ConCarolinas — I spent part of the past weekend at ConCarolinas, a convention for fans of fantasy and science fiction. The convention took place in a large hotel near the Charlotte Motor Speedway. My wife (Nancy Northcott) was one of the the guest writers, and I agreed to staff her table while she participated in panels and other events. Andrew Hartley (published as A. J. Hartley) also participated as a guest author, and his table was across the hallway from Nancy’s table. Andrew is the Robinson Professor of Shakespeare, but he is also the author of a number of fantasy novels, including a children’s fantasy trilogy titled the Darwen Arkwright Series.
As I watched Andrew interact with his readers, I began thinking about the various ways in which fans and literary scholars are alike. Both share a passion for stories, both enjoy talking to fellow readers about their favorite stories, and both like to write about stories. One of the key differences between these two groups is how they respond to stories. Fans tend to take a celebratory approach to their favorite stories while literary scholars tend to take more theoretical or historical approaches to stories. Still, these differing responses are not mutually exclusive. Fans and scholars can learn from each other and take pleasure in their shared interests.
Andrew provides an inspiring example of a scholar who is as comfortable in the world of fandom as he is in the halls of academe. When a girl came up to his table at ConCarolinas and wanted to talk to him about Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact, he gave her the same respect as he would give a fellow Shakespeare scholar. I watched as Andrew talked with the girl and signed her book, and I thought to myself how fortunate I am to count Andrew as one of my colleagues.
News about Sponsored Awards — Every month I receive a report titled “Sponsored Awards” from the Office of Research and Economic Development. This report provides information about the external funding generated by every department in the university. I took a look at the report that came last week, and I was pleased with the information related to the English Department. The report lists the “total value of awards” that have come in between July 1, 2014, and April 30, 2015. It also lists the same information from the previous year. A year ago, the English Department generated awards totaling $89,095, but this year the total increased to $116,136. This total is the highest for any humanities department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and it is higher than the totals for most of the departments in the social sciences.
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:
Paula Eckard served on a panel titled “Teaching Thomas Wolfe in the Twenty-First Century” at the 37th Annual Conference of the Thomas Wolfe Society in Albany, NY, May 22-24. Among other topics, she discussed the versatile uses of Wolfe’s works in teaching both undergraduate and graduate students and the outstanding digital resources available for teaching Wolfe in traditional and online environments.
Jennie Mussington is participating in the Summer 2015 Universal Design Certificate Program. This program provides information on how to make technology used on our campus accessible to users with disabilities.
Quirky Quiz Question — What is an “anagram” and how does it relate to Andrew Hartley’s Darwen Arkwright Series?
Last week’s answer – Decoration Day