English Faculty at Work
|Associate Professor Natalie Gerber of the Department of English gave two collaborative
presentations with composition theorist Peter Ellbow and linguistics graduate-student
Hülya Belketin from University of Dusseldorf in Germany at the 2014 Conference on
College, Composition, and Communication, in Indianapolis, Ind. "Grammar for the Eye,
Grammar for the Ear: Implications for Writing," a half-day workshop, focused on grammatical
features often associated with spoken language that give vitality to written texts.
Professor Gerber helped participants notice these features and their function in the
poetry of William Carlos Williams. Ms. Belketin then used this experiential knowledge
to introduce the theory of thetical grammar, an emerging area of discourse grammar.
Professor Emeritus Elbow demonstrated the practical application of thetical and so-called
spoken grammar for writing teachers and students. Several dozen people participated.
On Saturday, March 22, the three presented a condensed version as a panel, "What Can
Students and Teachers of Writing Learn from a Careful Linguistic Exploration of Spoken
Grammar?" that drew well over 100 attendees.
Dr. Heather McEntrafer recently had her article "'What Are You, Gay?': Positioning
in Monologues Written and Performed by Members of a Gay-Straight Alliance," published
in Linguistics and Education. You can view the full article on their website here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0898589813000600
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, has published a poetry
collaboration series in the January/February 2014 issue of Orion, one of the country's
leading environmental magazines.
She co-wrote the poem sequence about gardens, with Dr. Ross Gay of Indiana University's
M.F.A. program, over the course of a year. The entire poetry sequence is set to be
published as a poetry chapbook from Organic Weapon Arts Press in spring and can be
viewed at: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7969
Nezhukumatathil also served as faculty for the 2014 Palm Beach Poetry Festival in
January. She delivered a lecture, taught a nature writing workshop, and participated
in a panel discussion with noted poets such as Carolyn Forche, Nick Flynn, Campbell
McGrath, and National Book Award-finalist Tim Seibles. In addition, the Miami affiliate
of PBS filmed an interview featuring Nezhukumatathil and the U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha
Tretheway discussing the importance of poetry in the schools, which will air in the
The festival is considered by some to be one of the most vibrant of its kind on the
East coast. It is billed as an event featuring some of the most “celebrated American
poets writing in America today up-close and outstanding teachers of craft who have
been recognized as masters of the art and appreciation of poetry."
For more information on the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, visit its website at: http://www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org/
(Campus Report) February 6th, 2014
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, published her poem,
“Two Moths,” in the November issue of Poetry magazine. The editors of this prestigious
magazine have nominated the poem for a Pushcart Prize.
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry magazine is the oldest monthly
devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. The magazine established its reputation
early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne
Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic
authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by
virtually every major contemporary poet.
Professor Nezhukumatathil is the author of three poetry collections: LUCKY FISH (2011), winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards
and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), winner of the Balcones Prize; and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award,
the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American
Literary Award. Her first chapbook, FISHBONE (2000), won the Snail’s Pace Press Prize.
Recent honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts
and the Pushcart Prize.
To view Poetry magazine’s November issue, including Nezhukumatathil’s poem “Two Moths,”
go to: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/2424 (Campus Report) December 10, 2013
Four poems written by Sarah Gerkensmeyer, visiting assistant professor of English,
have been accepted for publication in various literary journals since the release
of her collection of short stories, “What You Are Now Enjoying,” last spring.
Her poem, “The Woman Whistles,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by B O D Y,
an international literary journal based in Prague.
Gerkensmeyer continues to give talks at bookstores, writing centers and schools across
the country about “Writing the Unknown.” She will be a visiting writer at Late Night
Library in Portland, Ore., on Thursday, Dec. 5, and will be a featured fiction writer
at WordFest, a literary festival hosted by the Fresno State University M.F.A. program,
in February 2014. (Campus Report) December 3, 2013
Associate Professor Natalie Gerber is working with Professor Peter Elbow on two projects
related to intonation and writing.The first is a half-day workshop and a related panel
at the 2014 CCCC conference (Conference on College Composition and Communication).
Elbow, Gerber, and a noted European linguist, Tania Kuteva, will explore the virtues
of features associated with spoken language for writing. The sessions are connected
to Elbow's 2012 book, Vernacular Eloquence, and Kuteva's work on thetical grammar,
a proposed counterpoint to sentence grammar, governing the construction of nonsentential
elements of discourse. Gerber's contributions involve the role of intonation in free-verse
prosody, specifically the writing of William Carlos Williams. The half-day workshop
is entitled "Grammar for the Tongue, Grammar for the Eye." The panel is "What can
students and writing teachers learn from a careful linguistic exploration of spoken
They are also planning the 14th session of the Symposium for the Study of Writing
and Teaching Writing at U Mass Amherst this July. A dozen scholars from different
disciplines will come together to discuss the chosen focus: rhythm and intonation
on the page. By bringing together people from education, cognitive science, composition,
literature, linguistics, performance studies, psychology, and poetics, they hope to
help each other solve perplexities in their current work and perhaps pave the way
for future collaborations.
English Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil spent two days at the University of St. Thomas,
St. Paul, Minn., in October as the Common Contexts Author for its 2013-2014 university
theme of “Wonder.” More than 800 students at St. Thomas enrolled in over 60 sections
of Freshman English and other creative writing courses studied Nezhukumatathil’s poetry
collections, including her latest, “Lucky Fish,” published in 2011 by Tupelo Press.
On Oct. 14 and 15, Nezhukumatathil met with students and faculty and delivered a craft
lecture, “The Importance of Wonder in Writing: How to Light Up Like Octopi and Say
Good-bye to the ‘Sensible’ World.” During the visit, Nezhukumatathil also read selections
from, “Lucky Fish,” as well as from two other collections, “Miracle Fruit” and “At
the Drive-In Volcano.” A book signing followed the reading.
Nezhukumatathil was chosen for the honor, in part, because she engages wonder often
in her work through encounters with nature, while also pondering the small, seemingly
mundane daily parts of life with a sense of wonderment. (Campus Report) November 4, 2013
Assistant Professor of English Dustin Parsons has new publications in creative nonfiction:
"Pumpjack" in The Crab Orchard Review, "Divination" in Fourth River, and "Harvest"
in Seneca Review. Also, he has a new publication in poetry appearing in I-70 Review.
(Campus Report) October 17, 2013
|Associate Professor Iclal C. Vanwesenbeeck is chairing a panel on reproductive health
and medicine in Jordan and Egypt in this year's Middle East Studies Association Conference
in New Orleans, La., in October. (Campus Report) October 3, 2013
Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil of the Department of English, was named in Huffington
Post’s 2013 Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry. Other notables on the list include
Garrison Keillor, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, and several U.S. Poet Laureates, including
W.S. Merwin, Billy Collins, and Rita Dove.
For a complete list of the Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-abramson/the-top-200-advocates-for_b_3750440.html.
Nezhukumatathil recently served as the poetry judge for The Journal's national poetry
contest and was the subject of a featured interview in the Spring 2013 issue of the
magazine. To read the interview, go to: http://thejournalmag.org/archives/3827.
In Aug. 11 to 16, Nezhukumatathil joined acclaimed writers Joy Harjo, Jimmy Santiago
Baca, and Sapphire as poetry faculty for The Omega Institute's Summer Poetry Festival
held in Rhinebeck, N.Y. (Campus Report) September 30, 2013
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is pleased to announce that Susan
Spangler will be speaking at the 2013 NCTE Annual Convention in Boston.
Spangler, of SUNY Fredonia, will present as a member of the panel, "Innovations in
Mentoring New Teachers for the Future of English." The participants' description of
the panel reads:
|This interactive presentation builds on the mentoring concepts discussed in the recent
themed issue of the English Journal. The future of English should insure that new
teachers are well-supported. Drawing on research, we will discuss with participants
ways to (re)invent mentoring that is educative, equitable, collaborative, and based
The session will be held from 4:15 PM to 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 23, 2013.
Each year, the NCTE Annual Convention draws thousands of elementary and secondary
educators, college faculty, administrators, and other educational professionals from
around the world to participate in four days of professional learning programming.
NCTE convention attendees hear presentations from award-winning speakers, attend thought-provoking
sessions, share best practices, and test latest teaching materials. The 2013 NCTE
Annual Convention will be held November 21-14, at Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
The National Council of Teachers of English (http://www.ncte.org), with 35,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, is dedicated to improving
the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.
(National council of Teachers of English) September 26, 2013
Ann Siegle Drege will be speaking at the 2013 NCTE Annual Convention in Boston, November
21-24, 2013. Ann's co-presenters on the panel are Cathy Perry, a middle school teacher
in Gowanda and Kristen Niemi, a high school teacher in Las Vegas. Both Cathy and Kristen
are graduates of the SUNY Fredonia English Department.
Their panel, "Engaging Students: It Matters!" explores a “pedagogy of engagement,”
with particular attention to drama strategies that engage students. From 7th graders
creating tableaux with The Outsiders to on-your-feet activities fostering writing,
participants will share in a range of practical strategies that work with middle school
through college students.
Fredonia Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg has written the first chapter
in a pilot SUNY project designed to control higher education costs by producing online
textbooks and making them available to college students — for free.
“Literature, the Humanities and Humanity,” the sixth book written by Dr. Steinberg,
was the first of 15 textbooks written by SUNY professors and accepted by the Open
SUNY textbook program for the 2013-14 academic year. Steinberg, whose collegiate career
spans four decades, is an enthusiastic supporter of the program and its goal of benefitting
students who are confronting ever-increasing textbook prices.
Reed Library Director Randy Gadikian expects the impact of the open textbook movement
will be huge.
“Open SUNY will result in dramatic savings for students across the country, as faculty
build courses based on texts that can be revised to reflect best educational practices
at little cost,” said Gadikian, adding that Steinberg’s book also reflects Fredonia’s
dedication to its students. more...
Steinberg downplayed the significance of being the program’s first published author.
Rather, he points to his “slavish adherence” to deadlines as a key factor. “I really
always try to beat deadlines, so I guess I was the first,” he confessed. Steinberg’s
book, which reflects his 42 years of teaching experience at SUNY Fredonia, is one
of three devoted to English among the project’s initial offerings; the remaining 12
target the sciences, math, education, computer science, business, music and anthropology.
His book focuses on the reading and teaching of literature, but it could interest
“The audience is students who might be English education majors who will be teaching
literature. It’s also for, I hope, a general audience of people who might want to
read what we consider ‘good literature,’ but who might be put off by thinking that
it’s too difficult or too esoteric,” he explained.
It’s also a welcomed departure for Steinberg. His last book, “Jews and Judaism in
the Middle Ages,” was a scholarly text that examined Jews and their often misunderstood
place during that era.
“I often work in highly specialized fields, and I’ve gotten tired of writing for an
audience of 15,” Steinberg joked. “I also have a really strong feeling that my profession
has a done a great job of taking literature away from people, that is, of making it
seem inaccessible. This is my answer to that,” he said.
“As my career is winding down I would like to give literature back, make people realize
that they can read literature and enjoy it, and that it is enjoyable.”
Support for the online book project was provided by a SUNY Innovative Instruction
Technology Grant and library funding, along with assistance from librarians and SUNY
Press. Though money was originally available for only four books, the high quality
of proposals submitted by SUNY faculty spurred libraries to secure additional funds
so more books could be made available in electronic format.
He looks forward to the Open SUNY Textbook catalogue growing in the future, and suggests
that its mere presence might help control future textbook price hikes. “If it helps
to rein (prices) in, that would also be a good thing,” he said. “I really believe
in this project and the book.”
Steinberg’s book has already earned high praise in the education field. East Carolina
University professor David Scott Wilson-Okamura says Steinberg puts the pleasure back
into literature, not by dumbing the books down, but by raising readers to their level.
“His own pages read quickly because he has learned, from many years of experience,
what students need to know and where they need help. In particular, he knows where
students are likely to get bogged down; and he’s an expert at clearing away the obstacles
and misunderstandings that make reading a duty instead of a delight,” Wilson-Okamura
Steinberg will use the book in “Epic and Romance,” a 200-level course he’s teaching
this semester. Other English Department professors may also include it in their introductory
The book spans some 300 pages and would probably sell for about $16 in a paperback
Will there be a printed copy of “Literature, the Humanities and Humanity” in the future?
“I don’t know,” Steinberg said. “I have to see if there is a market for such a thing.”
(Campus Report) September 17, 2013
At the West Chester University Poetry Conference in June, Dr. Natalie Gerber of the
Department of English organized and led a three-day critical seminar, “Understanding
the Expressive Purposes of Rhythm: Meters, Measures, Free Verse.” A dozen poets and
prosodists from around the country presented work and debated longstanding issues
in the field. She is currently working on co-editing (with Nicholas Myklebust, a postdoctoral
fellow at the University of Texas at Austin) a special issue of Texas Studies in Literature
and Language featuring full-length scholarly essays developed from the papers. Dr.
Gerber also gave a popular 90-minute workshop-presentation of her current writing
project, “A Poet’s Field Guide to the English Language," and has been invited back
to offer another installation next summer, and served on a prosody panel that opened
the conference, "The Prosodist Is In."
At the Fourth Annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism, part of the Writing the Rockies
conference, Dr. Gerber was one of eight poetry critics from the U.S. and the U.K.
invited to give an hour-long talk and a poetry reading. Her talk was entitled, "Wallace
Stevens and Lexical Rhythm."
She wrote a book review of, "The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens: Freethinking
and the Crisis of Modernity," by Henry Weinfield (Cambridge University Press, 2012),
which will appear in The Wallace Stevens Journal in the fall. Dr. Gerber also served
on a three-person panel of distinguished judges awarding the 2013 John N. Serio Award
for the best annual essay published in The Wallace Stevens Journal. (Campus Report) September 10, 2013
Adjunct Instructor Rebecca Schwab of the Department of English ran a weekly adult
poetry workshop at the Dunkirk Free Library for seven weeks -- from the beginning
of July through mid-August. The group met on Tuesday evenings for an hour at the library.
The size of the group varied from week to week, depending on people's summer commitments,
but there were always four to eight poets present.
Each week, the group looked at a different aspect of poetry, did generative exercises,
read examples, shared their work, and were assigned "optional" homework. By the end
of the class, the "regulars" had built up a friendly community. The workshop ended
with a poetry reading, to which family members and friends of the poets were invited.The
workshop was sponsored by the Friends of the Dunkirk Free Library. President Virginia
Horvath honored the group by attending the reading, and told us about a current exhibit
of her personal collage poetry. The workshop poets took a field trip a few days later
to see the exhibit, and said it was just wonderful. (Campus Report) September 10, 2013
As the recipient of the Helen F. Faust Women Writers Research Travel award from Penn
State University to support her research in its Special Collections Libraries, Dr.
Emily VanDette of the Department of English made two research trips over the summer
to consult archival materials for a new project that examines the legacy of 19th century
U.S. women writers in literary history. Dr. VanDette spent time reading correspondence
and other papers by and about Margaret Fuller, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Lydia Maria
Child and Grace Greenwood.
In addition to researching the papers of those women authors, she spent a lot of time
with the papers of Fred Lewis Pattee, the first scholar to have the title "Professor
of American Literature," and a pioneer in the field. Pattee's role in shaping literary
history is highly relevant to her research, as she investigates the formative years
in the field of American literary studies.
Highlights of her research with the Pattee papers include his 1920s-era lecture notes
taken by students in his American literature classrooms, his correspondence with female
authors of his own era, and his fascinating correspondence from other literary scholars
and professors from around the nation during his battle to establish American literature
as a recognized part of college English curriculum.
Dr. VanDette shared the results of her research in a presentation at Penn State on
Aug 7. (Campus Report) September 3, 2013
|Jeanette McVicker, associate chairperson, arranged for several guest speakers to help
her students in ENGL 427: Major Writers–Woolf & Winterson gain insight into multi-disciplinary
creative collaboration. Composer Daron Hagen, choreographer Helen Myers (faculty member
in Theatre & Dance) and MA program alumna Sarah Dunlap (currently a Ph.D. candidate
in English at Ohio State University) discussed their work related to Woolf's 1931
novel The Waves on Thursday, May 2. McVicker was asked to review the Fredonia Dance Ensemble concert
(performed May 3-5), for the Dunkirk Observer, which featured the piece "RaptuREgret" based on Hagen's musical composition, utilizing
Woolf's text, choreographed by Myers. Dunlap is writing her dissertation in part on
this novel; she first read Woolf in a seminar taught by McVicker several years ago.
Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg has written an article, “Loading Jewry
into the Medieval Canon,” in the new edition of Pedagogy, a journal dedicated to critical approaches to teaching literature, language, composition
In the article, Steinberg recommends including medieval Jewish and Arabic poetry in
courses on medieval literature, in part to illustrate moments of intercultural and
interfaith exchange during the Middle Ages. These serve as models for forging cultural
The focus of the journal’s special edition for spring 2013 is “teaching medieval literature
off the grid,” which means exploring the distinctive pedagogical challenges and payoffs
of teaching a traditional literary period using noncanonical texts.(Campus Report) April 29, 2013
|Birger Vanwesenbeeck has been accepted into this year's Summer Institute for Literary
Studies at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. The summer seminar will
be taught by Professor Walter Benn Michaels, focusing on Tom McCarthy’s 2007 novel
Remainder and on the issues it raises involving contemporary art and politics.
|Ann Siegle Drege, department chairperson, reviews SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre
& Dance's current production of The Diary of Anne Frank in the Saturday, April 13th issue of Dunkirk Observer.
|Emily VanDette has received the Helen F. Faust Women Writers Research Travel award.
It's given to one scholar to conduct research during the summer at the Penn State
Libraries Special Collections.
Shannon McRae has been accepted into an NEH Summer Institute this summer at the Newberry
Library in Chicago. “The Institute is called Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Twentieth-Century Chicago, 1893-1955.
It will help with her current book project on 20th-century American spiritual tourism,
because Chicago culture during that time is important to several of the communities
she’s studying, and will also open avenues for curriculum development in the American
|Sarah Gerkensmeyer has been long-listed for the prestigious Frank O'Connor International
Short Story prize. Among those joining Sarah on the list for excellence in short
story collections are writers such as Junot Diaz, Joyce Carol Oates, and George Saunders.
Sarah is one of only 29 American authors to make the list.
Adrienne McCormick, Jan McVicker, and Katrina Hamilton-Kraft will deliver a panel
to the Literary London (serendipitous name congruence) Conference sponsored by the
University of London while they are teaching the Literary London classes in July.
The conference theme this year is “London in Chaos”; they proposed a panel that coincides
with the Summer 2013 Literary London topic of Mapping Englishness, called “Mapping
| Emily VanDette has written a new book, “Sibling Romance in American Fiction, 1835-1900,”
which establishes the narrative of sibling love as a culturally significant tradition
in 19th century American fiction.
With a focus on novels written during the antebellum through post-Civil War eras,
VanDette’s book examines fictional siblings, notably in the context of national crises
ranging from South Carolina’s threat to secede from the union in the 1830s to the
post-Reconstruction crisis of racial segregation in the 1890s.
By utilizing historical study, literary analysis, philosophical methods and psychoanalysis,
VanDette suggests that, by significantly shifting the focus of narratives from courtship
to sibling love, these novels contribute to historical conversations about affiliation
in such tumultuous contexts as sectional divisions, debates over slavery, the Civil
War and Reconstruction.
She is the first scholar to examine the important issue of brother-sister ties in
19th century American literature. VanDette reasons that domestic fiction writers used
the sibling relationship to address the tensions between independence and solidarity
during a challenging period of America history.
“Sibling Romance in American Fiction, 1835-1900” is the first book-length study of
a bond that had enormous cultural and literary significance, especially in the framework
of anxieties about national unity and the rights of the individual. It promises to
draw the interest of scholars of American literature, American history, American studies
and family studies.
The author, assistant professor of English, received support to complete the book,
published by Palgrave Macmillan, from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her
doctorate, from the Pennsylvania State University, focused on 19th century American
women’s literature. She is also a graduate of SUNY Fredonia. (Campus Report) February 18, 2013
Natalie Gerber gave two conference presentations at the 2013 MLA Convention in Boston, MA. Her paper, “Raiding the Articulate: What Linguistics Has to Offer Literary Study,”
was part of a joint session with the Linguistics Society of America Convention. She
also served as respondent to and jointly presided over “Intonation and Poetic Convention,”
a special session that she organized with Benjamin Glaser of Skidmore College.
In addition, her article, “The Art of Grammar,” was reprinted in a recent issue of
the Journal of the Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar. (Campus Report) February 17, 2013
Birger Vanwesenbeeck has had two book reviews on the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig
published in the Journal of Austrian Studies (Nebraska University Press). The reviews evaluate a new English translation of Zweig’s
travel writings (Journeys); and a new essay collection in German (Stefan Zweig und
Europa) that probes Zweig’s complicated relationship to Europe.
Prof. Vanwesenbeeck has carried out extensive research in the Stefan Zweig archive
at SUNY Fredonia, the largest collection of its kind in North America. He is also
the coordinator of the Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture series which brings international
speakers to campus to share their scholarship on Zweig.
The 2nd Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture will take place on Tuesday March 19 at SUNY Fredonia
in Rosch Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. (Campus Report) February 08, 2013
|Dustin Parsons was awarded the American Literary Review Fiction Prize for his story, "What Magic I've Saved." The contest was judged by Hannah Tinti,
award-winning author and editor. Of the story, Tinti said: "It reminded me of Raymond
Carver’s Why Don’t You Dance? But this piece takes the yard-sale divorce story to another level. The narrator
is selling all of his magic tricks—including the box that his wife disappeared into
and never returned from. Was it magic, or did his wife simply leave him? The reader
is kept on tenterhooks until the very end... I was entranced by the detailing of the
magic tricks, as well as the emotional punch as the 'magic' of the couple’s relationship
drains away." (Campus Report) February 04, 2013