Willard Spiegelman, English, The Southwest Review Turns 100

July 2015 – D Magazine

By Ben Fountain

wiliard-spiegelman

“A hundred years is a long life,” says Willard Spiegelman one warm spring Saturday in the office of the Southwest Review, the magazine he’s edited for the past 30 years. We’re on the fourth floor of Fondren Library at SMU, with a view out the window of rooftops aligned on the campus quad, oak trees in new leaf, and, far in the distance, the jumbled silver skyline of downtown Dallas.

Spiegelman, the Hughes Professor of English at SMU, is in a reflective mood, necessarily so, since his visitor keeps bugging him with questions about the 100th anniversary of the Review’s founding. It’s a fluke, a cosmic hiccup, a kink of cultural fate that the third-oldest continuously published literary review in the country is located in the heart of Dallas, where commerce is king, money screams, and living loud and large is the air we breathe. Try to imagine one of the Ewings sitting back on a quiet Southfork evening to peruse the latest issue of the Review. (Query: did we ever see a Ewing holding an actual book?) Easier to picture a blowup of Einstein’s head superimposed on the orb of Reunion Tower. Who gives a proud Texas damn about literature? READ MORE

Department of English Alumnus, Matt Alexander, featured in D Magazine

D MAGAZINE

JUNE 2015

Made in Dallas
Fifty years ago, we were the nation’s third-largest garment center. Today, a new generation of entrepreneurs is putting those old sewing machines back to work.

BY DICK REAVIS

Stubble-bearded, self-confident Matt Alexander, a 27-year-old Brit born of a Galveston mother, is on his way to becoming a titan of industry—or else he’s gathering material for a novel about failures in the start-up economy. After graduating with an English degree from SMU in 2010, he for a while held a communications job at Southwest Airlines. Then he founded a business consultancy before he took up daydreaming in the WELD co-op work space. Today he operates a company whose material assets consist of a few Apple laptops. The firm does, however, operate two websites that claim more than 250,000 registered users, and in May it attracted a $300,000 investment from several founders of CIC Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by Mayor Mike Rawlings. READ MORE

Department of English Professor emeritus C.W. Smith. writes about a trip across Europe in his latest book

‘Throttled Peacock’ offers wry observations on
European vacation and marriage

New travelogue by SMU Professor emeritus C.W. Smith

DALLAS (SMU) — Two Americans traveling Europe on the cheap with a packet of chili powder in their suitcase – what’s the worst that could go wrong? Turns out, quite a lot. A Throttled Peacock: Observations on the Old World (DeGolyer Library 2015) is a collection of essays inspired by a 1990 trip across Europe and the latest book from SMU professor emeritus C.W. Smith, who taught creative writing in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences from 1985-2012.

“We basically went to 63 different cities and stayed in 63 different beds,” said Smith, who was joined on the trip by his wife, Marcia Smith. “I just kept taking notes about the things that happened to us and when we came back I just started trying to describe some of the experiences we had.

“I didn’t have it in mind to put out a whole collection,” Smith said. “But once I’d written them all, I realized they were very unified because they were based on the same trip with the same personalities having a variety of experiences.” READ MORE

Sage advice for 2015 graduates

Advocate

Originally Posted: May 24, 2015

Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Sage advice for 2015 graduates

We’re coming to the end of commencement season, that time of year when sage advice blooms from graduation podiums across America. Nothing I’ve heard this month, though, sounds any wiser than a speech by Willard Spiegelman to students at his home campus, Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Spiegelman has taught English at SMU for many years, and he also edits The Southwest Review — a small journal, published four times a year, that’s full of good ideas. Spiegelman’s teaching and editing seem like enough to fill a life, but he’s also written about art and culture for The Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, the newspaper sent Spiegelman to Louisiana to write about the Audubon collection at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library. I took him to dinner, not quite knowing what to expect. I’d followed Spiegelman’s work in The Journal and liked it a lot, but writers aren’t always as charming in person as they are in print. The French have a warning about this. As their proverb goes, the difference between reading a writer and meeting a writer can be like eating duck pâté, then meeting the duck.

Spiegelman is, luckily, as warm and engaging in person as he is on the page. Which is why, when I recently stumbled on a video of Spiegelman’s 2014 speech at SMU, I knew I had to watch.

“I can’t tell you how to make the world a better place, and I’m not going to give you any inspirational lessons, and I hope you all hug one another,” he tells students, “but I’m here today to speak on behalf of selfishness, and I’ll tell you why.”

Selfishness? That’s an odd virtue to be promoting among young minds freshly trained with a university education — and now ready, presumably, to give back. But Spiegelman is talking about selfishness of a special sort: the capacity to close out the rest of the world, if only briefly, so that you can truly know yourself.

That kind of reflection requires quiet, a commodity in scarce supply these days. “Always carry earplugs,” Spiegelman tells his young audience. “We live in a world which is so inundated with noise. Do we need CNN in airports? Can you find a restaurant without music? Can you find a restaurant without people screaming? Difficult to do. Always, always carry earplugs.”

Spiegelman offers one other rule for living: “Never go anywhere without a book. Not an iPod, not a Kindle — a book. Because if the power fails, or, if you are trapped by the side of the road waiting for Triple A to come get you, you can read a book.”

Why read? For Spiegelman, the answer is simple: “Books can change a life. They will not change the world, but they might change you.”

There you have it. Always carry earplugs in case the world gets too noisy. And try to keep a book handy to continue your education. If there’s better advice for this year’s graduates, I haven’t found it. READ MORE

Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.

Professors receive tenure, promotions effective in 2015-16

DedmanCollegeRB

 

Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty members who are newly tenured as associate professors or have been promoted to full professorships to begin the 2015-16 academic year.

The following individuals received tenure or promotion effective Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

Angela Ards, English
Greg Brownderville, English
Justin Fisher, Philosophy
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Matthew Lockard, Philosophy
Daniel Moss, English
Nia Parson, Anthropology
Christopher Roos, Anthropology
Stephen Sekula, Physics
Alicia Zuese, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

Thomas Coan, Physics
Darryl Dickson-Carr, English
Robert Kehoe, Physics
Francisco Morán, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Tony Ng, Statistical Science
Sherry Wang, Statistical Science

Greg Brownderville – How to Make Up Your Mind (Hint: It Involves Reading Poetry) – TEDxSMU Inside SMU 2015

Originally Posted: April 30, 2015

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WATCH

Brownderville claims that poetry can make one’s mind an interesting place to live. He tells stories about his intense relationship with language, his early experiences of poetry, and his dad’s delight in funny-sounding words.

Greg Brownderville has published a book of poems titled Gust (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly, 2011) and a book of folkloristic poems titled Deep Down in the Delta (Butler Center Books, 2012). His third book, a collection of poems titled A Horse with Holes in It (LSU Press, Southern Messenger Poets series), is slated for release in fall 2016. Brownderville teaches Introduction to Creative Writing and upper-level poetry workshop.

www.gregbrownderville.com

David Haynes, English, one of three fiction jury members, asked by Pulitzer Prize Board to submit a fourth nominee

Wall Street Journal

Originally Posted: April 21, 2015

Pulitzers Added a Fourth Novel to Find Fiction Winner

Board asked jury to submit another book before selecting ‘All the Light We Cannot See’

The Pulitzer Prize Board this year asked its fiction jury to submit a belated, fourth nominee, in contrast to its handling of the selection for 2012, when no fiction prize was awarded.

On Monday the fiction award went to Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See,” published by Scribner. The other finalists were “Let Me Be Frank With You,” by Richard Ford; “The Moor’s Account,” by Laila Lalami; and “Lovely, Dark, Deep,” by Joyce Carol Oates.
In a typical year, a three-person jury of literary experts recommends three novels or short-story collections to the board for consideration. In November, this year’s jury did just that.

But as the Pulitzer board was reading those three finalists over the winter, “there was some worry expressed among board members” and the board asked the jury to submit a fourth finalist, the prize administrator, Mike Pride, said in an interview Tuesday. READ MORE

Gilbert Lecture Series presents author and game designer Ian Bogost “The Mistrust of Things”

Event Date: Thursday, April 16
Time: 6pm reception, 6:30pm lecture
Location: Dedman Life Science Building, room 131

Ian-Bogost

How can we learn to live with things?

How do we approach a world so replete, so overburdened with stuff that it’s literally falling apart from the wear?

How do we think of ourselves as just another thing among so many others, rather than the masters of the things that are our servants?

How can we respect things for what they are, irrespective of their role in our concerns, and how do we really do so, not just late one weird night but every day, habitually?

And how do we do so without descending into the anguish of nihilism, without concluding that the universe is fundamentally indifferent?

Award-winning author and game designer Ian Bogost will speak on “The Mistrust of Things” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in Room 131 of Dedman Life Science Building. The lecture, sponsored by SMU’s Gilbert Lecture Series, will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. MORE HERE

Brian Stump, Earth Sciences, key speaker at the 18th Honors Convocation

Outstanding achievement honored at SMU’s 2014-15 Awards Extravaganza, Honors Convocation.

Dedman College faculty, staff and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation, the “M” Award, at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza Monday, April 13.

> Read the list of award winners from Honors Convocation 2015

On the same day, the University honored its best students at the 18th Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Brian Stump, Claude C. Albritton Jr. Chair in Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

An expert in seismic wave propagation and earthquake source theory, Stump has become well known in North Texas for his continuing research on the increasing occurrences of small earthquakes that have shaken the area since 2008. In November 2014, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. READ MORE

Congratulations to Dedman College faculty, staff and students who were recognized at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza on Monday, April 13.

Receiving the “M” Award, SMU’s most prestigious honor. Recipients include:

• Jill DeTemple, associate professor of religious studies
• Elizabeth Wheaton, senior lecturer in economics

The Willis M. Tate Award honors an outstanding faculty member who has been involved in student life. Recipients include:

• Jodi Cooley, associate professor of physics
• Stephen Sekula, assistant professor of physics
• Willard Spiegelman, Dwaine E. Hughes Jr. Distinguished Chair in English
• Brian Zoltowski, assistant professor of chemistry

Receiving the Extra Mile Awards, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences:

• Ian Harris, associate professor of statistical science

Read the full list of award winners.

Kimbilio mentioned in NY Times article on author Toni Morrison

NY TIMES
Originally Posted: April 8, 2015
By: Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison

At 84, she sits comfortably as one of the greatest authors in American history, even as her uncompromising dream for black literature seems farther away than ever.

Not too long ago, Toni Morrison sat in the small kitchen attached to the studio where she was recording the audiobook for her newest novel, “God Help the Child,” telling a roomful of strangers stories that I will never forget. The studio, a small, refurbished barn in Katonah, N.Y., was more than a hundred years old, but only a few rustic touches remained, like a sliding barn door and knotty pine floors. A solid kitchen table had been laid with fresh fruits, muffins and tins of jam. Beams of sunlight reflected off the blindingly white snow outside the glass window. A young woman from Random House kept mentioning her sunglasses, how it was bright enough to wear them inside. Everyone giggled at her nervous chatter, but they seemed to be mostly laughing at her brave attempt to make small talk in the presence of Toni Morrison. READ MORE

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