Archive by Author

It’s Summer Reading Time! (if summer ever comes)

10 Apr

Once upon a time there was a series of blog posts that demonstrated that English Department faculty did other things besides write syllabi and take too long returning student work.  Now, after far too long a break, Who Are These People, Anyway? returns with shocking revelations about what we plan to read this summer as well as, in some cases, what we hope you’ll peruse.  If this doesn’t slake your thirst for faculty peculiarities, feel free to read back over the entire WATPA? archive – if you dare!

Scott Atkinson
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, by Michael Finkel
A fantastic nonfiction book that follows a man who spoke a total of one syllable over the course of 27 years while he hid in the main woods. In that time he became a living urban legend, a master thief who subsisted on the groceries he stole from local vacation cabins. After being caught, one reporter delved into his story and found that he might have been the most alone human being on the planet. A great read for anyone going camping–it will make them tempted to never come back.

The Heather Blazing, by Colm Toibin
Almost done with this, and I love it. It’s tough to say why. Not much happens. People die. The protagonist, if I heard about him on the news, would be someone I would probably hate. And yet I keep following him around these pages. A quiet, beautiful novel.

Planning to read
King of the World, by David Remnick
Combine my weird passion for combat sports with my huge journalism crush on New Yorker editor David Remnick (his Talk of the Town essays might be the only thing getting me through the Trump era) and I’m looking forward to reading this.

One of Charles Yu’s story collections. I don’t even know what they’re titled, but I’ve been meaning to ever since I read his story “Fable” in the New Yorker, and almost fell out of my chair laughing, then crying.

James Schirmer
For the summer

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
  • Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing by Daniel Tammet
  • Educated by Tara Westover

For students

  • Field Notes From a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
  • I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong

Kazuko Hiramatsu
This summer, I’m planning to read Amy Tan’s Where the Past Begins and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give.

W. Kamau Bell

For students:
A few books that I’ve read in the past few months that I enjoyed include:
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Endurance by Scott Kelly

D. J. Trela
One of the first stories that made me cry was E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I still admire this book more than fifty years after I first read it. So I’m looking forward to reading the book about the book, Michael Sims’ The Story of Charlotte’s Web. White was fascinated by nature from an early age, lived much of his adult life in the countryside on a working farm, and invested his animals with both natural characteristics and human neuroses.

In preparation for development of an introductory course on science fiction, I also expect to read broadly in this genre, from originating works by Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and George Orwell, 1984, as well as more recent authors like Asimov, Foundation, Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Octavia Butler, Kindred.

Stephanie Roach
A good portion of my summer reading happens when I can sit in a beach chair at the ocean.  I take a yearly trip to Maryland with my cousin and our entire agenda is soaking in the restorative salt and sand of the ocean—and racking up as many hours of uninterrupted reading as we can.  Friends and family who know that I tend to read six to eight hours at a time when I’m at the beach, gift me books throughout the year so that I build up quite a stack of options.  They know I’m always on the lookout for smart and witty reads and that I’m a sucker for a debut novel.  That current stack has books like The Dry (Jane Harper), The Gunners (Rebecca Kauffman), and Woman #17 (Edan Lepucki).  I can hardly wait to put my toes in the sand and start poring through the stack.

Dave Larsen
If I get to half of these, I’ll be happy.  I have big hopes. The Tom McGuane thing is just me getting around to an author I’ve been curious about for a while.

Thomas McGuane

Tom McGuane Books (some essays, some short stories, a novel):
Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing
Outside Chance
Sporting Club
Crow Fair

John Gierach, A Fly Rod of Your Own

Habit of Rivers, edited by Ted Leeson
Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing, edited by Robert DeMott.

I don’t have a particular reading recommendation for students. I  recommend finding an author and diving in.  See what they’re about. Find someone new to you.  If, after reading some of their work, you don’t like it, move on.

Steve Bernstein
Two years ago I got rid of hundreds of books, but in the time since I’ve amassed a small pile of (mercifully) short new ones to taunt me.  These are gifts or recommendations, though I couldn’t necessarily tell you who or what pointed me toward each one.  I hope I get through the whole stack:

Tarjei Vesaas – The Birds
Lisa Halliday – Asymmetry
Ian McEwan – On Chesil Beach
Natasha Pulley – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Claire-Louise Bennett – pond
Mathias Énard – Compass
Rachel Cusk – Kudos  (not in my stack, but out June 5; the conclusion of the fascinating Outline trilogy)

Short Stories
Peter Orner – Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
Stephanie Carpenter – Missing Persons

Jana Prikryl – The After Party
Mai Der Vang – Afterland

James Elkins – What Heaven Looks Like
Kassia St. Clair – The Secret Lives of Color
Alexander Nehamas – Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art


And recommended:
Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Vol. 1
The most amazing graphic novel in years.  Hurry up, because the concluding second volume is coming this October.

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
A beautiful, funny, and moving novel about grief.  What’s not to like?

Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City: Poems
Graber is a conversational poet whose poems thrive on juxtaposition and connection.  Here’s one of them.  This is a stellar collection – just read her!

Mary Jo Kietzman
Summer reading (for fun):
George Eliot, Adam Bede
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles (again)
Orhan Pamuk, A Strangeness in My Mind
Owen Lattimore, The Desert Road to TurkestanTerence
O’Donnell, Garden of the Brave in War:  Recollections of Iran

Recommendations for students:
Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and one book of poetry … Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III or James Fenton’s Out of Danger

On behalf of the UM-Flint English Department,
Happy Reading, and Have a Great Summer!

New Scholarship by Prof. Feuerherm!

21 Apr

Loring & Ramanathan Discount Flyer

New: Earn a TESOL Certificate!

10 Mar

This fall the Linguistics Program will begin offering a new 15-hour certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  Now you can earn this valuable and highly portable credential right here at UM-Flint, and in only four classes!

TESOL Certificate purple handout


Professor Emily Feuerherm has co-edited a new book!

17 Dec

Feuerherm BookCongratulations to our colleague on an important publication!  This volume brings together scholars from various disciplines to discuss how language is used by, for and about refugees in the United States in order to deepen our understanding of what ‘refugee’ and ‘resettlement’ mean. The book will be of interest to researchers of applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, anthropology and cultural studies.

“In an era of unprecedented forced migration, this book provides valuable and timely insights into how refugees in the US are impacted by the discourses, policy and education practices they encounter. The research-based chapters offer ways to rethink assumptions and ideologies surrounding refugees, so often positioned as victims and a burden on institutions. A readable and important book.” – Jenny Miller, Monash University, Australia

For a limited time you may order this title at a discount – using the form you can download here.

Call for Papers: Clement S. Stacy Undergraduate Research Conference

7 Dec

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences of Purdue University Calumet is pleased to announce the 24th Annual Clement S. Stacy Memorial Undergraduate Research Conference, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, 2016 at Courtyard Marriott Hotel, near the campus in Hammond Indiana.

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.  Information about the abstract submission guidelines, deadline, and conference details can be found at our Clement S. Stacy Memorial Undergraduate Research Conference web page. UM-Flint English majors are likely writing and preparing course-related projects this month which would be excellent material to submit for inclusion in this spring’s conference.

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 ( 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:, subject line “Undergraduate conference abstract submission.”
  • Questions can be submitted to: Abigail Palko (

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:

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