English department faculty garner awards and recognition

These members of the English department were recognized for their outstanding contributions at SUNY Geneseo’s 2014-15 opening convocation.

Maria Lima

limaProf. Lima was appointed James and Julia Lockhart Supported Professor for Research and Creative Activity, 2014-2017. Prof. Lima’s scholarship has been fundamental in establishing Black British Literature as an internationally recognized academic field, and she is well-respected nationally and internationally for her work. Her essay “The Choice of Opera for a Revisionist History: Joan Anim-Addo’s Imoinda as a Neo-Slave Narrative” appeared in the 2013 volume of Caribbean Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (selected Proceedings of the “Islands-in-between Conference,” Grenada 2011). She was recently asked to join the British Arts and Humanities Research Council project on Translating Cultures – a three-year endeavor at the Goldsmiths, University of London. The Lockhart professorship carries a grant from the Geneseo Foundation for each of the three years it is held. Supported professors have the privilege of designing and teaching a course of their choosing and the responsibility of delivering a campus-wide lecture on a topic of their choice.

Gillian Paku

Paku_03Prof. Gillian Paku has been granted continuing appointment (tenure) in the English department and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. Paku’s research and teaching are in British literature of the eighteenth century, disability studies, writing, and writing pedagogy. In spring 2014 she taught an innovative course in which English majors preparing for careers as 7-12 English teachers collaborated with English teachers in the York school district and blogged about their experience.In fall 2014, Paku was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2012, she was named a winner of the Innovative Course Design Competition organized by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies for her course “What’s In a Name?” Among her recent publications are two forthcoming essays: a comprehensive article on “anonymity” commissioned by Oxford University Press for their online handbook series and an entry on “Pseudonymous and Anonymous Publishing” for Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of British Literature, 1660-1789.

Wes Kennison

kennisonProf. Kennison, Lecturer and Fellow in the Office of International Programs, received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Prof. Kennison, Geneseo class of ’79, has taught courses at his alma mater since 1986. His recent courses have included Humanities I and II (both here and in El Sauce, Nicaragua) and Latin. He also co-teaches seminars for the Edgar Fellows program and is extensively involved as a workshop leader for the GOLD program.

Glenn McClure

GlennMcClure-JohnBrownDays-225x300Prof. McClure, Lecturer in English and Humanities, received the Joseph O’Brien Award for Excellence in Part-Time Teaching. Prof. McClure, a Geneseo alumnus with both a BA in Music History and an MA in Multicultural Education, teaches Humanities and INTD 105, and has been a study abroad coordinator and instructor in Italy, Ghana, Haiti, Greece, and Nicaragua. McClure is also an independent composer and arts integration consultant whose oratorio “The Starry Messenger” was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

Irene Belyakov

Prof. Belyakov, Coordinator of English for Speakers of Other Languages, received the Harter Endowment for Faculty Mentoring Award. Since arriving at SUNY Geneseo nearly 15 years ago, Belyakov has made the campus a more welcoming place for students with diverse backgrounds and especially those for whom English is a second language. She has served as a mentor, supporter, advocate, and sometimes therapist for dozens of international students. She also mentors School of Education majors and other students whose future careers may involve working with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. In addition, Belyakov has offered workshops through the Geneseo’s Teaching and Learning Center to educate her colleagues about second language development and the kind of oral and written product one might expect from an ESOL student. Belyakov has dedicated herself to supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. She has been the faculty advisor for Pride Alliance and Hillel, and she has co-chaired the SUNY Geneseo Presidents Commission on Diversity and Community.

Summer 2014 Roundup

A few things that our faculty, students, and alumni have been up to recently:

  • Professor Rachel Hall was selected from a very competitive pool of applicants for an Ox-Bow Summer Arts Faculty Residency and Fellowship supported in part by an Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Geneseo alum (2010) Meghan Pipe’s short story “Contingencies” won third place in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Story Contest. One of the most respected short-story journals in print, Glimmer Train is represented in recent editions of the Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, New Stories from the Midwest, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the South, Best American Mystery Stories, Best of the West, and Best American Short Stories.
  • Professor Paul Schacht led a workshop at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering on using the two websites created by the internet resource Digital Thoreau. One site — The Readers’ Thoreau — enables readers to engage in online conversation right in the margins of Thoreau’s works; the other — Walden: A Fluid Text Edition enables readers to follow changes to the manuscript of Thoreau’s Walden across the work’s long period of composition (1846-1854). Together with Professor Kristen Case (University of Maine, Farmington), Schacht has written an essay describing how Geneseo and UM students discussed Walden with each other using the The Readers’ Thoreau in spring 2014. The essay will appear in the December issue of the journal Pedagogy, published by Duke University Press.
  • Professor Ed Gillin led a panel of Geneseo students and alumni at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering in a discussion of the Thoreau-Harding Project, the multi-semester Geneseo course in which students are building a replica Thoreau cabin on the Geneseo campus. On another panel, Gillin read a paper on “Thoreau, Wallace Stevens, ‘Sunday’ and ‘Sunday Morning.'”

Prim and Proper? Dr. Easton’s Lecture Explores Sexuality in Austen’s Novels

Dr. Celia Easton’s lecture entitled “Who Needs Vampires? Jane Austen’s Wit is Biting Enough” took place in the Fireside Lounge on Wednesday 2/22. The talk was largely meant to debunk Austen’s reputation as a prim and proper romance writer out of touch with the real world. While this reputation was created for Austen by her family after her death, Easton’s lecture focused on who Austen was before “a veil of prissiness” was thrown over her—an author who understood sexuality and knew how to use it in her books in order to make socially relevant points.

Dr. Easton stressed the point that “if you fell in love with Austen at 12, you didn’t really understand her.” Because although it is possible to read Austen as many do—for an innocent romance in which the heroine always ends up married—to read for the love story only is to overlook the fact that Austen is only partly interested in romance. The preoccupation with marriage in most of her novels reflects a much more practical sentiment: that for middle-class women, finding a husband is one of the only ways to survive.

The earliest example of a woman desperate for economic security in Austen’s writing is in Lady Susan, written when Austen was 20. The title character, a widow with a teenage daughter to support, purposefully uses her sexuality in order to get ahead. Because Lady Susan is written in epistolary format, Austen is able to show her readers that Lady Susan’s actions are deliberate—she is not an innocent lady who gets her way because she is sexy without knowing it; rather, she understands how to influence men and continuously does so in order to help herself, unabashed that this is often at the expense of others. Lady Susan’s duplicity and her understanding “the tendency of men’s reason to slip beneath their breeches” shows that Austen is not only not a prim and proper woman with no idea what sex is, but rather that she is aware of the power of sex and the fact that women must use their sexual appeal in order to preserve their livelihoods. Although the reader does not like Lady Susan, Austen frames her actions so we see that her selfishness and seduction of men are born out of necessity.

The rest of Dr. Easton’s lecture traced the “Lady Susan type” throughout many of Austen’s six full-length novels. Although Austen does not use the “Lady Susan type” for any of her other main characters, there is always a secondary character who acts like Lady Susan, using her sexuality as a means to pull herself out of a desperate financial situation. Although these characters are largely unlikeable, they usually end up like Lady Susan: unpunished in the end. Dr. Easton stressed this lack of punishment as another way to show that Austen understood the realities of the world around her—in Austen “people don’t always get their just desserts…stupid people may very well prevail.”

Far from the image of Austen as a prissy lady with no knowledge of sex, Austen’s was willing and able to portray her world as it was—with women using their sexuality to get ahead and men using women’s desire to get ahead to seduce and leave them. While romance is present, too, the heroine often only unites with her love because these breaches of sexual conduct have been uncovered and overcome.

The title of the lecture was meant to highlight not only the recent mash-ups of Austen novels with fantasy thrillers (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example), but also to undercut the common belief that one should read Austen only when one desires an innocent romantic story in which the heroines always end up happy. Dr. Easton pointed out that if readers desire “shock, surprise, passion, and cutting satire,” they need look no further than Austen.

Walden Photo Set








A few days ago I walked to the Concord Art Association Museum and Gallery. The admission to the museum was free and it is within walking distance from the Inn, making it easily accessible. There were many beautiful exhibits including images of people made out of bronze covered tree branches. The exhibit that struck me as the most interesting took up the entire second floor of the gallery.

Once upstairs the walls were covered in large paintings of a tree house. The paintings were spread across the room completing a 360 view of the tree house and the surrounding forest. The painter, Nick Miller, first discovered the tree house at the Albers Foundation in Connecticut. Miller recalls his first sight of the tree house: “It was like a fairytale that first evening, climbing up, I fell asleep up here, then woke to the evening forest: and a kind of epiphany; that this was the place I needed to be.” He spent approximately seven weeks on the platform painting a panoramic view of nature.

Miller’s retreat into nature reminded me very much of Thoreau’s stay at Walden Pond. While Thoreau retreated to the Pond he wrote Walden and Civil Disobedience. While Miller retreated to nature he painted beautiful portraits of his forest. Both artists were working on some of their greatest pieces during their time in nature. Thoreau and Miller, for the majority of the time, stayed in nature while completing their works. Thoreau stayed in his cabin while Miller often slept on the platform of his tree house. Both of these artists also showed great respect and adoration for the bodies of water they had settled upon. Miller spent a lot of time at the nearby man-made “Anni’s Lake.” He states, “I’d go for a walk in the evening by the lake, and absorb its beauty.” In The Ponds chapter Thoreau writes, “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

It is very interesting to see the artwork of a modern day Thoreau figure. Miller’s 2009 painting is just another expression of Thoreau’s 19th Century ideals.


Source: humanitiesatwalden

2011 English department awards and scholarships

We’re pleased to announce this year’s winners of department awards and scholarships. We’ll be celebrating these formally in the Walter Harding Lounge, Welles 111, on May 4 at 2 p.m.

Writing Awards

Critical Essay

  • 1st Place: William Porter, “Coleridge and Keats Look at a Nightingale”
  • 2nd Place: Elizabeth Barber, “ ‘Command your price’: The Commodification of the Family Relationship in ‘Eumaeus’”
  • 3rd Place: Cailin Kowalewski, “Knowledge and Identity in Paradise Lost”
  • Honorable Mention: Justine Rosen, “One with the Land: A Disintegration into Nature”

Freshman Writing

  • 1st Place: Gregory Palermo, “Mommy, My Teacher is a Dictator”
  • 2nd Place: David Park, “RAF – An Unnerving Past”
  • 3rd Place: Chris Kenny, “The Poet Soon To Be Eight”

Creative Non-fiction

  • 1st Place Co-winner: Kate Jordhamo, “Exhumation”
  • 1st Place Co-winner: William Porter, “On Returning to First Reflections of a First Funeral”
  • 2nd Place: Alicia Goodwin, “Saying Goodbye to Hopedale”
  • 3rd Place: Bridget Dunn, “Cloudy-ish”


  • 1st Place: Elizabeth Sackett, “Fifteen Things to do at an Airport”
  • Bridget Dunn: “Breath”
  • Bridget Adams: “Fields”
  • Honorable Mention: Meghan Pipe, “Litany”


  • 1st Place: Yael Massen, “Acoustics in the Night”
  • 2nd Place: Bridget Adams, “Martyn Died in a Train Accident on New Year’s”
  • 3rd Place Co-winner: Gabrielle Gosset, “Poem Puddles and Comma Drops”
  • 3rd Place Co-winner: Wyatt Mentzinger, “NYU Suicide”
  • Mention: Katherine Russell, “first”

Graduating Senior Awards

  • William T. Beauchamp Literature Award: Meghan Pipe
  • Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award: Katherine Hart
  • Rita K. Gollin Award for Excellence in American Literature: Kathryn Strickland (F ‘10, Sp ‘11)
  • Calvin Israel Award in the Humanities: Brittney Walker
  • Joseph M. O’Brien Memorial Award: Fiona Harvey
  • Rosalind R. Fisher Memorial Award for Outstanding Student Teaching in English: Kellie Fairchild

Department Scholarships

  • Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship: Shea Frazier
  • Rita K. Gollin Senior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature: William Porter
  • Rita K. Gollin Junior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature: Justine Rosen
  • Hans Gottschalk Award: Emily Olmstead
  • Joseph M. O’Brien Transfer Scholarship: Gabrielle Gosset
  • Don Watt Memorial Scholarship: Stasia Monteiro

Prize-winning Author Andrea Levy Here April 29

Andrea Levy will read from her latest novel, The Long Song, on April 29 at 4 p.m. in Newton Hall 201. The event is free and open to the public.

The Long Song was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2010 and was in contention for the Orange Prize in 2010. Set in Jamaica in the early 19th century, Levy’s novel explores the relationship between Great Britain and the Caribbean during the last years of slavery and the period immediately after emancipation. The daughter of Jamaican migrants herself, Levy uses her fiction to rewrite British history to include her ancestors.

Levy’s fourth novel, Small Island, won the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 2004 and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005.

Levy will sign copies of her works, which will be on sale after the reading.

Levy’s visit to Geneseo is sponsored by the Department of English, the Office of the Provost, the Office of International Programs, Campus Auxiliary Services, Multicultural Programs and Services, and the Office of Residence Life.