Sonja Livingston, “Queen of the Fall”: Author Visit & Book Discussion

SliderVisitMilne Library and the Geneseo Literary Forum are proud to support the 2016 “If All of Rochester Reads the Same Book…” Queen of the Fall: A Memoir of Girls & Goddesses by Sonja Livingston. Livingston will be in Geneseo on Monday, March 7th at 6pm in the College Union Ballroom. Ms. Livingston will read from her work and sign books after the presentation. The author will also visit various classes throughout the day. Join us for an engaging reading and refreshments!

In addition, Milne Library & TLC are hosting a book discussion which will take place on Tuesday, March 1st from 4-5:30pm in Milne 208.  Coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided. To participate, simply follow the link and sign up. Once you’ve submitted your registration, stop into Milne 214 (Director’s office) to pick up your copy of the book.  Please contact Chris Shute at (585) 245-5591 if you have questions.

For more information on the “If All of Rochester Reads the Same Book…” program, please visit Writers & Books at http://wab.org

BookArtAbout the book: Whether pulled from the folds of memory, channeled through the icons of Greek mythology and Roman Catholicism, or filtered through the lens of pop culture, Sonja Livingston’s Queen of the Fall: A Memoir of Girls & Goddesses considers the lives of women. Exploring the legacies of those she has crossed paths with in life and in the larger culture, Livingston weaves together strands of memory with richly imagined vignettes to explore becoming a woman in late 1980s and early 1990s America.

Along the way, the award-winning memoirist brings us face-to-face with herself as an inner-city girl—trying to imagine a horizon beyond poverty, fearful of her fertility and the limiting arc of teenage pregnancy. Livingston looks at the lives of those she’s known: friends who’ve gotten themselves into “trouble,” girls who tell their school counselor small lies out of necessity and pain and a mother whose fruitfulness seems, at times, biblical. Livingston interacts with icons such as Susan B. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, and Ally McBeal to mine the terrain of her own femininity, fertility, and longing.Queen of the Fall is a dazzling meditation on loss, possibility, and, ultimately, what it means to be human.

About the Author: Sonja Livingston’s first book, the memoir Ghostbread, won an AWP Book Prize for Nonfiction and has been adopted for use by classrooms around the nation. Her writing has been honored with a NYFA Fellowship, an Iowa Review Award, and an Arts & Letters Essay Prize, as well as grants from Vermont Studio Center and the Deming Fund for Women.

Her work has appeared in many literary journals including the Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southeast Review, Brevity, and AGNI online, and is anthologized in several texts on writing, including Short Takes, The Truth of the Matter, The Curious Writer, and Brief Encounters. An assistant professor in the MFA Program at the University of Memphis, Sonja is married to the artist Jim Mott and divides her time between Tennessee and New York State.

 For more information, visit http://sonjalivingston.com

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Get Reviewing!

SUNY Geneseo is can’t-turn-the-pages-fast-enough-excited to launch NaRMo: National Book Review Month – one day into February and already many have heeded the call to @getreviewing!
NaRMoLytton Smith, a faculty member in the English Department here at SUNY Geneseo, has participated in National Novel Writing Months and National Poetry Writing Months, and is thrilled to see the products of such intensive generative cycles.

But where, he asks, is the space to review all this great contemporary writing?

We’re constantly hearing, for example, about the “death” of poetry, or of experimental writing, or the short-story, or books themselves. As Chrissy Montelli, writing on the Gandy Dancer blog (the SUNY system’s literary magazine) put it: “if you have to keep declaring, over and over, that poetry is dead, it can’t actually be dead.” The reason for repeated attempts to cremate the literary arts often boils down to lack of awareness: the writers of such articles haven’t found the scintillating contemporary writing that would convince them to put down pen, shrug off  misanthropy, and settle down to read some amazing writing, about which they could then write.

That amazing writing is out there, and NaRMo will provide readers with ways to find it, and reviewers with an excuse to shout it from the virtual rooftops.

NaRMo is a grass-roots organization, based at SUNY Geneseo, and dedicated to increasing the number of book reviews of writers from all styles and backgrounds during the month of February. A collaboration between SUNY Geneseo’s English Department and Milne Library, NaRMo intends to link readers through book reviews and to help initiate conversation about books from an assortment of genres including children’s books, drama, non-fiction, fiction and poetry. This is the first year NaRMo is up and running, and we encourage everyone to get reading and get reviewing! Whether it’s through the official NaRMo site, via a literary journal, or on an online store: post a review of a recent book you want the world to know about.

Please join in, whether on the NaRMo websiteTwitterFacebook, or in whatever part of the internet or the physical world makes sense to you: reviews on online retailers, notecards in people’s mailboxes, letters to friends.

 

 

Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence [an Open SUNY Textbook]

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Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence By Amy Guptill, with contributions by Aly Button, Peter Farrell, Kaethe Leonard, and Timothée Pizarro.

Please join me in congratulating Amy Guptill on her publication of Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence, the newest Open SUNY Textbook!

Many high school students have mastered writing conventions but still struggle to understand and meet the expectations at the college level. Other students, perhaps out of school for a number of years, are getting reacquainted with academic writing while working to meet college-level challenges. Writing in College demystifies college-level expectations, helping students see the purpose behind the varied writing assignments they face.

Guptill skillfully positions specific and applicable advice about college writing within the larger framework of transitioning to the culture of the academy and college-level expectations. In addition, chapters can be read independently and assigned separately, and each is accompanied by further resources, suggested exercises, and advice from other student writers.

Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence

 Available as ebook and PDF downloads, as well as online, at: textbooks.opensuny.org/writing-in-college-from-competence-to-excellence/

 

About the Textbook

Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence is designed for students who have largely mastered the conventions of high-school level writing and are now rising to meet more the advanced expectations of college. Students will find in Writing in College a warm invitation to think of themselves as full, self-motivated members of the academic community. With concise explanations, clear multi-disciplinary examples and empathy for the challenges of student life, this short textbook both explains the purposes behind college-level writing and offers indispensable advice for organization and expression.

 

About the Author

Amy Guptill is an Associate Professor of Sociology at The College at Brockport, SUNY where she has a joint appointment with the Delta College Program, an alternative interdisciplinary General Education option. Her research focuses on spatial and structural shifts in agriculture and food systems with recent work on innovative agricultural marketing. She teaches courses in the sociology of food, development and globalization, community and social change, social statistics and college writing. In addition to Writing In College: From Competence to Excellence, she is the coauthor of a recent college textbook entitled Food & Society: Principles and Paradoxes (Malden, MA: Polity, 2012).

 

Value of Open Access Textbooks

The author is thrilled to offer this book as an open textbook. The cost of commercial textbooks is an urgent and growing problem, and all students should have easy access to advice about how to get the most out of the hundreds of pages of writing they’ll do over the course of a four-year degree.

Licensed for reuse and remix, the Open SUNY Textbooks are a valuable addition to the open access textbook community. Freely available, the open access content is peer reviewed by fellow instructors and scholars for quality and then copy-edited before publication. Open textbooks are just one component of the open educational resources movement (OER) and provide high quality, reusable material for course instructors to create cost savings for students and institutions.

 

About Open SUNY Textbooks

The SUNY Textbook program is a creative means to improving access to educational materials while fostering a community of resources that spans disciplines and encourages interdisciplinary study. SUNY Libraries and faculty are leading SUNY’s open textbook publishing initiative and have already saved thousands of dollars for SUNY students. Having published 12 free online textbooks, with 14 more planned in the next 18 months, this innovative multi-institutional program is lowering the cost of textbooks for students in New York and beyond.

Open textbooks are available to everyone free of charge. Over 50,000 downloads of Open SUNY Textbooks occurred between February 1, 2015-December 14, 2015, with visitors and readers from all over the world. For program details, please visit http://textbooks.opensuny.org

Assorted Selfscriptings, Geneseo Author Reading Event

InviteEStelzigThe English Department and Milne Library are proud to host a reading by Eugene Stelzig, a Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at SUNY Geneseo. Stelzig will be reading from his new poetry collection, Assorted Selfscriptings, next Tuesday, November 3rd, at 4:15pm in Milne Library.

Stelzig has taught at Geneseo since 1972, and has published 5 books and many articles, as well as one other volume of poetry, Fool’s Gold. His book, Henry Crabb Robinson in Germany, received the Jean-Pierre Barricelli Book Prize for the year’s best book in Romanticism studies. In 2013, Stelzig published a short study on Bob Dylan with Milne Library


Throughout his academic career, Stelzig has been a lifelong poet. This volume, also published by Milne Library, spans two decades of reflective writing, chronicling the poet’s journeys and observations from Cambridge Massachusetts, to Cambridge University in the UK, to country life in Western New York.

SliderStelzigAmong many praises from colleagues and readers, Stephen Behrendt, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English at University of Nebraska, Lincoln writes of Assorted Selfscriptings, “A record of warmth and wisdom, informed by sly wit, passionate compassion, and a sure ear for the music of language and the voice of the spirit—this is the poetry of Eugene Stelzig”
Other publications by Milne Library most recently have included a 2nd edition of Christopher Leary’s A Friendly Introduction to Mathematical Logic. Milne Library will also be hosting a celebration of Geneseo faculty, student and staff authors to highlight and celebrate all publications from the past year. The Geneseo Author’s celebration will take place in Milne 213 at 4pm on Wednesday, November 18.  Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to share news of any article or book published in the last 12 months, scholarly or not, as well as major digital projects–email Sue Ann Brainard at [email protected] or contact any of the librarians at Milne with citation information to contribute to the impressive list of Geneseo publications.

~ Allison Brown, author.

Life in the Digital Woods: Walden, A Fluid Text Updated

[See our update post on the Digital Thoreau blog too!]

A Recap: What is Walden: A Fluid Text?

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.50.31 AMOur Fluid Text edition of Walden gathers eight years and seven versions of the American masterpiece using the Versioning Machine tool and Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) mark-up. Want the modern edit of the masterpiece?– we also have the 1971 Princeton University Press edition, reproduced with permission. Readers can see the definitive version foremost (with or without our notes, easily toggled off for a clean read), and then view the older workings of the novel. Easily presented side-by-side, readers can wade time’s river in order to view the evolution of Walden as Thoreau honed it over the years. We’ve encoded the textual changes down to the word based on the scholarship of Ron Clapper. A simple click on the text will highlight the cross-edition variations; all the grunt work has been done for the fascinated student of Thoreau, and now further opportunities for scholarship are available with this publicly available text. Coders, too, can step behind-the-screen to see our TEI mark-up and XSLT. The Fluid Text edition of Walden takes the confident and singular challenge Thoreau gave us long ago even further through the field of digital humanities, and studies of encoding and authorial evolution:

It is not all books that are as dull as their readers . .  .

The Upgrade

With the release of the newly updated Walden: A Fluid Text comes plenty of detail, and quite a few major features. SUNY Geneseo’s Fluid Text team has worked primarily to clean up and edit the text, and to work on a new face for the project. Various bugs and textual errors reported by ours users have been amended, and we used this data to forecast how we wanted to improve the webpage for this update, and this is what we’ve done.

Our Walden: A Fluid Text Data Dictionary has been updated, so now TEI experts and novices alike can view the substratum of encoding mark-up–  the usage of TEI elements and attributes, as well as definitions and further usage tips. On a similar note for coders and the curious, our XSLT source code is now available [ziptar.gz].

Support for Thoreau’s journal notes (added by Dr. Paul Schacht’s “Literature and Literary Study in a Digital Age” course students) are now available in our work as Notes studded throughout the text. These journal notes were the earliest conceptions of many famous thoughts and passages found in Walden, jotted down by Thoreau years in advance. If you want to take a look at the student work and how this was done through scholarship and various coding methods for this semester-long undertaking, head over here.

In our polishing, we’ve also overhauled the graphical qualities of Walden: A Fluid Text. Stylistic textual rendering has been tweaked, and the distinctive tables in Economy, the inaugural and often mathematical chapter, are reformatted for easier understanding. Currently, individual columns in the versioning machine layout can now scroll independently of each other as well, so that reader’s can compare different sections of Walden at once.

What’s Next

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.47.34 AMOur Fluid Text, as the name suggests, is always changing, and we have many more features in mind. In keeping with the possibilities of digital tools, and TEI in particular, we have a planned revamp of the website interface to gild our look with a simplicity inspired by Walden itself. Dr. Paul Schacht plans on involving students in this project through further work in his Digital Studies course. A new users manual is planned to accompany the new look. Special attention will also be paid to accessibility on tablet screens, for scholars who want to read Thoreau in the library and woods alike.

No wonder that Alexander carried the Illiad with him on his expeditions in a precious casket. A written word is the choicest of relics . . . 

 

Join Us to Celebrate!

GandyTicketCome celebrate the publication of Gandy Dancer, Volume 2, Issue 1 with a brunch buffet and readings by contributors.  Print copies, cool T-shirts, and mugs will be available for $10-12.

Thursday, December 12th
10 am-noon

Harding Lounge (Welles 111)

Gandy Dancer is the SUNY-wide online literary journal edited by students in English 288/Editing and Production Workshop.  Our new issue includes work from Binghamton, Geneseo, Old Westbury, Oneonta, New Paltz, Potsdam and Stony Brook.

For more information, check us out at gandydancer.org or contact Rachel Hall, faculty advisor at [email protected]

Gandy Dancer Ball

Birth of an Online Literary Journal

 

Thoreau, Digitized. Deliberately.

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by Paul Schacht

Henry_David_Thoreau-350wIn Walden, nineteenth-century American author, philosopher, and activist Henry David Thoreau wrote that he went to the woods because he wished to “live deliberately.” In the same work, he also wrote that “Books must be read as deliberately as they were written.”

Digital Thoreau is a joint initiative of SUNY Geneseo, the Thoreau Society, and the Walden Woods Project aimed at promoting the deliberate reading of Thoreau in ways that illuminate his creative process and facilitate thoughtful conversation about his work.

The projects that comprise the initiative are open in a variety of ways.

FluidDigital Thoreau’s main scholarly project is a “fluid text” edition of Walden. Thoreau revised the manuscript of Walden seven times between 1846, when he began working on it while still living at the pond, and 1854, when the first edition was published. Our fluid text Walden makes it possible for readers to follow the manuscript revisions across the seven versions, comparing any version with any other and with the Princeton University Press edition of the finished work.

The project would not have been possible without the cooperation of Thoreau scholar Ronald E. Clapper, who freely shared with us his 1967 dissertation identifying all the manuscript variants. Nor could it have happened without the Versioning Machine: the open-source platform for displaying text-versions that we’ve adopted to display the variants on-screen.

TEIIn turn, we’re openly sharing the XML-TEI code that’s the back end of that Versioning Machine display — code written right here at SUNY Geneseo by Milne Library faculty and staff. Other digital humanists have already downloaded the code to see how the variants display on another versioning platform, Juxta.

Walden: A Fluid Text Edition also incorporates the scholarly notes that SUNY Distinguished Professor and former SUNY Geneseo English department member Walter Harding wrote for his Walden: An Annotated Edition (1995). This addition was made possible because the notes were freely shared with us by the Harding family.

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Screenshot: A Readers Thoreau

Another of our projects at Digital Thoreau, funded by a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant, is a text of Walden designed to invite conversation both in the text’s margins and in discussion forums. Readers can participate in this conversation individually or in groups. The Readers’ Thoreau brings together two open-source plugins from the open-source blogging platform WordPress — Commons In A Box and CommentPress — to create a “social reading” experience that has the fundamental features of a social network. Readers can comment on any paragraph of Walden, add labels to comments, search other readers’ comments by label, follow the comment activity of friends in the network, join forums, and continue conversations that begin inside the text in other ways. They can filter comments so that they only see the ones that interest them. Two or more groups can decide to read Walden with each other. They can “like” the comments they find most valuable and recommend comments to friends.

DigThorSliderWe think of The Readers’ Thoreau as a tool for reading deliberately by reading deliberatively. You could also think of it as space for open conversation about one of literature’s greatest works.

Open access is the means by which Digital Thoreau’s projects have come into being; it’s also the end they serve.

 

The Birth of an Online Literary Journal

GandySliderOrA Story With a Happy Ending

Written by Rachel Hall

Starting a literary journal at Geneseo had proved difficult for a number of reasons, foremost the cost of producing an attractive and substantive print journal. Another obstacle was maintaining student interest throughout the semester. Students loved the idea of putting together a journal, but with the demands of courses competing for their time and energy, interest invariably flagged, and the many tasks of creating a literary journal were abandoned.

Timing, as they say, is everything. The English department has been, for the last three years, engaged in revising our major to reflect the changes in the discipline. We were rethinking both our notions about what an English major should know and what skills they would need entering a changing workforce. Meanwhile, publishing was undergoing change too. Several of the prestigious literary journals I’d long admired were moving online, while others were upping their online presence with websites and blogs. Some like the Kenyon Review, established by the critic John Crowe Ransom in 1939, for instance, run online editions in addition to their gorgeous print journal. As these journals proliferated, more writers sought online homes for their poems and stories and essays. And for many writers, the benefits of online publication outweighed any perceived stigma.

Gandy.cover_issue_30_en_USIf I wanted to prepare Geneseo students for careers in publishing, it seemed essential to provide some hands-on experience with the technology they would need to know. Around this time I visited the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Purchase, and noted with envy their student-led journal, Italics Mine. Perfect bound, visually appealing, and full of compelling student writing and art, Italics Mine, is created by students enrolled in a semester-long editing class, an elective within the Creative Writing major. Here was a model that would work at Geneseo and particularly so with our new curriculum in English. I proposed a class, an editing and production workshop, with the intention of starting an online literary journal called Gandy Dancer.

But how was I to do this? Me, who still hand writes her first drafts, who continues to call this blog post an article? Enter, Joe Easterly, or as the founding editors of Gandy Dancer fondly called him, Library Joe. In numerous meetings in and outside of class, Joe listened to what we wanted, asked thoughtful questions about our ideas and suggested various approaches. He taught us how to use OJS and WordPress. He led us through CSS coding and worked to help the students design our journal and our website. This semester, we continue to revise and polish the look and we’ve been thrilled with the work Leah Root and Corey Ha have done to tailor OJS to better suit Gandy Dancer. Without this expertise and support, Gandy Dancer would not exist.

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Our Spring launch party!

If I was initially dismissive of online publications, the students never shared that bias. They have enthusiastically embraced the medium and are eager to explore the possibilities it provides. One such possibility was our ability to reach readers and writers outside of Geneseo. We decided to make Gandy Dancer a SUNY-wide literary journal, accepting work from the 60+ SUNY campuses, something that OJS makes easy. We’ve received warm support and encouragement from faculty and students at other SUNY campuses and we hope to continue building these connections. Our journal’s name reflects this desire: Gandy dancer is old railroad slang for the workers who tended the tracks, lifting and leveling the railroad ties after a train passed. We like to think we, like the gandy dancers, are helping to take people to new places.


Rachel Hall is a professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Geneseo. Believe it or not, her two most recent publications—a short story and an essay–are in online journals. Read them at south85journal.com and soon at lunchticket.org.

Faculty Bookshelf: Rachel Hall

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Professor Rachel Hall in Holland.

Rachel Hall, Professor of English, Director of Writing, and award-winning author, is an avid reader of fiction, especially short stories. As a young woman, she became enamored of the short story, and continues to read them for inspiration and enlightenment. The stories of Alice Munro were especially important to her, in particular, Munro’s exploration of characters and their psychology.

Many of Professor Hall’s favorite short stories are by Alice Munro: “Dimensions” and “Free Radicals” from the collection Too Much Happiness; “My Mother’s Dream” from The Love of a Good Woman; “Friend of My Youth” and “Differently” from Friend of My Youth; “Labor Day Dinner” from The Moons of Jupiter; “Miles City, Montana” from The Progress of Love; “Carried Away” from Open Secrets.

Finding a Girl in America

Finding a Girl in America

She also enjoys Andre Dubus’ stories collected in Separate Flights and Finding a Girl in America, Robin Black’s If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, Jean Thompson’s Throw Like A Girl, The News From Spain by Joan Wickersham, and Siobahn Fallon’s You’ll Know When The Men Are Gone. And when she wants something new, literary magazines keep her well supplied.

Professor Hall says, “My philosophy on books and reading is that you can never be bored if you love books. I grew up in a family of readers and that is one of the best gifts my parents gave me.  I’m always reading something.  I read for many different reasons–for pleasure, or inspiration, or research or for models (how was this story built?) especially when I’m rereading.”

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This

Next on Professor Hall’s reading list is Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien’s collection of related short stories about Vietnam, and two books by Philip Caputo, Rumor of War, which is a personal narrative of a soldier in Vietnam, and 13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings.

Not surprisingly when you look at her “to do” reading list, Professor Hall’s next writing project will be a novel set in the 1960s-70s, so she is set to enjoy researching for that book. Another future project is the Rochester Jewish Book Festival. She is on the committee that sponsors the festival and she will be traveling to New York City soon to recruit speakers for that event.

When asked what her favorite books were as a child, Professor Hall reveals a fascination with The Endless Steppe, by Esther Hautzig, spending hours imagining herself as the protagonist in frozen Siberia. Additionally, she enjoyed The Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and biographies of women such as Helen Keller.

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Professor Hall shares her love of reading with her daughter; the two are members of a mother-daughter book club. While this gives her the opportunity to explore some new books with her daughter, it also means she has to read some books she’d rather not (Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson comes to mind).

The author Professor Hall would love to meet and talk to? Alice Munro, of course! If such a meeting could happen, Ms. Munro would undoubtedly enjoy the conversation with Rachel Hall immensely.

 

Milne’s Center for Academic Excellence: New Name, Same Services

What once was Milne Library’s Writing & Learning Center – consisting of AOP tutoring services, the satellite center for the English Department’s Writing Learning Center, ELL tutoring and speech buddies program and the Geneseo Testing Center – has officially been renamed to better represent the many helpful services offered in the center.

Welcome to the Milne Center for Academic Excellence!

Center for Academic Excellence

Beginning in January 2012, the English Department’s Writing Learning Center shifted all operations to Milne’s location, supplementing its evening and weekend drop-in hours with regularly scheduled appointments Monday-Friday from 1-5 pm, which had traditionally taken place in Welles Hall.

The Center for Academic Excellence received a new facelift over the winter break as well – new carpeting, a glass panel in the front window, and potentially glass doors to separate the two rooms within the center – all in an effort to make the space comfortable and conducive to studying and testing.

Information regarding the services offered in the center can be found at a newly designed and comprehensive website.