Piotr Gwiazda, English, Publishes a Review in The Times Literary Supplement

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.”

Jessica Berman, English, Appointed to the Modern Language Association’s Publications Committee

Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities and Professor of English, has been appointed to a three-year term to serve on the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Publications Committee.

The committee oversees all of MLA’s book publication programs, including its “Approaches to Teaching World Literature” and “Teaching Languages Literatures and Cultures” series. It assesses prospectuses and approves final manuscripts and it’s also charged with consulting on priorities and policies for the scholarly communication program and assisting with new initiatives in scholarly communication. Congratulations, Dr. Berman!

Lia Purpura, English, in City Paper

Lia Purpura, English writer in residence, was featured in a Q&A in City Paper about her participation in Baltimore’s CityLit Festival and commented on the creative, artistic community at UMBC.

Lia Purpura

“It’s a completely vibrant, alive place and diverse in every possible way—students from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds,” Purpura said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had more rigorous or engaged discussions on complex issues with undergraduate classes. My students are curious, brave, unselfconsciously creative, eager to learn, prepared to discuss.”

Purpura is reading at CityLit with colleagues Michael Fallon and Holly Sneeringer, along with three UMBC English majors covering all genres.

“CityLit is a totally unique, homegrown, but in no way provincial event—it presents nationally known authors alongside emerging voices and local talent, and it represents writers of all genres,” Purpura added.

To read the full article in City Paper, click here.

UMBC to Participate in Baltimore CityLit Festival (4/12)

The 11th annual CityLit Festival takes place Saturday, April 12 at Pratt Central Library in Baltimore. Sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library and CityLit Project, the annual event is a spring celebration of the literary arts in Baltimore.

From 12-12:50 p.m., UMBC will have three English department faculty writers participate in a reading. Lia Purpura (Rough Likeness), writer in residence, Michael Fallon (The Great Before and After), senior lecturer, and Holly Sneeringer (“Under Water”), lecturer, will all present readings along with student winners of the English department’s literary contest.

The CityLit Festival runs from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. and is headlined by National Book Award winner James McBride and singer-songwriter/novelist Wesley Stace. For more information and a complete schedule of events, click here.

Remembering Sparrows Point (4/10)

The Creative Alliance is hosting “Remembering Sparrows Point” on April 10, an event that features film screenings and discussions exploring the importance of the Sparrows Point Steel Mill. Recently closed, the mill played a vital role in the lives of hundreds of thousands steelworkers and personnel for more than 125 years.

To keep the mill’s memory alive, Creative Alliance will screen Mill Stories and Life After Steel, presented by Bill Shewbridge, media and communication studies professor of the practice, and Michelle Stefano, folklorist in residence. Deborah Rudacille, author of Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town and English professor of the practice, will present a reading followed by a discussion with former Sparrows Point workers.

The event takes place Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Creative Alliance and is sponsored by the BreakingGround initiative. For more information and a complete list of speakers and presentations, click here.

Michele Osherow, English, in Folger Theatre Production Diary

Folger Theatre announced on its “Production Diary” blog last week that Richard III has been extended and will now run at the theatre through March 16. English Associate Professor Michele Osherow worked closely on the production of Richard III as dramaturg and sat down for an interview to discuss her role.

Michele Osherow

In a Q&A published on the Folger Theatre blog, Osherow notes the role of dramaturg can vary depending on the production. “In a general sense, the dramaturg is thought of as ‘the scholar in the rehearsal room,’” Osherow said. “The scholarship I’ll bring to a Folger project can range from literary criticism to historical information.”

Osherow further discussed her role as always focusing on what makes the play stronger by discussing concepts with the director, mastering the history of the play and providing materials to help artists involved in the production.

“Listening carefully and being open-minded is very important. At the same time, it’s my job, I think, to ask a lot of questions about choices and concepts, to interrogate how they serve the play,” she added.

You can read the full interview in Folger Theatre’s blog here.

Lia Purpura, English, to Participate in Reading at Pratt Library 1/28)

English Department Writer in Residence Lia Purpura is participating in a “Poetry and Conversation” event at Pratt’s Central Library Poe Room in Baltimore on Tuesday, January 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Lia Purpura

Purpura is the author of seven collections of essays, poems and translations, most recently Rough Likeness (essays) and King Baby (poems). She has recently had poems published in The New Yorker and has been featured on The Academy of American Poets website. Her many honors include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2012.

Also participating in the event is Sarah Arvio, who is the author of night thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis, Visits from the Seventh and Sono:cantos.

You can read more about the event here.

Christopher Corbett, English, in The Wall Street Journal

Christopher Corbett, professor of the practice of English, recently reviewed a new book for The Wall Street Journal about Red Cloud, a Sioux war chief who defeated the U.S. Army and negotiated unprecedented concessions from the government. In “The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend,” authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin tell the story of the powerful and successful Indian warrior.

“The great Sioux war chief, a military genius of the Indian wars, is a largely forgotten figure in the shape-shifting history of the American West,” Corbett wrote. “In his day, he presided over a vast swath of the continental U.S.—from Canada to Kansas and from what is today Minnesota and Iowa to Idaho and Utah. His name was much-feared.”

“‘The Heart of Everything That Is’ is a vivid if melancholy story that may make readers ponder our relationship with the memory of the American West,” Corbett added.

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.”

You can read the full book review in The Wall Street Journal here (subscription required).

Jessica Berman, English, Presents Guest Lecture at University of Mysore, India

English professor Jessica Berman recently presented a guest lecture at the Maharani’s Arts and Commerce College for Women, the University of Mysore, India.

Jessica Berman

English professor Jessica Berman interacts with students at University of Mysore, India

Berman was in Mysore as part of an extended research trip in India to study the history of a Muslim woman writer, Iqbalunnisa Hussain, who graduated from the Maharani’s College in 1930.

Berman spoke to faculty and Master’s students in English literature on “Modernism in a Post-Colonial Context.” She also interacted with students and discussed her research on Indian authors with the faculty.

The lecture was presented on November 13th.

Lia Purpura, English, in The New Yorker

English Department Writer in Residence Lia Purpura is featured in the latest edition of The New Yorker. The magazine published her poem “Future Perfect” in its November 18th edition. You can read the poem in The New Yorker here (subscription required). The full text of the poem is below:

Lia Purpura

Future Perfect

Where you were
before you were born,
and where you are
when you’re not anymore
might be very close.
Might be the same place,
though neither is
as slippery
as being here but
imagining where
you will have been –
that point
where things land,
are finished, over, and
gone but not yet.

–Lia Purpura