Photo credit: St. Johnn Blondell. Actors from left to right: Michele Osherow, Steve LaRocque, Jane Squier Bruns.
This past summer, The Quotidian Theatre in Bethesda hosted the U.S. premiere of Conor McPherson’s play “The Veil,” which debuted in 2011 at London’s National Theatre. The description of the play is as follows on the Quotidian website: “Set in a haunted mansion in rural Ireland in 1822, surrounded by a restive, starving populace, ‘The Veil’ weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental, and the circularity of time.”
Michele Osherow, an associate professor of English, played the widowed Lady Lambroke, the owner of the Irish country manor where the play takes place. Osherow and other cast members received a strong review in the Washington Post for their work: “LaRocque’s Rev. Berkeley, Decker’s Mr. Audelle, Osherow’s Lady Lambroke and Mayo’s Hannah are all well-rounded characterizations, their lines spoken with unstilted English and Irish accents.“
The play ran from July 18-August 17 and in addition to the Washington Post, it received praise from MD Theatre Guide, DC Theatre Scene, Broadway World, and DC Metro Theatre Arts. To read more of the reviews and find more information about “The Veil,” click here.
Osherow has extensive experience in professional theatre and serves as the Resident Dramaturg for the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. She received a 2012 best actress nomination from D.C. Theatre Scene for her work in Brian Friel’s Afterplay (Quotidian Theatre).
The Before Columbus Foundation has announced the winners of its 35th Annual American Book Awards. The prestigious American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.
Tanya Olson, a lecturer in UMBC’s English department, received a 2014 American Book Award for her book Boyishly, published by YesYes Books in May 2013. The book is a collection of poems which explores personal and public constructions of gender, violence, and America and it received the following review from “Good Reads”:
“Tanya Olson’s BOYISHLY is a magic book. It casts a spell upon you. Olson uses language like Gertrude Stein does, building large monuments of sound into humming lattices, where a ‘whale will do as a whale will do, ‘ or where ‘tree forms shapes for tiger’ and ‘tiger takes shape / under tree.’ In this book, Olson writes poems to a future America from beyond the planetary gravestone, where there is only a ‘boyish summer’ and the ‘boyish waters.’ The voice says come back to me. I am not done with you. I was waiting for you all along.”–Dorothea Lasky
Olson will be formally recognized for her award on Sunday, October 26 at the SF Jazz Center, Joe Henderson Lab in San Francisco, California. For more information on the 2014 American Book Awards and to see the complete list of recipients, click here. You can read more about the Before Columbus Foundation here.
Christopher Corbett, professor of the practice in the English Department, spoke June 25 at the Western Writers of America annual convention on the story of the Pony Express. Western Writers of America, Inc. was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and currently has more than 650 members including historians, fiction and nonfiction authors, and authors interested in regional history, among other genres.
Corbett is the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express and The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West. This year’s Western Writers of America convention was held in Sacramento, California from June 24-28.
On April 23, 2014, UMBC students, faculty and staff recited Shakespeare sonnets in more than 30 languages. The event was held to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and UMBC’s diverse voices. It took place at the end of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD), and it was sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Ofﬁce of Undergraduate Education and the English and Theatre Departments. The above video is a sample of some of the readings.
On Thursday, April 24, Jessica Berman gave the opening keynote address at the French Modernist Studies Association inaugural conference, held at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris 3. Berman, Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities and Professor of English, presented, “Re-Routing Community: Radio, Colonial Voices, and Transnational Listening,” which explored the intersections and interactions among writers from India and the Caribbean, developing an alternative version of modernist community that is transnational, transmedial and often inter-linguistic.
The conference explored the notion of community in the modernist period, honoring Berman’s book, Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community (2001) as a significant event in the scholarship of modernism and a point of departure for current work. As the conference organizers put it, “more than a decade after Jessica Berman’s landmark work on ‘the politics of community’ in modernist fiction, we seek to explore the various ways in which communities were configured across genres and artistic media, but also to acknowledge the grounds of their historical and cultural specificity. We hope that this will lead us to distinguish various versions of the communal, from the ideal to the empirical, from the utopian to the everyday, from consensus to dissensus.”
In her address, Berman argued that the development of radio in colonial spaces such as the British Caribbean and colonial India shows us new lines of literary influence as well as important correlations, linkages and waves of transmission that move not only from colony to metropole and back again, but also between and among colonies in an often overlooked, multidirectional way.
Piotr Gwiazda, Associate Professor of English, has published a review of Beautiful Twentysomethings by Polish writer Marek Hłasko (1934-1969) in the April 4, 2014 issue of The Times Literary Supplement.
Professor Gwiazda describes Beautiful Twentysomethings as “primarily a literary memoir. Hłasko adeptly recreates the world of his fellow writers, poets, critics, actors, film directors — the ‘beautiful twentysomethings’ of his title who, despite the repressive political climate of the 1950s, ‘kept faith that the moment would come when it would be possible to say: ‘No.’” He also notes that the book “shines a spotlight on emigration as a major theme in Polish literature.”