Equestrian Connections — I have been reading the reviews of Aaron Gwyn’s Wynne’s War, and they all comment favorably on Aaron’s ability to capture the special relationship between humans and horses. Horses figure prominently in Aaron’s novel. In fact, a horse is introduced in the very first sentence: “He saw the horse before the rest of his team and thumbed the selector on his rifle to SAFE.” When Scott Simon interviewed Aaron on NPR, he asked Aaron how he came to have such a deep understanding of horses, and Aaron answered, “I grew up on a cattle ranch, so I was around … horses a good deal.” In thinking about Aaron’s experiences with horses, I realized that Aaron is not the only member of our department who has equestrian connections.
Like Aaron, JuliAnna Ávila developed an interest in horses as a child. I asked her when she first became interested in horses, and she told me, “My interest goes back to being lifted onto a horse at age ten, bareback. ” She recalled “tearing across the Arizona desert when I rode her. I never fell off, which seemed like a sign.” Currently JuliAnna owns a horse named Angel, and she rides Angel on a regular basis. Julianna is especially interested in the style of riding associated with the California vaquero tradition, and she has started researching the cultural, historical, and geographical aspects of this tradition.
Lil Brannon and Cy Knoblauch also have a longstanding interest in horses, but their interest is tied to their daughter, Susan Knoblauch. In addition to being a nurse, Susan is a nationally ranked competitor in the sport of show jumping. For years, Susan competed with her horse Carneval, but she recently sold Carneval. Susan and Cy are currently in Belgium where Susan just purchased a young stallion that Susan will soon began training.
Given the department’s connections to horses, maybe we should change our name to the Department of English and Equestrian Studies.
Sanskrit — The 2014 issue of Sanskrit came out this summer, and just took a look at it. Sanskrit is the literary-arts magazine that is produced by the University’s Student Media Board. Although Sanskrit has no official connections to the English Department, our students and faculty certainly played a role in the production of this issue. Two of the editors, Notrina Simmons and Leah Chapman, are English majors. Three of our faculty—Chris Davis, Kirk Melnikoff, and Aimee Parkison— served as “Literature Jurors.” Like previous issues, the 2014 issue of Sanskrit is a professional production, and I am proud that our students and faculty helped make this issue a reality.
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:
Pilar Blitvich recently returned from Great Britain where she participated in the 8th International Politeness Conference. She co-organized a panel on the language of aggression and conflict and presented a paper as part of this panel. Earlier this summer she presented a paper at the EPICS conference in Seville. Her paper related to the “language violence against women.”
Maya Socolovsky presented a paper on Julia Alvarez’s novel Return to Sender at the International Latina/o Studies Conference in Chicago.
Quirky Quiz Question — As I was contemplating the department’s equestrian connections, I started thinking about famous fictional horses. See if you can identify the original sources in which these three fictional horses appear:
3. Spark Plug