A Community of Scholars — As a member of our English Department, I highly value the many opportunities I have to learn from my colleagues. I often read scholarship by members of the department, and I always enjoy the discussions that I have with faculty members about their current research projects. I also enjoy hearing scholarly presentations by members of our department, and I always learn from these presentations. It is not often that I have the opportunity to hear three such presentations in the span of three days, but that is exactly what happened last week.
My cornucopia of presentations started on February 22 with Alan Rauch’s talk titled “Fantastic Beasts and Why You Find Them.” Alan tied his talk to the traveling Harry Potter exhibit that the Atkins Library hosted last semester, but he talked about much more than the animals in the Harry Potter stories. One of his points that stuck with me involved the ways in which we as humans project aspects of ourselves onto animals.
Two days after Alan’s talk, Jen Munroe gave a presentation titled “Shakespeare, Ecofeminism, and the Power of the Not-Yet-Known.” Among the topics that Jen addressed was the portrayal of non-humans in Shakespeare’s plays. As I listened to Jen’s talk, I began drawing connections between her talk and Alan’s talk. I realized that both Jen and Alan had a lot to say about humans’ attitudes toward the natural world.
An hour after Jen’s talk, Maya Socolovsky gave the keynote speech at the 4th Annual Graduate Student Colloquium on Children’s Literature sponsored by the Children’s Literature Graduate Organization. Titled “Running, Reading and Writing: Material Literacies in Mexican American Children’s Picture Books,” Maya’s talk focused on a picture book about a girl from one of the indigenous groups in Mexico. This girl is living in the United States, but she continues to embrace her native culture. In her talk, Maya explained how this picture book captures the cultural and political tensions in this girl’s life as she faces a system that seeks to control rather than understand. In some ways, Alan, Jen and Maya all touched on the issue of how many people from dominant cultures seek to control those who are defined as “other.”
The experience of attending these three faculty presentations last week underscored for me that we are much more than a collection of academics housed in the same building. In a very real way, we share our research, we learn from one another, and we support one another in our research endeavors. We are truly a community of scholars.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Boyd Davis gave a co-authored poster/presentation titled “The Carolinas Conversations Collection: Pragmatic Spaces in Pauses, Prepositions and Reported Speech” at the Corpora for Aging, Language and Research 3, Freie Universität Berlin, 6 March 2017.
Sam Shapiro recently published a book review of George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo in the Charlotte Observer.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here is information about an upcoming event.
March 4 — The English Department and Park Road Books are co-sponsoring the annual Seuss-a-Thon on Saturday, March 4, from 11:00 to 3:00 at Park Road Books (4139 Park Road). This event will involve people reading their favorite Dr. Seuss books aloud to children.
Quirky Quiz Question — In his presentation on “fantastic beasts,” Alan Rauch discussed a “real” fantastic animal that combines the bill of an aquatic bird with the body of a mammal. As he explained, the first zoologists who examined specimens of this animal initially thought it was a hoax. What is the name of this animal?
Last week’s answer: Who killed his neighbor’s dog.
In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the central character is investigating a crime. What is the crime that he is investigating?