Goshen College home page

GC English Department Blog

The End is Nigh

April 26th, 2010

It is that time.  I’m leaving the country in a few days, and the English Blog is no longer my responsibility.  I hope you have all enjoyed my contributions as much as I enjoyed making them.  This was an interesting experiment that I will not soon forget.

Peace

The Poetry of Music

April 26th, 2010

I would be remiss if I didn’t make sure to show off the astonishing and gorgeous poetry of one of my favorite artists, Joanna Newsom.  Her voice and musical style aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but I think her lyricism speaks for itself.  Its long, but worth it

Emily, By Joanna Newsom

The meadowlark and the chim-choo-ree and the sparrow
Set to the sky in a flying spree for the sport over the pharaoh.
A little while later the the Pharisees dragged a comb through meadow.
Do you remember what they called up to you and me in our window?

There is a rusty light on the pines tonight,
Sun pouring wine, lord, or marrow,
Down into the bowns of the birches
And the spires of the churches
Jutting out from the shadows.
The yoke and the axe and the old smokestacks and the bale and the barrow
And everything sloped like it was dragged from a rope
In the mouth of the south below.

We’ve seen those mountains kneeling, felten and gray.
We though our very hearts would up and melt away.
From that snow in the night time
Just going
And going
And the stirring of wind chimes
In the morning
In the morning
Helps me find my way back in
From the place where I have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Godzilla?

April 21st, 2010

Yes.  Godzilla.  It turns out that when you take Godzilla, mix in a little haiku, you get a big ol’ pot of awesome sauce.  If you like giant monsters, or haiku, or absurdity, you should probably check out Godzilla Haiku.

Just a taste:

Sandra Gilbert Reflection

April 16th, 2010

Sometimes a person dashes your hopes and expectations.  Sometimes a person crushes your expectations by being so awesome, you feel sad that you held such low hopes in the first place.  Sandra Gilbert decimated my expectations and I couldn’t be more happy.

She was inspiring, and interesting, and wonderful.  It is not everyday that I have the chance to hear a world renown scholar speak, and it is rarer yet that such a scholar will speak about a topic I feel passionate about.  Her lecture about finding the lost content of Atlantis, in this case women’s literary tradition, was inspiring.  And it was also important.  I, and expect many of my generation, take the advances of feminism for granted.  Who really believes that women should not be allowed to vote?  to take part in higher education? (Goshen for one would be about 65% poorer…) or to pursue a vocation in whatever area interests them?  These things seem as natural as breathing to me, and so it is important to step back and remember that this was not always the case.

Gilbert reminded us that only 35 years ago Women’s literature was not studied in any intentional way.  Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar literally wrote edited the book on women’s literature in english.

I sit here trying to type out exactly what it was that made her visit so incredible and words, traitorously enough, fail me.  These are the moments, the times, that make me glad and proud to be an english major.  English provides connection, continuity and creativity for the substance of our existence.  I live in the legacy of giants, one of whom I just had the privilege to meet.

Killing What We Love

April 8th, 2010

Does analyzing turn a text into this?

Julie Bruneau, (currently my Critical Theory Professor) in a comment for “The Academic Vs. The Purely Edifying”, brought up a question that I have long struggled with in English.  Can you study something without destroying it?  To dissect a frog, it must be dead (or will be soon after you begin).  Does the same process happen when you study a book?  Or a poem?  Or any text, broadly defined, that you analyze?

This worries me because I love stories and uses of the English language in about equal measure; I love taking these things apart to find out how they work and why.  I can’t quite figure out how to reconcile these impulses in myself, because the deeper I analyze the text, the further I get from why I liked it in the first place.  Rarely does it make me dislike something that I liked before, but often I simply get sick of it, and don’t have the time or energy to revisit the whole that I liked so much to begin with.

Or does it turn it into something more like this?

However, as unsubstantiated and impossible to prove as this is, I think the solution is passion.  Caring about what you are analyzing or the ways in which you are considering a text will change your feelings toward it.  A text that I can’t help but care about may temporarily disgust me when I have its innards all over me, but invariably I come to love it again.  The reason this is hard to figure out or experience, is that much of the reading we do, especially as students, is not necessarily stuff we love.  We read what is assigned, and so nothing brings us back to them.  And the considerations we bring to texts for class are not usually the perspectives we care most deeply about.

But these are necessary for getting better at a craft.  We need to practice different critical approaches to different texts of different periods so as to understand how these things work.  This may not be comfortable or fun at the time, but, it may, with patience, enrich rather than destroy what we love.

For More Pictures of sweet book art, pictured right, check out http://packergallery.com/dettmer3/index.php

Sandra M. Gilbert

April 5th, 2010

We have the distinct privilege of having well-know scholar, Sandra M. Gilbert, on Goshen Campus.  She is best known for her work editing the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.  As well as being a world class scholar, she has also published multiple books of poetry.  We are honored to have her visit.

She will be giving a lecture titled “Finding Atlantis: Thirty Years of Discovering Women’s Literary Traditions” this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Newcomer Center 19.  The event is free and open to the public, so any and all are welcome.

Below is one of her Poems

.

.

.

Read the rest of this entry »

Broadside

April 5th, 2010

To those who do not know since 1976, the Goshen College English department has published short works, prose and poetry, in a publication called Broadside.  This is an opportunity for students and other members of the campus community to get their creative works put through participate in the editing process and eventually see their creative work published.

I have the pleasure of noting that these works can now be read online at http://www.goshen.edu/english/Home/Broadside.

The Poetry of Music

March 30th, 2010

Moral Kiosk, By R.E.M

From the album, Murmur

From the album Murmur

Scratch the scandals in the twilight
Trying to shock, but instead
Idle hands all orient to her
Pass a magic pill under head

It’s so much more attractive
Inside the moral kiosk
Inside, cold, dark, fire, twilight
Inside, cold, dark, fire, twilight

Read the rest of this entry »

The English Writing Major – Thoughts

March 29th, 2010
Awww.... Who knew a brain could be so cute?

This brain can now hop on two paths rather than one


Now that the English department is offering the English writing major, I think it’s worth stopping to think about the applications for this, as well as the traditional English major.

I’ve written before about the applications of an English major for both job prospects, and for having an impact on the world.  Writing is, I think, about as valuable a skill as one can have.  It prepares people for a multitude of jobs, and can change hearts and minds in ways that many other skills cannot.  Further, the more experience with Critical Theory I get, the more I see English as practice for flexible thinking.  Wrapping minds around approaching the same text from an number of direction teaches people how to think creatively from many perspectives. Read the rest of this entry »

Exciting Changes in the English Department

March 10th, 2010

I’m excited to announce some changes coming to an English Department near you.  Some of you may have heard about these changes before, but I’m going to give you the scoop as accurately and as best I can.  I will be writing and exploring the implications and reasons for these changes later.  This is just a primer on what is going on right now.

So, here are a list of the changes that are coming.

The biggest change is:

The English Writing Major!!: In its continuing efforts to promote the craft and practice of writing, the English department will soon offer a major dedicated to honing the art of writing in its many forms (expository, creative, play writing, non-fiction etc.)  This major will have at it’s core foundational English writing courses such as Expository Writing, The English Language, and others.  From this base, English Writing majors will then be able to build their own course path from classes like Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction.

This major will expand the offerings for students who love language and writing, but do not feel fully served or interested by a focused Literature Studies curriculum.

For the English Major: English majors will now be required to take only two literature survey classes rather than three (one in British lit. and one in American lit.)  And, in place of the third literature survey class, students will now take World Literature to reflect more fully Goshen College’s commitment to global citizenship.

For TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages): TESOL will similarly now include a World lit. requirement to add exposure to literary models for teaching language in a global context.

For the English Minor: The minor now has fewer required courses, allowing people to create their own, more flexible plan of study.