Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winners of the Lena Todd Awards In Creative Writing

Every fall term, instructors of UNM’s undergraduate creative writing workshops nominate stories, poems, and creative nonfiction essays written by their students for the Lena Todd Awards. This year the authors of the first place entries will receive $100, the second place entries $50, and all winners will be given the opportunity to read from their work at an upcoming Works-in-Progress reading at Winnings Coffee House (111 Harvard Dr. SE).

First Place: Quentin Chirdon, “The Flyover” (Instructor: Jack Trujillo)
About “The Flyover,” Judge Brenna Gomez had this to say: “The entry self-consciously explores a writer’s struggle with herself and her work as she watches another bitter writer she knows—and hasn’t spoken to in years—implode. The prose is sure and strong, the dialogue funny, painful, and very believable.”
Second Place: Lyndsey Broyles, “American Perspective Weekly Special Feature” (Instructor: Jill Dehnert)
“A newspaper pays tribute to their obituary writer by showcasing his best obituaries—one of an old friend, one of his wife, one of a woman he loved and killed in an accident, and finally himself. Reading this story was a bit like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together—at the end the reader fits together the smaller character sketches to create one larger sketch of the main character. The experimental nature and ambition of the piece is intriguing and successful,” writes Gomez.

First Place: Erin Pooley-Cooper, “Genesister” (Instructor: Diane Thiel)
Judge Reid Maruyama admired the line breaks and concrete, synesthetic imagery. “The poet,” he writes, “makes an utterly captivating statement about gender roles with regards to the Biblical tradition.”
Second Place: Tiffini Mungia, “Of the Sun and Moon: a haiku series” (Instructor Diane Thiel)
“The imagery, rhythm, and form were perfectly suited to the content,” writes Maruyama.

Creative Nonfiction:
First Place: Molly Cudia, “The Bat” (
Instructor: Ben Dolan)
“The best memoirs are often disguised by voice,” writes Judge Annie Olson. “The narrator in “The Bat” is tender, honest, and wise beyond her years. She is impressively strong and vulnerable at the same time. The essay relies on the narrator’s keen eye for detail. A meticulous description of the house she grew up in serves as the foundation for an essay about how one’s sense of home, family and belonging is irreparably altered by divorce. The narrator in “The Bat could easily judge her family and upbringing, but refuses to do so, and this is a big factor in why she is so endearing to readers.”
Second Place: Catherine A. Hubka, “Ghost Towns” (Instructor: Marisa Clark)
“Addressing grief and loss in writing is thematically challenging. The narrator in “Ghost Towns” is poignantly honest and forthcoming with readers about the death of her son. The essay is narrated with humor, poise and candor. There’s momentum to this story. From page one, readers are compelled to journey with the narrator, learn from her mistakes and insights, hurt for her loss, and relate to her humanity.”

Many thanks to this year’s judges! Congratulations to the writers and their mentors!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"'I Am Not a Beast': The Remarkable Life of William Apess (Pequot), Nineteenth-Century Native American Activist"

The American Literary Realism Lecture in American Literary Studies presents:

"'I Am Not a Beast': The Remarkable Life of William Apess (Pequot), Nineteenth-Century Native American Activist"

A lecture delivered by Dr. Philip F. Gura, William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Monday, January 27th, 3-4:30, in the SUB Mirage-Thunderbird room.

The lecture is based upon Dr. Gura's forthcoming biography of William Apess, a nineteenth-century Pequot Indian activist, writer, Methodist minister, and the author of what is believed to be the first Native American autobiography, 
A Son of the Forest (1829). Dr. Gura will discuss Apess’ place in American literary history to consider how “color” mattered in different ways among Native, African, and Anglo Americans before the Civil War. His talk will also discuss the difficulties of writing biographies of nineteenth-century native peoples, whose lives and cultural practices could be a challenge for any biographer to “get right” so far after the fact.
The lecture is free and open to the public.

Todd Ruecker Signs Book Contract

Over the break, Professor Todd Ruecker signed a book contract with Utah State University Press for his book tentatively titled High School to College: The Journeys of Latinas and Latinos Writing Across Institutions.  The book is based on a year and a half study of 7 Mexican American students transitioning from high school to a community college or university and explores the role writing and extracurricular factors played in their transitions. Its anticipated release date is early 2015.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

ALS at the MLA

It was another strong showing of American Literary Studies faculty and graduate students at the 2014 MLA in Chicago.

New doctoral student, Amy Gore, presented “Indigenizing the Gothic Novel: Harold Johnson’s Backtrack and Its Uncanny Conventions” at the Native Voices in Genre Fiction panel, and she also presided over a session on the American Indian Gothic. The Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures arranged both panels.

Oliver Baker, a second year doctoral student, presented “Dispossession and Instability: The Free Labor Market and Southern Anxieties in John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta” at the Native South panel organized by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. Katie Walkiewicz, who earned her MA in English and UNM and is now completing her PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, was also on the panel.

Dr. Kathleen Washburn presented “After 1893: Writing Indigenous Chicago in the Early Twentieth Century” at the Native Literary Chicago panel arranged by the Division on American Indian Literatures.

Dr. Jesse Alemán served as a panelist on a round-table session titled “Rethinking Postbellum Literary History.” He also completed his three-year term on the Advisory Council of the American Literature Section and started his elected seat on the MLA’s Delegate Assembly.

Rivera Garners UNM-Mellon Fellowship

ALS PhD candidate in English, Díana Noreen Rivera, has been awarded a UNM-Mellon Doctoral Defense Preparation Fellowship to facilitate the completion of her dissertation, “Remapping the U.S. Southwest: Early Mexican American Literature and the Production of Transnational Counterspaces (1874-1958).” Her study argues that early Mexican American writers offer an alternative paradigm of transnationalism for understanding the literature, culture, and geography of the U.S. Southwest as it has been imagined in Anglo American cultural production about the region. Dr. Jesse Alemán, ALS coordinator, directs the dissertation.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the highly competitive UNM-Mellon awards dissertation fellowships in the humanistic social sciences across ten UNM departments to senior doctoral students working on studies relevant to Latino/a or Native American communities. This is the first year that the English Department’s ALS program has been included in the qualified field of humanistic social sciences at UNM designated by the Mellon Foundation. The six-month award is meant to assist in the completion of the dissertation by providing a $12,500.00 stipend; tuition remission and health care coverage; and a $500.00 professional development or research support fund.

Rivera was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and received her BA and MA at the University of Texas-Pan American. She credits her passion for Mexican American literary study to her parents and grandmothers, who shared family stories of life in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands and beyond. Her publications include “Third Space Resistance in Américo Paredes’s With His Pistol in His Hand: A Defense of Nuevo Santander” (forthcoming) in Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Volume IX; “Reconsidering Jovita González’s Life, Letters and Pre-1935 Folkloric Production: A Proto-Chicana’s Conscious Revolt Against Anglo Academic Patriarchy” (2011) in Chicana/Latina Studies Journal; and “Dime con quién andas”: Toward the Construction of a Dicho Paradigm and Its Significance in Chicano/a Literature” (2008) in the Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas. She’s the recipient of the American Association of University Women Santa Fe scholarship, the Office of Graduate Studies Earickson Trust award, the New Mexico Folklore Scholarship, and she was the English Department’s inaugural Center for Regional Studies Hector Torres fellow.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lindsey Ives Selected for A&S Teaching Excellence Award

Our own Lindsey Ives is the well-deserved recipient of this year’s College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award. I was particularly happy to see the Dean and Associate Deans recognized the amazing work she has done for the new Stretch 101 initiative and for Core Writing generally as  “a great role model for other TA’s and an asset administering” the program.
Congratulations, Lindsey! On behalf of all us in English, thank you for your dedication to our students and for contributing so positively to the English Department’s teaching mission and reputation.

UNM Alumni Assn. awards 2014 Faculty Teaching Award to Feroza Jussawalla

Join us in congratulating Professor Jussawalla!

Professor Feroza Jussawalla’s specialty of postcolonial literature in the UNM English department lends itself to teaching at a minority-majority university. Jussawalla earned her BA at a women’s college in India before furthering her studies at the University of Utah. She taught at UTEP for 21 years before coming to UNM in 2001. In her classes, Jussawalla relates the experiences of international writers who lived under colonial rule to the experiences of the myriad cultures in the Southwest. She embraces the importance of teaching and research, and works to see her students succeed at both.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In Memoriam—Dr. Dennis Lensing

The English Department was disheartened to learn the news that Dr. Dennis Lensing, a doctoral alum, passed away on Sunday, December 29, 2013, in Lexington, Kentucky. He was 42. Dr. Lensing earned his PhD in Spring 2007 and taught for a while at the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh.

After completing his PhD exams with distinction in the areas of the novel as a genre; literary theory and criticism; and eighteenth-century British literature, Dr. Lensing wrote a dissertation titled, “Utopian Myopia: American Consumerism, The Cold War, and the Popular Fiction of the Long 1950s.” Rooted firmly in Marxist theory, the dissertation examined modern American culture and its popular fiction during the rise of consumer capitalism after World War II, beginning with post-WWII paperbacks, “adman” and “business” novels and concluding with 1950s science fiction. Dr. Lensing maintained that popular novels worked as a significant cultural form that brought together the era’s uneven anxieties about affluence, isolationism, exploration, freedom, and Communism after the Second World War. Dr. Jesse Alemán chaired the dissertation, which also included Drs. Tony Marquez, Elizabeth Archuleta, and M.K. Booker (U of Arkansas) on the committee.

Services will be held on Saturday, January 4, 2014, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and memorials may be made to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (, Attn: Director of Administration Services, 106 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202.!/Obituary