May 22, 2024

City as Text™ Honors Project Brings Fresh Eyes to the ‘Burg

A crowd gathered in the University Center's Chandler Ballroom Monday evening for the presentation of City as Text.

A crowd gathered in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom Monday evening for the presentation of City as Text™.

Members of the UMW and Fredericksburg communities gathered in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom Monday night to see and hear the results of this year’s City as Text™ project. Developed for the National Collegiate Honors Council, City as Text™ is an experiential learning experience for UMW Honors students.

UMW’s Honors Program is led by Professor of Chemistry Kelli Slunt and Professor of English Mara Scanlon.

Since August, students have toured local museums and battlefields, heard from experts about diverse aspects of the city’s history and identity, and learned about the historical development of the urban area and its buildings, ethnographic research and respectful communication. For the culminating experience of the eight-week program, Honors students divide into groups and explore various areas of Fredericksburg.

Monday evening, each of the 15 teams presented their findings – both visually and orally – to a packed Chandler Ballroom, providing opportunities for reflection to city officials and all who attended the event.

Areas of Fredericksburg the students explored included:

– College Heights
– Darbytown
– Hurkamp Park
– Normandy Village
– Sunken Road
– Upper Princess Anne Street
– Uptown
– Warehouse/Marye Heights
– Waterfront/Sofia Street


Scanlon Chats About Whitman on ‘With Good Reason’

Professor of English Mara Scanlon

Professor of English Mara Scanlon

Professor of English Mara Scanlon appeared on an episode of With Good Reason radio called “Beyond the Book-Whitmaniacs.” Scanlon told the show’s host about taking her class of self-proclaimed “Whitmaniacs” to the Walt Whitman house in Camden, New Jersey. She says her students were awestruck by being in the intimate spaces where Whitman lived and breathed … including his bathroom. Hear more.

Beyond the Book-Whitmaniacs (With Good Reason)

Scanlon to Appear on ‘With Good Reason’ Radio

Professor of English Mara Scanlon

Professor of English Mara Scanlon

Professor of English Mara Scanlon will appear on With Good Reason radio, in an episode titled “Beyond the Book,” which will air from July 23 to 29.

Outer space probably isn’t in your travel plans this summer. But it could be very soon. Hayley Arceneaux was a SpaceX crew member in the first all-civilian mission to orbit earth, bringing space tourism from the realm of science fiction into reality. Her new book, Wild Ride: A Memoir of IV Drips and Rocket Ships, chronicles her journey from childhood cancer to unlikely astronaut. And: Mara Scanlon (University of Mary Washington) took her class of self-proclaimed “Whitmaniacs” to the Walt Whitman house in Camden, New Jersey. She says her students were awestruck by being in the intimate spaces where Whitman lived and breathed… including his bathroom.

UMW Honors Students Earn Early Selection to Med School

When Shreya Murali was in high school, she got the chance to observe an open-heart surgery. She watched, mesmerized, as the surgeon cut through the sternum to reveal the patient’s beating heart.

“At that moment, I knew I wanted to be in that room one day,” said prospective physician Murali, now a rising junior at the University of Mary Washington, where she’s already immersed in cutting-edge cancer research.

She’s getting a jumpstart on becoming a doctor, as one of three Mary Washington students recently accepted into The George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Thanks to an agreement between the two institutions, UMW Honors students can earn early selection to the highly competitive four-year program by applying during the spring semester of their sophomore year.

Eleven students have been accepted since the partnership was announced in 2015, with four UMW graduates enrolled as of this fall. In a couple of years, Murali, Abigail Delapenha and Hannah Harris will join them. Read more.

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

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

*For information about making a gift to support UMW students, faculty, and programs, contact the Office of Advancement at 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.