Summertime – When I hear the word summertime, I immediately think of the song “Summertime” from the opera Porgy and Bess. It is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music, but my favorite rendition is the the duet version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I just listened to it as I started writing this Monday Missive, and it seems perfect to me in every possible way. However, I also like the versions by Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin. One of the reasons I so like this song is that it captures the slow, almost languid, pace of summer in the South. The fish might be jumping, but for many of us, summer is a time to slow down a bit and enjoy the pleasures associated with living easy. Still, the world does not come to a stop in the summer, and neither does the English Department.
Our internship program, now under the capable direction of Sarah Minslow, is one program that that is especially active in the summer. This summer ten students from the English Department have been busy interning around the community. We have students at the N.C. Wildlife Federation, Girls on the Run, International House, the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, The Independent newspaper in Concord, a law firm, and three local businesses. These student interns are using skills learned in their English courses to design professional documents, manage social media, create content, and assist their supervisors while developing professional skills and networks.
Tiffany Morin has also been busy this summer recruiting for the English Learning Community. She has been manning the table at the SOAR Resource Fairs, meeting with future English majors, and e-mailing prospective members. Her work has yielded 16 members of this year’s community, and recruitment continues, as does the planning for their first semester in college. While the learning communities help to transition students to university life in general, this year, Tiffany is trying to incorporate more interaction with the English Department itself. This is especially important because a student’s first year involves mostly gen-ed courses and very little work in the major. Often as freshmen, students even confuse the English Department with the UWRT classes. Students that understand and feel at ease in the program they have joined will be more engaged and successful students, which benefits us all. The sooner the students start meeting their future professors, learning about opportunities, and becoming involved in department events, the sooner they can begin to feel like a part of the English Department community.
As Tiffany tries to bring the focus back to the major, she is building off of previous successes. Veteran ELC members fondly remember and still keep in contact with Henry Doss, so he will again be joining the class to discuss “purpose, success, and the English BA.” One of the highlights for students in the past has been Andrew Hartley’s visits to discuss Steeplejack and being a writer, which he has agreed to do again. This year, the ELC is excited to have two authors visit the class, as Bryn Chancellor has accepted an invitation to discuss Sycamore with the class. Please let Tiffany know if you or one of your students would like to come in and tell them about those opportunities, including specific events, organizations, and programs. Also, she is looking for volunteer opportunities for them, so please let her know if you need the assistance of some eager first-year students. She even welcomes professors to just come in and say “Hi” for a moment. Let’s help them to feel at home remind them of their great decision to join our English program. You can e-mail Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The work that both Sarah and Tiffany are doing this summer will help our students as they prepare for the future. There is a line in “Summertime” that seems as if it is written with our students in mind: “One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing/And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky.”
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:
Bryn Chancellor was an invited member of the fiction faculty at the Hub City Writing in Place Conference at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, July 14-16, where she taught a fiction workshop and gave a fiction reading.
Juan Meneses recently published an article titled “Historical Restoration, Narrative Agency, and Silence in Graham Swift’s Waterland” in the Journal of Modern Literature. You can access the article by clicking on the following link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jmodelite.40.3.10?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Liz Miller guest edited a Special Issue for the journal Critical Inquiry in Language Studies which has just been published. She and her collaborator, Ryuko Kubota, also have an article in the issue titled “Re-examining and Re-envisioning Criticality in LanguageStudies: Theories and Praxis.”
Thomas Eric Simonson, who recently received his BA degree (with honors) from our English Department, was featured in an article published in the Statesville Record & Landmark. Here is the link: http://www.statesville.com/news/mooresville-native-wins-prestigious-fellowship/article_82932706-6d48-11e7-8579-1f83698754e6.html
Quirky Quiz Question — Does anybody know what city in the South serves as the setting for the opera Porgy and Bess?