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

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.

Kenneth Asher Publishes Book on Ethical Criticism with Cambridge University Press

Dr. Kenneth Asher, who is jointly appointed in English and Philosophy departments at Geneseo, recently published a book on literary criticism titled Literature, Ethics and the Emotions with Cambridge University Press. His monograph examines the longstanding connection between literature and our interpersonal ethical understanding of emotions. According to Cambridge University Press, “Asher argues that literary scholars should locate this question in the long and various history of moral philosophy. On the basis of his own reading of this history, Asher contends for the centrality of emotions in our ethical lives and shows how literature – novels, poetry, and drama – can each contribute to crucial emotional understanding.” Asher’s analysis is supplemented by chapters on T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and George Bernard Shaw to provide a detailed exploration as to how modernist authors approach the issue of ethical understanding and formation of self.  You can find more information on Asher’s publication here.

Professor Asher has been a member of the English department since 1986. His previous publications include T.S. Eliot and Ideology (Cambridge University Press, 1995)  and “Emotions and the Ethical Life in D.H. Lawrence” (Cambridge Quarterly, 2011).

 

Beth McCoy And Eight Geneseo Alumni Co-Authored Article Accepted For Publication

Accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Genders is “’There is No Magic Here’: Saidiya Hartman, Percival Everett’s Zulus, and Slavery’s Archive,” an essay coauthored by Distinguished Teaching Professor Beth A. McCoy and Geneseo alumni Gregory J. Palermo (English/Literature, Physics), Jeremy A. Jackson (English/Literature), Danielle M. Ward (English, Geological Sciences), Timothy Moriarty (English/Creative Writing), Christina Broomfield (English/Literature, Art History), Melissa Ann Smith (Childhood/Special Education), Matt Huben (English/Literature), and Justin M. Turner (English/Literature).

The essay emerged from the collaborative final project in McCoy’s Fall 2013 ENGL 394 Black Apocalyptic Fiction seminar. You can view the full essay here.

Elizabeth Witherell to deliver 2016 Harding Lecture November 8

The 2016 Walter Harding Lecture will be delivered by Elizabeth Witherell on November 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in Doty Recital Hall on the campus of SUNY Geneseo.

The lecture is entitled “Thoreau’s Manuscripts and the Prepared Eye.”

2551-1Witherell is editor-in-chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, also known as the Thoreau Edition. Published by Princeton University Press, the edition currently comprises 17 volumes of a projected 28. Witherell is the project’s third editor-in-chief; its first, from 1966 to 1972, was Walter Harding, who taught at SUNY Geneseo from 1956 to 1982 and for whom the Harding Lecture is named. In 2003, the Thoreau Edition was named a “We the People” project by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has funded the project continuously since its inception.

In 2015, Witherell made news for her transcription of a nine-page manuscript in the collection of Harvard University’s Houghton Library representing Thoreau’s notes on the 1850 shipwreck off Fire Island that killed the transcendentalist and feminist writer Margaret Fuller. (Boston Globe, UC Santa Barbara Currents.)

As always, the Harding Lecture is free and open to the public.

Join us at the 2016 Rochester Fringe Festival

Come to the Fringe Festival in Rochester, New York next weekend and see what the English department’s creative writers, filmmakers, and multimedia artists have prepared for your enjoyment! All events are free.

See page 35 of the print Festival Guide for a full listing, including free performances from 11:30 am to midnight on Saturday, September 24. Events include:

  • Guerrilla Art: (a student art collective) have prepared a site-specific installation. At the Spiegelgarden, corner of Main and Gibbs Sts, Friday 9/23, 5-11 pm, and Saturday 9/24, 12 noon to 11 pm. Faculty sponsor: Lytton Smith.
  • Heirlooms: creative writers reading their work: Sarah Steil, creative non-fiction Oliver Diaz, fiction Evan Goldstein, poetry 3:45 at the Lyric Theatre, 440 Main St at the corner with Prince. Faculty sponsor: Kristen Gentry.
  • Filmmakers: Saturday 9/17, 7:15 pm at Spiegelgarden, corner of Main and Gibbs Interaction by Wei Ying Ch’ng Run by Michael MacDonald Saturday 9/24, 7:15 pm at Spiegelgarden, corner of Main and Gibbs She Used to Be Mine by Anna Tailleur Overture by Jason Guisao Arrive early and turn in an ID for headphones. Faculty sponsor: Melanie Blood.

Concessions are available at both the Spiegelgarden and Lyric Theatre. Free parking at Lyric, garage and pay lots near Spiegelgarden.

English department and Milne Library break new ground with National Book Review Month

SUNY Geneseo’s English department and Milne Library have launched the first ever National Book Review Month: a month dedicated to encouraging readers and writers to review books.

Readers are encouraged to post a 100-1000 word review at the NaRMo website, which also offers tips for reviewing and other resources. Or post a review to an online store or send one to a literary magazine.

National Book Review Month is committed to sharing a wealth of exciting contemporary literature. Dr. Lytton Smith, Assistant Professor of Poetry at SUNY Geneseo and a former publicist for presses including Four Way Books and Persea Books, said, “I despair every time I hear about the death of poetry or fiction or books in general; there’s more amazing contemporary writing out there than anyone would have time to read, and NaRMo is our way of beginning to help people find the books that are looking for them.”

Use #narmo and @getreviewing in whichever ways seem right to you!

Rob Doggett to speak on editing Yeats at upcoming conference in Rochester

rob_doggettProf. Rob Doggett will lecture on “Editing Yeats’s Early Poetry, Drama, and Fairy Tales” Friday, November 20 at 10:00 a.m. in the Galisano Midlevel Gateway Building of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

The lecture is part of St. John Fisher’s two-day conference, W.B. Yeats at 150: A Celebration, marking the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

Prof. Doggett is the author of Deep-Rooted Things: Empire and Nation in the Poetry and Drama of William Butler Yeats (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006) and editor of When You Are Old: Early Poems, Plays and Fairy Tales of William Butler Yeats (Penguin Classics, 2015).

Pier Gabrielle Foreman to deliver 2015 Walter Harding Lecture November 16

This year’s Walter Harding Lecture will be delivered by Pier Gabrielle Foreman, Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Professor of Black American Studies, University of Delaware.

Professor Foreman’s lecture, titled “To Speculate Darkly: Slavery, Black Visual Culture, and the Promises and Problems of Print,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 16 in Doty Recital Hall on the SUNY Geneseo campus.

Pier Gabrielle Foreman Press ShotAs a scholar of African American studies and nineteenth-century literary history and culture, Prof. Foreman has examined the relationship between literary and activist practices. Her book Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women In The Nineteenth Century (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2009), examines this relationship in the work of authors Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Frances E.W. Harper, Victoria Earle Matthews, and Amelia Johnson.

Professor Foreman is co-editor, with Reginald Pitts, of the Penguin Classics edition of Harriet Wilson’s 1859 autobiographical novel Our Nig, Or, Sketches From The Life Of A Free Black, In A Two-Story White House, North. Showing That Slavery’s Shadows Fall Even There.

Active in digital as well as print scholarship, and committed to collaborative work that advances public understanding and engages the community, Professor Foreman serves as faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project, a digital humanities project that documents the 19th-century African-American conventions movement through crowdsourced transcriptions of convention minutes.

The Harding Lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the Doty Hall lobby.

Download the poster (11×17).