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Parsons' sabbatical to combine writing and travel
Friday, September 16, 2016

Parsons' sabbatical to combine writing and travel

Associate Professor Dustin Parsons

Associate Professor Dustin Parsons of the Department of English will combine writing, class restructuring, and conference participation and readings during his sabbatical.

He is working on an essay collection centered about the cultural use of birds. The essays in the book range from the use of various birds as the national and state emblems to flipping “the bird” in connection with environmentalism in the 1960s. Mr. Parsons plans on re-casting the bird in a new way — as a rich metaphor for American culture — not as an ecological object. The approach and style are less traditional: along with conventional essays incorporating detailed research, there are also “graphic” essays — essays that use public domain images altered to “hold” an essay — braided essays and an essay contained in the footnotes of a poem. In short, the style is varied, deliberately attempting to look at the image and symbol of the bird from different angles, rhetorically and formally. The book looks at the versatility of the bird as a symbol, and the way close scrutiny of those symbols show more than just the surface relationship of the object to the cause.

Parsons is also working on new stories and visual essays (similar to ones included in He has three forthcoming essays in the magazine Passages North and an essay in Stone Canoe Magazine. He was a finalist for the New Rivers Press short fiction book contest this summer, and his recent publications have been included in magazines such as The Normal School, Natural Bridge and Pleiades. He is planning to restructure his Literary Publishing class. His sabbatical will also include readings and panels at Austin Peay University in Tennessee and at the NonfictioNOW conference in Iceland.

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