Dead Poets Society Holds Inaugural Meeting

No, there was no secret cave, and no, it wasn’t just a bunch of sheltered prep school boys. But Whitman was read, and Lincoln was mentioned…

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Dr. Marcia McDonald reads from “The Wanderer”

Last Friday morning a group of students and faculty met to read poems related to the theme of “Home and Exile” in anticipation of the next week’s Humanities Symposium. After memorializing the building that used to sit on the site (our old home, Wheeler Humanities), Dr. David Curtis got the main event started by reading Edgar Albert Guest’s “Home.”

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Max Mason lays down some Blake

By the end of the 45-minute session, participants had read poems by William Blake, Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Butler Yeats, Claude McKay, Anne Sexton, Jack Gilbert, Emma Lazarus, Walt Whitman, Philip Larkin, Kenneth Burke, and even Abraham Lincoln.

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The next meeting of the Dead Poets Society will be in the old Aviary on October 20, when we’ll be celebrating the poetry of–and about–Edgar Allan Poe.

Dr. Murray is Visiting Fellow at Chawton House Library

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Chawton House

During the month of June, Dr. Murray is a Visiting Fellow at the Chawton House Library in Hampshire, England.  The Chawton estate was owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward, and she revised or drafted all six of her novels in a cottage in Chawton village. During the last two decades, Edward’s manor house has become a preeminent center for the study of women’s writing from 1600-1830.

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Professor Murray in the Fellows Reading Room

Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive Launches

By Victoria Pan

For many students, technology and literature exist in two separate spheres, often in opposition to each other. However, for students working on The Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive, this isn’t the case. For these students, led by Dr. Marcia McDonald, Dr. Joel Overall, and Dr. Jayme Yeo over the past year, technology is a means to preserve and learn from artistry found in Nashville.

These students, separated into five groups, were in charge of video editing, interviews, compiling text, and synthesizing information. The project currently encompasses the Nashville Shakespeare Company’s performance of Comedy of Errors and will also include the Hamlet performance coming in the spring of 2018. Their work divides plays into four sections: directing, songwriting, acting, and costuming. The impressive results of all of their hard work can be found at https://shakespeare.belmont.edu/.

However, all of this was inspired by and made possible with the help of Dr. Laura Estill, editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography and Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University. During her keynote speech on April 21, she spoke about what inspired her work. Her focus, she said, is in the digital humanities: an ever-fluid field that studies humanities through digital means and specializes in the ways online sources assist and expand scholarship. Shakespeare, in particular, already was a digital phenomenon before the creation of the World Shakespeare Bibliography, and this is only becoming more and more evident. For Dr. Estill, technology helps to bridge the gap between the then of the Elizabethan era with the now of today. Continue reading “Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive Launches”

Dr. McDowell Delivers Simmons Lecture

by Amanda Nicklaus

On Monday, April 17, students and faculty gathered in the Massey Boardroom to listen to Dr. Gary McDowell speak as part of the Robert E. Simmons Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series. The Series, named in memory of the former Dean of the School of Humanities and Education, provides faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences an opportunity to share significant research with colleagues. Simmons Lecturers are chosen based on a “high level of teaching and level of accomplishments,” according to current Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Bryce Sullivan. McDowell certainly fits this description. Holding a Ph.D. in American literature, creative writing, and poetry, he is an accomplished author, with publications including seven books, 150 poems, six critical essays, and eleven interviews, as well as having over fifty awards to his name.

Dr. Gary McDowell speaks in Simmons Lecture Series
Dr. Gary McDowell (photo credit: Sam Simpkins)

His lecture, titled “On Being One on Whom Nothing is Lost: A Writer in Search of a Genre,” outlined McDowell’s writing journey as he tried his hand at several different genres. He knew he wanted to tell stories, he said, but a professor in grad school, upon reading one of his short stories, told him bluntly, “You’re not good at this.” She did, however, suggest trying poetry, and McDowell’s love of language moved him forward, this time satisfying his affinity for storytelling through the intentional, colorful language of poetry. Continue reading “Dr. McDowell Delivers Simmons Lecture”

Dr. Pinter Talks Fantasy Tropes, Concludes Spring Speakers Series

By Jacqueline Karneth

Last Friday, April 7th, Dr. Robbie Pinter gave a presentation entitled “Thresholds, Portals, and Crossovers: Fantasy Tropes in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and George MacDonald’s Lilith.” In this final installment of the Spring Speakers series, students were grabbing every seat available, anxiously awaiting a discussion of a genre sometimes forgotten in academic literature: fantasy.

Dr. Robbie Pinter
Dr. Robbie Pinter

In a room full of Narnia fans, Dr. Pinter began her speech by describing her own experience with liminal spaces. She recalled driving to work one day when she noticed something en route that disrupted her usual routine. She saw three men sitting by a gas station, staring into the distance as if they knew something that she didn’t. She thought they were seeing something that her eyes could not access, or her brain could not process. Pinter remembers this experience as a liminal one: not entirely other-worldly, but as a point of crossover between this world and another one.

While most Millennials are familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia, not too many are aware of one of the inspirations for the iconic wardrobe. Dr. Pinter enriched the minds of Belmont’s fantasy fans with her discussion of MacDonald’s Lilith, a novel that C.S. Lewis recognized as having influenced his Narnia series. Pinter noted that although Lilith is lesser known in modern culture, it holds a symbolic weight in fantasy fiction that deserves our attention. MacDonald’s novel uses liminal spaces such as those that we see permeating our favorite fantasy tales today in The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, and even the Netflix original, Stranger Things. Continue reading “Dr. Pinter Talks Fantasy Tropes, Concludes Spring Speakers Series”

Dr. John Wins Chaney Award, Belmont’s Highest Teaching Honor

At University Scholarship and Awards Day on April 12, Dr. Caresse John was named Chaney Distinguished Professor. The Chaney Distinguished Professor Award, determined on the basis of superior teaching, is presented each year to a faculty member who best represents the vision of the university to be a “premier teaching institution.”

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Dr. Caresse John (photography credit: Sam Simpkins)

Congratulations to Dr. John, as well as to Dr. Amy Hodges Hamilton, who was also nominated for the Chaney Award, and to Professor Sue Trout and Dr. Annette Sisson, who were nominated for the Presidential Faculty Achievement Award.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Finch’s Recent Accomplishments and Thoughts on Writing

by Charlsie Johnson

Nestled into her office on the third floor of the Janet Ayers Academic Center, Dr. Susan Finch and I chatted about her newest writing achievements, ongoing projects, and career as a writer. Finch teaches Creative Writing to undergraduates as well as graduate students for the English Department at Belmont, while also doubling as a successful published writer. Most recently she won the Special Topics Prize in the Crab Orchard Review for her short story, “Everybody Has a Flood Story,” and was named one of the six finalist for the Hamlin Garland Award in the Beloit Fiction Journal for her story, “Dear Second Husband.”

Finch expressed how she was excited to be selected by Crab Orchard Review this past December. She explained that the published issue this July, in she will be featured, is to be the last issue in print because of the move to publish online. The Special Topics Contest was called All about the Weather, and each submission had to discuss weather conditions in a creative way. Her work, “Everybody Has a Flood Story,” was the product of her research on the floods that occurred in 2010. “The research wasn’t to create factual truth,” said Finch. “The research was to give inspiration to my writing.” Her method for developing the story included listening to different accounts from those who were impacted by the floods. This sparked the creation of fictional mini stories with various narrators who were also victims of tragedy.

COR journal cover

“Dear Second Husband,” submitted to the Beloit Fiction Journal, was recognized as a finalist for the Hamlin Garland Award in February of this year. The Beloit Fiction Journal publishes the best in contemporary short fiction that is either traditional or experimental with its narrative. Finch explained that the story that she submitted for this journal is part of a bigger ongoing project that she is working on: a published collection of nine short stories, titled Dear Second Husband. Its structure is a mixture of the traditional short story and experimental elements that push the traditional boundaries due to its incorporation of letters,  the purpose of which is not revealed until part way through the book itself.

“For a lot of readers of short stories this can be really jarring because it does not follow their personal expectations of what a story should be,” said Finch. “But it’s a lot of fun to do because you get to break down the walls a little bit.”

Continue reading “Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Finch’s Recent Accomplishments and Thoughts on Writing”