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Spring 2008 Issue
Table of Contents
At a recent meeting, Provost Lucia Albino Gilbert approved the English Department’s proposal for a new writing hub to serve the students of Santa Clara University. The center’s mission is to strengthen and celebrate the culture of writing throughout the university community and to support and enhance individual writers’ teaching and learning.
The hub will begin offering scheduled and drop-in tutoring sessions sometime in Winter 2009. By Fall 2009, when the new Core Curriculum comes online, the hub will be fully operational, offering a variety of tutoring services, occasional workshops, and writing resources. The hub is excited to be able to provide Writing Fellows—tutors dedicated to specific classes—to support faculty teaching new core courses, especially Advanced Writing and Cultures and Ideas courses. The hub anticipates adding more programs to support and celebrate writing at SCU as the hub matures and finances allow: poetry slams, presentations of research, seminars, writing prizes, topical reading/writing groups for scholars sharing common interests, sponsored research on writing, and more.
The Provost has generously committed to an initial $100,000 annual allocation, and has left the door open for that amount to grow as demand requires and the budget allows. Most of the budget will go directly to the tutors who will be the soul of the program. The hub will recruit 15-20 tutors this summer to be trained in Fall 2008 and Winter 2009, and an additional 20-25 in Winter 2009 (to be trained in Spring 2009). Eight to ten of the initial 40 tutors will receive additional training to allow them to serve as Writing Fellows. Tutor training will comply with published standards so that tutors may qualify for national certification.Back to top
"And Gladly Wolde He Lerne and Gladly Teche From the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer"
By John Hawley
You will have heard that this academic year began with a great tragedy in the English department. Dick Osberg, chair of the department from 1997 to 2003, very suddenly died of brain cancer on October 17. For the last few years he had been directing the University’s Honors program, which expanded upon his assumption of the role and also became the office of Fellowships. In recent years he had been building the scaffolding necessary to strategically position our students to successfully apply for prestigious national awards, like the Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, and others—recognizing that other schools had been far more savvy in educating their brightest students about the preparation needed far in advance of their applications for such difficult awards. The work is coming to fruition: recently, Catherine Kilbane left in August on a Fulbright grant to monitor debt-for-nature transactions in Peru. As the Fellowships’ Web site counsels, “If you commit yourself to these three goals—excellence in service, in academic and extracurricular life—you may well become an outstanding candidate for one of the many fellowship opportunities that exist at both the undergraduate and graduate level.” Comments at Dick’s memorial service suggest that he himself reached these three goals—serving in a necessarily contentious role as chair of the largest department in the University while the English major was undergoing significant revision, continuing to publish in his chosen specialties of Chaucer, medievalism, and the Middle English lyric, and pursuing extracurricular interests as challenging as sailing, skiing, and woodworking. Those of you who knew Dick will remember him, I imagine, as very much a product of the New England in which he was raised: he seemed the very model of a professor that Hollywood would place at Haverford or Williams College—tweedy, clever, a close reader of texts and people, sincere. He seemed completely at home in our summer program at Durham University in northern England, reveling in the history and idiosyncrasies of the area, from Lindisfarne to Arthur’s Seat. His death at the age of 60 startled us all, brought us up short. We miss him.Back to top
By Phyllis Brown, Core Curriculum Coordinator
English Department faculty are at work with others throughout the University, making it possible for Santa Clara University to launch a new Core Curriculum fall 2009. The new Core will emphasize integrated and intentional learning. Contributions by faculty in English fall into many categories: leadership on committees, development of pilot courses to be implemented during 2008-09, and transformation of existing courses or development of new courses. English Department faculty are involved in developing courses for components of the new Core such as Critical Thinking and Writing 1 and 2; Cultures and Ideas 1 and 2 (which will replace the current Western Culture requirement); Civic Engagement (which will replace the current United States requirement); Ethics; Arts; Diversity; and Pathways. Faculty in English will be teaching pilot versions of Critical Thinking and Writing, which will differ from our current English 1 and 2 because they will be themed and sequenced, allowing first year students to work through two closely integrated writing courses. Others will be teaching two pilot versions of the Cultures & Ideas sequences: Sherry Booth and John Farnsworth are developing an interrelated pair of courses developing the theme of Nature and the Imagination; Michelle Burnham and Cynthia Mahamdi are developing an interrelated pair of courses on Cross-Cultural Contact from Columbus to Crash. An especially interesting new Core concept is the Pathway that each student will embark on over the four years of study. Some students will begin their Pathway in a Critical Thinking and Writing or Cultures & Ideas course. For more information, visit the Core2009 pages of the University Web site: www.scu.edu/ core2009, where you will read that the new Core provides the common learning that our students need to become citizens of Competence, Conscience, and Compassion in a globalizing world. Emphasizing knowledge, habits of mind and heart, and engagement with the world, the Core explores relationships among ideas and cultures; it encourages intentional choices that bring coherence to the undergraduate experience; and it develops students’ commitments to intellectual inquiry, moral reflection, and active engagement.Back to top
Law schools are generally not looking for applicants who majored in “pre-law”as undergraduates. But they are looking for undergrads whose broad experience reflects the range of issues to which the law can be applied and who think critically and express themselves deftly and precisely.
Santa Clara University’s pre-law program is a resource for students in a variety of majors who wish to cultivate those attributes. As Director of Pre-Law Advising at SCU for the past several years, I’ve seen how our pre-law program can help students choose courses from across the university’s curriculum, give them perspective on law school and careers in law, and prepare them for the law-school application process.
English majors in particular seem to have found their SCU background helpful on their path to law school. Among the array of such English-major alums, Maragret Coyle (‘87) is now a Deputy District Attorney; Christopher Kayser (’94) is a trial attorney in the tax division of the US Department of Justice; Zach Finley (’98) graduated cum laude from Harvard Law and is now an associate at Orrick in San Francisco; Michele Benedetto (’97) received her law degree from NYU and is now associate professor of law at Golden Gate University; Patricia Ball (’98; SCU Law ’03) is a defense litigator at Yukevich Calfo & Cavanaugh in Los Angeles; after completing law school at USF, Deirdre Merrill (’95) went on to become Senior Contracts Manager at Chronicle Books. Many more recent alums are currently enrolled in law school, locally at Stanford, Boalt, Hastings, USF, and (of course) SCU, and nationally at campuses from San Diego to Notre Dame, Penn, and Duke.
I’ve been especially pleased to hear from some of our English students, present and past, how well prepared they have felt for studies and careers in law. Current senior and law school applicant Sara Barrantes writes, “When people say, ‘What do you mean you’re going to law school? Shouldn’t you be a poli[tical] sci major?’ I can’t help but chuckle. Being an English major has been so helpful in my preparation for law school…The English major requires students to think critically and analytically about the texts they read, which can be applied to all facets of life, but especially legal studies. Making legal decisions means analyzing the facts of the case and interpreting laws. Without learning to analyze and think critically, I think I would struggle quite a bit in law school.”
And junior Ben Vick, who has been interning in preparation for law school, Pre-Law at Santa Clara 2 The Quill reflects, “Hired as a research assistant intern at an intellectual property law firm in Menlo Park, I began work expecting to be filing papers and scheduling appointments for my bosses. Instead, I found that I stood out as an employee as a result of the skills I have cultivated as an English major, and was soon assigned increasingly complicated tasks. Just this past week, I was offered a paid position with the firm.
“My first assignment was to learn the head attorney’s patents, research potential infringers online, and then argue whether a target infringes. My practice with poetry (in particular) and other relatively atypical forms of English made it much easier for me to understand the intricacies and comprehend the jargon of the patent world. And, of course, having to argue my theses in countless English term papers made the process of demonstrating (non)infringement much easier, as I was used to combining textual evidence with personal interpretation to support my claims.” Poetic justice, perhaps?
To find out more about pre-law at SCU, check the Web site at www.scu.edu/prelawnew. If you’re an English-major alum who went on to law school or beyond and would like to share your experience, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I, and others, would love to hear your stories. —by Phyllis Brown, Core Curriculum CoordinatorBack to top
Readers of The Quill will agree that the English department has excellent teachers, most recently John Hawley recognized when Eileen Elrod received the University’s Brutacao Award for Teaching Excellence and Simone Billings received the College’s Logothetti Teaching Award. You may be only dimly aware of the scholarship and research, though, that takes us off campus to libraries and conferences in other states or countries. The last few years have been particularly fruitful ones, in that regard, with an astounding number of books appearing. I say astounding, because SCU is not a “Research I” institution, defined as one committed to graduate education through the doctorate. In English, of course, we have no graduate programs, and therefore no graduate students to bolster the research and help out with the teaching. Nonetheless, our faculty universally studied at “Research I” universities, and did so because they are passionately interested in not only stockpiling knowledge, but also in expanding it: that is, they enjoy doing academic research and writing, and think it is a critical component of what they are doing here at Santa Clara
Note, for example, this list of recent books: Michelle Burnham’s Folded Selves: Colonial New England Writing in the World System (Dartmouth); Eileen Elrod’s Piety and Dissent: Race, Gender and Biblical Rhetoric in Early American Autobiography (Massachusetts); Ron Hansen’s novel about the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and the writing of his most famous poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” Exiles (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Marc Bousquet’s How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York University); Fred White’s Approaching Emily Dickinson: Critical Currents and Crosscurrents since 1960 (Camden); Hawley’s and Revathi Krishnaswamy’s The Postcolonial and the Global (Minnesota); John Hawley’s India in Africa, Africa in India: Indian Ocean Cosmopolitanisms(Indiana); Diane Dreher’s Your Personal Renaissance: Twelve Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling (Da Capo); Rebecca Black’s Cottonlandia: Poems (Massachusetts); Michelle Burnham’s edition of Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Separate Star (Heyday).
In addition to these major publications, various faculty publish essays in academic journals with very good reputations in their specialties, and give papers in far-flung or homely spots. They are also elected to serve as officers in major national and international academic organizations. This is all in service to the Santa Clara ideal of the “teaching scholar,” someone who remains active in researching a particular discipline, and then bringing that research into the classroom. Teaching, in turn, reshapes the research vector and drives the scholar back out to the conferences, the networking with like-minded folks at other schools, the vetting of manuscripts sent them for review by presses, etc.
The University, for its part, partially finances travel to these sites, and in recent years also is seeking ways to encourage faculty/student collaboration in the research. This is a growing trend in campuses across the country, along with an increasing emphasis on internships, on civic engagement, and on experiential learning. The message is all of a piece: learning comes from intense private study and reflection, consequent shared conversation and disagreement, further exploration of the increasingly relevant complexities, etc. The “life of the mind” is a wonderful vocation, a great and worthwhile use of one’s particular gifts—as I hope some of you are learning!Back to top
Since its inception nearly eight years ago, the California Legacy Series has honored its commitment to California history and writing, publishing over thirty titles in partnership with Heyday Books. Recently the project has turned its gaze forward, uniting respect for the Golden State’s past with an awareness of its present within an increasingly digital age.
Nowhere is the movement online more evident than in creation of a Santa Clara University island on Second Life, a virtual world where avatars can mix, mingle, and browse the selection of California Legacy titles in the virtual learning commons of the library. Not only does a California Legacy presence in Second Life bring its mission to a new realm, but it also takes the project in a new direction: the pairing of visual media with the backlog of over three hundred radio scripts written by California Legacy practicum students over the years. Recording engineer Bernhard Drax, whose Second Life alterego as a reporter creates virtual “news segments” about Second Life events, has agreed to work with California Legacy to bring literary figures to virtual life. Virtually confused? Picture a ninetysecond radio script read by John Muir’s Second Life avatar around a graphicallydesigned campfire rather than an audio script simply piped through car speakers.
The project’s online presence is likewise strengthened by student-written Wikipedia entries on California authors from Robert Easton to Mary Ellicott Arnold that pay homage to the poets, memoirists, humorists, and novelists who shaped the culture of the state.
These initiatives enhance rather than supplant; the California Legacy Project still holds a tried, true, and steadfast medium in esteem—good old paper and ink. Fall saw publication of Dawson’s Avian Kingdom, an ornithologist’s poetic musings on the birds of California, and Charles Melville Scammon’s Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America. In the works for spring are A Separate Star: Selected Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson, edited by associated professor of English Michelle Burnham, and Spring Salmon, Hurry to Me!: The Seasons of Native California.Back to top
by Michelle Burnham and Cynthia Mahamdi
In Fall 2008 and Winter 2009, several English Department faculty will be teaching pilot courses in the “Cultures and Ideas” sequence of the new core curriculum. Students in Prof. Michelle Burnham and Dr. Cynthia Mahamdi’s two-course sequence will read and study selected texts from the vast and fascinating global tradition of literature about cross-cultural contact. What happens when two radically different cultures– with different languages, assumptions, and systems of belief–meet each other, whether in the context of trade, conquest, captivity, or travel? How have such experiences been represented in nonfiction, fiction, and film, and what can we learn by analyzing such texts? What kinds of dangers, delights, misunderstandings, or possibilities for change characterize this literature and the encounters it depicts? Students will engage such questions as they read and interpret a variety of travel accounts, captivity narratives, conquest and anti-conquest histories, modern and contemporary stories, novels, and films that depict both current and historical moments of cross-cultural contact, conflict, and exchange.
Readings might range from the narrative of a 14th-century Islamic African who traveled to India and China; the 16th-century account by a mestizo Incan prince of the Spanish arrival in Peru; the 17th-century narrative of a Puritan New England woman captured by Algonkian Indians and an account (and novelization) of a 18th century Irish woman also taken captive, who married into the Seneca tribe and never returned “home;” the narratives of two Westerners (one a 19th century sea captain, the other an early 20th century Russian woman) on captivity and travel in the Sahara that reveal the potential for complete self transformation as a result of cross-cultural contact; and the travel narratives of Egyptians and Moroccans visiting Paris in the 19th century, which show us how our own Western culture looks through different eyes.Back to top
By John Farnsworth
The nineteen freshmen who participate in this pilot next year will all live on the same floor of Swig Hall, and will all be members of SLURP, the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project, a unique community that’s part of the CyPhi RLC.
The course will explore forensic and deliberative rhetoric arguing both the causes of and the prescriptive responses to environmental issues. Students will be taught the finer points of analytical writing via a two-quarter sequence of assignments that move from rhetorical analysis to environmental criticism (ecocriticism) of a variety of texts and media.
In CTW 1, students will deepen their ability to engage in critical thinking by learning the basics of rhetoric, learning to apply such critical concepts as: means of persuasion, rhetorical occasion, and rhetorical situation to their own analytical writing. Students will develop critical reading skills by examining complex texts that are part of the current environmental discourse within the academy. Examples of such texts would be E.O. Wilson’s The Creation and David Orr’s Earth in Mind. All reading assignments will reflect interdisciplinary discursive perspectives.
Two portfolios will be assessed during CTW 1. The first will include 7 “short writes,” one-page reflections on the reading assignments. In addition, the first portfolio must contain a 5-7 page rhetorical analysis that more deeply explores one of the areas reflected upon in the short writes. The second portfolio will include another 7 short writes and a second 5-7 page paper, a contextual analysis relating material they’ve read to the social context of pursuing a college education. The composition of each of the longer papers will include a peer editing process.
Short writes will not be assigned during the second quarter (CTW 2) so that students can dedicate their time to multiple drafts of longer (8-10 pages plus a works cited section) papers where they will make research-based arguments incorporating sources appropriate to academic discourse, thus developing information literacy skills as well as learning to defend a thesis at a collegiate level. The first paper will entail an ecocriticism of a major environmental text (such as a book or a film), the second paper will entail a rhetorical/eco-critical analysis of the Web site of an NGO, such as the Sierra Club, that engages in environmental advocacy. Students will make fifteen-minute class presentations to accompany the second paper.
At the beginning of each class session of CTW 2 the students will engage in visual or auditory rhetoric, examining a wide variety of texts such as: bumper stickers, posters, an orchestral suite, political cartoons, jokes, photography, the student newspaper, magazine covers, t-shirts, web pages, and film trailers. At the same time they are learning such concepts as visual syntax, students will be learning some of the basic elements of environmental criticism as a way of contextualizing cultural complexities through the lens of political ecology.Back to top
By Don Riccomini
As part of the English department’s charter to work with other schools in the university, and in keeping with the interdisciplinary direction of the new Core Curriculum, we provide a course in Engineering Communications (English 182) specifically designed to meet the needs of Electrical and Computer Engineering majors. The course serves as the Third Writing requirement for these two majors, and is organized to introduce engineers to the demands of communicating effectively, both in writing and in oral presentation, in the world of technology. Ideally taken no later than the fall of the student’s senior year, the class focuses on the fundamental importance of audience in shaping the text—especially the need to vary rhetorical approaches based on audience knowledge. The course also covers the rhetoric of graphics (the efficient visual display of quantification), ethical considerations in engineering and their effect on communication, the job search, cultural impaces on communication, and work in optimizing oral presentations.
Students work both individually and in groups, and are challenged withintense, focused units on logic and coherence—essentially, the technology of writing and its underlying commonality with scientific and technical reasoning. A particular objective is to provide the preparation students need to organize and present in a professional manner the results of their extended senior project to a mixed audience of fellow students, faculty, parents, and industry judges and observers. The class mixes theory and practice, with an emphasis on the latter, to achieve its primary goal of teaching engineers how to survive and thrive in the world of professional engineering, and to expose them to the importance of communication in all its phases in helping them achieve their goals.A future direction, undertaken with the engineering school, is to reinforce our understanding of the relationship between engineering and communication by exploring their fundamental epistemological identity, and by deriving from that understanding a grammar common to both, to enable students to move more freely and productively between domains too long considered separate but at root, actually one
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The theme of this year’s convention was Necessary Contradictions – and as if nature were trying to coordinate with that theme, those of us from sunny California and 70-degree weather in Santa Clara during those dates flew off to to Louisville, Kentucky, which received about a foot of snow on March 7 during one of that city’s worst snow storms in decades.
The Santa Clara students who represented our chapter were wonderful in their presentations. Senior Hilary Edwards led us off with her reading of “Duality of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’” on the panel Yes, But What Does It Mean? The Law, Blake, and Coleridge. Hilary is one of the department’s Canterbury Fellows this year.
And then junior Kelsey Maher read “Reflections from a Bell Jar,” a piece that adopted the perspective of Sylvia Plath as she prepared to commit suicide and thought about her life.
Senior Julie Jigour, this year's chapter president, read "The Pillowman and the Ethics of Literature"
The three-day conference always concludes with the Awards Banquet. There we were surprised to find that a few of us would be receiving plaques: chapter sponsor Simone Billings in honor of her 20th year of being a chapter sponsor at Santa Clara University; Julie for her service as Associate Student Representative for the Far Western region; and our chapter itself to commemorate our 20th year of having a chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.
Next year the convention will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 25-29, where you can find a bronze statue of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat into the sky. Good times ahead.Back to top
Michelle Burnham was promoted to Full Professor. She has been appointed an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library for summer research.
Eileen Elrod received the University's Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence. Simone Billings received the College's Logothetti Teaching Award and was honored for 20 years as faculty advisor to Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. Dick Osberg, Phyllis Brown, Claudia McIsaac, and Susan Frisbie were honored for 25 years of service to the University.
Michelle Burnham and Julie Chang presented papers at the American Studies Association Convention in Philadelphia. Roseanne Giannini Quinn presented a paper at the American Literature Association conference in San Francisco. Andy Garavel presented papers at the American Conference for Irish Studies meeting in Savannah, Georgia, and at the Irish College of the University of Leuven in Belgium. Ron Hansen read from his newest novel, Exiles, at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan, and at the International Gerard Manley Hopkins Conference in Dublin, Ireland, and spoke at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Marc Bousquet had book-related appear- ances at the universities of Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Cincinnati, Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, Duke, and CUNY. Marc Bousquet and John Hawley presented papers at the Modern Language Association in Chicago. Revathi Krishnaswamy (of San Jose State, but teaching at SCU this year) and John Hawley presented a plenary discussion on their new book, The Postcolonial and the Global, at the South Asian Literary Association annual conference in Chicago. John Hawley also presented papers at the University of Vienna and at the University of Venice. Claudia MonPere McIsaac and Roseanne Quinn were on a panel together at the annual Envisioning California Conference, and Terry Beers served as the moderator. Cristin Boyd gave a presentation at the Northern California Regional Conference of the California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Linda Garber shared the plenary stage with Lisa Millora, SCU's former Assistant Dean of Student Life, at the second national Out There Conference at DePaul University. Lisa and Linda founded the conference at Santa Clara in 2005 for faculty and student affairs staff doing lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender/questioning teaching and counseling work at Catholic universities. Her talk, entitled "Just Doin' It," explained why and how she does LGBTQ academic and advocacy work in the context of Catholic Higher Education. Marc Bousquet has joined group blogs at The Valve and The Chronicle of Higher Education's Brainstorm.
The Chronicle of Higher Education singled out Marc Bousquet's recent book as more significant than others because "it helps one identify the new publications that should reach everyone in the profession by some combination of universal relevance and urgency." Of Eileen Razzari Elrod's recent book, Piety and Dissent: Race, Gender, and Biblical Rhetoric in Early American Autobiography, Philip F. Gura writes: "This book accomplishes much in short compass... One of Elrod's goals is to return an understanding of religion to the center of scholarship about early American texts, and she does that capably and imaginatively...Spiritual autobiography remains one of the most `teachable' genres in early American literature, and Elrod's book will extend how we conceive and follow through on such instruction." The screenplay for Ron Hansen's film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford has won the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, to be presented in June.
Michelle Burnham was elected to a five-year term on the MLA's Executive Committee for the division on "American Literature to 1800," and John Hawley was elected to a three-year term on the MLA's delegate assembly. The Hackworth Grant Faculty Review Committee has awarded Marilyn Edelstein a $5,000 grant to support work on her project entitled, "The Ethics of Reading: Can Literature Help Develop Cross-Racial Empathy and Understanding?"
Claudia MonPere McIsaac's short story, "Dirt Cities," was published in Highway 99: A Literary Journey through California's Great Central Valley. Heather Julien's article on "Learning to be Modern Girls: Winifred Darch's School Stories," was published in the January issue of the children's lit journal The Lion and the Unicorn. Last summer she not only defended her dissertation at the City University of New York Graduate Center, but also published "School Novels, Women's Work, and Maternal Vocationalism" in the National Women's Studies Association Journal. John Hawley published "Biafra as Heritage and Symbol: Adichie, Mbachu, and Iweala" in the journal Research in African Literatures. Juan Velasco's essay "Santitos: Loss, the Catholic Sleuth and the Transnational Mestiza Consciousness" was published in the journal Mester. Jeff Zorn contributed the "After Words" to the Spring issue of Santa Clara Magazine with a reminiscence on becoming a teacher entitled "Remembering '68." Jeremy Townley's short story "A Christmas Letter" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, his review of Sherman Alexie's latest novel, Flight, appeared in the fall issue of Harvard Review.
Student Achievements and Writing Award Winners