Kyle Navratil, “Into Base Camp”

Third equal

  • Hannah Fuller, “Promises”
  • Rosa Mesbahi, “October”

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting

Winner

Patrick Donohue, “The Masque of the Red Death”

Second place

Ben Michalak, “FOLLOW THE PATH: A Twelve Day Immersive Theater Piece”

Mary A. Thomas Award in Poetry

Winner

Kayla Eyler, “THE FAIRWAY MARKET HOSTAGE CRISIS”

Second place

Aliyha Gill, “Ruminations”

Third place

Sparrow Potter, “On the Slowing of the Universe”

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction**

Winner

Laura Gikas, “Not Greek”

Second place

Brianna Riggio, Selection from “Elodie May”

Third place

Elizabeth Roos, “The Archeologist”

Boston Review publishes nonfiction by Lytton Smith

Boston Review has published online “The Pruner’s Tale,”, a nonfiction piece by Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Lytton Smith about the experience of a migrant orchard worker in Western Upstate New York. This piece is part of the Refugee Tales project, a series of walks and books in solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees in the U.K., Italy, North America, Australia, and elsewhere. “The Pruner’s Tale” first appeared in Refugee Tales vol. 3 (Comma Press, 2019).

Composer Gregory Spears to deliver 2019 Walter Harding Lecture

Composer Gregory Spears
Photo used with permission

Composer Gregory Spears will deliver the 2019 Walter Harding Lecture on Wednesday, September 25, at 7 pm in Doty Recital Hall on the SUNY Geneseo campus. His subject will be “Thoreau and Music.”

Spears’ song cycle Walden, which premiered in 2018 in a performance that the Washington Post called “gripping,” takes a series of excerpts from Thoreau’s Walden and arranges them in four structurally interconnected songs to loosely tell the story of Thoreau’s departure from and return to society in Concord, Massachusetts. Along the way we see Thoreau’s progression from anxious social critic, to passionate naturalist, to contemplative mystic.

Spears’ other compositions include Fellow Travelers, written in collaboration with Greg Pierce and based on the McCarthy-era lavender scare, and Paul’s Case, written in collaboration with Kathryn Walat and based on the Willa Cather short story of the same name. The latter was described as a “masterpiece” and a “gem” (New York Observer) with “ravishing music” (New York Times).

Spears’ music has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (Boston Globe). In recent seasons Spears has been commissioned by The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, The Crossing, Volti, BMI/Concert Artists Guild, Vocal Arts DC, New York Polyphony, The New York International Piano Competition, and the JACK Quartet among others. He is currently working on a new evening-length opera, Castor and Patience, with U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, commissioned by Cincinnati Opera and scheduled for premiere in 2020.

Spears holds degrees in composition from Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD). He also studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen with Hans Abrahamsen. He currently teaches composition at SUNY Purchase.

The Walter Harding Lecture is sponsored by the English department and supported through the generosity of the Harding family.

English department 2019 writing contest winners

The English department has announced the winners of its annual writing contest.

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing

Winner: Alissa Moeller

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay

Winner: Katelyn Sullivan
Honorable mention: Sean Welch

Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies

Winner: Autumn Piletz
Honorable mention: Elyse Manosh, DongWon Oh

Research Paper

Winner: David Beyea
Honorable mention: Victoria Cooke

Self-Reflective Essay

Winner: Sean Welch
Honorable mention: Katelyn Sullivan

Creative Non-Fiction

Winner: Torie Wiley
Honorable mention: Grace Gilbert, Sean Welch

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting

Winner: Autumn Piletz
Honorable mention: Kristopher Bangsil, Brittany Pratt

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction

Winner: Jen Galvao

Mary Thomas Award in Poetry

Winner: Grace Gilbert
Honorable mention: Natalie Hayes, Isabella Higgins

Green New Deal Exhibit Opens May 2 in Mount Morris

A collaboration between SUNY Geneseo and the New Deal Gallery in Mt. Morris is updating a collection of more than 200 paintings from the 1930s, and seeing new relevance for the ecological challenges of our own times. The project, called “The Green New Deal: Art During a Time of Environmental Emergency,” is taking the form of a gallery show that opens May 2, along with a digital exhibit created by students of Associate Professor of English Ken Cooper.

Postcard for Green New Deal exhibit

The gallery’s collection owes its existence to the Federal Art Project, which “allocated” paintings to the state tuberculosis hospital on Murray Hill. They seem to have been chosen for their restful associations, however, and weren’t always typical of the artists’ more experimental or political work—an important context recovered by the project. For the past year, junior English major Abigail Ritz has been re-photographing and researching the collection thanks to an Ambassadorship through the Center for Integrative Learning. Students in Cooper’s OpenValley course this spring have continued that work and developed a series of linked online exhibits to re-evaluate paintings now approaching a hundred years old.

Why a Green New Deal? Americans already know how the Dust Bowl intensified the social crisis of the Great Depression. But new “attribution studies” by climatologists suggest that a series of record temperatures during the late 1930s probably were the first to have some Anthropogenic dimension. In other words, those past events have a direct lineage to climate change today and our own efforts to mobilize an effective response.

SUNY Geneseo teams with University of Rochester to celebrate Thoreau and creativity

SUNY Geneseo is partnering with the University of Rochester to sponsor a week’s worth of events celebrating Henry David Thoreau and creativity, April 3-5.

Poster for Thoreau Events

Wednesday, April 3: Concert and Lecture

  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Place: Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music
  • Admission: Free
  • Sponsor: University of Rochester

Heather O’Donnell (piano) and Laura Lentz (flute) will perform Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860.” Ives biographer Jan Swafford will deliver a lecture contextualizing Ives’ sonata.

Swafford writes regular columns on music and other subjects in Slate, and is heard as a commentator on NPR and the BBC. His writing honors include a 2012 Deems Taylor Award for internet writing and a Mellon Fellowship at Harvard. His Brahms and Ives biographies were end-of-year Critics’ Choices in The New York Times. The Ives biography was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award in biography and won the Pen-Winship prize for a book on a New England subject. His biography Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph in its first week appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

Thursday, April 4: Lecture

  • Time: 5:00 p.m.
  • Place: Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester Humanities Center, Room D
  • Admission: Free
  • Sponsor: University of Rochester

Laura Dassow Walls, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, will deliver the University of Rochester’s 2019 George Ford Lecture, titled “The Death of Nature and the Life of Thoreau.”

Walls is the author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life, published by the University of Chicago Press. The first full-length, comprehensive biography of Thoreau in a generation, Walls’s book draws on extensive new research and the full range of Thoreau’s published and unpublished writings to present Thoreau as vigorously alive in all his quirks and contradictions — fully embedded in his place and time, yet speaking powerfully to the problems and perils of today.

Friday, April 5: Film, Henry David Thoreau, Surveyor of the Soul

  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Place: The Little Theatre, Rochester
  • Admission: Free
  • Sponsor: SUNY Geneseo

The Little will screen independent director Huey Coleman’s feature-length film, Henry David Thoreau, Surveyor of the Soul. The screening will be followed by a conversation between the filmmaker and Thoreau biographer Laura Dassow Walls.

For thirty years, Huey has been making films about artists, education, the environment, and Maine. His films have been shown at film festivals throughout the US, on PBS, and on European television. Surveyor of the Soul explores Thoreau’s life and the impact of his writings on environmental issues, civil rights, and individual thinking in our time. It includes appearances by Bill McKibben, Howard Zinn, Robert Bly, Rep. John Lewis, and Thoreau biographer Laura Dassow Walls.

Note: Huey will be on the SUNY Geneseo campus Friday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in Bailey 204 to talk about Surveyor and about his career as an independent filmmaker.

Leah Christman wins Fulbright

English major Leah Christman (’19) has won a prestigious U.S. Student Fulbright Award for 2019-20. Leah will travel to India, where her award will enable her to serve as a Fulbright-Nehru English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in either a middle or secondary school in a community to be determined by the United States-India Educational Foundation. The Fulbright Program is the highly competitive flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

More in this SUNY Geneseo News story.

Lima and Goldberg, faculty member and alum, in journal special issue

Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters will be publishing a special issue titled Unchaining Selves: The Power of the Neo-Slave Narrative Genre, co-edited by Professor Joan Anim-Addo (Goldsmiths University of London) and Geneseo Professor of English Maria Lima.

Lima has taught a course on the genre of neo-slave narratives at Geneseo for a number of years, and has been working on this special issue with Anim-Addo since 2015, when she chaired a panel at the Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Meeting on the topic.

Generally, the term neo-slave narrative refers to a genre of literature in which twentieth and twenty-first century writers take Atlantic slavery as the occasion for their literary texts. Neo-slave narratives often both draw on and depart from the earlier genre of slave narratives — autobiographical writing by enslaved and emancipated peoples of African descent addressing the experiences of living through slavery. Some examples of neo-slave narratives include Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada (1976), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (2011), and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016).

In their original call for papers, Anim-Addo and Lima write, “The main reasons for this seemingly widespread desire to rewrite a genre that officially lost its usefulness with the abolition of slavery are to re-affirm the historical value of the original slave narrative and/or to reclaim the humanity of the enslaved by (re)imagining their subjectivity. No other genre has undergone such widespread creolization—both a process and a concept used to describe many forms of contact across a wide range of cultural and ideological formations—having become a mode shared by many cultures in an uneven yet interdependent world.”

Lima and Anim-Addo’s special issue brings fresh scholarship to this established literary genre, interrogating some of the ways recent currents in black and Africana studies theory and criticism open up new conversations about slavery’s afterlife through this literary genre.

The issue includes essays by two Geneseo English alumni from the class of 2012 – Jesse Goldberg and Stephanie Iasiello – and an essay by SUNY Geneseo Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Beth McCoy.

Since graduating from Geneseo, Goldberg earned a PhD in African American literature at Cornell University and is now Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Longwood University in Virginia, where, like Lima, he is teaching a course on neo-slave narratives. Goldberg’s essay is titled “The Restored Literary Behaviors of Neo-Slave Narratives: Troubling the Ethics of Witnessing in the Excessive Present.”

Iasiello earned a PhD in African Diaspora Literature at Emory University and is now Board President at Reforming Arts, a non-profit organization providing liberal arts higher education to people incarcerated in women’s prisons in Georgia. Iasiello’s essay is titled “Photographing A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby: Kara Walker’s Take on the Neo-Slave Narrative.”

McCoy’s essay, “Flights of Principled Fancy Dress: Steve Prince’s Katrina Suite and the Neo-Slave Narratives” extends the rich and ongoing collaborative work she has been engaging in with New Orleans artist Steve Prince.

The issue is in its final printing stages and is scheduled to be published by the end of 2018.

This post has been updated to reflect Iasiello’s and McCoy’s contributions to the forthcoming special issue.