Lytton Smith and Jón Gnarr at UR bookstore April 23

Update (April 20, 2015 at 7:17 a.m.): Dr. Smith’s translation of The Indian has been praised as “beautifully translated” and “hypnotic and heartbreaking” in a pre-publication review by Michael Schaub of NPR Books. You can read an excerpt of The Indian here.

07_27_2014_525x825_indian4Professor Lytton Smith will appear at the University of Rochester bookstore this Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m. with Jón Gnarr, former punk rocker, mayor of Reykjavík, sitcom star, and author of The Indian, which Smith has translated into English for publisher Deep Vellum.

There will be a conversation between Smith and Gnarr, a reading from the book, and a chance to ask questions. The event is free and open to the public.

192px-Jon-gnarr-2011-ffm-098The Indian is a novel/memoir of Gnarr’s uncomfortable childhood, telling in black humor his isolation and his misdiagnosis as backwards because of his severe dyslexia and ADHD. Subjected to constant bullying, young Gnarr sets his bedroom on fire (accidentally), tries to fit in by self-piercing his ears at a Grease-themed school dance, and attempts to sail across the Reykjavík bay, almost washed out into the ocean.

The Indian is the first novel in a trilogy on Gnarr’s youth, and resonates with young readers as much as with parents of children with emotional and learning issues; The Indian is taught in schools throughout Iceland, resonating with readers of all ages. The Indian is out May 5th and Deep Vellum will publish the full trilogy throughout 2015-2016.

Actors from Ireland’s Curlew Theatre Company to perform J. M. Synge adaptation on April 10

Aran PosterTegolin Knowland and Sean Coyne of the Curlew Theatre, Tullycross, Ireland will perform Eamon Grennan’s adaptation of John Millinton Synge’s The Aran Islands: A Dramatic Recital for Two Voices on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the Geneseo Riviera theater. The event, which is free and open to the pubic, is sponsored by the departments of English and History at SUNY Geneseo.

Between May 1898 and October 1901, John Millington Synge, a Dubliner, spent just under four months (accumulated over four separate visits) on Inishmaan, the middle island of the three Aran Islands lying off the West Coast of Ireland. From the diary and notebooks he kept while there, he composed his travel book, The Aran Islands. Eamon Grennan (well known Irish poet) has taken a number of fairly representative moments from The Aran Islands and turned them into a kind of collage to represent as much as possible what the book is like and something of its flavor. It is partly a romantic lyrical evocation of this wild place, partly a series of anecdotes, partly an almost anthropological study of the people’s lives, their habits, their folk-tales and so on. First performed at the Clifden Arts Festival in Western Ireland, this dramatic recital offers American audiences a rare opportunity to experience the fine work of Ireland’s Curlew Theatre Company.

Geneseo Sigma Tau Delta students take top honors at annual conference

Seventeen members of Geneseo’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, attended this year’s conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, accompanied by Prof. Caroline Woidat and adviser Prof. Gillian Paku. They were Amy Bishop, Liam Cody, Jennie Conway, Sean Fischer, Meghan Kearns, Erin Koehler, Lucia Lotempio, Ellie MacWilliam, Rebecca Miller, Christina Mortellaro, Michelle Mundt, Sean Neill, John Panus, Katie Silvestri, Ben Wach, Katie Waring, and Jo-Ann Wong.

std15-3For many of the students who attended this year’s convention, titled “Borderlands and Enchantments,” it was their first time participating in a conference where they were allowed to interact with critical and creative writing from college students around the world. The experience allowed students “to gain valuable connections throughout the conference, [and become involved in] discussion with other panelists, who brought new ideas and theories to our conversations,” said Senior Ellie MacWilliam. Students attended a variety of panels and roundtables on topics such as post-colonial literatures, Modernism, Transgender and Bisexuality in Young Adult Literature, critical theory in film and television, and XML text encoding in music and literature. std15-5For junior Michelle Mundt, being involved in panels surrounded by her college peers gave her the opportunity to learn “a lot on how to present a paper and question my motives in writing. I also enjoyed being able to listen to other students’ presentations and gleaning from their knowledge on different subjects.” Attendees also listened to presentations from acclaimed authors such as Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko. Senior Rebecca Miller found Silko’s reading “the most memorable part about the conference. . . . The conference was educational and expansive, and overall a great way to spend spring break.”

std15-6The Geneseo students were awarded two first place honors, along with the Best Convention Paper. Senior Ben Wach won the Critical Essays in Theory category and Katie Waring won the Creative Non-Fiction category, with Katie’s essay, “Transdifferentiating Cells,” ultimately named top piece at the convention. Throughout the conference, the students supported each other at the panel presentations. Senior Lucia LoTempio said, “It was definitely enlightening to make new connections with my peers and to experience the fruits of their work at Geneseo. I was consistently (though not unexpectedly) impressed with the insightfulness and intellectual difficulty of each Geneseo student’s work, whether it was critical or creative. It made me especially proud to call myself a member of the Geneseo community!” Students in the Creative Writing and Literature tracks were able to come together: “It was an honor to be able to have presented both a critical paper and a collection of poetry at the conference an experience that I was extremely lucky to have had,” said Senior Erin Koehler.

The Geneseo English attendees at this year’s convention unanimously agreed on the value of taking advantage of the opportunity that Sigma Tau Delta offers students. This convention allows students to expand their knowledge of other work happening in both critical and creative fields across the world. As Senior Sean Fischer noted, “Hopefully more students can see how successful the group that attended this year’s conference was and begin working on their own research projects or creative writing collections to submit for next year’s conference!”

See more photos from the conference.

Connor Valvo presents at literacy conference

On March 28, Connor Valvo, a senior English major and pre-service Adolescence Education student, presented at the Literacy Essentials professional conference in Connecticut. Connor presented both a defense of harnessing non-academic literacies in the high school classroom and a worked example of mapping his ninth-grade students’ fluency in arguing about hunting onto arguing about Renaissance artists. Connor’s argument gains urgency from its application to York Central High School, where the poverty rate is twice the national average and many students have particular difficulty imagining the relevance of academic work. Connor gained his experience at York while participating in ENGL 488: The Practice of Writing, a SUNY Geneseo course taught by Prof. Gillian Paku and funded by a SUNY C-TEN grant with the goal of engaging Education students with their local communities.

Sean Neill to present at major undergraduate conference

Sean Neill, a double major in English and French, will present his paper “Liquid Spectatorship and the Poetics of Immersion in Contemporary Documentary Film” at the third annual undergraduate conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, to be held at Smith College, April 24-25, 2015. It’s one of the most prestigious film studies conferences in the U.S.

From the SCMS website:

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television, and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition.

SCMS encourages excellence in scholarship and pedagogy and fosters critical inquiry into the global, national, and local circulation of cinema, television, and other related media. SCMS scholars situate these media in various contexts, including historical, theoretical, cultural, industrial, social, artistic, and psychological.

Neill completed his ambitious and sophisticated essay in a directed study in Film Theory with Professor Jun Okada, who directs SUNY Geneseo’s interdisciplinary minor in film studies.

Melanie Blood to direct reading of Civil War letters at Riviera Theater

Professor of English and Music Melanie Blood is the director of “Civil War Letters: Love and War,” which will be performed Friday, February 13, 8 p.m. at the newly renovated Riviera Theater in Geneseo.

From the Riviera’s Facebook page:

On FRIDAY FEBRUARY 13th, the Livingston County Historical Society will present a staged reading of a collection of Civil War love letters penned in 1862 by Colonel John Rorbach & his wife Elizabeth Vance Rorbach, from Geneseo, NY. Directed by Dr. Melanie Blood and performed by Noah Pfeiffer and Christina O’Shea, this program will be sure to make the Civil War, and a beautiful love story, come to life.

Thanks to the generous funding of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, Leicester Town Historian Tom Roffe, along with assistance from intern Rob Terreri, recently scanned and transcribed a collection of Civil War letters and photos owned by descendants of the Rorbach/ Vance family. A sampled reading of these letters, from the home front and from the battlefield, reveal a love story between a colonel and his beloved wife amidst a war of national significance.

The performance will take place at the recently renovated Riviera Theater, 4 Main Street, Geneseo, at 8:00pm. Those with patron tickets will be invited at 6:45pm prior to the performance to enjoy a wine and cheese tasting. Museum Administrator, Anna Kowalchuk promotes this event as the premier performance at the Riviera Theater. “Those who pay a patron ticket price will have preferred seating and a first glimpse at the amazing work completed by proprietor Don Livingston-all while enjoying a wine and cheese tasting in brand new community venue.”

General admission is $15.00 ($18 after 2/7/15) and patron tickets are $25 and are available on line at or at local Geneseo Main Street Merchants, David Mann’s Jewelers or the Not Dot Shop. Public parking available and the theater is handicapped accessible.