Maryland Humanities Council One Maryland One Book Program Comes to UMBC (9/30)

The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) coordinates an annual program called One Maryland One Book, which is a statewide community reading program.  Now in its seventh year, One Maryland One Book is designed to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book. Readers are then invited to participate in book-centered discussions and other programs at public libraries, high schools, colleges and universities, museums, bookstores, and other locations. All related programming takes place in September and October, including an author tour September 28 – October 1 this year.

Each year MHC holds a special, private event with 300-400 Baltimore City high school students and the author of the selected book on the campus of a local college or university. The program comes to UMBC on Tuesday, September 30 at 11 a.m. in the University Center Ballroom. Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, will provide a welcome at the event. UMBC students and faculty are welcome to attend.

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “the Angela’s Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience,” the selected book for 2014 is The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande.  In this book, Ms. Grande poignantly shares her life before and after entering the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. For more information, visit

Michele Osherow, English, Participates in the U.S. Premiere of “The Veil”

The Veil

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).

Tanya Olson, English, Wins 2014 American Book Award

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.

Boyishly Tanya OlsonTanya 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, English, Presents the Story of the Pony Express at the Western Writers of America Convention

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.

Video: Shakespeare Sonnets Recited in More Than 30 Languages at UMBC

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.

Jessica Berman, English, Elected Second Vice President of the Modernist Studies Association

Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities and Professor of English, has been elected to be the Second Vice President of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA). She is set to take office in fall 2014, succeed to be First Vice President in fall 2015 and then become the President of the MSA for the 2016-17 year.

The MSA is a 1000-member organization in its 15th year of existence. It was begun to provide an interdisciplinary and international venue for research in what has since been called “the new modernist studies” – modernist studies that question the canon and works to break down disciplinary silos. The MSA hosts an annual conference and also sponsors the journal Modernism/Modernity, which has become the journal of record in the field. As an allied organization of the MLA, it also hosts an annual MLA conference panel and participates in other MLA organization initiatives. For more information on the MSA, click here.

Jessica Berman, English, Gives Keynote Address at the French Modernist Studies Association Inaugural Conference

keynote modernist communitiesOn 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.