Category Archives: research

(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!

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.


Where to Find Me, Spring 2014 Edition

Winding down a semester that saw a lot of excitement:  the inaugural semester of our First-Year Common Experience (featuring a lecture by Ta-Nehisi Coates), an exhibition of the work of Norman Rubington,  writing, teaching — all culminating in great thesis presentations by our senior English majors…and a departmental assessment report.  I know that last one sounds less than thrilling, but it’s prompted some really productive conversations in our department around teaching and learning.

Speaking of — looking forward to debuting a new course on Graphic Narrative this spring.  I’m trying a few new things, involving students earlier in the design, planning a Google Hangout panel chat (hopefully with Comics Grid colleagues), and some reflective journaling.

Lots of traveling, too — a sample:

  • The pre-meeting symposium at the AAC&U Annual Meeting:  “New Designs for Integrative Learning,” January in DC
  • A paper on Leann Shapton at the 2014 Narrative conference, March at MIT
  • Keynoting at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature, April at University of Portland

As always, you can find me over at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus.

Room at the Top: New Edition from Valancourt Books

One of the projects I got to work on this spring was an introduction to a new US edition of John Braine’s 1957 novel Room at the Top.  The edition is coming from Valancourt Books, a specialty micropress focusing on new editions of rare 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature, especially Gothic, weird, supernatural, mystery, and queer literature.  Braine’s novel is a classic of mid-century British fiction, part of a moment  loosely called the Angry Young Men.  It was also made into an equally significant film of the British New Wave.

image from the Valancourt Books website

image from the Valancourt Books website

The novel tells the story of Joe Lampton; at the start of the novel, set in the present, he is successful but complacent, looking back at his ambitious youthful self ten years earlier with a mixture of admiration and scorn.  The narrative unfolds in a tracing of his rise to affluence and the women he loved, lost, and used to get there.  Room at the Top is a compelling look at the moral implications of a society defined by increasing affluence and the stark gap between haves and have-nots.  It asks whether material success and comfort is worth the loss of your soul.

While this is a little outside my usual areas of research, I do teach the Angry Young Men and British New Wave, and it was a real pleasure to delve into Braine’s career and think about this novel.  I’m happy to see it back in print and available from Valancourt–with the original cover art from the first edition.