English Department

at the University of Michigan-Flint

The Pedagogy of Pilgrimage

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The academic field of English literature is disappearing for lack of workers:  fewer students are declaring English as a major, causing literature faculty to pick up work in other disciplines.  But perhaps our field is merely going through a fallow phase.  Maybe we are being called to push aside, for the time being, our books

As You Like Flint

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Since the water crisis hit Flint, researchers and journalists have tried to tell Flint’s story. Outsiders have capitalized in one way or another off the tragedy that effected the city’s people. Due to many stories revolving around Flint and its misfortunes, researchers and reporters have sent out a message that plagues Flint with a bad

Howling in the Voice God Gave Me

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No one was making me go to church when I returned except, perhaps, John Milton, the English poet, revolutionary, and blind composer of Paradise Lost. I had been an undergrad at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and was nearing the end of a Ph.D. at Boston College—another Jesuit school to round off my Catholic

Super Shakespeare with Propeller Theater’s All Male Cast

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Saturday, February, 23, 2013: a group of nearly seventy UM-Flint students and their guests headed south to Ann Arbor, MI, to take in two Shakespeare plays performed by Propeller, an all-male theater company from England. The 2pm performance of Twelfth Night and the 7:30pm Taming of the Shrew were both wonderful examples of how well

Living Learning, A Labor of Love

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            In Love’s Labor’s Lost, an early comedy by William Shakespeare that, like so many of his plays, is peopled with highly literate characters (“bookmen”) and illiterate “clowns” who say of the Latin sprinkled language of their social betters:  “They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol’n the scraps.”  Many of Shakespeare’s

Teaching the “Ruinaissance” in Flint, Michigan

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             I am teaching a course in the poetry of Edmund Spenser and John Milton to students at the University of Michigan-Flint.  The course attempts to expose students to the idea that the English literary tradition was built by pens and heads sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions, and having

“What Would Moses Do?”: Some Notes on the “Mysteries” of Teaching

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            I have always loved the early-modern use of the word “mysterie” to denote “a craft, art, trade, or profession.”  It is, in fact, the second definition of the word in the OED where we learn that it began life describing ministerial occupations like the priesthood (Chaucer), matured through use to include all trades—hangman included

In Defense of the Humanities: Literature Students Speak

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In Defense of the Humanities The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?” The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?” The graduate with a management degree asks, “How much will it cost?” The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?” For humanities majors,

Learning is a Love Experience: A Letter to My American Students about My Students in Semey, Kazakhstan

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“So, where you folks headed?” asked the driver of the Avis Rent-A-Car shuttle at Metro Airport in Detroit, as he hefted our six overstuffed duffels onto the bus. “Northeast Kazakhstan.” Blank stare.  “Well, it’s southern Siberia.” “HA!  So, what’d you do wrong?”  By that time, this man’s wisecrack was an old joke, but we laughed