Bridging the Years — For me, attending Leon Gatlin’s memorial service last week had a bittersweet quality to it. I felt a sense of sadness, but I also took pleasure in seeing so many former members of our department gathered together to remember and honor Leon. As I exchanged greetings with these retired members of our department, memories of my early days in the department kept surfacing.
Seeing David Amante and John McNair together, I flashed back to the days when the three of us regularly carpooled to the university. At the time David and John lived in Dilworth, and when they learned that I had just moved to Dilworth, they invited me to join their carpool. For my first year at the university, we took turns driving. When it was my turn to drive, David and John braced themselves for a time-travel experience. I had an ancient, gas-guzzling, gigantic, green Ford LTD that was once a luxury car but had devolved into something that resembled a gangster car. David dubbed it the Green Hornet. However, whether we were riding in the Green Hornet or the more normal cars that David and John owned, we spent much of the drive talking about the English Department. Both of them had already been teaching in the department for many years when I join their car pool, and their willingness to share their experiences and insights provided me with a sense of the history of the department. They helped me better understand departmental dynamics and provided me with sage advice about building my career as a UNC Charlotte English professor.
The willingness of David and John to reach out to a new colleague is not an isolated incident in the history of our department. Still today established members of our department often reach out to newer members. Here are just a few of the examples that come to mind. Julianna Ávila and Meghan Barnes have formed a great partnership, and JuliAnna has helped Meghan pursue her career as a specialist in English education within the context of an English Department. Jen Munroe has reached out to Matt Rowney, and the two of them have cultivated a connection over their shared interest in eco-criticism. Greg Wickliff extended a helping hand to Heather Vorhies while she was still a member of our department. Drawing on their mutual interest in the history of science and science writing, they formed their own writing group. Before Heather resigned and moved to the Washington, D.C., area, she told me how much she valued Greg’s support.
In reflecting on this aspect of our department, I am reminded of a nautical phrase that dates back to the days of sailing ships. When new recruits would join a ship’s crew, the experienced sailors would teach the new members of the crew how to manipulate the sails, and this always involved moving and tying ropes. This process gave rise to the phrase “learning the ropes.” I salute David, John and all of the members of our department, both past and present, who have taken it upon themselves to help the new members learn the ropes.
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:
Alan Rauch was recently recognized by the Executive Director of Sigma Tau Delta for his excellent leadership as a faculty advisor for our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.
Aaron Toscano recently presented a paper titled “Neoliberalism and American Entrepreneurial Lore: How Showtime’s Billions Reflects Capitalist Vacuity” at the Popular Culture Association of the South/American Culture Association of the South Conference in Wilmington.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines — Here is information about upcoming events and deadlines:
October 25 — The English Department faculty meeting will take place on Friday, October 25, from 11:00 to 12:30 in the English Department Conference Room (Fretwell 280C).
October 25 — Janaka Lewis will deliver a faculty talk titled “Black Girlhood and Radical Creativity” on Friday, October 25, from 1:00 to 2:00 in the English Department Seminar Room (Fretwell 290B).
Quirky Quiz Question — In 2004, David Amante received an important honor from the university, earning him a spot on our department’s Wall of Fame. What honor did he receive?
Last week’s answer: Cy Knoblauch and Ron Lunsford
Leon Gatlin long valued the English Department’s sense of camaraderie and collegiality. In fact, on the day that he died, he and Mike Doyle from the Department of Languages and Culture Studies were heading to Topsail Island to socialize and play a little golf with two former chairs of the English Department. Can you identify these two former chairs of our department?