Expanded LUC Writing Center Website!

Students are tutored in the Writing Center by other students inside room 221 of the Information Commons on April 8, 2015. ( photo by Natalie Battaglia)

Dear Department of English faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students,

Recently, while serving as Assistant Director of the LUC Writing Center for the Summer and Fall semesters, I have developed several new or improved pages of the Student Resources section. These are intended to support all stages of essay-writing and revision, academic research, publication, and teaching for undergraduate and graduate students and postgraduates, faculty, and researchers. While professors and graduate students can use this resource for their own research, they as instructors can also direct their students’ attention to a tool for presenting and publishing careful, intelligent research, resume-building, and acquiring valuable public speaking and publishing skills at the undergraduate level.

The “Online Resources” page contains links to citation manuals from all disciplines, plagiarism-checking websites, source-finding links and databases, vocabulary aids, and writing and formatting guides. Within the Loyola Online Writing Lab (OWL), there are now seven pages dealing with various kinds of writing from the “ESL/ELL & Grammar” page containing links to campus aid and pdfs of online grammar learning websites and practice sheets, to the “Major-Specific Writing” page providing online links and guides to different kinds of writing, to the “Application Portfolios” page explaining how to construct job portfolios and apply to graduate, law, and medical schools. The “Writing an Essay from A to Z” page guides students through the process of writing all kinds of essays from understanding the prompt to researching, outlining, citing, editing, submitting, and much, much more. Of especial use to UCWR 110 instructors is the “UCWR 110 Course” page, which helps students plan out and compose the four essays assigned in the class: Summary Response, Rhetorical Analysis, Synthesis, and Research.

The “Undergraduate-Level Professional Writing” and “Graduate-Level Professional Writing” pages include original guides to 1) finding CFPs relevant to research in all disciplines on pertinent listservs, 2) writing and submitting abstracts, 3) drafting and presenting a conference paper, and 4) revising and lengthening said conference paper for submission to a relevant journal. Links to CFP multi-disciplinary listservs in the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences appear at the top of each page along with pdfs of peer-reviewed journals by discipline as a starting place for a scholar seeking publication. Both pages contain links to various essay competitions funded and held by both LUC departments and international institutions and organizations in various disciplines and subject-areas. The page for graduate writing also contains guides to formatting a thesis or dissertation according to LUC university standards.

Another new resource is the greatly expanded Faculty Resources section, which contains two pages specifically supporting the work of instructors in teaching and grading writing, and publishing on the topic of pedagogy and writing composition. The “Classroom Workshops and Visits” page provides details for teachers on how to request a free visit from a Writing Center graduate tutor, who can conduct workshops on thesis writing, organization, drafting, revision, or any other writing issues that require attention. The “Writing Support for Instructors” page not only supports instructors’ construction of such useful classroom documents as syllabi, handouts, and assignments, but also provides helpful links to ongoing theoretical, pedagogical, and political debates in the field of college composition as well as pdfs listing relevant articles on various writing composition strategies for teachers and journals that publish articles authored by teachers of writing composition.

We at the Writing Center hope that you will scout out our expanded website over Christmas Break and use its new resources in the spring semester to both aid your own academic inquiries and assist your students to proactively research and apply new information to their writing and research projects. Happy Holidays!

Posted in Announcements | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Expanded LUC Writing Center Website!

Aesthetics and Form in Victorian Art, Literature, & Culture


Despite the inclement Lake Shore weather on Saturday, 28 October 2017, attendees of the Loyola University Chicago Victorian Society’s second day conference “Aesthetics and Form in Victorian Art, Literature, & Culture” were warmed by copious amounts of tea and coffee and maintained rapt attention throughout the day. On four panels, a succession of professors and graduate students from institutions across the United States such as Benedictine University at Mesa, University of California at Davis, St. Louis University, and Harvard University presented their research on topics ranging from narrative temporality to the sovereignty of the liberal subject to the significance of the nonhuman in affecting narrative change. After a pastry and fruit breakfast at 8am, one of the conference donors, Dr. Sherrie Weller (Director of LUC’s Writing Program), gave a warm welcome to conference attendees. Briefly listing the upcoming events listed on the program, she praised LUCVS members for arranging the conference. She thanked the Department of English, the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy, and Dr. Paul Eggert, (Martin J. Svaglic Chair of Textual Studies for also financing an event bringing so many Victorian scholars together for fruitful discussion. Dr. Priyanka Jacob (LUC’s Department of English) introduced the plenary speaker Dr. Florence Boos (Iowa University), citing her sterling research and publications and formidable record of serving on more than sixty graduate student dissertation committees throughout her decades-long academic career.

Boos began her address by referencing the subject of Victorian science and the perception of time marked by tension between transcendentalism and scientific relativism. She claimed that in the art and poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, liminal spaces depict interactions between life and death as seen in his poem “Jenny” (1870). She noted that Augusta Davies Webster’s poem “Medea in Athens” (1879) with its revision of classical myth and collapse of time was influenced by William Morris’s Life and Death of Jason (1867). Utopian historicism, Boos claimed, centers on historical process and possible futurist dreams. Seeing history anew in the present, Morris’s “pilgrims of hope” revisit past revolutions in his literature to inspire an improved socioeconomic future just as he resurrects his author from history. According to Morris, history is the result of careful evolution and must not cease until systems of production are equable. Boos concluded by noting that William Morris’s view of history sees it as making demands on the present by offering possibilities for progress.

Panel 1: “Aesthetics and the Individual” moderated by Brett Beasley (LUC) concerned the work of the author in objectifying the subject in literature, whether for artistic or thematic purposes. Heather Bozant Witcher (St. Louis University) posited that a reconsideration of Pre-Raphaelite drafting techniques revealed in manuscripts, sketches, and ephemera, such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s revisions to the poem “Jenny,” illuminates the overlapping influences of multiple media as a means of revising and perfecting style. Emily Datskou claimed that the narrative structure of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) queers temporality by routing time through objects instead of the normative conventions of family, linearity, and developmental temporal markers, specifically arguing that the presentation and discussion of aesthetically-decadent objects in Chapter XI removes Dorian from normative conceptions of temporality and reproductive futurism and instead positions him as a queer, perpetual child. Maria Granic (Benedictine University at Mesa) wound up the first panel of the day with another paper on The Picture of Dorian Gray, insisting that Wilde’s novel illustrates how through hedonism and inherent narcissism and mesmerism, the individual loses dasein (meaning “presence” or “existence”), rejects the reality principle, remains in the mirror stage, and becomes dehumanized.

Panel 2: “Form and Social Structures” moderated by Mary Lutze (LUC) dealt with the thematic impact of various kinds of imposed order or explicit meanings assigned to social signifiers on works of Victorian literature. Charlie Tyson (Harvard University) started off the first panel with a presentation on Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), identifying three fixed forms, the cell, the choir, and the crowd, used by the author to arrange discordant elements into temporary wholes, bringing into relief crucial aspects of collective experience: agglomerative over-closeness; harmony and discord; collective deliberation and collective wildness. In a study of unassertive ownership in E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End (1910), Lindsay Munnelly (Indiana University) alleged that the country house as a form urges reconsideration of the complex position of the upper classes at the fin de siècle, as the economic and cultural conditions of the late nineteenth century marginalized their role and the institutions that sustained them. Finally, Ryan Napier (Tufts University) explained that while J.K. Huysman’s Against Nature (À rebours) (1884), depicts the power operating beneath aesthetics, it also includes a vision of another kind of subjectivity in the character of Salome, who has transcended her own individuality and thus embodies the jouissance that threatens the sovereignty of the liberal subject.

During the lunchtime break, Kathy Young, archivist since 2001 at LUC’s newly remodeled Special Collections, gave a Rare Books Presentation briefly explaining how the collections grew out of the original libraries of LUC’s Jesuit founders before highlighting the Chiswick and Michalak Collections. Among other features of interest, Young mentioned that the collections boast significant amount of Victorian travel literature written by both male and female authors, illustrations by popular Victorian illustrators including George Cruikshank, Halbot Knight Browne, Aubrey Beardsley, and Georgina Bowers. Young closed by inviting attendees to attend the next Special Collections open house, search the collections online on their website, and come back to LUC to consult the archives for their own research. Among the books displayed at the exhibit table were The Hunting of the Snark (1876) by Lewis Carroll, an illustration of impoverished Irish from the book A Little Tour in Ireland (1859) by illustrator John Leech, a several foot-long color illustration of Queen Victoria’s coronation procession. The serial edition of Dombey and Son (1848) by Charles Dickens, The Tower of London (1840) by William Harrison Ainsworth, and the multi-volume set of Felix Holt, the Radical (1866) by George Eliot were some of the volumes on the nearby display cart. Attendees milled around and handled the rare books throughout the event, enjoying the chance to interact with primary sources and historical artifacts.

Panel 3: “Form and Narrative Structures” moderated by Aleks Galus (LUC) focused on Victorian authors’ uses of various kinds of structure, design, and narration to produce a desired effect in their literary works. Laura Strout (University of Michigan) stated that in Margaret Oliphant’s Stories of the Seen and Unseen (1876-1897) she orchestrates a feedback loop between the thematic content of the story and its formal features in order to theorize the fundamental relationship between the form that produces powerfully real fictional worlds and affects associated with experiences of love and loss. Next, Lauren Peterson, (University of California) contended that the prophetic visions in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860) expose the limits and affordances of the serial form, claiming that as the serial form’s design holds captive both the novel’s author and characters, so do the prophetic visions create the serial’s required suspense. Lastly, Mary Harmon (Loyola University Chicago) examined John Keble’s aesthetic principles in The Christian Year (1827) and argued that Victorian scholars should return to studying his work because of his widespread influence in the 19th century and the implications his poetry could have on contemporary literary and ethical issues.

Panel 4: “Aesthetics and Aestheticism” moderated by Joe Wapinski (LUC) scrutinized the impact of Victorian aesthetics in art, illustrations, and print ephemera, which all worked to influence societal definitions of beauty then and now. Concurrent with a beautiful PowerPoint presentation, Erica Kanesaka Kalnay (University of Wisconsin-Madison) read an essay which argued that as literary, cultural, and technological transformations rendered books with color illustrations widely available for the first time, fin-de siècle aesthetic theory concurrently began to associate the aesthetic experience with the colorful world of the child’s imagination, Robert Louis Stevenson, Vernon Lee, and other writers on aesthetics looking to form and color to theorize the interaction between the art object and the viewing subject. Megan Lease (Boston College) argued against Frederic Jameson that Victorian aesthetics are indeed relevant in the Postmodern era, revisiting how the discussions of John Ruskin, Walter Pater, and John Henry Newman on the relationship between beauty and action help illuminate the aesthetic questions raised by Ben Lerner’s recent novel, 10:04 (2014). In the last panel paper of the day, Eric Holzenberg (Director of the Grolier Club) demonstrated how the Aesthetic Movement manifested in print, discussing how Aesthetic ideas and motifs influenced a generation of children, showing members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to have promoted their art through prints and illustrated books aimed at adults, and pointing out how printed ephemera such as trade cards, greeting cards, and sheet music, responded to some of the more disturbing and transgressive aspects of the movement by ridiculing the Aesthetes and their enthusiasms such as a limp wrist with an Oscar Wilde teapot.

After a quick coffee break, Dr. Paul Eggert (Martin J. Svaglic Chair of Textual Studies) introduced the keynote speaker Dr. Caroline Levine (Cornell University) and welcomed her to LUC. Eggert praised Levine for her engagement with graduate students formerly at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently at Cornell University, and expressed the great interest of LUC faculty and students in her ongoing work on formalism. Levine’s keynote address entitled “Reading for the Common Good: Formalism and Politics” focused on the possibilities inherent in restructuring social forms to realize a new, more sustainable world instead of merely imagining future utopias as in Theodor W. Adorno’s utopian epistemology. Faulting humanists for uselessly indulging in reactionary political negativism towards the undefined, Levine claimed that the study of forms offer positive ways to organize humanity, as the best future no longer lies in expansive disruption. As the polis depends on forms, forms travel, and have general properties, Levine stated, we can make predictions on how political forms work and improve on them. Seeing sustainability as a neutral affordance, Levine insisted that multiple intersectional forms act to sustain a system, evidenced in the continuing longevity of bad, apparently eschewed forms like patriarchy and racism. Learning from such bad forms, Levine concluded, as well as studying routine forms (usually the province of female citizens), and violent infrastructural forms (such as transportation), in conjunction, can indicate methods by which to create new, more sustainable forms.

The evening wound up with a cheerful and delicious dinner at Rogers Park favorite Uncommon Ground, attended by Drs. Boos, Clarke, Eggert, Jacob, and many LUCVS members and their affiliates. LUCVS would like to thank all participants and LUCVS members who came together to arrange this event, particularly our guest speakers, members, sponsors, and Dr. Micael Clarke and Dr. Melissa Bradshaw for their enthusiasm, advice, and interest in LUCVS. We also would like to thank Dr. Priyanka Jacob for her helpful suggestions and eager participation in LUCVS meetings and events. Photos of the event can be viewed here. We look forward to shortly announcing next year’s conference theme and details on our website. 

Posted in Lectures and Events, Student Writing | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Aesthetics and Form in Victorian Art, Literature, & Culture

9th Annual EGSA Symposium

9th Annual English Graduate Student Association Symposium

3PM Wednesday, April 12th
Regis Multipurpose Room

Please come out and support the research of English graduate students. All faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to partake in the fun, join the discussion, and devour the refreshments.

The Symposium Will Feature One Panel:
“Skepticism in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus: Examining Man’s Inefficacy through Suspect Language” – Emily L. Sharrett
“Keats’s Negative Capability: Self-Negation and the Platonic Ideal in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn'” – Joseph Wapinski
“Gender Rebels and Alternate Masculinities in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton” – Katherine Gutierrez

Posted in Announcements, Lectures and Events | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on 9th Annual EGSA Symposium

Past and Present: New Directions in Victorian Studies


On Saturday, October 29th, 2016, the Loyola University Chicago Victorian Society, a graduate student organization, hosted professors and graduate students from a variety of Chicago institutions, while others traveled to Lake Shore Campus from other states and countries. Generously sponsored by the Graduate School, the Department of English, and Dr. Paul Eggert, Martin J. Svaglic Chair of Textual Studies, LUCVS’s inaugural day conference “Past and Present: New Directions in Victorian Studies” focused firstly on new interpretations of Victorian investment in establishing the historical importance of the past and future significance of developments in their own time. Secondly, scholars grappled with how certain aspects of Victorian life and culture are historicized in the present day, specifically querying as to what directions the field of Victorian Studies is currently taking in a variety of focalizations. Thirdly, readings of the Victorian period provoked examination of the reasons behind the development of contemporary interpretative lenses.

After a beautiful sunrise and donut and coffee breakfast at 8am, Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin, Interim Dean of the Graduate School, started off the conference by asserting that historical and literary periods alike are marked and defined by technological advances and connections that have never been made before. Dr. Melissa Bradshaw of the Writing Center Program introduced academics Dr. Anna Kornbluh (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Dr. Benjamin Morgan (University of Chicago) both founding members of the V21 Collective, an organization described as being devoted to defetishizing the archival and resisting the genealogical trajectory of historical study common in contemporary Victorian Studies. Kornbluh and Morgan gave a joint presentation for the morning plenary, a talk that anticipated and foregrounded some of the major themes for the day. Both papers responded to the need to move beyond positivist historicism in Victorian studies. They suggested that a renewed study of form/formalism and a kind of “presentism”—that does not reduce literature and the past to a mere instrument—might offer possible avenues for moving forward.

Panel 1: “Realism” moderated by Grace Stevens, investigated how realism appeared in various forms within famous Victorian novels, emphasizing the contrasting portrayal of objects of production and ephemera in 20th-21st century literature. Corbin Hiday, (University of Illinois at Chicago) detailed how realism evidences as production in George Eliot’s Silas Marner (1861) and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder (2005). He stated that the two novels represent a convergence across historical periodization and contain the “coexistence of several modes of production,” while also providing insight into specific historical economic epochs, from weaving and an artisanal, barter impulse amidst the rise of industrialization to financialization and speculative real-estate capitalism. Benjamin D. O’Dell, (University of Illinois at Chicago – Urbana-Champaign) claimed that Victorian authors routinely blend pastoral and realist modes of representation in the production of imaginative literary hybrids, defamiliarizing popular images of England’s rural history by positioning their work as a corrective to the distorted images of nostalgic and sentimental pastoral art and literature.  In particular, he cited the obsessive time-keeping and uneven pacing of George Eliot’s Adam Bede (1839) as creating a culturally sensitive narrative temporality that advances Eliot’s belief in the historic nature of rural experience. The final speaker, Jessica R. Valdez, (University of Hong Kong) explained that while Victorians valorized historical modes of thinking, they also expressed deep-seated anxieties about ephemeral texts. She propounded further on the theme, saying that despite such misgivings, many Victorian novels develop realist form through representing ephemeral texts, specifically newspapers and their formal tensions; often realist novels incorporate ephemeral texts as a means to work through a “distinct form-problem.”

Next, Panel 2: “Labor and Dickens,” moderated by Brett Beasley, focused on Charles Dickens’s use of narrative length, timeframe, and metaphorical imagery to form the landscape of his novels. Looking at Dickens’s Bleak House (1853) and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), Robert Ryan (University of Illinois at Chicago) argued that both authors similarly allow great passages of time to occur in the space of one paragraph. He posited that reading the massive, quasi-encyclopedic arrangements of both works produces a theory of the novel that stands opposed to the received practices of periodization and nationalization, all while remaining attentive to both temporal and cultural particularity. Lydia Craig (Loyola University Chicago) provided a close reading of how the water, mist, and fire work as environmental signifiers in Dickens’s Great Expectations (1861) to enact a metaphor of class warfare. Craig explained that, accordingly, mist and rain occupy a subtle, fluctuating position in relation to water and fire, as Pip, the narrator, construes evaporation imagery depending on his changing perspective of the middle class it exemplifies, and his own social self-worth.

After lunch and conversation, Panel 3: “History,” moderated by Mary Harmon examined obscure Victorian perspectives on history, as evident in adult and children’s books from the period. Robert C. Petersen (Middle Tennessee State University) revealed that the factual and anecdotal content of Agnes and Elizabeth Strickland’s eight volume work Lives of the Queens of England (1850-1859) and other works reveal the female historians’ archival methods as significantly anticipating twentieth and twenty-first century attitudes towards accurate information gathering. Peterson also claimed that descriptions of the queens themselves resisted contemporary codes and behaviors expected of women. Laura Merrell (Indiana University) described Maria Calcott’s Little Arthur’s History of England (1835) as being possibly written originally for one child as a gift and then published as a manuscript for more readers, though the details of its publication remain uncertain. Merrell argued that the book claimed to be a comprehensive if simple history of England that could prepare young students for more advanced history and consequently stayed in print for decades. She also pointed out that the realm of children’s literature was a more acceptable place for a woman to write about history but that this does not mean that we should ignore the kinds of claims Calcott made in this work.

The last panel of the day, Panel 4: “Art History” moderated by Emily Datskou, focused on Victorian attitudes to establishing the language, meaning, and form of art in their own period. Lindsay Wells (University of Wisconsin-Madison) gave a presentation on the obscure work The Flower Book (1905) by Edward Burne-Jones. She claimed that while Victorians assigned particular sentimental and emotional meanings to certain flowers, Burne-Jones often selected his own meanings based on his own preferences, as evidenced in the self-referential pattern of the book’s thirty-eight watercolor illustrations inspired by each flower’s name. Jeffrey C. Kessler (Indiana University) detailed the pioneering work of Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) in the field of historical aesthetics, examining how she uses the discourse of historical criticism for artistic means in her imaginary portrait “An Eighteenth Century Singer” (1891). Noting that Lee presents her readers with a fictional virtuoso singer, doing so as if the text was piece of historical criticism, Kessler claimed Lee’s imaginary portraits encourage readers to imagine the past beyond the historical constraints of the present. In the final presentation of the panel, Brandiann Molby (Loyola University Chicago) spoke on the visual ethics of Victorian art interpretation, which is characterized by a particular visual ethics Molby termed “right seeing,” focusing particularly on the work of Ford Maddox Brown.

Dr. Micael Clarke (Associate Professor of English) introduced the keynote speaker Dr. Elaine Hadley, (University of Chicago). Clarke applauded the dedication Hadley has shown to guiding students towards a self-aware approach both to education and developing their own future careers in teaching and other fields. Hadley spoke on theories of human capital and its relationship to contemporary economics, citing the work of Gary Becker in particular. She contrasted the economics of human capital, which insists that self-investment results in a return on said investment, with the economics of higher education, which historically insists that education is its own reward even exclusive of further earning potential. Hadley claimed that this is a false dichotomy, as higher education and liberal arts are retreating into the intangible benefit theory despite the increasing job-training emphasis on college degrees in the university at large. Acknowledging that there are no easy answers to this issue, Hadley concluded by generally referencing the problem as it appears in English and/or Victorian studies.

An evening wine and cheese reception followed Dr. Hadley’s talk at which much mirth and lively conversation was had before the day conference concluded. LUCVS would like to thank all participants and LUCVS members who came together to arrange this event, particularly our guest speakers, members, sponsors, and Dr. Melissa Bradshaw and Dr. Micael Clarke for their unfailing encouragement and helpful advice on all sorts of matters. We look forward to announcing next year’s theme soon on our website: http://lucvictoriansociety.wixsite.com/lucvs/about-lucvs

Posted in Faculty Work, Lectures and Events | Tagged , | Comments Off on Past and Present: New Directions in Victorian Studies

McElroy Alum is the keynote speaker at the 2015 College of Arts and Sciences (Arts) Commencement on Friday, May 8.

CAS - Brennan-268x339

Ian Brennan, producer, director, writer, actor, graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Chicago in 2001with a BA in Theatre and Spanish. During his time at Loyola, Ian participated as an actor in the McElroy Shakespeare Celebration in 1998 and 1999. In 1998 he played Romeo (opposite now well-known Chicago actress Elizabeth Ledo’s Juliet) in scenes performed as part of “Coming of Age in Verona: Manhood and Womanhood in Romeo and Juliet.” In 1999 he played Horatio and Laertes in scenes performed as part of “Acting (un)Shakespeare; or, Hamlet, Bad Quarto, Good Play?”

Brennan is the co-creator and executive producer of Glee, which just completed its sixth and final season on FOX and for which he has received two Golden Globe Awards and the Peabody Award. With his Glee collaborators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, he is co-creator of the upcoming Scream Queens, which will air on FOX this fall. Along with Leigh Whannell, Brennan co-wrote and stars in the Lionsgate feature Cooties, which premiered at Sundance and will be released later this year.

Posted in Announcements, Lectures and Events | Comments Off on McElroy Alum is the keynote speaker at the 2015 College of Arts and Sciences (Arts) Commencement on Friday, May 8.

Ecologies, Bears, and Statues at the 24th McElroy Celebration!


Professors, students, and drama enthusiasts all gathered in Loyola’s Newhart Theatre on April 14 for the 24th McElroy Memorial Shakespeare Celebration. The annual event, which combines lecture and performance to explore Shakespearean drama, was jointly sponsored and run by Loyola University Chicago’s Departments of English and Theatre. Dr. Verna Foster of the English Department introduced the speaker Dr. Steve Mentz of St. John’s University, citing his significant work and publications in the field of Early Modern ecocriticism. Dr. Mentz lectured on the topic “Green Creating Nature: Dynamic Ecologies in The Winter’s Tale,” pausing at intervals to observe scenes from The Winter’s Tale performed by actors from the Chicago area and Loyola students from the Department of Theatre directed by Dr. Ann Shanahan.

Dr. Mentz emphasized the juxtaposition of “green” and “blue” ecologies, separate systems of soil and water, land and ocean, which occasionally collide within The Winter’s Tale. He located an obvious use of this device in Act 3 Scene 3 where the Clown (Alex Nolan) tells the Old Shepherd (Patrick Clear) about the violent shipwreck he has just witnessed off the coast. During this first scene, Antigonus (Gary Alexander) entered clutching the baby princess Perdita, and agonized over having to abandon her by King Leontes’ order. To the great delight of the audience, Antigonus then exited to his brutal death, pursued by the famous Bear! This scene was enacted twice, so that audiences could clearly perceive characters’ references to nature and ecological order.

After commenting on the strange contrast between the Clown’s description of the tragedy on the water and the comforting pastoral scene in which he tells the tale, Dr. Mentz resumed focus on the green ecology metaphor in the play. Though the young girl Perdita has been “transplanted” out of her noble sphere into the country, she flourishes in her new environment and interacts freely with its ecological produce. In Act 4, Scene 4, Perdita (Meghan Maddigan), her lover Florizel (David Towne), and the shepherds gather to celebrate sheep-shearing with an outdoor feast, where she welcomes their two masked guests with gifts of flowers. The guests, King Polixenes (Gary Alexander) and Camillo (Seamus McMahon) resist her categorization of them through the identity and purpose of each plant and blossom. As Dr. Mentz explained after the scene was twice performed, Polixenes believes in “grafting” or shaping nature, while Perdita prefers to experience untouched and wild nature, reflecting their differing opinions on human breeding and the preservation of social class.

Finally, Dr. Mentz  brought the lecture to a close by focusing on the play’s unusual conclusion, in which what appears to be a tragedy reaches an unexpectedly positive conclusion representing reconciliation and new beginnings. In Act 5, Scene 3, with a little help from wise Paulina (Maggie Cramer), the statue of Queen Hermione (Hope Uggen) gradually comes back to life, and embraces her overjoyed husband King Leontes (Patrick Clear) and daughter Perdita. Spring has officially arrived to put an end to winter and the absence of fruitful ecological growth.

After acknowledging the audience’s enthusiastic applause, Dr. Mentz, and Dr. Shanahan sat on the stage with the cast and answered questions concerning the lecture, Shakespeare’s play, and the staging of the scenes for the McElroy Celebration. Several audience members expressed their appreciation for Dr. Mentz’s ecological perspective on the play, noting that visualizing separate environments operating within the play exposed usually obscure meanings about hereditary, barrenness, and banishment. The Department of Theatre’s production received praise for its innovative depiction of the ghost of Hermione within Antigonus’s speech, and subtle stressing of nature and ecology within the scenes. After the event, audience, cast, and crew all adjourned to the Palm Court and enjoyed refreshments, conversation, and further discussion of The Winter’s Tale. Photos of the event can be viewed here on the McElroy Memorial Shakespeare Celebration’s website.

(Note – For more photographs and further information, visit Dr. Mentz’s blog post about the event.)

Posted in Lectures and Events | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Ecologies, Bears, and Statues at the 24th McElroy Celebration!

Virginia Woolf Conference

Woolf Conf Collage

Drs. Pamela Caughie and Frank Fennell and members of Glottal Attack from the Department of English welcomed participants to the 24th Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf. The four-day long conference, co-sponsored by Loyola University Chicago and Northern Illinois University, attracted scholars, students and common readers from twelve countries working in a variety of disciplines that focused around the writing and life and Virginia Woolf. Concentrating on Woolf “Writing the World,” the conference featured keynote speakers Mark Hussey, Maud Ellmann, and Tuzyline Allan, whose presentations dealt with worlds inhabited and created by Woolf, as well as subject-specific seminars lead by Melba Cuddy-Keane, Patricia Morgne Cramer, Madelyn Detloff, Jaime Hovey, Bonnie Kime Scott, and Urmila Seshagiri and Rishona Zimring.

The conference, which featured 64 panels and seminars with over 220 participants, kicked off Wednesday, June 4th, with a Bloomsbury Exhibit at the Newberry Library that afternoon and that evening a reading by Sina Queyras at the Poetry Foundation. A contributing editor at Drunken Boat, and author of several collections of poetry, Queyras work is deeply in engaged with Woolf.

Day one of the conference ended with a round table that was moderated by Mark Hussey and featured Sarah Cole, Ashley Foster, Christine Froula, and Jean Mills discussing Woolf and violence. Beginning the talk by reminding spectators of Woolf’s famous “Thinking is my fighting,” the panel engaged with ideas related to war, violence, and pacifism as it related to Woolf’s writing and the Bloomsbury group generally. Foster, highlighting Woolf’s pacifism, argued that Woolf’s writing stands as an ethical call that we have yet to respond to. While Cole framed the raw and transcendent power of violence in Woolf, Mills focused on non-violent methods as an effective means of social change, and suggested that Woolf’s work may be helpful in constructing a critical pedagogy for the classroom. This lead Hussey to remind the audience of the importance of bodies in any discourse on war and violence, and how pedagogy reorients our focus to create social and ideological change. Froula had one of the last words of the panel, taking the audience back to Hussey’s opening words by saying, “Thinking should be our fighting. We should not give up on thinking.”

The second day of the conference included a multi-media performance titled “The Glass Inward” by Anna Henson, which was inspired by Orlando. The installation allowed viewers to remix video form Henson’s original performance in an effort to explore how interactivity helps tell a story differently and adds a humanistic element to her use of technology (More information can be found here). Maud Ellmann was the keynote speaker that evening, and centered her attention on war, wireless, and weather in the writings of Woolf and Sylvia Townsend Warner. Ellmann’s attention to the “everyday” as constituted by radio waves, air raids, and the newspaper, helped collapse the distinction between home front and the front line. Her talk helped articulate the atmosphere of war and trauma that Woolf and Townsend Warner wrote in and had to respond to. That evening Dr. Ann M. Shanahan, Associate Professor of Theater, directed a concert performance of Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, with rave reviews by scholars, students, and the general public.

The final full day of the conference concluded with a keynote by Tuzyline Allan in which she alerted the audience to absences in Woolf scholarship. Titled “The Voyage In, Out and Beyond: Virginia Woolf After Postcolonialism,” Allan argued that much archival and critical work needs to be done in relation to Woolf’s politics, encouraging the audience to engage in questions of race and ethnicity rather than allow them to remain seemingly absent. She suggests using a method of “Live-in(g)” history to recapture the historical moment Woolf wrote in, and to identify and rectify blind-spots that existed in terms of race, ethnicity, as well as gender equality.

After the closing sessions on Sunday, June 8, Dr. Paula Wisotzki, Associate Professor of Art History, gave guided tours of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, lecturing on the design, layout, and specific exhibits of that beautiful addition.

Posted in Faculty Work, Lectures and Events | Comments Off on Virginia Woolf Conference

English Department Hosts “Textual Conditions” Conference

On March 29, the Department of English hosted Textual Conditions: Lawrence, Conrad, and Woolf, a day conference held in Cuneo Hall on Loyola’s Lakeshore campus. The conference, which was co-sponsored by the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities and the Martin J. Svaglic Chair in Textual Studies, featured four speakers—Dr. Peter Shillingsburg, Dr. Alexandre Fachard, Dr. Joyce Wexler, and Dr. Paul Eggert—each of whose papers dealt with the textual complexities of modernist works.

Peter Shillingsburg, Professor Emeritus at Loyola, presented the conference’s first paper, “Long Distance Revision: Who is Responsible for Textual Conditions?” Drawing on the examples of William Thackeray’s The Newcomes and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Dr. Shillingsburg argued that, at least in some cases, the indeterminacy of textual authority produces a condition in which multiple texts of the same work may be equally authorized. In the case of The Newcomes, Thackeray gave explicit approval to a fellow Punch contributor, Percival Leigh, to fill out the final pages of its 32-page sixth installment after three pages went missing in the mail. Leigh succeeded in doing so by inserting prepositions, making changes in format, and adding an illustration to fill extra space, but during the process he also made substantive verbal alterations to the text constituting the installment. Similarly, in proofing copies of To the Lighthouse for two different first editions—one British and the other American—Woolf was forced by the formatting requirements of the British (but not the American) edition to cut two pages from the text of the proof. However, she ultimately cut the pages from both British and American proofs, while also making a number of other minor textual alterations in the process. According to Dr. Shillingsburg, such cases exemplify the indeterminacies about textual authority that frequently make it impossible for an editor to “just give us the text.”

Next to speak was the Université de Lausanne’s Alexandre Fachard, who argued in his paper “Conrad and his Typists” that editorial attentiveness to type technologies and individual typists themselves can help resolve textual questions in modernist works, like those of Joseph Conrad. After detailing the social position of the typist in late nineteenth-century Britain, Dr. Fachard illustrated the ways in which knowledge about Conrad’s typists and their machines could potentially help resolve certain textual questions. In general, Conrad relied on two typists—his wife, Jessie Conrad, and his secretary, Lillian Hellowes—with markedly different backgrounds and typographic styles: Jessie Conrad tended to produce typed texts with variable margin sizes, untidy corrections, inconsistent punctuation, and numerous misspellings, while Ms. Hellowes’s texts were distinguished by their predictable margins sizes, erasures and inter-linear additions, consistent punctuation, and correct spellings. According to Fachard, a close attention to such differences can facilitate textual decision making, help date documents, and aid in the determination of textual authority.

Following Dr. Fachard, Loyola’s English Department Chair Dr. Joyce Wexler presented her paper, “Conrad’s The Rescue in Its Time and Ours,” which argued that interpretations of Conrad’s text have been shaped by the unstable interplay between its documentary instantiations and the cultural contexts in which they appeared. Dr. Wexler’s paper focused on three contexts in particular: 1919, when The Rescue was read as a comment on World War 1; 1950, when it was rejected by the New Critics as an artistic failure; and the contemporary critical climate, which tends to praise the novel as an indictment of British colonialism. According to Dr. Wexler, such readings have been encouraged not only by shifting historical contexts but also by varying bibliographic properties. For example, when it was first issued in installments under the name “Land and Water” in 1919, the novel included on its title page a cartoon of a whip-bearing German officer and a caption that served to fix the recent war as its subtext. However, the novel’s reception soon began to change, as new bibliographic material became available and old aesthetic standards were jettisoned. By mid-century, the New Critics had dismissed The Rescue as an aesthetic failure, basing their judgement especially on those studies of Conrad’s revisions that had been made possible by access to MS versions of the work. Against the New Critics, contemporary scholars have praised the novel, arguing in particular that its illustrations exemplify the manner in which Conrad used romance to destabilize gender and colonial ideologies.

The conference’s final paper—“Editing Versions or Editing Works: Which Should It Be for D. H. Lawrence and Joseph Conrad?”—was delivered by Paul Eggert, of the University of New South Wales. Using examples from the work of Lawrence and Conrad, Dr. Eggert argued that the “textual condition”—loosely speaking, the condition of indeterminate textual authority—is inescapable and thus necessitates a turn from the project of editing editions of works to that of editing editions of versions of works. According to Dr. Eggert, an edition of a version of a given work should be understood as an “argument” about, or a “transaction” with, the documentary manifestations of a work, rather than its definitive editorial representation, thus allowing for the possibility of multiple and equally valid editions. An edition of a version of a work can draw on multiple documents, but instead of encapsulating a work, such an edition  itself becomes part of that work by documenting a new—but not authoritative—intervention between an editor and a set of readers.

The conference concluded with a roundtable discussion chaired by Dr. Pamela Caughie, during which five graduate students—Missy Coleman, Sarah Eilefson, Andrew Welch, Jason Kolkey, and Matthew Clarke—offered general remarks on the conference’s major themes.

A reception followed in the Mundelein Center’s Sky Lounge.

Posted in Faculty Work, Lectures and Events | Comments Off on English Department Hosts “Textual Conditions” Conference

Woolf Online Is Up!

Loyola University Chicago is pleased to announce the creation of Woolf Online, a digital archive of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Based at Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, the site expands a pilot project devoted to the novel’s “Time Passes” section, which was begun by the late Dr. Julia Briggs, of De Montfort University, in 2008. In its new instantiation, Woolf Online offers users access to an array of materials relating to the novel in its entirety—including typescripts, proofs, revisions, editions, collations, diary entries, and letters—while also providing a selection of advanced digital tools meant to enrich their examination.

Exemplifying interdisciplinary collaboration, Woolf Online is the product of years of Leverhulme Trust- and NEH-funded work between scholars in different departments at Loyola and elsewhere. Directed by Dr. Peter Shillingsburg, the site includes among its co-editors Drs. Pamela Caughie of Loyola and Mark Hussey of Pace University, who together were co-principal investigators on the project’s NEH grant, as well as Dr. George Thiruvathukal, of Loyola’s Computer Science Department, and Marilyn Deegan, of King’s College London. Dr. Nick Hayward is the site’s Technical Development Officer and the creator of all of Woolf Online’s programs, tools, and interfaces.

The site digitizes the five first editions of Woolf’s novel, as well as images and transcripts of previously difficult-to-access proofs and manuscripts, like Woolf’s original draft of To the Lighthouse, which is currently housed in the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection. Woolf Online also offers a number of valuable tools: search functions make the entire site searchable, while a magnifying tool renders texts larger and more readable, and scroll-over features allow users access to overlaid textual transcriptions of each line of primary documents, enabling readers to interpret Woolf’s often cryptic handwriting without having to open any new pages. Contextual materials—including letters and diary entries in which Woolf refers to the novel, and even essays penned among the pages of the Berg draft—are supplemented by resources ranging from images of Talland House and the Stephen family, to a timeline documenting the novel’s creation, to scholarly essays applying such contexts to the novel’s interpretation.

According to Dr. Caughie, the structure of the archive as well as the materials chosen to be included in it were meant to ensure that “our hands as editors [were] very light.” By gathering together documents without affixing explanatory or interpretive notes, the creators hoped to produce a “democratic” archive that would allow users to develop their own interpretations of the novel and draw their own connections between the documents comprising and surrounding it. Future additions to the archive will extend this aim: according to Caughie, a collation tool is “in the final stages” and will “make it easier to make collations of the editions.” Woolf Online’s editors also hope soon to invite essays on the novel by users of the site.

Woolf Online represents only the most recent expression of Loyola’s vibrant engagement with textual studies and the digital humanities, evidencing the English Department’s commitment to cutting-edge, interdisciplinary, and international scholarship. Projects like Woolf Online continue to depend on Loyola’s institutional support: Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities will sustain the site, and a large aggregator, the Modernist Networks project, is due to appear soon, further extending Loyola’s collaborative role in digital humanities research at the international level.

Posted in Announcements, Faculty Work, Student Writing | Comments Off on Woolf Online Is Up!

English Department Hosts Reception for Clayes Essay Prize Winners

The English Department hosted a reception for the winners of this year’s Clayes Essay Prize on Wednesday, October 9th in the McCormick Lounge in Coffey Hall. Established in memory of Dr. Stanley Clayes, the Prize is awarded annually to the graduate student who submits the best paper written for a graduate English course during the preceding year. Yet the quality of this year’s submissions led to three prizes being awarded: first place went to Katie Dyson for her paper “Narrating Violence: Memento and Postmodern Theory,” while second place awards were presented to both Anna Cooperrider for her paper “Making Commotion in the Texts of 2 Henry VI” and Sarah Polen for her essay “Unclassing Determinism: Reading Suicide in Sister Carrie and The Custom of the Country.”

Following a brief introduction recalling Dr. Clayes’s life and the origins of the Prize, Wes Peart introduced Dr. Pamela Caughie, for whose “Postmodernism” course Katie wrote her essay. According to Dr. Caughie, whose course provided a rigorous and wide-ranging introduction to theories of postmodernism, Katie was awarded the top prize for “her reach as much as for her grasp” in confronting the theoretical complexities embedded in postmodern discourse. Katie spoke next, thanking the Clayes Committee, Dr. Caughie, and the other students in her class before giving a summary of her essay and an account of the challenges she encountered in writing it. As Katie explained, her work on the essay began with a central question: if we take postmodern theory at its word that everything is discursive, then what are we to make of violence? While a number of postmodern writers succeed in theorizing violence—for example, by suggesting that violence as a category of behavior is discursively constructed—they usually fail to provide any account of the ethical grounds justifying responses to it. However, Katie hypothesized, such grounds might be found in turning from postmodern theory to postmodern narrative. Indeed, Christopher Nolan’s film Memento—whose multiple and chronologically-broken narratives image the postmodern condition of selfhood—suggests that a viable postmodern ethics can be found in the recognition of the multiplicity of perspectives and the inescapability of the narratives of others.

Next to speak was Anna Cooperrider, one of the two second place winners. Introduced by Dr. Suzanne Gossett, for whose course “Shakespeare” she wrote an essay described by Dr. Gossett as “absolutely exemplary” in meeting all of the course’s goals, Anna thanked the EGSA, Dr. Gossett, and the Department before providing a summary of her essay, which argued that textual variations between the quarto and folio editions of 2 Henry VI provide evidence of Shakespeare’s changing political commitments. Granting that certain knowledge of Shakespeare’s politics is ultimately inaccessible to modern scholarship, Anna argued that the existence of whole-scale variations between the strongly monarchical Q and the more politically ambiguous F texts of the play suggest that differences in the F text were due to authorial revision rather than memorial reconstruction. For example, the fact that Q contains an entire scene depicting Cade’s rebellion from a monarchical perspective while no such scene appears in F appears to contradict the hypothesis that Q represents a memorial reconstruction, for cases of memorial reconstruction usually produce small textual variations rather than additions or subtractions of entire scenes. But if F does represent authorial revision, and if many of those revisions transform overtly monarchical passages into politically more ambiguous scenes, then the F text of 2 Henry VI hints at a shift in Shakespeare’s politics, from a strongly monarchical stance toward one of increasing skepticism about English monarchy, perhaps occasioned by the outrages of the widely-unpopular James I.

Finally, Sarah Polen discussed her essay, which tied Anna’s for second place. Following an introduction by Dr. Jack Kerkering, who praised the Clayes competition’s place in the graduate program and for whose class “American Realism” the paper was written, Sarah discussed the origins and argument of her essay. Explaining that she was initially struck by similarities in the narrative arcs of two American realist characters—George Hurstwood in Sister Carrie and The Custom of the Country’s Ralph Marvell—Sarah described how her essay sought to grapple with how these parallel trajectories reflect the class, gender, and naturalist literary conventions associated with the Progressive Era. According to Sarah, commitments on the part of both the middle-class George and the upper-class Ralph to outdated conceptions of masculinity prevent both characters from assimilating into progressivist culture and lead inexorably to socio-economic decline concluded in both their cases by suicide. But insofar as both texts represent these commitments as naturalistically determined, they modify contemporary naturalist conventions by representing not only lower-class but also middle- and upper-class characters as determined by external forces, and by locating these forces in social categories like class and gender rather than inherited biological predispositions.

A question-and-answer session followed the presentations, with the three award winners fielding questions from faculty members and graduate students about the productive and restrictive nature of course constraints on writing and about plans for publication-oriented revision, as well as about the papers themselves.

The event concluded with a reception.

Posted in Lectures and Events, Student Writing | Comments Off on English Department Hosts Reception for Clayes Essay Prize Winners