In October, at the annual meeting of the Polish Association for American Studies in Poznan , Professor John Leo gave a paper on “Isadora Duncan, Race, and Gender, and the 'Production of the Aesthetic Field.'” This was a reworking and updating of his chapter in Public and Private Spaces: New York City , 1890s-1929 , ed. William Boelhower, University of Amsterdam Press, just now coming out. The paper will also be published with a selection of others from the conference by the PAAS and Adam Mickiewicz University , Poznan . In November, Leo gave one of the plenary keynote addresses on the topic of "Realism and Representation: Considering Some Images," at a conference that he helped to organize on Realizmus a Antirealismus v Literatúre (Realism and Antirealism in Literature), sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages and the Faculty of Pedagogy at his host institution, Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra. The conference papers will be published by the University on its web site. In December, Leo was invited again to Poland , to the University of Lodz , to give a lecture (about 250 students and faculty) on "Thomas Moran (1870s) and Andy Warhol (1960s): Realism, Representation, ' America ,’” and to conduct a faculty seminar on research methods in American cultural studies. Leo’s focus for that workshop was early 20th-century dance (Duncan and Ted Shawn), popular culture, and gender and queer theory. Leo is now slated (following an invitation) to give the Opening Keynote Address at the 4th Annual Queer Studies Conference in Poland , at the University of Wroclaw , in late June. (John helped pull together the very first one, in 2000, so he calls himself “the fairy godmother” on this upcoming occasion.) This year the conference will be international, and with the topic: " Europe Without Homophobia." Leo’s talk will problematize the notion of "postnational citizenship" in the EU--indeed, the notion of the "citizen"--with attention to all-too-residual nationalisms and religious traditions (e.g. Polish or Slovak Catholicism) and thus tensions with Euro movements and definitions of "universal human rights."
Professor Leo’s teaching in Slovakia has been quite exciting and challenging for him-- students' evaluations suggest they are enjoying both a US "style" of teaching (seminars, reports, critical arguments, readings in cultural studies, brief written projects--and everything "open") and also the materials--film and literature. Last term, Leo had 3 seminars of MA methods students--they worked exclusively on Cultural Studies materials, e.g. selected chapters from "Against Race" by Gilroy, Fluck's provocative essays on cultural modernism, selected chapters from Poster's "What's Wrong with the Internet," and readings on argumentation, organization of theses, etc. This coming term Leo is teaching film + cultural studies again and giving 10 one-hour lectures on 19th-20 th century US lit & culture. He writes: “the need is enormous, I mean, basically I'm going to be stripping down and presenting slabs of Sunquist, Butler , supra views of modernism and postmodernism, etc., all with an eye toward (1) Cultural Studies critique and (2) categories needing coverage in national examinations.”
Assistant Professor Libby Miles was an invited panelist for the Modern Language Association's Division on the Teaching of Writing, on the topic of "Textbooks as Disciplinary Forces." Miles' presentation, "Forcing Discipline: Composition Textbooks, Normalization, and Material Conditions," argued that those with sufficient institutional support should alternate between using and not using writing textbooks in order to further develop pedagogical innovation in the field of rhetoric and composition.
Graduate Student Susan Rashid Horn’s essay, “Julius,” has been accepted at Louisiana State's 14th Annual Mardi Gras Conference, held in Baton Rouge on Feb 12-13. The conference is on Exile, Segregation and the Politics of Identity, and for one of the panels they've asked for creative submissions. Horn composed the essay in Mary Cappello’s seminar on Immigrant Subjectivity and Documentary Discourse. She revised the paper and was guided through the process of finding a conference and getting a proposal out in Karen Stein’s seminar, English 510: Introduction to Professional Study. Horn's essay is a first person account about a man who leaves his home after the Russians invade Hungary in 1956, and the complexities involved in the decision to leave.
Professor Mary Cappello has been invited and agreed to prepare an essay for an MLA publication, Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, on course contexts--incorporating sexuality studies and writing by gay and lesbian Italian/American writers into Italian/American studies courses. The forthcoming book is edited by Edvige Giunta and Kathleen Zamboni McCormick
Professor Karen Stein reports that on December 8th, students in ENG 510, "Introduction to Professional Study," presented a conference with papers on topics such as an 18th century Irish poet, Mary Barber; Speech Act Theory applied to David Mamet's "Oleanna," and other topics.
On January 13, Professor Karen Stein will become the Director of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island. The WMS program has been in existence since 1980, and is beginning to plan a 25th anniversary celebration in 2005.
Michael Keith, Ph.D. is a winner of the URI Alumni Award in the Humanities for 2004. Awards will be presented at a brunch on Jan. 31. See, http://advance.uri.edu/alumni/achievementawards/default.htm
Penny Cray, former undergraduate English major and URI graduate who was featured in a previous newsletter, has more exciting news to report. Penny has found a director for her MFA thesis project at the NewSchool in New York City. The major literary figure, renowned writer and translator, Richard Howard, will be Penny’s thesis advisor. Here are some excerpts from a recent letter from Penny in which she describes this exciting opportunity. “Richard Howard, a Columbia faculty member, was called in to teach our seminar when the original professor moved away suddenly. So instead of a class on the vernacular in poetry written in the English language, I studied some sources of Modernism in contemporary poetry with Richard…I am especially blessed with Richard, who wanted to start work on my thesis immediately…I have been meeting with Richard weekly since October…we go through my work line by line…” (It’s a chance the publicity liason would die for!)