Games People Play — For the members of the Children’s Literature Graduate Organization (CLGO) this spring semester is barely long enough to fit in all of the events and projects that they have planned. The biggest of these events is their annual Graduate Student Colloquium, which will take place on March 21 in Cone 111 from 9:30 to 2:30. The title for this year’s colloquium is “Modern Authors, Historic Influences: Framing Children’s Literature in Historical Context.” However, they are also planning a series of other activities, including a board game night, which will take place this Friday (February 15) in the English Department Seminar Room (Fretwell 290B). Their game night will start at 4:15 and will continue until there are no more moves.
I think it is fitting that CLGO is holding a game night in the English Department Seminar Room since our English Department has deep connections to the diverse world of games and gaming. Aaron Toscano, for example, is currently on a Reassignment of Duties (RD) to complete a book that he has tentatively titled The Rhetoric of Video Games: A Cultural Perspective. In this book, Aaron is analyzing the connections between video games and American culture. As he recently stated, his book uses “a cultural studies approach to explain how video games are products of American culture even though the industry is global.”
Our English Department also has members who love games that involve word play. The most notable example is Jay Jacoby, a retired faculty member who currently plays in competitive Scrabble tournaments throughout the southeast. Last year he did especially well at a tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he won $145 in prize money. Jay’s interest in Scrabble stems from his fascination with words, a fascination he developed over the course of his twenty-seven years as a professor in our English Department during which he taught a wide variety of courses on writing and Jewish-American literature. When I asked Jay about his love of playing in Scrabble tournaments, he wrote, “I really do enjoy the competition and the camaraderie–I’ve met tons of people from all over and we are all word freaks.”
I am sure that the sense of camaraderie that Jay associates with Scrabble tournaments will also come into play during CLGO’s upcoming board game night. Let the games begin.
Report from the Levine Scholars Program’s Finalist Dinner — Last night I represented the English Department at the Levine Scholars Program’s Finalist Dinner, and I am pleased to report that two of the finalists have expressed an interest in majoring in English. I ate dinner with these two finalists and their parents, and I shared with them information about our faculty and programs. However, I was not the only person at the table who was singing the praises of the English Department.
Two of our current students also participated in this dinner, and they did a fantastic job of answering the finalists’ questions about the department. Eddie Angelbello, a current Levine Scholar who will be graduating at the end of this semester, shared his story of how he went from being a physics major to becoming an English major. He talked about how much he enjoyed all of his English classes, but he was especially enthusiastic about his creative writing classes. Shanon Murrary, one of our graduate students, was also sitting at our table. She serves as a graduate assistant for the Levine Scholars Program, so she was able to provide the finalists with lots of information about the program. However, she also talked with them about our department, and she did an excellent job of responding to the finalists’ questions about our literature courses. After observing Eddie and Shannon interact with the two finalists, I came away from the dinner convinced that the best promoters of our department are our excellent students.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Grace Ocasio recently gave a poetry reading at the Waccamaw Library on Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
Ralf Thiede recently learned that he had an article accepted by the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly for a special issue of Cognitive Science and Children’s Literature. His article is titled “Synesthetic Entrainment in Interactive Reading Sessions of Children’s Books.”
Upcoming Events and Meetings — Here is a list of upcoming events and deadlines:
February 12 — The Early Modern Paleography Society (EMPS) will meet on February 12 from 1:00 to 2:00 in the English Department Conference Room (Fretwell 280C). Participants will examine and try the earliest manuscript recipe for chocolate in England.
Quirky Quiz Question — CLGO’s board game night reminds me of the board games that I played as a boy. One of my favorite games from my childhood includes a character named Professor Plum. What is the name of this board game?
Last week’s answer: MacArthur Fellowship