(Soft-)Launching The Space Between

Thanks to an incredibly fruitful couple of days at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria (#dhsi2015), I’ve been able to put together a preliminary version of the new online version of The Space Between:  Literature and Culture 1914-1945.  In addition to the annual peer-reviewed volume, the site will also host a digital scholarly community.

I used the scholarly publishing platform Scalar to put the site together.  It had the combination of flexibility and functionality I was looking for, and seemed the way to go to create the variety of channels I wanted to facilitate readers’ engagement with the scholarship of intermodernism.

Check it out, send feedback and submissions, and look for the first digital open-access annual issue in September!  You can also read a bit about my thinking through the taking on of the job of editor in this piece for Hybrid Pedagogy.

Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing

I’ve been given the go-ahead by the Modern Language Association to create a prospectus for a volume in their Options series, Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English.  No promises, but they’re interested in developing a potential volume.

Here’s the CFP!  [Edited to add: While at #dhsi2015 I made an audio CFP.  Listen here.]

I’ll be adding a website through the MLA Commons to encourage public development of the project, but for now, the basics:

Essay proposals are invited for a volume entitled Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English, to appear in the Options for Teaching series published by the Modern Language Association. The purpose of the volume is to meet the needs of instructors seeking pedagogical strategies for teaching modernist women’s writing in English and the ways in which women were vital creators and participants in the works and networks of modernism. The volume aims to capture the multiplicity of artistic, political, and social networks of which women writers were a part, crossing gender, class, and national boundaries, and to share ways to teach these connections and concepts from a wide range of contributors who work from different critical orientations and in different types of institutions and classroom settings. The volume will include material relevant for specialists and generalists who are teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as in alternative classroom and institutional situations. The teaching resources to be shared will include current scholarship, readings, and digital tools.

Essays responding to four general areas through the lens of pedagogical theory and practice are sought: teaching modernism or modernist studies, thematic concerns, genre or form, and theoretical or methodological approaches. Contributions might cover topics related to issues and definitions in modernist studies, particularly as relevant to the study of women writers. These essays might focus on contexts and conceptual questions important to modernism and highlight the importance of women writers therein. Some essays might take up the teaching of a specific theme (e.g., trauma, colonialism, globalization, race, class, sexuality) or topic (e.g., suffrage, war, empire, socialism, communism, fascism, the workplace, little magazines, the literary marketplace). Other essays might look at the ways women writers used particular forms and genres (fiction, documentary, journalism, life writing, poetry, pamphlets or manifestos, “the middlebrow,” genre fiction, working-class writing, film, drama); these might consider teaching the tension between tradition and the avant-garde or the noteworthy contributions that women made to the avant-garde. Finally, essays might describe and exemplify teaching informed by particular critical or methodological approaches, such as theoretical perspectives (postcolonial studies, queer studies, narrative theory), interdisciplinary work (art, music, dance, science, technology) or intertextuality, the digital humanities, and the teaching of writing or multimodal pedagogy. A balance is sought among writers from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as writers working in English from other regions of the world (e.g., the Caribbean, India).

Proposals should mention and define specific terms, concepts, techniques, and classroom contexts as appropriate. They should describe the intended topic, particularly the pedagogical approach taken to teaching modernist women’s writing, including methodology, evidence, theoretical or critical framework, and significance for those teaching in the field. The proposal should indicate the value of the intended topic to a broad range of instructors and should maintain a clear focus on teaching. Please note that any quotations from student papers will require written permission from the students.

Proposals of 500 words (for potential completed essays of 3,000–3,500 words) should be sent to Janine Utell (janine dot utell at gmail dot com) by 1 October 2015.

Engagements with Narrative On Its Way

I turned in “Engagements with Narrative” to Routledge this past week.  Check out the blurb here!

Where to Find Me, Spring 2015 Edition

Hoping to finish a few projects over winter break, including an article on the film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and a (long in process) book proposal.  Looking forward to:

  • the annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Narrative in Chicago, where I’ll be speaking on memoirs of widowhood
  • the annual conference of The Space Between, as well as getting the digital journal up and running!
  • the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria

Happy end of semester!

Where to Find Me, Fall 2014 Edition

Preparing for a mix of professional development, scholarly pursuits, and exciting engagement in Philly this fall.  You can find me:

  • Giving a talk at the Lantern Theater as part of their presentation of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia
  • Participating in THATCamp Philly for my third time
  • Attending the Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life 2014 National Conference in Atlanta
  • Joining a seminar on “Lives of the Obscure” at the annual MSA conference (plus a cool-looking pre-conference workshop on GIS)

I’ll also be working on a few book projects and conference proposals, as well as my application for full professor; I’ve just done a guest post at ProfHacker on that last one.  And you can always find me over at University of Venus, and check in with the goings-on with Widener English on our departmental blog.

Mapping a Promotion Portfolio

I just got back from the AAC&U Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success at Vanderbilt University.  While I learned a great deal about HIPs, and about what it means to make meaningful interventions in student learning at the institutional level, I also learned a cool tool:  Cmap.  A wide variety of uses for teaching and scholarship were immediately apparent, but I also got a good idea from, Tim Eatman, the faculty member who taught the tool to my team:  using it to visualize a promotion portfolio.

One of my challenges as I’m preparing to apply for full professor this fall is making sense of the range of post-tenure activities in which I’ve participated over the last six or so years.  I pursued these avenues in a way that felt very intentional to me, but I’m not sure that will be visible to my P & T committees.  There’s a mix of traditional scholarship and online interventions, teaching experiments and campus service, public engagement in the arts and culture sector throughout the Philadelphia region…where’s the narrative?  What’s the guiding principle to the work I’ve been doing?

So, over the next few months as I’m putting together my application, I’ll also be creating a Cmap, which I’ll include in my documents and publish here once it’s done.  My focus question will be:   How does an academic in literature and the humanities shape a career committed to literary study, public engagement, student success, and institutional health?  Mapping the nodes and connections I’ve built over time will show — I hope — how these elements can be integrated and a case for their value as a whole can be made.


Why Literary Criticism Matters: An Excerpt from the NUCL Keynote

I was delighted to be invited to give the keynote at this year’s Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature at the beautiful University of Portland.  You can read about the conference here, on their English Department blog, and here’s an excerpt from the remarks.

Scenes from a Life Loving Books; Or, Everything I Think I Know about Stories I Learned from Barry Manilow

I actually do think that reading literature makes you a better person, which sounds positively 19th century — maybe even 18th or 17th century — but also kind of 21st century, as cognitive science, the emerging field of “literary neuroscience” proves irrefutably that Jane Austen makes you smarter.  Literature does make you a better person by engaging people in big questions of humanity and civilization, or at least it gives you the equipment to recognize when those questions are being asked, and maybe even to grapple with their answers, myriad and various though they are.  But more and more I think that literature is important because it allows us to give in to our impulse for play as well.  AND, perhaps an even more important point, and an even weirder thing to say, is that literary criticism is important because it allows us to give in to our impulse for play.  

We don’t necessarily think of literary critics as the types to go in for fun.  But that’s sort of why I began with a kind of “autobiography of the reader,” writing the life of the critic, in order to model just one version of how a reader gets to be who she is, and in the telling of my story I’m offering an instance of play.  Such a story provides an opportunity to think about how we develop a sense of who we are as readers, and how we begin to understand the questions and ideas that are most important to us.  You all have a story like this, and while I’m talking you might even think a bit about what it is.  In the time remaining to me, I’d like to focus on what I’ve done with these origins and this still-emergent critical stance, and how I think criticism works — how the incredibly important empathic and affective function literature serves exists in what is to me a very exciting and productive dynamic with play — and how the job, the use, the delight, the necessity of literary criticism is to illuminate that dynamic — and, finally, how literary criticism does this by performing and enacting both the incredibly important empathic function and the play.  Literary criticism explains by doing, it doesn’t just tell, it shows, and this is why we need it.  It shows us how to play, how to care, how to have an intelligent conversation — indeed, how to fulfill what Lionel Trilling called “the moral obligation to be intelligent.”  Who would ever say, in our world today, that we don’t need more empathy and more play?