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Wednesday, September 09 12:15 PM

Graduate Committee Meeting

Friday, September 18 12:15 PM

Graduate Committee Meeting

Wednesday, September 23 4:15 PM

AIR Talk for the Autumnal Equinox: Something Native This Way Comes

AIR (American Indian Returnings) Talk, a new lecture series sponsored, in part, by the Eidson Foundational Fund in the Department of English and faculty members LeAnne Howe, Channette Romero, and Director Jace Weaver of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia.  Each year on the Autumnal Equinox, AIR Talk lectures will tackle the art of rediscovering balance through inclusion of Southeastern Indian literatures, histories, and cultures.

The inaugural speaker for AIR on this year's Autumnal Equinox, September 23, 2015 from 4:15-6:30 p.m. MLC Room 0214 is Dr. Jodi Byrd, associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois.  A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation her lecture, “Something Native This Way Comes” tackles issues of literary genre, returns, embodiment, civility, and horror. 

“Returnings” writes Dr. Byrd, “is an active sense of continual renewal, rebirth, and reclamation, but when it is attached to American Indians, the idea of “return” is also something that sparks trepidation, fear, and unease for settlers living on indigenous lands. Figured as both uncivil and illiberal, Native lives are often temporalized as part of a long lost and undead past that continues to haunt within the speculative genres of horror and science fiction. Return of the repressed, return of the living dead. Something Native This Way Comes considers the implications of indigenous returnings to the South as part of a deeper movement toward reclamation of indigenous embodiment, storytelling, and presence as an act of renewal.”

Jodi A. Byrd, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma is associate professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been published in journals including American Indian QuarterlyCultural Studies ReviewInterventionsCollege Literature,J19, and American Quarterly. Her book, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minnesota, 2011) won the 2013 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Award for best first book. Her next project Indigenomicon: American Indians, Videogames, and the Structures of Genre delves into the literary and digital realms of play to think further about how the colonization of American Indians continues to inform imaginary terrains.

Park Hall Monitor

Park Hall Monitor

Greetings, Park Hall alumni and friends!

Campus has a different look in early May, the presence of more parents than students (and the students conspicuous for their black gowns and mortarboard caps) announcing the end of another school year. On May 7th, we celebrated our undergraduate and graduate Class of 2015 in a ceremony that also highlighted annual awards for students and faculty.

The awards, both internal and external, are numerous, covering everything from research accomplishments to excellence in teaching. The Department of English has much to be proud of, but success in the classroom is surely at some kind of peak. At least that’s the impression I got earlier this year when I compiled the faculty reports of accomplishments for 2014. Reading the teaching evaluations of the faculty, I was reminded of the line in Garrison Keillor’s long-running radio broadcast, A Prairie Home Companion, about the fictional town of Lake Woebegone, “where all the children are above average.” But there’s nothing fictional about teaching in Park Hall, a place where it can truthfully be said that most of the professors are not just “above average,” but wayabove. Over the moon, out of the ballpark, however you want to put it. 

Student comments are far more revealing than the numerical indicators (but the numbers are astounding in themselves: with 5 being a perfect score, I estimate that the department average is about 4.7). Comments say a lot about the different ways successful teaching makes an impact. Many students are impressed by the preparation their professors bring to the classroom, especially when it means the teacher is prepared to make discussion thrive. It’s easy, of course, for professors to come across as knowledgeable, but students value a certain generosity when it comes to dispensing it, making it accessible to them. Students also appreciate the personal touch, the consideration for their own needs and inclinations. Some professors are prized for the way they come across as fully rounded human beings — the way they impart a quality of “keeping it real,” as it’s sometimes put in the evaluations.

A familiar stereotype in the mass media portrays English professors as self-absorbed, bookish types, barely able to get through a day in the “real world,” aided only by their endearing cluelessness. It’s a stereotype that has distant roots in fact. Until the big boom in postwar education after the Second World War, being an English professor was generally a prerogative of the leisure class, a sinecure for unworldly souls disinclined (or unfit) to run the family business. Those days are long gone, and the typical professor today would be up to the task of selling cars, trading stocks, or strategizing troop movements. Student evaluations are vivid reminders that successful teachers don’t teach a subject; they begin with a subject and spiral out from there. Evaluations consistently acknowledge that impassioned professors inspire intellectual curiosity: they convey the sense that one thing leads to another and another and another, until you find you started with a sonnet and ended up, not on that “silent peak in Darien” imagined by a dreamy English youth, but somewhere else altogether — crossing a bridge into Birmingham from a contested start in Selma, coming to terms with the slaughter of French cartoonists, or discovering how mercantile trade routes established centuries ago set in motion the frantic world of globalized interconnectivity we now straddle.

What makes a great teacher? Dedication and practice help, along with commitment to the students. But I think the secret is that all good teachers are themselves students: lifelong learning is a deep instinct. That’s the gravitational force you feel in the classroom — when it becomes apparent that everyone’s in it together, learning and teaching and learning until, to paraphrase an Irish poet, there’s no distinguishing the dancer from the dance.

 

Jed Rasula

Department Head

For more, please read the latest version of the Park Hall Monitor, the department's newsletter.

AIR Talk:  Something Native This Way Comes
AIR Talk: Something Native This Way Comes

The inaugural speaker for AIR (American Indian Returnings) on this year's Autumnal Equinox, September 23, 2015 from 4:15-6:30 p.m. MLC Room 0214 is Dr. Jodi Byrd, associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois.  A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation her lecture, “Something Native This Way Comes” tackles issues of literary genre, returns, embodiment, civility, and horror. 

Jodi A. Byrd, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma is associate professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been published in journals including American Indian QuarterlyCultural Studies ReviewInterventionsCollege Literature,J19, and American Quarterly. Her book, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minnesota, 2011) won the 2013 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Award for best first book. Her next project Indigenomicon: American Indians, Videogames, and the Structures of Genre delves into the literary and digital realms of play to think further about how the colonization of American Indians continues to inform imaginary terrains.

Book Signing and Lecture by Prof. Barbara McCaskill
Book Signing and Lecture by Prof. Barbara McCaskill

On Thursday, August 27 at 6:00 PM, Prof, McCaskill will discuss and read from her book, Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory (UGA Press, May 2015). This event takes place in downtown Athens at Cine, 234 West Hancock Avenue, Athens, GA 30601.  Free and open to the public.  Contact bmccaski@uga,edu with any questions.