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Department of English

Where in the Nation and the World:

See where Faculty are Performing, Teaching and Researching

Naomi Mandel will deliver the keynote address at KALEIDOSCOPE, the annual Graduate Student Conference at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on March 4-5, 2011. The theme of the Conference is The Ethics of Representation and the Representation of Ethics. Professor Mandel's address is titled: "'We must write what is forbidden': Representation and Disaster"

Kathleen Davis has been awarded a full fellowship for the academic year 2010-11 by the Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Social Science in Princeton, New Jersey. She will participate in the School's research seminar on "Secularism," and work on her current book project, tentatively titled "Is Secularism Modern?"

Naomi Mandel will be presenting "Unspeakable Fidelities: Violence, Justice, and Being True" on the "Parsing the Unspeakable" panel at the Modern Language Association Convention, Sunday, January 9th, 10:15-11:30

Mary Cappello will be presenting an illustrated reading based on her new book, Swallow at Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum, Friday, February 18th, at 6:30 p.m. The event  is to be a gala celebration of the life and work of Chevalier Jackson and the foreign body collection on which the book is based. Cappello appeared recently on CBC radio/Vancouver; as a week-long guest blogger for Powells books; and will be presenting on two panels at the AWP Convention in the first week of February in Washington, DC.

Carolyn Betensky was invited to participate in a day-long conference at George Washington University to celebrate the career of Judith Plotz. Her talk was titled "The Happy Few and the Unhappy Masses."

Peter Covino gave a talk at this year’s American Italian Historical Association, Calandra Institute, CUNY, November, 2010 titled, “Close Reading Diane di Prima’s Poetry in a Global-Digital Age,” and participated in a Feature Reading, with three other Italian American poets.

"Swallowed and Saved: The Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection and the Art it Has Inspired."

An illustrated reading by artist Lisa Wood and author Mary Cappello

Observatory, No. 543 Union Street, Brooklyn, New York 11215
Date: Saturday, October 16th
Time: 7:00 PM
Admission: $5


Professor John R. Leo has been appointed the Hugh le May Research Fellow for 2010 at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.  Rhodes is one of Africa’s oldest and most distinguished universities, and the Hugh le May Fellowship is among the University’s most prestigious awards.

Professor Leo, who teaches a range of courses in the Department of English, is also Director of the Comparative Literature Studies Program and a former Director of the Film Media Program.  Other honors and distinctions he has received include several Fulbright awards, notably his appointment as the first Fulbright Distinguished Chair of American Studies in Poland.

Rhodes University states that the “Fellowship is available in alternate years to senior scholars of standing with extensive research publications to their credit, who wish to devote themselves to advanced work (post-doctoral) in one of the following subjects: Philosophy, Classics, Ancient, Medieval or Modern History, Classical, Biblical, Medieval or Modern Languages, Political Theory, Law.”  Fellows are expected to be resident for a four month period in the calendar year of their appointment.  Professor Leo elected to work on his project over the summer of 2010 (South Africa’s winter!).  He will be joining a select list.  Previous Fellows include Liz Stanley, in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, where she is Director of the University’s Centre for Narrative & Auto/Biographical Studies. She has authored or editor of several prominent books on feminist theory and methodologies, and women’s employment and life writings.  Gareth Griffiths, Winthrop Professor of English and Cultural Studies, School of Social and Cultural Studies at The University of Western Australia, is co-author of the seminal text, The Empire Writes Back: the theory and practice of post-colonial literatures.  Hugh Macmillan, Leverhulme Research Officer, African Studies Centre, Oxford University, is also a prominent scholar of postcolonialism.

Professor Leo’s successful research proposal is interdisciplinary and investigates the roles of multiple “visual literacies” in the constitution of geocultural “area studies.”  He plans to examine particularly the representational practices of “racialized” bodies in film, photography, visual art/media installations and exhibitions, and “public spaces” in the late apartheid and post-apartheid eras (after 1994).  How are bodies “read,” and “framed” so as to designate “legality” and even “citizenship”?  Who has access to “art” and the power to “represent”?  What and where are visual practices at work to define “homeland,” and otherwise conceive of “area studies”?  Part of Professor Leo’s project is to raise these kinds of questions to correlate South African and American cultural studies.  It forms part of his ongoing research into comparative area studies, including co-editing a book, Projecting Words, Writing Images: Intersections of the Literary and the Visual in American Cultural Practices (forthcoming 2011).

[  For more info on the Hugh le May Fellowship, go here:  ]

Jean Walton presents “Mudflat Turf Wars: Eviction Documentaries and the NFB in Vancouver in the early 1970s” at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Los Angeles, CA in March, 2010. The paper examines two short NFB (Canada's National Film Board) films, "Mudflats Living" (Fresco and Paterson, 1972) and "Some People Have to Suffer" (Pinney, 1976), each of which dramatizes a community's battle with municipal authorities over land use rights on Vancouver's coastal fringes. In Mudflats Living, artist and hippie squatters bring attention to developers' (and the Mayor's) plans to pave over precious mudflat marshlands in North Vancouver; in "Some People Have to Suffer" a municipal government drags its feet over installation of sewers for a working-class community on the banks of the Fraser River South of Vancouver, while land speculators (including relatives of council members) profit on deals as the area industrializes. The second film was part of the NFB's "Challenge for Change" program (1967-80), a federally sponsored radical innovation in documentary film practice, using video for social animation, to promote community awareness and help disenfranchized groups take greater power in systemic decision-making processes. A collection of essays has just been published on the Challenge for Change movement, and Walton has been invited to present her paper on these "Eviction" films at the Book Launch for this collection in Vancouver, British Columbia in March, directly after the SCMS conference in LA.

Challenge for Change Book Trailer from Ezra Winton on Vimeo.

Associate Professor Naomi Mandel was a Visiting Professor at the Halbert Institute for Canadian Studies at Hebrew University in Spring 2010. While in Jerusalem, Mandel taught a course on "The Canadian Extreme" at the Department of Comparative Literature of the Institute for Arts and Letters at Hebrew University. "The Canadian Extreme" included novels by Québécoise authors Nelly Arcan and Hélène Rioux, Canadian authors Margaret Atwood and Douglas Coupland, and films and texts from the U.S., France, South Korea, and Israel. The goal of the course was to consider the two distinct literatures of Canada and the relation of each to the global phenomenon of the contemporary extreme.