English Matters - Spring 2014

What do garment factories, garbage, and gender rights in India have to do with globalization? That’s what a group of 22 UW students were learning about during their study abroad program to Bangalore, India, last summer. Called Social Justice and NGO Activism, the program investigates issues of development and human rights from an Indian—and more broadly Global South—perspective. Dr. Anu Taranath founded the program in 2003 and has directed it for 10 years. A faculty member in English and… Read more
English is ... Over eight years as chair of the UW Department of English, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating how best to complete that sentence: “English is….” Like many completion exercises, it’s hard, with many possible, often divergent answers competing to fill the empty space. So it is precisely the sort of problem that intrigues me… the sort that led me to a career in the humanities. My departmental colleagues and the thousands of students we teach every year would doubtless complete… Read more
When guests entered ACT Theatre on November 15, 2013, they knew just two things: they were at an event sponsored by UW’s Department of English, and it was about Shakespeare. That night they experienced a different kind of lively theater event in the name of the famous bard—one that he probably would have endorsed. Shakespeare Forever: His Remarkable Legacy featured ten experts who each took a turn on stage to present an aspect of Shakespeare’s legacy—each speaking for 5 minutes and 54 seconds… Read more
Former University of Washington English major Ross Mickel’s path to wine production began a year before his graduation on a 1996 fly-fishing trip with Seattle restaurant heir, Mark Canlis. It was during an afternoon on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River when Canlis asked Mickel if he had any interest in learning about wine from the restaurant side. Mickel says he jumped at the opportunity to learn from the best in the Northwest. While working under Canlis Sommelier Rob Bigelow, MS Master… Read more
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Matthew Niewnow, Hannah Sanghee Park, two English Alums, were two of five recipients of the 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, which is sponsored by The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine. Among the largest award offered to aspiring poets in the United States, the $15,000 scholarship prize is intended to encourage the further study of writing and poetry. See short interviews of both UW English-major poets, originally published in UW College of Arts and Sciences… Read more
Henry Staten is codirecting, with Maria Diaz Pozueta from Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), a study abroad program in Spain during spring quarter. This course, The Basques and the Glocal, focuses on the question of the resurgence of regional nationalisms in Europe, nationalisms threatening the unity of existing European nations even as those nations move toward the formation of the larger, transnational European Union. Professor Staten is teaching a course on national, tribal, and racial… Read more
Summer 2014 will see the tenth offering of Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and the EU: A New Era For All? sponsored by the departments of English and the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID). The course, co-directed by Norman Wacker (English) and Zorica Wacker (CHID), examines life after the Yugoslav conflict. UW students and local experts revisit the short, unhappy invention of sectarian fracture in the former Yugoslavia and the role of great powers in the peace and postconflict transition. The… Read more
Early Fall Start 2012 and 2013 saw the inauguration of a new option within the English Department’s MATESOL Program (Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages): an internship in Léon, Spain, led by MATESOL Director, Professor Sandra Silberstein and Advisor Mary Nell Sorensen. MATESOL students who elected this program served as mentors to UW undergraduates as they worked together to develop conversation courses for adult students in the University of Léon’s Modern… Read more
In the Barnes Family, international travel was considered more of a necessity than a luxury—an important part of becoming an open–minded, intellectually curious adult. Robert Hardy Barnes and his wife,June Yeakel Barnes, encouraged their three daughters, Julie, Debbie, and Tucker, to experience the joys and challenges of travel from an early age. A huge world map hung over the kitchen table, where each daughter placed her own colored pegs wherever she dreamed of going. Julie Morrison, the… Read more
The celebrated Middle English poet Geoffrey Chaucer describes a fanciful dialogue between Plato and one of his students, an exchange (addressing various subjects in physics) in which the two discuss the four elements and, among other concerns, a mysterious and powerful alchemical stone called “Titanos.” At one point, the student cites an equally obscure “book [of] Senior” as his main “witnesse” to the Platonic exchange. The fictional storyteller who is holding forth at this point in the … Read more
Participating in Geek Girl Conference 2013 was not an option I presented to students in my women’s comics course. They presented it to me. Ryker Hodge-Attili (English, Creative Writing) spied the convention programming proposal and argued that students should create a panel based on our formal, thematic, and contextual analysis of female-created comics. I encouraged participation because events like GeekGirlCon allow students to connect academic analysis with their readerly passion for certain… Read more
George Dillon is retiring this spring after 28 years on the English Department Language and Rhetoric faculty. Dillon earned his BA at Yale and the MA and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation on seventeenth-century psychology and literary theory. Before joining the UW faculty, Dillon held faculty positions at Southern Methodist University, Indiana University-Purdue, UCLA (visiting), and the University of Maryland. Author of five books and numerous articles, Dillon… Read more
Joan Graham created the English Department’s Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) in the mid-1970s when she was a graduate student. In a time when composition courses typically asked students to write a paper a week about themselves and their opinions, Joan’s program linked writing courses to lecture courses in the disciplines, asking students to draft and revise papers that were grounded in the disciplinary contexts of those courses.   Joan retires this year, so we honor what she has given… Read more
At the end of the academic year in 2010, I retired from the English Department, where I had enjoyed the pleasures and the privilege of teaching and writing about medieval and early modern literature for 38(!) years. I had recently completed a four-volume edition of critical and cultural studies of medieval drama, and although there were more projects to work on, I thought it might be time to turn in another direction. For a long time I had been involved in outdoor adventures of one kind or… Read more
William Matchett taught English at the University of Washington from 1954 until he retired in 1982, but he has continued teaching and writing since leaving the university. His latest book, Airplants: Selected Poems, was published in 2013 and joins his two previous books of poetry, The Water Ouzel and Fireweed . He is also the author of Shakespeare and Forgiveness and co-authored, with his colleague Jerome Beaty, Poetry: from Statement to Meaning. He also has written stories, articles and other… Read more
Nancy Bou Ayash is an assistant professor joining the English Department’s Language and Rhetoric faculty. She holds a PhD in rhetoric and composition from the University of Louisville and an MA in applied linguistics from the American University of Beirut. Her areas of specialization involve: composition theory and pedagogy, second and/or foreign language writing, language policy and planning, World Englishes, and English as a lingua franca. She brings to her work at UW extensive experience in… Read more
Herbert Blau will be remembered as a theater innovator and scholar who introduced American audiences to avant-garde playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Bertolt Brecht. A member of the University of Washington faculty since 2000, Blau died May 3, 2013, on his 87th birthday. Blau’s six-decade theater and academic career was extraordinary for a Brooklyn-born plumber’s son who studied engineering as an undergraduate and attended not a single play while growing up. He earned both… Read more
Our friend and colleague Otto Reinert died in Seattle on October 19, 2013, 90 years after his birth in Norway. He came to the United States in 1945 for the benefits of higher education after the collapse of the Norwegian university system during the Second World War. An academic scholarship in America was the prize for his service to Norway in the Resistance to Hitler, a gift whose irony he appreciated. Apart from several attempts at repatriation, he was to remain here for the rest of his life… Read more
Harold (Hal) Peter Simonson was born December 27, 1926, in Tacoma and died there June 6, 2011. He is survived by Carolyn, his wife of over 59 years; children Eric (Erin), Greta, and Peter (Ann); grandchildren Maria, John, Emma, Audrey, Olivia, and Erika; and ten nieces and nephews. In Tacoma, he attended Grant Elementary School, Jason Lee Intermediate School, Stadium High School, and the College of Puget Sound (BA, BEd) and for a time served in the US Army. At Northwestern University (MA, PhD)… Read more
Kelli (Russell) Agodon’s (BA ’92) third book of poetry, Hourglass Museum, was published by White Pine Press in February 2014. Tom Baisch (BA ’00) and his wife, Lynette, had their second son, Marco Townsend Baisch, this past summer. He joins his older brother, Ruben Thomas Baisch. Jenni Baldwin (BA ’04), after teaching middle school English for several years in Northern California, is now teaching upper school English at the Overlake School in Redmond, WA. Avram Blum (MATESOL ’08) has been… Read more