Enter the Mochila Review’s MoRe Prize Writing Contest

12 Nov

The Mochila Review, a national undergraduate literary journal published by Missouri Western State University, is hosting its annual writers’ contest for undergraduate students, called the Undergraduate MoRe Prize.

This year, the contest will be open to short fiction (up to 3,000 words) submissions only. Contest submissions will be accepted through the journal’s website (www.mochilareview.com) from October 1 to December 1. The winning writer, selected by guest judge, author Ellen Hopkins, will be announced January 1. He/she will receive a $50 prize and publication in the journal’s 2016 issue. The Undergraduate MoRe Prize is separate from the journal’s regular submissions and there is an entry fee of $5.

Undergraduate Gender Studies Conference – Call for Papers

14 Oct

Midwest Undergraduate Conference in Gender Studies – call for papers

The University of Notre Dame will host an undergraduate conference for Gender Studies on February 12 & 13, 2016 on Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend, Indiana. The conference will be co-sponsored by the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at Saint Mary’s College and the Women’s Studies Program at Indiana University South Bend. We invite submissions focusing on any area of original research-based scholarship in gender studies (including, but not limited to, work in literary criticism, sociology, theology, anthropology, economics, psychology, biology) from colleges and universities in the Midwest. Presentations should take the form of 15-minute presentations (with or without visual support, like PPTs and posters). We welcome scholarship that deals with the significance of gender—and the cognate subjects of sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, religion, and nationality—in all areas of human life, especially in the social formation of human identities, practices, and institutions.

  • Students will need a faculty mentor from their field of research to offer guidance as the student develops and carries out the research project. Faculty mentors do not need to attend the conference (though they are welcome).
  • This conference will consist of a series of individual panels of 3-4 papers. A faculty panel will select papers from among the proposals received and constitute the panels.
  • Lunch (both days) and snacks will be provided. There will be no registration fee for participants selected to present work. It is expected that all participants will attend the entire conference.
  • Proposals (200 word max) should be submitted on the appropriate submission form to: apalko@nd.edu, subject line “Undergraduate conference abstract submission.”
  • Questions can be submitted to: Abigail Palko (apalko@nd.edu)

Deadline for submissions: December 16, 2015 (notification of acceptances to be sent in early January 2016)

English Majors: The Albion Review wants to see your writing

30 Sep

The Albion Review, a national literary journal based at Albion College, seeks work for its 11th annual journal.  Contributors must currently be enrolled as undergraduate students at any college or university.

Submit your short fiction, poetry, essays, or visual art by November 1st – you could win a $200 prize.

Written submissions (include SASE): The Albion Review, 4942 Kellogg Center, Albion College, Albion, MI 49224.

Online submissions: albionreview.submittable.com

For more information and submission guidelines, visit them on facebook.

English Majors – Why not present your work at a conference?

29 Sep

The 24th Annual Clement S. Stacy Memorial Undergraduate Research Conference (sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Purdue University-Calumet) will take place Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, 2016 at the Hammond, IN Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

The conference’s goal is to provide a forum for undergraduate Humanities and Social Sciences scholars from across the upper Midwest to present their projects and discuss the results of their research with fellow students and faculty mentors.

That’s you, English majors!  Why not submit your work?  The submission deadline is February 6, 2016.  More information and conference details can be found on the Clement S. Stacy Memorial Undergraduate Research Conference web page.


Summer Reading 2015 – A Whale of a List!

27 Apr

For the last couple of years, Who Are These People Anyway? has been happy to share summer reading plans with you: what we’re reading, what we think you should read, and how we did with last year’s resolutions.  Here’s the 2015 installment; just peruse the WATPA? archive if you want to read the older ones.

Stephanie Roach
My reading list this summer includes Tana French’s The Secret Place.  I have a thing for reading debut novels and got totally hooked by French’s debut In the Woods. I’ve enjoyed each book after even more (The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor), and I’ve heard The Secret Place  is the best yet of her literary mysteries.French

Last summer I planned to read S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst and that is the book I would recommend.  It is a fascinating study in how characters are developed, how suspense is built, and how we think about the book as an object.  Reading this book is unlike any other reading experience I’ve ever had.  This review in The Guardian includes a short video clip of what it is like to unfold the pages of S.: .  If you are looking for something different, unique, complex, and nerdy-cool, then this is your book.


Fred Svoboda
What’s on your summer reading list? More John Updike as (I hope) I finish my book on him for University of South Carolina Press. I’ll be reading mysteries and histories as my breaks from serious fiction.John-Updike-002

What you hope your students read this summer: I want them to read all the novels for the courses that they are taking from me in the fall, so that they can have the pleasure and insight of rereading during fall semester. (Also, this will help obviate suicidal feelings while faced by the likes of Moby-Dick and The Portrait of a Lady, big, big 19th century novels.) I always email the reading lists to enrolled students at the beginning of the summer.mobydick

How your planned reading from last summer went: I didn’t even turn in a reading list last summer. I had too much to do!!


James Schirmer
On my reading list:

  • H Is For Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
  • Girl In A Band, by Kim Gordon600full-sonic-youth
  • A Stranger In Olondria, by Sofia Samatar
  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What I hope students read this summer:
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
I came late to this book, but I’ve been rereading every year for the past three years now.  Great characters in a great story & technical communication in the service of a narrative!

Cathy Akers-Jordan
My Utopian dreams for the summer involve more writing than reading but I am currently re-reading Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine Dandelion Wineand considering the possibility of doing a composition class using the book as the theme. I like it because it deals with all the big questions of life, love, fear, death, wonder, joy and everything else you can think of. It’s the one book I’d like my students to read this summer, too, for a vivid immersion into early-twentieth-century life (BEFORE the Internet! Gasp!) through savory, lyrical language they’ve probably never experienced before. For me reading a Bradbury book is like eating potato chips: you can’t read just one. Next on the reading list are Something Wicked This Way Comes, One More for the Road, The Toynbee Convector, Dark Carnival, The Machineries of Joy, I Sing the Body Electric and many of his other wonderful story collections. Ray thoughtful

 Some of his books are listed here.


Emily Feuerherm

On my summer reading list is Simon Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. This book was passed down to me from my uncle, who besides being an accomplished teacher and researcher, was my inspiration to study linguistics. Many thanks, Uncle Fred!

wildI hope students will read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, because it is a beautiful true story of strength and hope. When I read it two years ago, before the movie had been made, I yearned to explore the PCT. That yearning grew with every page-turn, despite the hardships and lost toenails Strayed describes. Last year, my husband and I hiked just a very few miles of the PCT through desolation wilderness (near Lake Tahoe) and it was just as challenging and beautiful as she describes. Now, having just moved to Flint from Northern California, I will admit I miss the Sierra Nevada mountains, but look forward to backpacking in the UP this summer. Students, if you have an opportunity to hike any part of the PCT, do it! But prepare better than Cheryl Strayed, and pack lighter.

Jacob Blumner
My summer reading list includes JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I’m rereading them as our twins discover them.  It seems, though, that I will need to find things to add to the list quickly because they read The Hobbit already — in about two days.  Suggestions?  I also want to read Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, since I’m an outdoor enthusiast and want to find ways to rationalize my values.  last-child-louv

I hope students read at least one novel this summer, preferably the paper kind.  There is beauty in the meditative experience of losing oneself in a physical book.


D. J. Trela
Last summer I worked my way through a number of biographies, and want again to tout Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Steve Jobs. To my mind, this is one of the finest contemporary biographies to appear in the last twenty years. My students last fall were fascinated by the story of a College drop-out who changed the world with his computers, I-phones, Pixar movie technology and I-pads/pods. Practically everything we do with technology not only has Steve Jobs’ fingerprints all over it, but his DNA in its design. That said, he was often an insensitive jerk. Go figure.

jane-austen-frontispiece-1870For summer 2015 my reading will again primarily be prep-work for fall classes. I am two thirds of the way through all of Jane Austen’s six completed novels, all but one of which (in my opinion) is “perfect, in being far too short.” To find out which one you’d need to enroll in my fall senior seminar in English. (Clue: It isn’t Emma.) For at least a couple of novels in the course itself, we’ll take a close look at Austen’s incomparable narrative and dialogue and see whether Hollywood offers any improvement on her storylines.

Last summer I also mentioned wanting to read Five Came Back, which dealt with how WWII experiences influenced the post-war film-making of five classic Hollywood directors. This was an insightful work that helped me take fresher looks at films directed by Frank Capra, John Ford and Howard Hawks. I highly recommend the book for devotees of classic Hollywood films.

While I’m not a great reader of magazines, I subscribe to (and recommend) The New Yorker to any and all. The articles are thoughtful, often offbeat, always intelligently written, and sometimes memorable.

And, along the lines of the Woody Allen character Zelig, maybe one of these summers I’ll read Moby-Dick.


Scott Atkinson
My list is ever-changing, but here’s what I’ve led myself to believe I’ll be reading in the coming months.

Antonya_NelsonFirst on the list–which I’ve actually started–is whatever I can find by Antonya Nelson. I was unaware of her until recently, when a friend invited me to audit a short fiction writing workshop she’s leading. The plan was just to look like I’d been reading her all along so I could appropriately kiss up, but I’m enjoying her stories immensely so far.


I also want to read a lot of Roddy Doyle, who I discovered on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast recently. I’ve read his first novel, The Commitments, but want to read more of his stories as well. I just started a recent novel of his, The Guts, trying to read it alongside other things (like Nelson), which I’m horrible at doing.

Joseph Mitchell is very much on the list. I’ve read some of his book My Ears Are Bent which is a collection of his pre-New Yorker journalism, and I just ordered, Up in the Old Hotel, a collection of his journalism for The New Yorker. There’s also a new biography out that is on my wish list for Father’s Day. As a journalist I’d love to (pretentious as it sounds) explore Flint the way he explored New York. I’ll probably re-read Joe Gould’s Secret just because, well, if you’ve ever read it, you’ll know.

I recently met K.M. Zhart, a Flint guy who started the literary journal Old Northwest Review, and I’ve been meaning to read his novel Old Man Outlaw. I’m also planning on reading UM-Flint lecturer Andrew Morton’s award-winning play, Bloom, which I regrettably didn’t see when it was being performed in town.

What do I hope my students read? Everything.


As for last year’s reading list, who knows? You should have seen my general 2015 reading list, which was ambitious enough to include among other things, everything by David Foster Wallace. That’s a mountain I’ll be climbing for a while.

Steve Bernstein
My reading plans are only slowly coming into focus, but so far I want to finish a book of literary theory, Caroline Levine’s Forms, and then move onto Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence (which my wife has encouraged me to read for many summers).  I’m also hoping to squeeze in volume 1 of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle so I’ll know what all the buzz is about.

My goal last summer was to complete my two-summer project of reading Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.  I did it!  Proust is amazing, and really: just read him.


But my recommendations this summer are these: anything by Norman Rush and/or Alice Munro, two of the best contemporary writers around.  For Rush, especially Mating, and for Munro, especially Runaway.Runaway






Our alum Bryon Quertermous Hits the Big Time!

1 Apr

indexCongratulations to UM-Flint English Department alum Bryon Quertermous, who is getting a lot of praise for his new novel Murder Boy.  From the Amazon summary:

Dominick Prince is out of options. He’s lived in Detroit long enough to use his experiences of crime and poverty to fuel his writing, but he’s ready to move on to bigger and better things. Dominick’s thesis advisor, the elitist Parker Farmington, refuses to let Dominick pass his class, thinking the genre of potboilers beneath him. Which means rather than becoming the next literary sensation, Dominick will spend his life asking customers if they’d like fries with that. And if that’s the only plan, kidnapping doesn’t seem like such a bad plan B.

So if Farmington won’t pass him willfully, Dominick will make him do it forcefully. And once he has Farmington’s signature, fame and fortune are within Dominick’s grasp. But while Dominick may have a devious and brilliant mind on the page, in reality he’s more Betty White than Walter White. And before he can write ’the plot thickens,’ Dominick’s plan begins to go horribly wrong. Teaming with Farmington’s jilted mistress and her loose-cannon bounty hunter brother, Dominick finds that if even the best laid plans go awry, then his doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. And being a great writer won’t matter much if he’s six feet under.

Read more about Bryon here.

Today’s Exceptional Educator

28 Mar

According to The University of Iowa, this person is MAELL student and Saginaw Arts and Science Academy English teacher Jared Morningstar!

English Majors – Thinking about Careers? Sigma Tau Delta Wants to Help!

4 Mar


My Salad Bowl Speaks to Me:

1 Mar

The Conversation that Built America

by Taylor Mata

As I stood in my kitchen making latkes this evening, I realized why I am constantly disillusioned with America. I am an American, and there are few other places in the world I would choose to live. I grew up as all of us in the American public school system did: saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning after singing the national anthem, America the Beautiful, or that relatively new one that nobody seems to know the name of but generally prefer to the Star Spangled Banner. I learned of American history starting way back with the history of the Native American peoples and the importance of diversity, the melting pot we take for granted, or as I prefer to call it, the salad bowl. I don’t have a problem with that.

I, and more literally the farm-to-table movement, have a problem with America’s near-complete disregard for the amount of work that goes into making a salad. Salads can have as many different components as you please, and dressings can get even more inventive. Some people like sweet, light salads, and others like them heavy and filling. Still, we can all agree on two things: a salad has a base vegetable and comes in a bowl. But what base ingredient do you choose? And where did the bowl come from? These are the questions we need to be asking.

Thankfully for us, the bowl was already there. One can argue for days about how the bowl itself got there, but we all know that bowls have to be crafted somehow. It didn’t just pop up out of nowhere into a perfect bowl-shape. It was kept in pristine condition by the Native American peoples for hundreds of years before Europeans even arrived here. America, the land that constitutes it, is our bowl, and good God, have we taken the liberty in filling it. In fact, our salad bowl started by stealing a bowl to make our salad in, dumping out the vast majority of whatever contents the true owners of the bowl had in it, and shooing them away. It alone doesn’t seem like a great salad at this point, and it wasn’t.


And then came the base ingredient, the greens. Greens don’t just magically appear in your stolen bowl, you know. They have to come from somewhere, planted and grown from seeds over time, and in this salad’s case, they came from words. The soil for the greens, chock-full of nutrients and moisture, came from a great literary farmer, giver of life to words, John Milton who called for a country without a monarch, a true republic in which people worked together on a quest for the best and truth. Milton campaigned for years for the cause of a more democratic England, and for a while, the possibility seemed quite real. In Aeropagitica, a speech intended for parliament, he fertilized the soil by calling for the removal of censorship. Milton’s words were rich and powerful, the kind of words that move mountains. His imagery caused the English people to think, spur them on in their own quests for progress. He fought the doubts of those who hesitated to till the soil in his reactive Eikonoklastes (or in layman’s terms, ‘breaker of the icon’), a reactionary piece written to combat the guilt-tripping and ill-founded arguments of the dethroned and executed King Charles I in Eikon Basilike (or, ‘icon of the King).

For a while, it worked. The English people were motivated for change, ready to work with this earth that Milton had laid. But some ideas are too new, and after struggling for so long, the English were not able to plant on the ground they had worked so hard to till. Milton watched in dismay as the English turned back to monarchy and his ground was barren. Yes, the soil had once been tilled by the English, but all-too-quickly was prevented from being planted in, and lay for over 100 years unused.


Then another literary farmer, Thomas Paine, came along and found this ground, its owner dead and gone, and started to revive it. He saw how rich the soil had been, how many nutrients were available for use, and he became the first to converse with Milton over the centuries. He tilled the ground once more, planted the seeds of revolution with his pamphlets like Common Sense and The Rights of Man, and stood proudly as people became attracted to the idea. Soon, everyone was reading these words and more and more people eyed the soil, seeing its merit. Our forefathers like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock tended these greens, evident in their addition to the conversation, The Declaration of Independence. The armies of George Washington harvested these greens, and the result was the first United States of American people, the greens, the base of our salad to be added to by those very same chefs and those who would come to seek this fresh salad bowl with so much potential.


And then came the real form of collaborative cooking. For hundreds of years we, the American people, have been adding ingredients and uproarious conversations have occurred about what can go into this bowl, what spot the ingredients can have in the bowl, just how prominent those ingredients are allowed to be in the bowl, and if the flavor really fits with the kind of salad we are trying to make here. Abraham Lincoln chided the American recipe for how much trouble it had brought upon the American people in his famous Ghettysburg Address.  Then one hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for the recipe to be changed to include and represent all of America when he spoke in Washington D.C. and gave the uproariously popular speech, I Have A Dream. Even now, Americans are working hard to adjust the American recipe in their protests on inequality, not necessarily realizing that the words they preach have a lineage that reaches back further than America itself. This salad has been in production longer than we really acknowledge, and the same arguments about ingredient inclusion we are having today have happened before.


Perhaps this is why I enjoy cooking so much – probably even more than I enjoy eating which is hardly possible. Knowing where things come from is amazing. It makes everything that much more important. Chefs and psychologists alike have always said that the way to ensure a child will eat is to get them involved in the cooking conversation, to show them where their food comes from, because they will then be invested in the food. Greens are great, but when you know the where the farm is and what the farmer does and the how the workers brought those greens to rest in your bowl, isn’t that salad much more important to you?


It puzzles me that knowing this is not important to some. It confuses me that the words that created the base of our salad don’t matter to some, just the fact that there is a base and that there is a salad is enough. It doesn’t make sense to me that people believe the conversation of including ingredients in our salad has ended, was finalized ages ago, and they don’t want to continue. They just want to eat. Without the cooking conversation there would be no salad. Isn’t that important?


Looking at the foundations, I am far less disillusioned. When my salad speaks to me, and I speak back by adding the herbs I’ve grown, I come to actually respect something instead of taking it for granted. I am then proud of my salad bowl.

And so, as a person who used to want to be a chef, I’ve relegated cooking to my spare time to become an expert in the conversations that build, like the conversation that built America, the conversation that is still building America: words.



Photo sources:

Murder in the Writing Center??

25 Feb

Of course, you might think it was only a matter of time.

Seriously, recent English graduate Adam Beardslee has a detective/suspense novel available via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. You can “Look Inside” to get a preview here. The murder doesn’t quite happen in the Writing Center, but the main character does seem to teach at UM-Flint!