Tuesday, December 23, 2008

End of Year Giving

It isn't too late to earn a tax deduction and to help the English Department be the best it can be during 2009. Your contribution directly supports literature and the arts at GW.

Follow this link to contribute. Please make sure you check the last category, "Other," and designate the English Department.

Thank you ... and best wishes for the new year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Free gifts via Facebook

If you are on Facebook, you may want to check out a new way to give GW English gifts. What could be better in these dismal economic times than virtual tchokes that cost you $0.00? Is the English Department good to you or what?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inauguration Poet's GW Connection

Every president should commence a term in office with poetry.

The arts are too often separated from government, and for no good reason. Only two presidents have invited poets to read from their work during inauguration: John. F. Kennedy (Robert Frost) and Bill Clinton (Maya Angelou, Miller Williams).

Good news: Barack Obama has likewise named an inaugural poet, Elizabeth Alexander. A professor of African American studies at Yale and a DC native, Alexander's creative work seems intimately connected to her research and teaching.

Elizabeth Alexander is also the daughter of Adele Alexander, a popular professor of history right here at GW.

You can find a selection of Elizabeth Alexander's poetry here. I'll paste one poem ("Islands Number Four," its title taken from the work of Agnes Martin), from Alexander's renowned collection Antebellum Dream Book.

Islands Number Four


Agnes Martin, Islands Number Four,
Repeated ovals on a grid, what appears
To be perfect is handmade, disturbed.
Tobacco brown saturates canvas to burlap,
Clean form from a distance, up close, her hand.
All wrack and bramble to oval and grid.
Hollows in the body, containers for grief.
What looks to be perfect is not perfect.

Odd oval portholes that flood with light.


Description of a Slave Ship, 1789:
Same imperfect ovals, calligraphic hand.
At a distance, pattern. Up close, bodies
Doubled and doubled, serried and stacked
In the manner of galleries in a church,
In full ships on their sides or on each other
Isle of woe, two-by-two, spoon-fashion,
Not unfrequently found dead in the morning.
Slave-ships, the not-pure, imperfect ovals,
Portholes through which they would never see home,
The flesh rubbed off their shoulders, elbows, hips.
Barracoon, sarcophagus, indestructible grief
Nesting in the hollows of the abdomen.
The slave-ship empty, its cargo landed
And sold for twelve ounces of gold a-piece

Or gone overboard. Islands. Aftermath.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Sister Rosetta's Stone"

Read all about why this gravestone matters at the website for Professor Gayle Wald's Shout, Sister, Shout!

An excerpt:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the pioneering gospel musician and instrumentalist, finally has a gravestone marking her resting place at Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. Since her passing in 1973, the gravesite of Sister Rosetta had been a barren plot lacking any memorial. Today, a beautiful, rose-colored monument bears respect to one of America’s most influential artists of the 20th Century.

Sister Rosetta’s monument was partially funded by a benefit concert at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA on January 11, 2008, that featured performances by gospel and spiritual music legends—The Dixie Hummingbirds, Odetta, Marie Knight, Willa Ward, The Johnny Thompson Singers, and The Huff Singers. Additional financial contributions were provided by Philadelphia’s Rhythm & Blues Foundation, and the Blues Foundation in Memphis ...

The inscription on the gravestone is from the eulogy by Roxie Moore (living in Baltimore), and the stone was produced by Wertheimer-Liberty Monuments of Southampton, PA. The text reads:

March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973
“Sister Rosetta”
Gospel Music Legend

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Professor James Miller Wins Fulbright

From the latest issue of By George!:
In January, James Arthur Miller, chair of GW’s Department of American Studies and professor of English and American studies, will leave for University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will collaborate with a colleague on a course on black Atlantic literature. Dr. Miller explains the subject involves exploring the ways black writers and “expressive culture,” such as film, music, and the visual arts, and its themes have traveled around the world.

“I anticipate that my research and teaching at the University of Witwatersrand will lead me in new directions when I return to GW, and it will certainly shape my current work,” says Dr. Miller.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Margaret Soltan on the BBC

Those of you who read University Diaries know that our own Margaret Soltan was recently interviewed by the BBC about Norman Maclean.

You can listen to her interview here (scroll down a bit).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Attention Alumni: Edward P Jones Event Just for You


Conversation and Reception with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Edward P. Jones

Wednesday, February 18 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Alumni House @ 1918 F Street, NW

Washington, D.C.

Please join Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and spring 2009 Wang Visiting Professor in Contemporary English Literature, and four renowned GW professors, for a lively conversation about The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004, this beautiful and heartbreaking novel follows the complicated history that unfolds around a Virginia plantation, owned by a former slave who has purchased slaves of his own. A meditation upon racism, humanity, memory, and the power of art, The Known World is a fantastic book.

Faculty members from the Departments of English, American Studies, Political Science and History examine what their disciplines have to say to Edward P. Jones's work. Mr. Jones himself will respond, then join in the free-ranging discussion. A book signing and reception will follow.

The cost of this program starts at $8 and includes the conversation and reception. Advance registration is required and space is limited.


Tyler Anbinder is Chair and Professor of History. Professor Tyler is an expert on the American Civil War and its legacy.

Elisabeth Anker is Assistant Professor of American Studies. Professor Anker's research interests focus on the connections between American politics, philosophy and culture.

Jennifer James is an Associate Professor of English. Professor James teaches African American literature and has written about 19th century African American literature of slavery and the Civil War.

Edward P. Jones is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and the spring 2009 Wang Visiting Professor in Contemporary English Literature.

Forrest Maltzman is Chair and Professor of Political Science. Professor Maltzman studies legislative and judicial decision-making.

Sponsored by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the GW Alumni Association

The English Department Thanks Those Who Contributed to Its First Annual Drive

Our sincere gratitude to the following alumni who contributed to our departmental mission last month:
  • Michael Y. Bennett (2002)
  • Winston Eldridge (1985)
  • Dr. Richard M. Flynn (1987)
  • Dr. Robin Meader (1992)
  • Laura A. Springer (1997)
  • Mr. John George Sussek (1979)
We will mail a copy of Edward P. Jones's novel The Known World to each of our November contributors as a small token of gratitude.

The generosity of alumni, parents, and departmental friends throughout the fall semester means that the English Department has been able to put into place new programs and courses that we would otherwise be able only to dream about. Total fall semester contributions totaled $31,400. These funds will be used to introduce a new course that brings authors to campus to visit the class in which their works are being taught; enable visits to GW by writers like Michael Chabon and Art Spiegelman; encourage undergraduates to engage in research projects and travel to their first conferences; enable faculty to initiate new research and present their work; sustain our graduate program, our community outreach, and our contributions to GW's intellectual life.

To each and every supporter we say THANK YOU. Your philanthropy transforms us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We Really Did Give Away 1000 Books at the Marvin Center yesterday ...

... but if you missed out and are not so benighted that you have no interest in reading The Known World by Edward P. Jones come to the English Department main office (Academic Center, Rome Hall 760) right away. We have a few copies that we are willing to part with. They even come with a snazzy bookmark. But hurry!

Friday, December 5, 2008

English Department to Award $500 for Best Student Poem This Spring

Through the generosity of a GW donor, the English Department will hold a competition this spring for the best student poem. The contest will be open to all students, graduate and undergraduate, regardless of major. We will award this substantial prize annually for the next five years.

So, get writing.

[image from here]

New Facebook Page. Also, Old Facebook Page.

If you want to keep up via Facebook with all things related to the Edward P. Jones residency, join this group.

And in case you've only recently emerged from a cave on a deserted island and/or have just been released after long abduction by alien beings of uncertain but unwholesome intent, the English Department at GW also has Facebook page, and you should have become a fan of it long ago. Seventy other fans cannot be wrong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Edward P. Jones Residency: Some Dates to Remember

  • December 10 (10 a.m. - 1 p.m): One thousand copies of The Known World will be given away for FREE in the Marvin Center
  • January 29 (5 PM) Edward P. Jones Inaugural Reading, introduced by GW President Steven Knapp (Jack Morton Auditorium, School of Media and Public Affairs)
  • February 18 (6:30 PM) "Knowing The Known World: A Faculty Panel Featuring Edward P. Jones." This is a special event for GW alumni and will be held at Alumni House. Preregistration required through the Alumni Association.
  • March 23 (6 PM) Edward P. Jones introduces Michael Chabon (Jack Morton Auditorium, SMPA)
  • April 22 (5 PM) Concluding Q&A with Edward P. Jones (Phillips 411, Academic Center)
Although this event does not involve Mr. Jones, you will also want to attend:
  • April 2 (8 PM) Art Spiegelman on "Comix" (Jack Morton Auditorium, SMPA)
With the exception of "Knowing The Known World," all these events are free and open to anyone who would like to attend. Edward P. Jones will be in residence in the English Department at GW as the first Wang Visiting Professor of Contemporary English Literature during the spring semester of 2009. We thank the Wang family for their generosity. Support for the visits of Michael Chabon and Art Spiegelman has been graciously extended by David Bruce Smith. The English Department is extremely grateful for such alumni philanthropy.

"The Homesick Restaurant"

Former GW-British Council Writer in Residence Nadeem Aslam has a beautiful little story in the New York Times magazine entitled "The Homesick Restaurant." Check it out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Congratulations Constance Kibler!

Connie Kibler, without whom the day to day running of the English Department would be impossible, celebrates thirty five years of service to GW today. She was presented with a plaque at a special luncheon (to which she was accompanied by a VERY handsome date).

Congratulations, Connie!

Campus Wide Read and Book Giveaway

GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will give away 1,000 copies of The Known World by Edward P. Jones. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Washington, D.C., resident, Mr. Jones is the first Wang Visiting Professor in Contemporary English Literature. He will be in residence in the English Department during the entire spring semester of 2009.

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to read the book and participate in a series of campus events, starting with an inaugural reading by the author at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009, in Jack Morton Auditorium, which is free and open to the public.

Get your copy of the book on Wednesday, Dec. 10 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Marvin Center, 800 21st St., N.W., Washington, D.C.