The Story of a Book — About a week ago I took several bags full of books to a used bookstore on Central Avenue called Book Buyers, which is a bit of a misnomer since they no longer buy books. However, they still give store credit. The woman behind the counter checked the books I brought in and gave me $50 in credit that I could use to purchase books in the store. I started browsing the classics section, and I immediately noticed a copy of Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s The Story of a Bad Boy. I know this book well because it played a key role in the history of American children’s literature. It originally came out in 1869, and it set the stage for boys’ adventure stories. It is often seen as the precursor to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
I took the book down from the shelf and opened it to the title page. On the inside back cover, written in a child’s careful handwriting, is the following inscription: “Grade VI Horace Mann School. Elbert K. Fretwell. 1933-34.” I quickly realized that this very copy of The Story of a Bad Boy had been owned by the former Chancellor of UNC Charlotte, the person after whom our building is named. My guess is that he kept this book his entire life, and when he died in October 2012, the book was packed up and delivered to the used bookstore. Needless to say, I bought the book, and it has now found a home in the building named after its former owner. I feel a connection to Chancellor Fretwell when I hold this book. I guess that is part of the magic of books.
English Graduate Student Association Conference —The 14th Annual English Graduate Student Association Conference took place last Friday at UNC Charlotte Center City, and the conference was a great success. Our graduate students did an excellent job of organizing this conference, and the quality of the papers presented impressed all of us who attended. This year’s conference attracted graduate students from many universities. In fact, of the twenty-three papers presented, twelve were by students from other universities. Among the other universities represented were Clemson University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Tech. The conference ended with the EGSA’s Professor of the Year Presentation. This year the award went to Lara Vetter. Please join me in congratulating Lara on winning this important award.
English Learning Community — The English Learning Community is pleased to announce that eight members of the ELC were honored yesterday at the Learning Community Honor Roll Reception. The reception honored all Learning Community students who made the Dean’s List and Chancellor’s List in the Fall Semester. Each student was recognized on stage and given a certificate to honor his or her achievement. Congratulations to Chelsea Moore, Miranda Tyson, Morgan Helton, Elizabeth Moss, Kimberly Faiai, Haley Russel, Carter Wenger, and Lauren Price!
English Actresses — Angie Williams and Janaka Lewis will be participating in the UNC Charlotte Faculty and Staff reading of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues to benefit Safe Alliance on this Friday, Jan. 31, 8 pm at McKnight Auditorium in Cone. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.women.uncc.edu. There will also be a combined student/faculty/ staff performance on Saturday 2/1 at 1 pm, in which Angie is also participating.
Kudos— As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Aaron Gwyn’s forthcoming novel, Wynne’s War, received a starred and boxed advance review from Publishers Weekly. Here is the link to the review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-544-23027-9
Alan Rauch recently published a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here is the link:
Quirky Quiz Question — This year’s EGSA Conference took place at UNC Charlotte Center City. This comparatively new facility is located just a few blocks from Charlotte’s newest park, which is named after a famous artist with Charlotte connections. What is the name of this park?