2015 Kimbilio Litfest will introduce African-American fiction writers’ organization to SMU Thursday, Oct. 15

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2015 Kimbilio Litfest will introduce African-American fiction writers’ organization to SMU Thursday, Oct. 15

Kimbilio Fiction logoLiterature fans and aspiring authors in SMU’s Dallas neighborhood have an opportunity to get acquainted with an African-American fiction writer’s group, founded by a University faculty member, that hosts an annual retreat at SMU-in-Taos.

The inaugural Kimbilio Litfest tour stops on the main campus from 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in 131 Dedman Life Sciences Building. The event is sponsored by the SMU Department of English.

2015 Kimbilio Litfest banner

“This is our first opportunity to introduce Kimbilio to Texas,” says Professor of English and Creative Writing Director David Haynes, who started Kimbilio in 2012. “These are some really extraordinary writers and readers, and we’re really excited to present this emerging national organization to Dallas and the SMU community.”

> Learn more about Kimbilio at kimbiliofiction.com

October’s guest authors include these literary lights:

  • Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of two books and one poetry collection. Jailed at a young age, Betts spent his late teen years in solitary confinement. While in prison, he corresponded with any poet who would write him back. Once released, he earned an undergraduate degree from Maryland and then a Masters degree in writing from Warren Wilson College. He’s now in his third year at Yale Law. [More about Reginald Dwayne Betts at the Poetry Foundation]
  • Sanderia Faye is a Kimbilio Fellow and author of Mourner’s Bench (University of Arkansas Press, September 2015). Her work has appeared in various literary journals and in Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas. Faye is also a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas-Dallas. [Sanderia Faye at sanderiafaye.com]
  • Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, Driving the King (Harper, 2015) and Like Trees, Walking (Amistad, 2007), which received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Howard has recorded commentary for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Massachusetts Review, and Salon. [Ravi Howard on Facebook: Ravi.Howard]
  • LaToya Watkins is a Kimbilio Fellow who has has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and Kimbilio Fiction. Her stories have appeared in online and print publications including Joyland Magazine, Lunch Ticket: Antioch, Los Angeles, Kweli Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Potomac Review. Most recently, she was awarded a 2015 Pushcart Prize for short fiction. [LaToya Watkins on Twitter: @LaToyaSWatkins]
  • Rosalyn Story is a Dallas resident, Kimbilio Fellow, classical violinist, journalist and author of both fiction and nonfiction. A member of the violin section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, she divides her time between performing and writing magazine and journal articles on the visual and performing arts. She has also penned three books – including Wading Home, which was adapted as an opera through a collaboration between SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the cities of Dallas and New Orleans. [More about Rosalyn Story at GoodReads.com]

Written by Kenny Ryan

> Visit SMU’s Department of English online: smu.edu/english

October 8, 2015|Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News, Save the Date|

Four named 2015 SMU Ford Research Fellows

SMU Ford Research Fellows 2015

Ping (Peggy) Gui, Robert Howell, Lisa Siraganian and Nathan Cortez were named SMU’s 2015 Ford Research Fellows during the University’s Board of Trustees meeting in May.

Four distinguished SMU professors were named 2015 Ford Research Fellows during the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, May 7.

This year’s recipients are Nathan Cortez, Dedman School of Law; Ping (Peggy) Gui, Electrical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; Robert Howell, Philosophy, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; and Lisa Siraganian, English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Established in 2002 through a $1 million pledge from trustee Gerald J. Ford, the fellowships help SMU retain and reward outstanding scholars. Each recipient receives a cash prize for research support during the year.

(more…)

May 20, 2015|Faculty in the News, For the Record, News, Research|

SMU sponsors musical tribute to African American author-activist Margaret Walker Alexander on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Randy Klein and Aurelia Williams

Randy Klein, at piano, and Aurelia Williams

Members of the SMU community are invited to a free performance of “For My People: A New Musical Work” on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Clarence Muse Café Theater, 1309 Canton Street, Dallas.

Celebrating the centennial of the birth of acclaimed African American poet-scholar-activist Margaret Walker Alexander (1915-1998), the event will feature the opus’ author, Randy Klein, joined by Aurelia Williams and the Heart and Soul Singers performing in honor of SMU’s first sponsorship of the annual College Language Association (CLA) convention (April 8-11 in Dallas).

Margaret Walker Alexander

Margaret Walker Alexander

Co-sponsors of the musical tribute are SMU’s Department of English and Ethnic Studies Program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences along with the University’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, in partnership with the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the College Language Association and Dr. Maryemma Graham of the University of Kansas.

“This is not only CLA’s 75th convention and the centennial of Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander’s birth, but it’s also the centennial of SMU’s opening,” says CLA host committee chair Darryl Dickson-Carr, associate professor of English in SMU’s Dedman College.

“Walker Alexander was the direct inspiration for The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, as its founder, Curtis King, was her student and protégé,” Dickson-Carr says. “The CLA’s first visit to Texas in 50 years coincides with remarkable events in Dallas and SMU’s histories, and features the work of some of its best and most celebrated students.”

Dylan Smith

Dylan Smith

Synthia Green

Synthia Green

SMU will host a private reception for CLA members at Café 43 in the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. University leaders set to greet CLA guests include Dedman College Dean Thomas DiPiero, Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies James Quick and Department of English Chair Nina Schwartz.

A jazz trio led by Dylan Smith of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will provide entertainment, as will Meadows student Synthia Green.

SMU English Department graduate students will serve as CLA convention volunteers.

For more details about the CLA and related events, contact Dr. Dickson-Carr.

Written by Denise Gee

April 2, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

New and notable authors to visit SMU LitFest 2015, March 19-21

SMU’s LitFest 2015 will feature an array of readings, receptions and book signings celebrating the creative work of poets, novelists and students from Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, March 21.

Pen in HandSponsored by SMU’s Department of English, most festival events will be free and open to the public.

> Find a complete SMU LitFest schedule

The annual festival “has an excellent record of bringing in rising literary stars,” says Dallas Morning News books editor Michael Merschel in a March 5 story about the popular event, which since the 1980s has featured such notable writers as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Norman Mailer and Jill McCorkle.

“I’m particularly excited this year that, first, we’re expanding our offerings to include writers of creative nonfiction and also that this year our guests include so many writers who are working on multiple genres,” SMU Creative Writing Director David Haynes told Merschel. “It’s a genuinely versatile group of writers. And a quite diverse one, too.”

Visiting authors include:

Jeffrey Renard Allen: Author of two collections of poetry and two works of fiction including the celebrated novel,Rails Under My Back, winner of The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction.

Jericho Brown: His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New Republic and The Best American Poetry. He is an assistant professor of poetry at Emory University.

Liam Callanan: Author of two critically acclaimed novels, All Saints and The Cloud Atlas, his new book, Listen & Other Stories, will be released in April. Callanan teaches in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.: Her poetry has appeared in such publications as Harvard Review, Poetry International andBest New Poets of 2012. Gray also translates classical and contemporary Persian poetry.

Joe Milazzo: Author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and a forthcoming volume of poetry, The Habiliments, his writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review and The Collagist. He is editor of the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing].

R. Flowers Rivera: Her work has been published in such journals as African American Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Columbia and Feminist Studies. Her short story “The Iron Bars” has received numerous accolades.

Alan Shapiro: Author of 12 books of poetry (including the National Book Award finalist Night of the Republic), four books of prose, and two translations with Oxford University Press. His many awards include The Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize and a Guggenheim.

Peter Turchi: Author of five books of fiction and nonfiction and co-editor of three writing anthologies, Turchi has been called by The Houston Chronicle, “one of the foremost thinkers on the art of writing.”

Written by Ariel Monticure and Denise Gee

March 19, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

‘Magistra doctissima’ Bonnie Wheeler honored with festschrift of essays in medieval studies

Bonnie WheelerAs director of medieval studies in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Bonnie Wheeler has served as a role model to her students as well as a driving force in her academic field. Now, colleagues throughout the nation have organized a festschrift to honor “her many scholarly achievements and to celebrate her wide-ranging contributions to medieval studies in the United States.”

Magistra Doctissima: Essays in Honor of Bonnie Wheeler (published in late 2013 by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University) contains nearly 20 individual contributions by eminent medieval scholars and is edited by Dorsey Armstrong and Ann W. Astell of Purdue University and Howell Chickering of Amherst College. In five distinct groups of essays, as well as in the book’s title (“Most Expert Teacher”), its creators pay homage to a scholar who “has effectively shaped medieval studies over the course of the last three decades,” wrote Astell and Chickering in their introduction.

“Not only is Bonnie most expert (doctissima) in her chosen scholarly fields as well as a master teacher in the classroom and lecture hall, she has also guided innumerable national committees, often as their chief, and, above all, has been a beloved mentor to generations of students and colleagues. During her career she has played the role of magistra in so many different contexts that the title seems inevitable.”

> More about Magistra Doctissima at the Western Michigan University homepage

'Magistra Doctissima' coverThe editors chose to focus on writings that “extend or complement” Wheeler’s own considerable body of scholarly work. She has edited, co-edited or co-authored 13 essay collections and serves as series editor for two Palgrave Macmillan’s peer-reviewed series, The New Middle Ages and Arthurian and Courtly Cultures. In addition, she is founding editor of Arthuriana, the quarterly journal of the International Arthurian Society/North American Branch.

In a break with usual festschrift tradition, only one former Wheeler student contributed an essay – the late Stephen Stallcup ’92, then assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The rest were written by peers and colleagues, many of them preeminent experts in their fields.

A section on Old and Middle English literature includes works on topics ranging from Chaucer’s Britishness to a Japanese woman writer’s engagement with Grendel’s Mother. The next, on “Arthuriana Then and Now,” includes an essay on the continued presence of the Holy Grail on the World Wide Web. Another, on Joan of Arc, features reflections upon the warrior saint’s afterlife on stage and screen.

The fourth section, on “Nuns and Spirituality,” includes an edition and translation of a previously unpublished letter from the abbot of Clairvaux to the abbess of Fontevrault, as well as a consideration of El Greco’s Espolio by Annemarie Weyl Carr, University Distinguished Professor Emerita of Art History in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The final section, “Royal Women,” features an examination of the personal seal of Constance of France and an edition of two previously unpublished bequests by Jeanne d’Évreux to the abbey of Saint-Denis.

Jo Goyne, SMU senior lecturer in English, earned a grateful mention in the book’s acknowledgments “for her crucial role in helping develop this volume” as well as for her editorial assistance.

The festschrift is not the first honor bestowed upon Wheeler by her peers in medieval studies. In 2010, an international group of colleagues and friends created The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship Fund to support women scholars in medieval studies as they complete major research projects that will enable them to advance in their profession.

Visit the Bonnie Wheeler Fund homepage

March 3, 2014|For the Record, News, Year of the Faculty|
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