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).
This past December, at the annual International Yeats Society Conference in Paris, France, Professor and Chair of English, Rob Doggett, was named general editor of the Journal of International Yeats Studies.
The International Yeats Society is an academic organization that links national and other Yeats societies around the world. Conceived on the 150th anniversary of W. B. Yeats’s birth, International Yeats Studies brings together scholarship from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, and addresses Yeats’s place in world literature.
Dave Kelly was the Geneseo English Department poet from 1967-2009. This exhibit, which is sponsored by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts and runs from November 8 to December 3, features works in the visual arts that were inspired by Dave’s poetry. The exhibit is at the New Deal Gallery: 4 Murray Hill Drive, Mt Morris, NY 14510.
A reception, that is open to the public, will be held on Friday, November 15, from 4pm – 7pm. There will be food, drinks, music, and a reading of selected poems, which will begin at 5:30pm.
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.
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
Winner: David Beyea
Honorable mention: Victoria Cooke
Winner: Sean Welch
Honorable mention: Katelyn Sullivan
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
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.
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 is partnering with the University of Rochester to sponsor a week’s worth of events celebrating Henry David Thoreau and creativity, April 3-5.
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.