Friday, August 31, 2012

PhD Candidate Lori Brister Delivers Welcome Ceremony Message

Lori Brister, who is completing her PhD in GW's English Department under the direction of Professor Jennifer Green-Lewis, was chosen to deliver the graduate student opening remarks at this year's official Graduate Student Welcome Ceremony.  Lori was introduced by Provost Lerman, and then gave a speech to about 500 new graduate students in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Center Theater.  A crowd of people also gathered around large screens in the Marvin Center, and a lot of people tuned in online.  We even hear there's a video out there somewhere.  Congratulations, Lori.  The text of Lori's remarks follow.


“Hello everyone! Welcome to GW! My name is Lori, and I’m going be your tour guide today.”

I’ve said these words twice a week, every week for two years as a tour guide for prospective and incoming graduate students. I’m sure many of you have taken my tours of campus.  I’ve given those tours when it was 105 degrees outside. I’ve given them in the falling snow. I’ve given tours when I was passionate about my research for my doctoral dissertation, and I’ve given them when I hadn’t slept in days because I was revising an article for publication. That’s the life of a graduate student.  Sometimes it’s exciting; sometimes it’s scary. But it’s always a challenge. I have a quote that hangs above my desk that reads: “Sure, a ship is safe at port, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Ships are built to weather the storms and cross the seas. Ships are made for challenges, and, as humans, so are we. Looking at my own life, I know that I was made for challenges, and if you’re in this room, you were too. My advice to you as a new graduate student is not only to accept the challenge, but to embrace it with enthusiasm.

Firstly, embrace the challenge of contributing to a rigorous intellectual environment. That’s what you’ve come here to do—to learn, to research, to push your boundaries, and to achieve your goals. Secondly, embrace the challenge of engaging with the GW community. Get involved with your department and graduate school. At GW, we’re very proud of our service record. No matter where your interests and talents lie, there’s a student organization that can put those to use, improving our community here on campus and around the globe. Lastly, embrace the challenge of living, really living in this city. DC is an exciting cultural capital. Take the time out of your busy schedules to explore the neighborhoods and attend concerts and lectures. These may not be experiences you can list on a resume, but they fundamentally change the way you think about the world. As a student at GW, I’ve attended events with Nobel laureates, world leaders, Secretaries of State, President Clinton, and President Obama. They all come here for the same reasons you have, because they know that The George Washington University is a place where ideas are exchanged, diversity is valued, and leaders are made.

Normally, this is the part of the tour where I answer your questions and give you directions to the metro station or admissions offices. But you’re already here; you’re already headed in the right direction. Just embrace your challenges and keep moving forward. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Game, Set, MATCH.

Graduate students in GW's English Department have launched a brand new theory reading group.

With the start of classes, they are pleased to announce the first meeting of M.A.T.C.H. (Mobilizing an Active Theory Community in the Humanities), which will be from 5pm to 6pm on Thursday, September 13th. The meeting will commence in the Rome Hall vestibule (1st floor), move to a classroom for introductions and then continue with an hour discussion of the material. Afterwards all are invited to dinner at a local restaurant. 

Contact M Bychowski ( for the reading; aprox. 20 pages from The Queer Art of Failure by Judith "Jack" Halberstam. Halberstam will be visiting GW at the end of the September and a lot more information about that visit will be forthcoming on this blog.  This is a great chance to get familiar with Halberstam's work in advance of his visit!   

M emphasizes that all are invited: "Come if you are anxious about Theory and have questions to share (in a low-pressure setting), excited about Theory and have comments to share, or want to meet people that share similar interests!

Happy reading!"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare at GW

George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English are pleased to announce the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare, a signature program for undergraduate students. The program offers a select group of students a unique opportunity to explore the works of William Shakespeare in a global and multimedia context.

 Program Highlights

  • Take five courses during your freshmen and sophomore years
  • Enjoy small classes and intimate interaction with award-winning professors
  • Subsidized, faculty-led study tour of London and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Meet the head of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and leading scholars and artists in London
  • Attend performances at the Folger Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C.
  • Participate in events at the Folger Shakespeare Library and on campus
  • Take advantage of undergraduate research fellowships
  • Use cutting-edge digital tools for the study of Shakespeare and for creative work

Program Website:


A series of events--free and open to the public--are being planned in conjunction with the Dean's Scholars program. 


Dean’s Lecture on Shakespeare series


Friday September 7 2012, 3:30 pm.  Post Hall, George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Campus; free shuttle available from Foggy Bottom:

Inaugural Dean’s Lecture on Shakespeare by Dr. Gail Kern Paster (Director Emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

Shylock, Othello, and the Theatrical Coding of Difference: Picturing Shakespeare at the Folger 

Images of Shylock and Othello from the Folger image database show how these figures of the Jew and the Moor as Other have been represented since the eighteenth century. These images also show how Shakespeare's plays have been presented for consumption and display. Setting images side by side has great heuristic potential for understanding the theatrical coding of difference in an historical trajectory.  The talk is designed for a broad audience.  It is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception.

A fuller description from our earlier blog post:


Tuesday, November 13 2012 (time and location TBA)

The Culture of the Spectator: Football, Gambling, and Shakespearean Theatre by Dr. Dennis Kennedy (Emeritus Professor and Fellow in Trinity College Dublin, where he held the Samuel Beckett Chair of Drama)

Other events throughout the year. Please visit for updates.

Oct. 26, 2012 Corpus: A Symposium

A symposium on individual and collective bodies: embodiment, sexuality, individuality, universality, corporations, limitations, institutions, resistance.

Confirmed speakers: Marcy Norton, Henry Turner, Lara Farina, Zeb Tortorici

Jan 25, 2013 Digital Shakespeare

April 5, 2013 Ecologies symposium

Friday, August 24, 2012

Professor Huang's latest book -- in German!

GW English professor Alexa Huang's new book on world literature and intercultural theater draws on theories of aesthetic humanism to explain the force of literature in globalization. The aestheticization of politics in the twentieth century has structured political life as an art form of expression.  As a secular investment in shared cultural values, aesthetic humanism has been deployed by artists to counter various practices of subjugation such as colonialism and cultural imperialism that have dominated the recent historical record of globalization. The phenomenon is notable in the translation and adaptation of Shakespearean comedies and sonnets, European reception of Asian performances of Shakespeare, French-Chinese playwright Gao Xingjian, and the satirical and humorous narratives of Lu Xun (whose "Madman's Diary" was used by the literary theorist Fredric Jameson as an example of "national allegory"), Mo Yan, and other writers. This is the case because aesthetic humanism promotes multiple perspectives on the continuously unfolding revolution of modernity. 

The book is part of Alexa's effort to bridge far-flung loci of transnational scholarship, to reach out beyond the Anglo-American academy, and to examine the role of humanism in globalization. The book is available in paperback

Have you fulfilled the language requirement by choosing to study German?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Professor Mallon Reads and Discusses Watergate

With major reviews in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, it would be an understatement to say that Professor Thomas Mallon's latest novel, Watergate, is getting lots of attention.  On Wednesday, September 12, from 6-8 PM, a special event will be held for GW Alumni and others interested in hearing Professor Mallon read from and discuss his work.

The $10 event includes a reception and book signing; books will be available for sale.  "Join your fellow alumni on a journey to the past with all the characters you thought you knew and to the places that hold all the secrets of the scandal," the GW Alumni Office says.  "Enjoy hors d'oeuvres, drinks and a new perspective to an often retold story of scandal and mystery."

The reading will be at the Alumni House, 1918 F Street NW.

Sign up for the event here by clicking on GW Alumni: Continuing the GW Experience.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Renaissance Drama Course for Fall 2012

English Majors! There is still room in this great course for fall taught by Professor Katherine Keller.  It will, of course, fulfill a pre-1700 requirement ... but it will also be one of the best courses you take with us.

Renaissance Drama
ENGL 3810.11
Tues/Thurs 11:10-12:25
Professor Katherine Keller

Shakespeare’s preeminent role in the early modern English theatre has unfortunately overshadowed the work of his extraordinary contemporaries.  Playwrights such as Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlow, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, John Ford and many others successfully and astutely created the theatre in which Shakespeare thrived. Their deconstruction of the human psyche, the human body, and the society and culture of Tudor and Stuart England provides us with an alternative and valuable perspective on their world.  Their plays explore our violent natures and reflect the violence of a society that publicly dismembered its outliers. They chronicle the rise of the middle class and England’s campaign to replace the Italian states as merchant to the world.  They allow us to view a monarchy already sensing the limitations on its powers.  As they dissected the world around them they also entertained and engaged their audience, creating a culture of theatre that has helped to shape our sense of the world.   

We will read seven or eight of these seminal works and examine them through the lens of our time and their own.  If there are appropriate performances we will attend as a group.  Assignments will include papers and essay exams, and, if class size permits, some group work. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gail Paster to Deliver Inaugural Dean's Lecture on Shakespeare

The English Department is pleased to announce one of the very first events of the new academic year.  On Friday, September 7, at 3:30 PM, former GW English professor and Director Emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Gail Kern Paster, will deliver a lecture co-sponsored by the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare Program, directed by Alexa Huang, and the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, directed by Professor Jeffrey Cohen.  This lecture will take place in the Academic Building (Post Hall) of GW's Mount Vernon Campus.

Professor Paster continues her work with the Folger as an editor of Shakespeare Quarterly. A professor of English at GW from 1974 until 2002, she has held fellowships from the Guggenheim and Mellon Foundations. She is the author of three books, most recently Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage, as well as numerous other scholarly publications on early modern drama, with a focus on the cultural history of the body and its emotions. She is currently completing an electronic edition of Twelfth Night for the Norton Shakespeare.

Her talk is entitled "Shylock, Othello, and the Theatrical Coding of Difference: Picturing Shakespeare at the Folger." Images of Shylock and Othello from the Folger image database show how these figures of the Jew and the Moor as Other have been represented since the eighteenth century.  These images also show how they have been presented for consumption and display. Setting images side by side has great heuristic potential for understanding the theatrical coding of difference in an historical trajectory.  The talk is designed for a broad audience.  It is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception. 

Part of the purpose of this event is to welcome the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare to GW.  Students in this new two-year, 16-credit program will be residing in Cole Hall and taking courses on Mount Vernon.

The Dean's Lecture on Shakespeare series will feature distinguished Shakespearean scholars and directors each year to bring cutting-edge works to the campus.

*NOTE: this is an updated post.  This announcement contains a new title and description for Professor Paster's planned presentation.*