March 3, 2021

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.

UMW Professors to be Featured on ‘With Good Reason’ (The Free Lance-Star)

Professors to be Featured on Radio Program (World News)

Professors to be Featured on Radio Program

University of Mary Washington Professors Mara Scanlon and Mindy Erchull will be featured in upcoming episodes of the With Good Reason public radio program. Mara Scanlon During Professor of English Mara Scanlon’s encore interview, to be broadcast June 27 to July 3, she discusses Walt Whitman and his time as a nurse during the Civil War in a show entitled “America the Beautiful.” In a project that involved collaboration with three other universities, Scanlon worked on a digital humanities project, “Looking for Whitman: The Poetry of Place in the Life and Work of Walt Whitman,” which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The full interview will be available beginning the week of the show at Mindy Erchull Associate Professor of Psychology Mindy Erchull’s encore interview will be broadcast July 4 to 19. In this program, entitled “The Innocence Project,” she discusses love and jealousy and the link to abusive relationships. Based on findings from a recent survey, Erchull suggests that women who see jealousy as a positive thing may be more likely to find themselves in abusive relationships. The full interview will be available beginning the week of the show at With Good Reason is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside of the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at