Autumn frosts have slain July

But the memories linger on…

Pictured below are the students who took Geneseo’s Humanities II course at Walden Pond last summer with Adjunct Professor Wes Kennison. They were snapped at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering dinner in July with renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, Marjorie Harding, Allen Harding, and Kay Gainer. Geneseo’s Humanities@Walden course will be offered again this summer, this time by Prof. Cathy Adams of the History department. For information about the course, and to register, visit Geneseo’s Study Abroad website. Thanks to Thoreau Society Executive Director Michael Frederick for sending along the photo.

FRONT ROW, L to R: Marjorie Harding, E.O. Wilson, Allen Harding, Kay Gainer. BACK ROW, L to R: Antonia Olveida, Sean Endress, Greg Palermo, Mattew Hill, James McGowan, Wes Kennison, Jeff Handy, Adam Lashinsky, Rory Cushman


Gillian Paku wins award for innovative course design

SUNY Geneseo Assistant Professor of English Gillian Paku has been named a winner of the Innovative Course Design Competition organized by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies for her course “Authorial Identity: What’s in a Name?”

Established in 1969, ASECS is an interdisciplinary group dedicated to the advancement of scholarship in all aspects of the period stretching from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century.

The organization’s award for innovative course design comes with a $500 honorarium and an invitation to present at the Society’s annual meeting.

In recognizing Professor Paku’s achievement, the selection committee observed:

This course takes a difficult topic – authorial identity – and makes it accessible and interesting without sacrificing any conceptual clarity or rigor. Indeed, its course objectives – with their attendant interest in the meta-analysis of authorship and canonicity – are remarkably ambitious. Laurence Sterne’s work is difficult to decipher and yet Paku succeeds in using Tristram Shandy to actually render a more recent postmodern text more accessible to students by the end of the semester. This is a serious and innovative accomplishment. Along the way, the use of Skype is perfectly tuned to the course goals and allows the living post-modern author (Plascencia) to ‘perform’ in ways that can be discussed and deconstructed after the fact. In a major authors course, the identity and intentions of the author are always foregrounded, but students inevitably seem to wonder if they’ve accessed the “real” Sterne or the “real” Dryden or the “real” Milton. Paku’s arrangement for an interview with a living author allows students to experience “authentic” contact that will shape their understanding of how well the written works capture the essence and intents of their creator. The use of puppets (and indeed muppets) is also conceptually sound and pedagogically useful. These are not gimmicks.

Visiting Assistant Professor Beyazit Akman publishes second novel

The second novel of SUNY Geneseo Visiting Assistant Professor of English Beyazit Akman has just been published in Turkish by Epsilon, with a first printing of 100,000 copies.

A historical novel, The Last Sepharad: The War of Sultan Bayezid tells of the tragic expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 and the unexpected help they received from the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid, who welcomed tens of thousands of Jews to the Ottoman Empire. The novel interweaves three stories, focusing on that of the Nahmias brothers, who founded the first printing press to publish Hebrew books in Istanbul.  It offers an alternative history of multicultural co-existence and religious tolerance. The Last Sepharad is expected to be available in English within a year.

Beyazit Akman received his Ph.D. in English from Illinois State University. He completed his M.A. as a Fulbright Scholar from Turkey. His previous novel, 1453: The World’s First Day (the first part of the Empire series) has become a bestseller in Turkey. It focuses on Christian-Muslim relations in medieval times. Prof. Beyazit’s other publications include articles on “Shakespeare and the Turk,” “Defoe’s Turkish Spy,” and “Travel Knowledge and Orientalism,”  as well as book reviews and opinion columns in Turkish national dailies.