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Letter from the Chair

As we venture into the Spring 2017 semester, many of us are wondering how to deal with an uncertain future, for public education in general and for Hunter in particular. At times like this, the resources we find in the study of literature, language, and rhetoric can help us understand the world around us. As close readers, we are well prepared to pay significant attention to the ways that language is being used and misused, as well as to craft our own words in response. As scholars of history and culture, we can take a longer view on current events, and look to literary texts of all kinds to analyze our contemporary situation (It’s no coincidence that George Orwell’s 1984 has catapulted to the top of best-seller lists, particularly since Orwell was a harsh and clear-eyed critic of the linguistic obfuscation that characterizes political life  —take a look at his essay “Politics and the English Language,” for his analysis of how ideology can bend language and meaning).

We can also re-engage with texts that inspire and encourage us. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Zitkala-Sa’s autobiographies show us not just that education and determination can change people’s lives, but also that individual lives are interwoven with communities, and it is in those collectivities that we can find strength and comfort. Geoffrey Chaucer, Ralph Ellison, James Joyce, and Zadie Smith remind us that experimentation, curiosity, joy, and a healthy appreciation of the absurd are intrinsic to any serious social analysis. And never underestimate the power of poetry — from John Milton to June Jordan, Gerard Manley Hopkins to Marie Howe, Emily Dickinson to Claudia Rankine — to nourish our spirits, sharpen our minds, and allow us to think beyond the here and now.

More immediately, I encourage our majors and graduate students to see the English department as a safe haven for conversations of all kinds. Faculty are here to challenge you, to support you, and to collaborate with you to define what it means to be a reader, a writer, a member of the college community, and a citizen. Drop by faculty office hours. Come to my open hours (listed below). Engage with each other both inside and outside of the classroom. And don’t forget, as Audre Lorde — Hunter alumna, former faculty member, poet, native New Yorker, and daughter of immigrants — instructs us: "poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought."

This is your department, so feel free to drop by my open hours: Monday 2-4pm, Tuesday 9am-1pm, and Thursday 3-5pm.

Best,
Sarah Chinn

Welcome to the department's new Blanche Colton Williams Lounge:

 

Faculty News & Accomplishments

We encourage you to read Professor Allen Strouse's recent Inside Higher Ed article, titled "Why We Need Greater Linguistic Diversity"

Erika Luckert, adjunct lecturer of composition in the English Department, has won the 2017 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest. A reading by the winners will be held on May 8, 2017 at 8pm at the 92Y, Lexington Avenue and 92nd Street, Buttenwieser Hall: $10 admission.

Professor Meena Alexander has recently published an interesting article in a special edition of PMLA on 'Literature in the World,' titled "Phenomenology of Passage."

The Caribbean Philosophical Association has awarded Professor Jeremy Glick with The Nicolas Guillen Philosophical Literature Prize for his book The Black Radical Tragic.
We are proud to announce that Professor Angela Reyes has won the 2016 Edward Sapir Book Prize of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA) for her book Discourse Analysis: Beyond the Speech Event. The Sapir Book Prize "is awarded to a book that makes the most significant contribution to our understanding of language in society, or the ways in which language mediates historical or contemporary sociocultural processes." 
Congratulations to Professor Leigh Jones who has published her book titled
From Boys to Men: Rhetorics of Emergent American Masculinityto great praise.

From Boys to Men offers an accessible, engaging, richly detailed rhetorical history
that will be of use to any student or teacher of rhetoric interested in US history,
national identity, or gender construction.  Its cogent exploration of how organizations
for boys promoted idealized, racialized, and class-based masculine development amidst
the pressures of national development brings essential depth to ongoing scholarly
conversations in rhetorical studies.”  —Christa J. Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Congratulations to Professor Jeremy Glick on the success of his new book, The Black Radical Tragic:
Performance, Aesthetics, and the Unfinished Haitian Revolution
.

Political philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek has written a compelling and
commendatory review of the new book. See: LA Review of Books.

Professor Nunez's recent memoir, Not For Everyday Use 
has won the Hurst/Wright Legacy Award.

“What I discovered was how colonialism really affected us —
us doubting our identity. This is something that everybody
wants to know: What is my identity? Everyone tries to work
that out through their lives. When your identity is so defined
by the other, the struggle is between how the other has framed
your identity and what you know is not your identity. So what is it?”
- Elizabeth Nunez

Congratulations to Professor Paul McPherron whose book Cat Got Your Tongue? Teaching Idioms to English Learnersco-written with Patrick T. Randolph, is a bestseller for TESOL Press.

Praise for Cat Got Your Tongue?

"It is clear that McPherron and Randolph truly wish to impart to their readers all of their 
expertise and passion for idioms in order to improve how English language learners from 
around the world acquire idioms.  
Cat Got Your Toungue? serves as a complete guide for 
teaching idioms, and is easy to reade and peruse.  With excellent definitions, reviews, 
activities, materials, and references, this book is all a teacher needs to become well-prepared 
to effectively teach idioms."
-Judith C. Bridges, University of South Florida

Poet and Creative Writing intructor Davida Singer has published her new collection of poetry,
 naked romance and then some.

Praise for naked romance and then some:

"Davida Singer is a love gangster, a trickster. Writing in her honey drawl for all she’s worth. 
Writing with a passion so indomitable it will keep you hungering for one more poem. 
Like Lorca, she dreams that we are all love songs waiting to be read aloud. 
This book is naked romance, and then some."
Frank London, Grammy Award-winning trumpeter / composer 
(The Klezmatics, Klezmer Brass Allstars)

We are thrilled to announce that Trace Peterson's Transgender Poetry Course was featured on PBS News Hour The course number was ENGL 32257 for the Fall 2015 semester.
We encourage you to read Professor Meena Alexander's interview in The Statesman, for her many interesting insights about the life and work of a contemporary poet.  Below you will also find an interview with her that was aired on CUNY TV:

 

Student News & Accomplishments

Congratulations to Hunter English alumnus, Leopoldine Core, who received
the 2015 Whiting Award for Fiction for her story collection, When Watched,
which has just been published by Penguin Books.
It is an honor to announce that former Hunter Creative Writing student, 
Ruby Huston-Ellenberg, debuted her play, Eve and her Neighbors, at the
Summer 2016 FringeNYC: New York International Fringe Festival.
We are thrilled to announce that English graduate Esra Padgett has published her second article, titled "Duelling Identities: Narrative Strategy and the Construction of Complex Identities in Porn Start Memoirs."
We are excited to share that former Hunter English student, Maxwell Donnewald, has published his essay "The Indescribably Real:Epic Memoir and Barycentric Fiction."
Congratulations to Esra Padgett who published her first article "Feminist Research as Journey (or, Like, Whatever?)" in Young Scholars in Writing, a peer-reviewed journal for undergraduate work in rhetorical studies.
Hunter English graduate, Latifah Salom, published her debut novel, The Cake House to much praise:

"Intense and savagely beautiful, Latifah Salom’s The Cake House grabs you,
then grabs you harder.  The magic of this suburban-gothic literary thriller
is the scale on which it’s done—small and absolutely terrifying.
An accomplished, mesmerizing debut." - Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander 

“Reading The Cake House, I vividly saw the whole edifice rising up
before me, latticework covering a multitude of sins. A wonderful,
chewy, complicated book that doesn't flinch from danger or pain
but rejects despair.” - Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling Temeraire series

Phil Klay, who earned his MFA in Fiction at Hunter College, won the 2014 National Book Award for his debut short story collection, Redeployment. He is also an Honoree on the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 List.

“When I came back from war, one of the things that
happened was that people would ask me what it was
like, and how the war is going. And I generally felt
empowered to answer them. After all, I'd been there.
And yet, each person has such a small piece of the war,
and that piece will be powerfully shaped not only by
when they were there and where in Iraq they were,
but also by what job they did. So rather than writing
a unified novel about the experience of war, I wanted
twelve different voices—voices that would approach
similar themes but from very different perspectives.
Phil Klay in an Interview with writer/editor Rebecca Rubenstein

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