May 29, 2020

Barrenechea Publishes Book Review in Top American Studies Journal

Professor of English Antonio Barrenechea

Professor of English Antonio Barrenechea

Antonio Barrenechea, professor of English, recently published a review of Richard Cándida Smith’s “Improvised Continents: Pan-Americanism and Cultural Exchange” in the prestigious Journal of American Studies.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-american-studies/article/richard-candida-smith-improvised-continent-panamericanism-and-cultural-exchange-philadelphia-university-of-pennsylvania-press-2017-4500-pp-352-isbn978-0-8122-4942-2/14753E52975F3650D11232B3A27A0F91

 

Johnson-Young Publishes Manuscript on Firearms Safety

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Johnson-Young

Elizabeth Johnson-Young, Assistant Professor of Communication, recently had her co-authored manuscript “Understanding Pediatric Residents’ Communication Decisions Regarding Anticipatory Guidance About Firearms” published in Journal of Health Communication. It is now available on their website and will appear in the next print version. The study was co-authored with emergency pediatricians and investigates decisions of pediatricians to counsel on firearm safety during well-child visits, as recommended by organizations, such as the AAP. Using concepts from the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Health Belief Model, ordinary least squares regression testing and a path analysis demonstrated the impact of several variables on the prioritization of firearm counseling, including pediatrician sex, perceptions of parental viewpoints on, self-efficacy, perceptions of training, and comfort discussing firearms. Future plans include further study, as well as training material for residential programs. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10810730.2020.1745961.

Bylenok’s ‘With Good Reason’ Episode Rebroadcast Starting on March 27

Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Laura Bylenok

Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Laura Bylenok

Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Laura Bylenok will be featured in a rebroadcast of With Good Reason on public radio stations across the country.  An award-winning poet who stitches together her love of science with her passion for the written word, Bylenok read from her recent collection on WGR’s Poetry That Heals last spring. The rebroadcast will air starting Friday, March 27.

“In college, [Bylenok] was fascinated with genetic engineering. Now, she manipulates language, not DNA,” says the show’s description. “Her recent book turns familiar forms into poetic laboratory experiments.”

Sharing selections from her book Warp, winner of the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize, Bylenok describes her fascination with molecular biology and genetics, explaining her use of the words and concepts they conjure to put the human condition into prose. An inspiration for her poem Genome, she tells WGR host Sarah McConnell, before reading the piece on air, is a haunting image left by a past professor, an endocrinologist who sewed together pairs of living rats.

With Good Reason airs Sundays at 2 p.m. in Fredericksburg on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. A complete list of broadcast times and audio files of the full programs (posted the week of the show) can be found online at www.withgoodreasonradio.org. Produced by Virginia Humanities for the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium, With Good Reason airs on 100 stations in 33 states.

Barrenechea Publishes Essay Review

Professor of English Antonio Barrenechea

Professor of English Antonio Barrenechea

Antonio Barrenechea, Professor of English, recently published a review essay in the journal American Literature. The review discusses recent developments in the literature of the Americas field, with attention to three recent books: The Poetry of the Americas: From Good Neighbors to Countercultures (Feinsod), Anxieties of Experience: The Literatures of the Americas from Whitman to Bolaño (Lawrence), and Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White (Bebout). To read the review, please see: https://read.dukeupress.edu/american-literature/article/92/1/169/156859/Whiteness-on-the-Border-Mapping-the-U-S-Racial?searchresult=1

 

Foss Publishes Wilde Article as Part of Waple Professorship Work

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss has published a refereed article entitled “Reconsidering the Role of Pity in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Star-Child’” for the current number of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, one of the top venues for scholarly work on disability and literature. This piece will serves as the basis for the second content chapter in Foss’s Waple Professorship book project tentatively called The Importance of Being Different: Intersectional Disability and Emotional Response in Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales, and on the basis of this and other work already completed on the manuscript Foss recently has been offered an advance contract for his book from the University of Virginia Press.

The article aims at a critical reconsideration of pity through a close reading of Wilde’s fairy tale “The Star-Child,” exploring how it seems both to replicate stereotypically pejorative assumptions about disability and to contain more progressive aspects. Through the disability-aligned characters of the Star-Child (initially the embodiment of physical perfection, but eventually transformed into a scaly toadfaced freak) and his mother (a queen turned beggar-woman so physically repulsive her son finds her too horrible to look upon), Wilde’s text requires one to consider the extent to which its representation of pity reinforces a hierarchical division between the fortunate and the unfortunate while encouraging a view of disability as an “evil” fate, but also the extent to which it endorses a more empowering version of pity founded upon love, reciprocity, and action. It may remain unclear whether Wilde is teasing readers for allowing themselves to be manipulated into sentimentalized pity for his protagonist or offering them a sincere attempt at theorizing a more properly humanizing and efficacious version of the much maligned emotion, but, regardless, the complexities of parsing such complicated and contradictory possibilities within “The Star-Child” justify the importance of an earnest reconsideration of the relation between pity and disability.

Foss Publishes Book Review

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss has published an approximately 1600-word book review of Chris Gabbard’s A Life Beyond Reason in the most recent number of the journal Eighteenth Century Studies. Gabbard was hired out of Stanford by the University of North Florida because of his expertise in the literature of the British Enlightenment. His book, however, is no scholarly monograph on the Age of Reason, but rather a moving personal memoir chronicling his family’s life and times in their own very different Augustan Age, a period which commenced with the birth of his son August. This amazing boy lived for 14 years facing a litany of diagnoses stemming from the complications of an obstructed labor: “cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, profound mental retardation, cortical visual impairment, microcephaly, seizure disorder, osteopenia—and the list went on” (35). There is pain and suffering aplenty in this narrative, along with understandable doses of anger and frustration, but above all this is a story about love and joy, and long before one reaches the final page it is abundantly clear that Gabbard’s Augustan Age has not ended with an untimely death from pneumonia; the child lives on not only in the author’s memory, but through this book in the hearts and minds of every reader who meets him and comes to appreciate the many lessons a life beyond reason holds for all.

A Life Beyond Reason book cover

Socrates’s dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (11) serves as the pivot upon which Gabbard transforms his whole understanding of what matters in life, for August’s cognitive capacity prevents him from ever being able to examine his life in this way, and yet Gabbard finds plenty of worth in the pleasure August not merely experiences but expresses through shrieks of glee and squawks of delight, through his contagious laughter. Gabbard credits disability rights activist Harriet McBryde Johnson, and her public debates with philosopher Peter Singer, as crystalizing his new position on what exactly constitutes a life worth living. Singer’s position on decriminalizing child euthanasia is based on a belief that disabled lives “will be permeated with suffering and therefore will not be worth living” is informed by a belief that equates personhood with “characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness” (100). The accomplished and articulate Johnson not only embodied how an individual’s life with a severe disability is anything but “intrinsically suboptimal” (100), but she further revealed how relationships with such persons, far from being worthless, can in fact be “profoundly beautiful” (103).

Gabbard offers Coleridge likely would judge him (as he did Wordsworth’s Betty Foy from “The Idiot Boy”) as an “impersonation of an instinct abandoned by judgment,” for “what is love,” he continues, “if not ‘instinct abandoned by judgment’?” (104). With this epiphany, life beyond reason in his own Age of Johnson/Augustan Age clarifies “it is not the unexamined life that is not worth living but the life without love” (104). Drawing on the “land of interdependence” he finds in Donne’s “Meditation 17” (85), Gabbard posits his shared experiences with his son constitute “a mutually beneficial ethics of care” (108). Attuned to “August’s little ways”—“the twitch of his lips, the shift of an eyebrow,” his grins and grimaces, his fussing and laughing—Gabbard views their connection not as “adhering to a so—called custodial care model” but instead as “characterized neither by his dependence on me not by my surrender of independence to him” (108). That is, while they “depended upon one another in radically different ways,” the father’s caregiving was anything but “selfless”: “I needed him as much as he needed me. If I didn’t love him, all of this effort would have been a grudging sacrifice. But he made me happy, and, so, in our peculiar way, we split everything down the middle” (109).

Blevins Speaks to Virginia Farm Bureau Growing Leaders

Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins

Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins

Brenta Blevins, Assistant Professor of English, recently delivered a presentation and workshop to the Virginia Farm Bureau’s Growing Leaders Academy on “Digital Identity and Social Media” in Blacksburg, VA. Blevins spoke about how agricultural businesses can use social media to promote rural and farm-based agricultural endeavors.

Foss Publishes Book Chapter on Oscar Wilde

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss has published a book chapter entitled “The Importance of Being Green: Pen, Pencil and Poison as a Study in Close Reading and Color Decoding” in Critical Insights: Oscar Wilde, an essay collection from Salem Press/EBSCO edited by Frederick S. Roden.

Oscar Wilde is indisputably one of the most colorful literary figures of the past 150 years, perhaps in no small part owing to his own awareness, appreciation, and application of color across his life and work. Given the heyday Irish writers currently continue to enjoy (in both academic and more popular circles) as part and parcel of the general ascendancy of all things Irish in the 1990s, it may seem self-evident that green might serve as one of the most significant pigments on Wilde’s palette. It is, though, perhaps somewhat more provocative to suggest one must turn to his largely overlooked prose piece “Pen, Pencil and Poison”—a piece republished and newly minted with a green subtitle during his golden year of 1891—if one is to fully grasp the importance of being green for Wilde the critic and artist.

Critical Insights: Oscar Wilde book cover

In “Pen, Pencil and Poison,” Wilde pays tribute to Thomas Griffiths Wainewright (a now-obscure minor poet, painter, and man of letters from the first half of the century, more infamous as a convicted forger and suspected poisoner than famous as an artist).  As the subtitle suggests, the secret to unpacking Wilde’s very personal and impressionistic rendering of his subject depends upon his subtle application of the various shades of green at play in the piece. In my reading, he employs green to invoke his own particular versions of aestheticism, homophile desire, and Irish nationalism. What is more, he blends these shades in such a way that one may begin to see all three of these foci as inextricably intertwined—intertwined with each other, and intertwined with fin-de-siècle decadence and its dangerous liaisons with sin and crime.

Rochelle Publishes Story “Mirrors”

Professor of English Warren Rochelle

Professor of English Warren Rochelle

Warren Rochelle, Professor of English and current coordinator of the creative writing program, recently had his story “Mirrors” published in Once Upon a Green Rose, edited by Michon Neal and released from Cuil Press.

Lorentzen Gives a Talk on Victorian Serial Fiction at George Mason University

Eric Lorentzen, Associate Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English

Eric Lorentzen, Professor of English, was recently invited to George Mason University to speak about Victorian serial fiction, Dickens, and elements of popular culture that continue in that tradition today, such as film chronicles, soap operas, teen dramas, and the telenovela. He also discussed Dickens and Victorian literary traditions that survive beyond the realms of visual culture in the twenty-first century.