June 17, 2021

Privately funded award goes to Professor Mara Scanlon

Dr. Mara Scanlon is the first recipient of the Donald E. Glover Faculty Award.

Dr. Mara Scanlon is the first recipient of the Donald E. Glover Faculty Award.

What began with a gift from an anonymous donor has now been actualized with the naming of the first recipient of the Donald E. Glover Faculty Award. The award criteria specify the recipient be a full Professor of English who has demonstrated dedication and excellence in teaching, energizes and inspires their students, and encourages creative thinking. The 2021-2023 recipient of the monetary award is Mara Scanlon, professor of English and associate director of the UMW Honors Program.

“Mara has been an excellent teacher, and she is a leader in integrating digital technology into the classroom, while offering thoughtful, exciting courses,” says Dr. Gary Richards, professor and chair of the Department of English and Linguistics. “Her classes are consistently student-centered, and she is unfailing in her attention to promoting students’ learning. Additionally, her annual teaching evaluations have been consistently glowing for years, and she is one of the most beloved instructors at UMW.”

A member of the UMW faculty since 1999, Scanlon currently is a full professor of English, as well as an affiliated faculty member of the interdisciplinary programs in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; American Studies; and Asian Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in twentieth-century literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she wrote the dissertation “Novelty in Verse: Bakhtin and the Multivocal Epics of Pound, H. D., and Walcott.”

Her areas of academic expertise include: twentieth-century literature, especially Modernism; poetry (epic, lyric, long poem); ethics and literature; women’s literature and gender theory; literature of the First World War; periodical studies; Asian American literature; and genre studies.

Among Scanlon’s many awards are the 2014 Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Mary Washington and a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Grant for “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman,” a 2008-2010 multi-university collaborative teaching project.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English Donald E. Glover taught at UMW for 37 years.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English Donald E. Glover taught at UMW for 37 years.

An anonymous donor from the Class of 1971 endowed this award to recognize the inspirational teaching of her favorite professor and the impact it had on her professional career. Donald E. Glover began teaching English at Mary Washington in 1961 and retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1998 after 37 years of service. He passed away in August of 2020, but his legacy continues through the enlightened lives of the students he taught, and now in the inspired work of the faculty who succeed him.

“The Glover Award publicly documents the excellent teaching that Mara has done and, I hope, energizes her as she continues to change lives in the classroom,” says Richards. “Any time a faculty member is energized that, of course, benefits students, who thrive on dynamic professorial presences in the classroom.”

Scanlon says she is touched by receiving an award named for Donald Glover. “He has been described to me by his contemporaries as kind, passionate, creative, and devoted to his students.” She adds, “Though innovation is paradoxically predictable in my teaching, the award stipend will support my continued growth in fields of scholarly interest with direct effects on my classroom.”

She plans to utilize a portion of the monetary award to focus on her scholarship and teaching on literature of the Great War. “Two areas of increasing importance to me are first, the intersection of my scholarship and teaching on literature of the Great War with the work I do in the field of Ethics and Literature, a nexus I am beginning to explore in nurses’ representations of pain. The second is the 1918 flu pandemic, the wave of global devastation that overlapped and eventually dwarfed the war’s human toll. Extraordinarily little has been written about the 1918 pandemic in literary genres,” says Scanlon. “In a Spring 2022 iteration of the course I hope to include a text for a student audience now fully aware of what a ‘pandemic’ looks like. The Donald Glover award will allow me to obtain the scholarly materials necessary to bring these topics into the classroom with more expertise.”

Scanlon says she also will use award funds for various poetry classes she teaches UMW students, as well as one planned for an upcoming Elderstudy presentation about Emily Dickinson. “The Donald Glover award will, again, enable me to purchase materials that reinforce my own scholarship in these fields,” she says. “Eventually, I hope this will be part of a larger scholarly project, as well as having benefits for my traditional students and those in our regional Elderstudy community.”

All the above is in keeping with the wishes of the anonymous donor, who writes, “My hope is that Mary Washington English faculty can follow in Dr. Glover’s footsteps, while having a positive and lasting impact on students’ lives.”

*To read more about Dr. Mara Scanlon’s academic background, visit bit.ly/umwscanlon.

*To read more about Dr. Donald E. Glover and the gift behind the endowed faculty award, visit bit.ly/umwglover0221.

*For information about making a gift to support UMW students, faculty, and programs, contact the Office of Advancement at advance@umw.edu or 540-654-1024.

 

Article by Donna Harter, Executive Director of Advancement Initiatives

Scanlon Edits Special Journal Issue on Poetry and the Visual Arts

Mara Scanlon, Professor of English, served as invited Guest Editor for a special issue of the journal Humanities called “The Sister Arts Since 1900: Poetry and the Visual Arts.”  The issue is prompted by the fact that the relation of poetry and visual art to each other, to imitation, mimesis, and the “real,” to pleasure and analysis, to ethics, to the senses, and to craft prompted rich dialogue and debate through at least the 18th century but is oddly flagging in contemporary critical conversation, possibly replaced by or transformed into an emphasis on multimodal and multimedia writing.  Inviting essays on ekphrastic poetry and its opposite, photos or art inspired by poems; illuminated text and the art of the book; illustrated poetry for adults and children; the work of artist-poets; collaborations between artists and writers or installations, exhibits, and volumes that combine poetry and photography/visual art; broadsides; concrete and visual poetry; and unique conceptions like the “plastic poetry” of Kansuke Yomomoto or Claudia Rankine’s multigenre and spatially conscious Citizen: An American Lyric, the CFP also asked: Can the two art forms ever be fully collaborative or hybrid, become something greater than the sum of their parts, or is one always secondary or dependent? Is the relationship of poetry and visual art primarily formal, or is it also political, ideological, transgressive, or, as Brian Glavey has suggested, queer? The final collection includes essays by both critics and an artist practitioner, representing universities on three continents.

Humanities is an international scholarly, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that is funded by the academic Knowledge Unlatched initiative.

Scanlon Gives Public Lecture on WWI Literature

Mara Scanlon, Professor of English, recently delivered a community lecture at the Fredericksburg branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library titled “The Great War from the Margins: WWI Literature by Women and African Americans.” Focusing especially on the novel Not Only War: A Story of Two Great Conflicts by Victor Daly (the only novel written by an African American soldier or veteran of that conflict), American medical worker Mary Borden’s experimental collection The Forbidden Zone, and African American playwright May Miller’s brief drama “Stragglers in the Dust” (which asks, what if the Unknown Soldier were black?), the lecture was presented in conjunction with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a Library of America program called “World War I and America.”

Book corner: Find out more on Great War, writing and more at library (The Free Lance-Star)

Scanlon Publishes Essay on Modernist Writer Rebecca West

Mara Scanlon’s essay “Gender Identity and Promiscuous Identification: Reading (in) Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier” was recently published in The Journal of Modern Literature. The article focuses on the frequently overlooked narrator of West’s novel, set on the home front in the First World War. Scanlon interprets Jenny as an embedded reader of the novel’s main plot, a love triangle precipitated by a shell-shocked soldier’s amnesia, which Jenny’s own complicated desire further tangles. Positioned as such, Jenny breaches appropriate boundaries between herself and the “characters” of the main events, exhibiting a radical empathy called “promiscuous identification,” which finally troubles both her class and gender identity. Using theories of readership, Scanlon argues that Jenny’s zealous identification as a reader finally challenges the novel’s own stated moral and seemingly inevitable outcome, one dependent on a model of stable identity that Jenny radically undermines.

Scanlon Publishes on Whitman and (Digital) Literary Tourism

Mara Scanlon, Professor of English, published the essay “‘Afoot with my vision’: Whitmania and Tourism in the Digital Age” as a chapter in From Page to Place: American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors, eds. Jennifer Harris and Hilary Iris Lowe, U of Massachusetts Press. The chapter, drawing on a multi-university teaching experience using digital pedagogies that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, focuses on questions of immediacy and presence in digital and embodied tourism related to the American poet Walt Whitman.

Scanlon Shares Paper on Great War Literature

Mara Scanlon, Professor of English, recently participated in the seminar “WW I: Reconsidering Rupture” at the 17th Annual Modernist Studies Association Conference. Her paper, “Mary Borden’s ‘Moonlight’: ‘A Crazy Hurting Dream,'” focused on the experimental war book The Forbidden Zone, written by Mary Borden, an American civilian who ran a hospital unit behind the front lines in World War I.  The paper theorized the traumatic encounter with beauty, defined as an “abraded adjacency” in a revision of Elaine Scarry’s terminology from On Beauty and Being Just, which can shock the self from its protective mechanization in a time of violence. The Forbidden Zone is also included in Scanlon’s English class called Literature of the Great War.

Scanlon Presents on Women Modernist Poets

Mara Scanlon, professor of English, presented a paper entitled “Charlotte Mew, H.D., and the Magdalen: ‘what she did everyone knows'” at the H.D. and Feminist Poetics Conference in Bethlehem, PA, H.D.’s birthplace.

The paper examined the Magdalen figures in two poems, not only analyzing the representations of their sexual bodies and the visions they enable for male prophets, but also situating the publications in their wartime contexts, in which the crucified Christ becomes a figure for wounded or sacrificial soldiers.

Accompanying Dr. Scanlon to the conference to further their own research on poet Hilda Doolittle, known as H.D., were three senior English majors: Bailey Meeks, Shannon Birch, and Christina Cox.

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