Geneseo English profs win award for digital humanities project

The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) has awarded its October 2010 Community Contribution Award to two projects: The Early Novels Database at Swarthmore College and English 170: The Practice of Criticism at SUNY Geneseo.

English 170: The Practice of Criticism is a collaboration among four Geneseo professors — Schacht, Doggett, Woidat, and Paku — teaching Geneseo’s course of the same name.

Students in the four sections are engaging in online conversation about several “big questions” raised by literary criticism as an enterprise. They’re also working together to annotate a baker’s dozen of short poems.

For their part, the four faculty members have gone out on a limb by recording brief audio commentaries on Yeats’s poem “Easter, 1916” in order to give their students a feel for the questions that critics typically ask of poetry.

Schacht, Doggett, Woidat, and Paku plan to publish a case study of their project in Academic Commons in April, 2011 under the theme “Digital Humanities and the Undergraduate.”

English 170: The Practice of Criticism lives in the SUNY Geneseo wiki.

Creative writing application deadline is 10/28

Students seeking admission to spring, 2011 workshops in creative writing, or to the English major writing track, must apply by 4 p.m. on October 28. To apply, download this form, attach it to a sample of your prose or poetry (as explained on the form), and bring the form and sample to the English department main office, Welles 226. Applicants will be notified of the result by mail shortly after November 1.

Ghostly reunion

The Geneseo English department was well represented at the Fall 2010 meeting of the Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers Study Group, October 1-2, at Cornell University. The theme of the meeting was “Ghost Stories.” Study Group members were invited to a lecture by Dana Luciano on “Touching, Clinging, Haunting, Worlding: On the Spirit Photograph,” and discussed ghostly tales by such writers as Lydia Maria Child, Rose Terry Cooke, and Mary Wilkins Freeman. Pictured here are Geneseo professors Caroline Woidat (left) and Alice Rutkowski (right), flanking Jonathan Senchyne (Geneseo ‘04), who is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University writing a dissertation on early American and antebellum fiction.

English faculty win advancement, honors

Congratulations to three English department faculty who received professional advancement this fall. Rachel Hall and Graham Drake were both promoted to the rank of Professor. Alice Rutkowski was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.

And congratulations to Assistant Professor Jun Okada, who was awarded leave for spring, 2011 under the United University Professions’ Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Leave Program to complete work on a book project, Producing Asian American Media: Institutional History and the Making of a Genre.

Huston Diehl, 1948-2010

Huston Diehl, a member of the SUNY Geneseo English department from 1975 to 1979, died in Iowa City, Iowa on September 8 at age 61. At the University of Iowa, Diehl was Professor of English and CLAS Collegiate Fellow and a specialist in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature.

From today’s obituary in the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Huston published widely on the theatrical, visual, and religious cultures of early modern England. She was the author of An Index of Icons in English Emblem Books (1986), a reference work funded by a publication grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Staging Reform, Reforming the Stage: Protestantism and Popular Theater in Early Modern England (1997), named an “Outstanding Academic Book of 1997” by Choice Magazine. Dream Not of Other Worlds, her memoir about teaching in a segregated “Negro” elementary school in rural Virginia, in 1970 was published in 2007. A critical reflection on education and the history of segregation, this book recounts what Huston had hoped to offer her students and the obstacles she faced but above all recalls the voices of her students and the lessons they taught her. Huston’s scholarship was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1978-79 and a University of Iowa Faculty Scholar Award from 1988 to 1991, as well as by numerous research grants from SUNY, the University of Oklahoma, The University of Iowa, and the Folger and Newberry Libraries.

In 2007, Diehl was joined by Matilda Beauford, one of her former students at Morton Elementary School in Louisa County, Virginia, for an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition about Dream Not of Other Worlds. You can hear the interview and read an excerpt of the book here.

Diehl’s former undergraduate students at Geneseo include Lynn Kennison (‘79) and Adjunct Lecturer in English Wes Kennison (‘78). Her former graduate students at the University of Iowa include Anne Clark Bartlett (Geneseo ‘87, Iowa ‘93), now Chair of the English department at DePaul University.

The cause of Diehl’s death was adenoid cystic carcinoma. Ron Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at Geneseo, recalls that

In 1998, an operation for cancer severely altered Huston’s (beautiful) speaking voice. Heroically, and with no evidence at all of self-pity, she continued teaching. She told her students, “It will take you a couple of weeks to be able to figure out what I am saying. Stay with it. I’m worth it.” Indeed she was. Those of us who visited her classroom in Geneseo were blown away by her ability to bring students into a profound conversation on the texts that she loved, with her ability to read texts – in all senses of that word – and by her astonishing rapport with her students. As someone who was her colleague here and also at the University of Chicago as Fellows in Residence during the academic year 1978-79, my respect and affection for her is profound. Among other considerable talents, Huston was among the best if not the very best listener I have ever met, inside and outside the classroom, and she taught me by example the necessity to cultivate that skill.

Before her death, Diehl established the Huston Diehl Memorial Fund to help support teaching and research at the University of Iowa Department of English. Contributions may be sent to University of Iowa Foundation, Levitt Center for University Advancement, 1 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52255.

Caleb Crain to deliver 2010 Harding Lecture

This year’s Walter Harding Lecture at SUNY Geneseo will be delivered by Caleb Crain.

The lecture, titled “Melville’s Secrets,” will be held Thursday, September 23, at 4 p.m. in the SUNY Geneseo College Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

Crain is the author of American Sympathy: Men, Friendship, and Literature in the New Nation (Yale University Press, 2001) and of numerous articles about American literature and culture in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. He wrote the introduction and notes for two American novels published by The Modern Library: The Algerine Captive (1797) and Wieland (1798). His essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in such venues as The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Review of Books. His novella Sweet Grafton was published in the online journal n+1. His blog, Steamboats Are Ruining Everything, won the Cliopatra Award for Best Writer in 2007.

New book by Stelzig on Robinson the life-writer

Distinguished Teaching Professor Gene Stelzig has added another monograph to his list of important scholarly publications in nineteenth-century literature. Though less well known than William Wordsworth, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Herman Hesse, or Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – subjects of previous books by Stelzig – Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867) is noteworthy for his reminiscences of key figures in the English romantic movement. Stelzig’s new book demonstrates that Robinson must also be taken seriously as a life writer. Henry Crabb Robinson in Germany: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Life Writing examines autobiographical writings by Robinson that remain largely in manuscript, together with letters and diaries. Learn more about the book in [this press release from Bucknell University Press.

English Department Alums on Facebook

Wondering what Geneseo alums who majored in English are doing these days? Interested in catching up with someone you shared a class with decades ago but haven’t seen or heard from since? Want to vent about what’s missing from the [newly redesigned English department website? You can do all these things and more by joining the SUNY Geneseo English Department Alumni group on Facebook. Write on our wall! Start a discussion! Post photos and video! We want to hear from you!

English Department Website Goes Live

The English department has redesigned its website to make it easier for you to learn more about who we are and what we’re doing. New elements of the website include live updates from our Twitter page and links to stories in this spanking-new English department blog. The blog will broadcast important news for majors and chronicle the latest exploits of students, faculty, and staff.