WSU English Department Newsletter

Our Program

Professional Development Series

Students and faculty gather
for the Professional Development Series

In fall 2010, the composition program began a new professional development series for all those teaching composition courses in the English Department. This weekly series included panels, roundtables, and special events featuring guest speakers.

For the 2010-11 academic year the special events theme is “Joining the Conversation: Writing Studies at WSU.” Guest speakers include past and present English faculty who have helped develop and have researched the WSU writing and composition programs.

The professional development series has been deemed a success by the coordinators and the participants with the Oct. 13 special event drawing over 40 participants to discuss the evaluation of student writing with a guest speaker joining the conversation via Skype video conference.

Patricia Ericsson, director of composition, initiated and directs the professional development series. Ericsson is one of the founding members of the High Mountain Affiliate of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The HMA was granted Affiliate status in spring 2010 and it’s first official event was held in Spokane on Oct. 22 with WSU as one of the sponsors. Twenty-five faculty, grad students, and instructors from WSU attended the conference which focused on "Information Literacy and the Teaching of Writing." The conference included three presenters from WSU.

See the Daily Evergreen article about English 101.


Common Reading Event

Chris Arigo, Andrea Mason and Peter Chilson
prepare to read their work

The 2009-2010 WSU Common Reading book was Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Nautral History of Four Meals (2006).

The Common Reading Tuesdays series was created to support the Common Reading program. These lecture series invited professors and researchers from all fields at WSU to connect their research field or experience with freshmen and with the issues raised in Pollan’s book.

On February 9, 2010, English professors Chris Arigo, Peter Chilson, Andrea Mason, and Linda Russo combined to offer a reading of their creative work titled “Writing the Food Chain.”

The reading, organized by Todd Butler, drew a diverse crowd, from students and faculty to community members from Pullman and Moscow. Perhaps the best comment of the night came from the first student to speak at the conclusion of the readings. He noted that he had come to the reading solely because his roommate made him, but after hearing our colleagues he was “blown away,” and that he couldn’t believe how much he enjoyed their work.

That sort of reaction is one of the key reasons we all do what we do, even in these challenging times.



Nature Twice: A Collaboration Between English and Biology

Nature Twice, a special exhibit of poetry about animals and nature, will be on display in the Conner Museum of Natural History Sept. 9-Nov. 21.

“Nature Twice” explores diverse perspectives of several well-known poets about animals and natural history. The poems provide personal views about animals and the relationships between people and the natural world. By matching poems with displays of natural history and animals, the exhibit encourages viewers to consider poetry as a tool for understanding the natural world.

Poets Linda Russo, WSU assistant professor of English, and Ray Hanby, a WSU graduate, read from their recent work during the opening reception on Sept. 9 in Abelson Hall.

The exhibit was curated by students and faculty in the Department of English and the School of Biological Sciences at WSU. A guide to “Nature Twice” features essays written by students and faculty in the English and biology departments about the exhibited poems. WSU English students who took part in the exhibit include Karin Meindl, Jim Trout, Alex C. Parrish, Amber LaPiana, Ben Bunting, Megan McGrath, Kristen Keller, Maggie Hillman, and Jenna Leeds.

The exhibit is free and open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily in the Conner Museum of Natural History, Abelson Hall, on the ground floor.

View the Museum Guide.


Nobel Prize Winner was Former Writer-in-Residence

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, the new Nobel laureate in literature, once served as Washington State University Writer-in-Residence.

At the age of 74 Vargas Llosa has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including Conversation in the Cathedral and The Green House. In 1995, he won the Cervantes Prize, the most distinguished literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world.

Vargas Llosa is the first South American winner of the prestigious 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) Nobel Literature Prize since Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez won in 1982. He is also the first Spanish-language writer to win since Mexico's Octavio Paz in 1990.

The Encyclopedia Britannica website lists Vargas Llosa as WSU writer-in-residence in the 1968-69 academic year.

Read about Vargas Llosa in the New York Times.


Fall 2010 Colloquium Series

Linda Russo

Each semester the Department of English hosts a colloquium designed for faculty, graduate and undergraduate students to share their work with one another. Events are held in the Bundy Room in Avery Hall between noon and 1:00 pm and are free and open to the public.

This year’s speakers are:

October 1: Linda Russo, “A Road Trip, a Poetry Reading, and a Pet Adoption: An Anatomy of a Critical Writing Project”

October 15: Carol Siegel, “American Political Terminology: Let A Thousand Confusions Bloom”

October 29: Sheri Rysdam & Lisa Johnson-Shull, “The Ink We Leave Behind: Failure, Nonsense and Cruelty in Peer Evaluator Response”

November 5: Victor Villanueva, Wendy Olson & Jerry Petersen, “Political Economies of Rhetoric and Composition”

November 12: A panel of graduate students from one of the current English graduate seminars

December 3: Aaron Oforlea, “Revisiting the Black Panthers”



Fall 2010 Visiting Writers Series

The English Department, often in collaboration with other units on campus, sponsors and organizes a Visiting Writers Series. The Visiting Writers Series brings to WSU top artists, writers, and scholars from across the country to read from their work, talk with students and faculty, and interact with students in classroom settings. The readings are free and open to the public. Speakers in this year’s writing series are:

Donald Revell and Claudia Keelan

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Kimbrough 101

Donald Revell is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently of The Bitter Withy (2009) and A Thief of Strings (2007), both from Alice James Books. Winner of the 2004 Lenore Marshall Award and two-time winner of the PEN Center USA Award in poetry, Revell has also received the Gertrude Stein Award, two Shestack Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes, a PEN USA Award for Translation, and fellowships from the NEA as well as from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. He is also the author of four volumes of translation: Rimbaud’s The Illuminations (Omnidawn, 2009) and A Season in Hell (Omnidawn, 2007), Apollinaire’s Alcools (Wesleyan, 1995) and The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems of Guillaume Apollinaire (Wesleyan, 2004). Revell’s critical writings include Invisible Green: Selected Prose (Omnidawn, 2005) and The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye (Graywolf, 2007). He is a professor of English and creative writing director at UNLV. He lives with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan, and their two children in the desert south of Las Vegas.

Claudia Keelan is the author of six books of poetry including Refinery (Cleveland State University Poetry Prize), The Secularist (University of Georgia Press), Utopic (Alice James Books), and Missing Her (New Issues Press, 2009). In the preface to The Body Electric ,The American Poetry Review’s Best Poetry, critic Harold Bloom wrote: “Claudia Keelan, new to me, is very welcome…she is endlessly enigmatic, again almost always what one hopes for in poems.” Of Utopic, the late poet Robert Creeley wrote: “This profoundly moving book is fact of a consummate skill and the human possibilities it works to realize and to honor. In these poems Claudia Keelan keeps the faith for us all.” Born in California, Keelan has taught at universities in Iowa, Boston, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Colorado. Since 1996, she has been at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she is professor of English and creative writing. She is an affiliate to the Black Mountain Institute as well as editor of the literary journal Interim ( Her honors include the Jerome Shestack prize from The American Poetry Review, the Beatrice Hawley award from Alice James Books, a Creative Achievement award from UNLV, a Silver Pen award from the Library Board of Nevada, and grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Under the auspices of Interim, she is partner to, an online poetry archive founded in Berlin, whose mission is to serve poetry through translation.

William Miles and Samuel Miles

William Miles photo by Craig Bailey/NU Photography
Thursday, October 7, 2010
CUE 202

William F.S. Miles is professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, where he teaches religion and politics and third world development. His research focuses on legacies of French and British colonialism, particularly in the borderlands between developing nations. He is the author of nine books, including Paradox in Paradise, Imperial Burdens, Zion in the Desert, Bridging Mental Boundaries and, is conceiving editor and major contributor to Political Islam in West Africa. Most recently he has published a memoir and travelogue, My African Horse Problem (University of Massachusetts Press). A former Peace Corps volunteer in Niger (1977-9). William Miles has also lived in Africa as a State Department intern (1980), a Fulbright Scholar (1983, 1986, 1987-8) and recipient of an American Philosophical Society grant (2001). His commentaries periodically air on National Public Radio.

Samuel Benjamin Miles is co-author of My African Horse Problem (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008). He is currently a senior at Yale University, where he is a major in the Ethics, Politics and Economics department. Franco-American by nationality, education, and language, he undertook his early studies in Martinique, Mauritius, and the Lycée Français de Jerusalem. This past summer Samuel performed a media assessment for the Voice of America in Haiti.

The public reading was co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Foley Institute, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the George and Bernadine Converse Historical Endowment, and the Department of History.

Tod Marshall

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Kimbrough 101

Tod Marshall’s first collection of poetry, Dare Say, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series. His second collection, The Tangled Line, was published by Canarium Books in April, 2009. He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (EWU Press, 2002), and edited an accompanying anthology of poems by the interviewed poets, Range of Voices (EWU Press 2005). Poets in these collections include Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Brenda Hillman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ed Hirsch, Dorianne Laux, Kim Addonizio, Ed Hirsch, and others. He lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches at Gonzaga University.




The English Department at WSU houses four publications: one creative writing/photography journal, two scholarly print journals, and one scholarly electronic review. All of the journals  are produced by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and administrative staff.


LandEscapes is the undergraduate literary and arts journal which has provided the community with creative voices for nearly a decade. Each step of the publication process from advertising, to reviewing submissions, to layouts, and distribution is run entirely by students from a variety of backgrounds both personally and academically. LandEscapes is also a unique publication because the staff, including editors, is changed annually to provide a new perspective on writing and art. One of the goals of LandEscapes has been to build on the interaction between genres and forms. By connecting individual pages and spaces, it imitates the connection between departments within Washington State University.

Landescapes Staff





Landescapes Staff

ESQ cover



ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance is devoted to the study of nineteenth-century American literature. The journal publishes original articles and notes from a wide range of theoretical and critical perspectives. The journal and encourages inquiries proposing submissions and projects. A special feature included in the journal is the publication of essays reviewing groups of related books on figures and topics in the field, providing a forum for viewing recent scholarship in broad perspectives.




Poe Studies cover

Poe Studies: History, Theory, Interpretation provides a forum for dialogue about Edgar Allan Poe's life, writings, and about the cultural and material contexts that shaped the production and reception of his work. The editors wish to define Poe studies broadly to include articles that engage the period in which Poe wrote, writers with whom he was affiliated with or whom he inspired, theoretical and philosophical issues raised by his work, and artistic movements associated with him, such as gothicism, detective fiction, symbolism, and metafiction. The journal invites submissions of original articles and notes, welcomes work grounded in a wide range of theoretical and critical perspectives, and encourages inquiries proposing submissions and projects.


The International Review of Modernism is a peer-reviewed electronic journal that publishes critical and historical essays, book reviews, and extended review-essays on new scholarly and critical books on modernist literature and culture situated in historical and national contexts.


English Department Video


Continuing Initiatives

Andrea Campbell and donor/former professor Alex Hammond

Rural Education Community Outreach

We continue to look for partners (an endowment or a program grant) to fund a visiting writer or scholar on a semester-long appointment. The writer would teach innovative courses in the department and help organize a rural education outreach program in the small towns surrounding Pullman (i.e., Colfax and Uniontown, Washington; Deary and Troy, Idaho). The outreach program would involve undergraduate and graduate students and faculty with rural communities through the mediums of teaching, creative writing and reading. The position would be sustainable and rotate among writers and scholars of note with an interest in the American West. The outreach program would be a response to the College of Liberal Arts' goals of "Just and Sustainable Socieites and Environments."

Amber LaPiana with donor/alumnus Avon Murphy


Dissertation Fellowships

We are looking for endowments to attract the finest graduate students. Currently, the English Department has no fellowships to support graduate students writing dissertations. These funds would help students have resources for books, scanning, and research. A dissertation fellowship would also offer doctoral students more time to pursue publication venues for their completed work.


Washington State University
English Department Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 1,
Fall 2010