Lytton Smith to direct new Center for Integrative Learning at SUNY Geneseo

The Office of the Provost at SUNY Geneseo has named Dr. Lytton Smith director of the college’s new Center for Integrative Learning, effective August 2. The center represents a strategic re-imagining of the current Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development, which supports SUNY Geneseo’s mission to promote transformational learning experiences and to inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens.

In an email to campus faculty and staff, Provost Stacey Robertson writes that the new center will “play an expanded role in developing and promoting academic experiences that are interdisciplinary, connect learning opportunities to real world problems and issues, and encourage students to explore and articulate connections across their different experiences.”

Robertson points out that since coming to SUNY Geneseo in fall 2014, Smith, who was recently awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, “has helped create or sustain a number of collaborative high impact educational opportunities for Geneseo students, including interdisciplinary and team-taught experiences that cross disciplines and divisions, study abroad, and community-based learning, often working with collaborators across science and humanities fields.” Smith’s work, she continues, “including his literary translations of Icelandic literature, in many ways models the principles of integrative learning. Under his leadership the CIL is poised to make considerable progress in advancing our goals as a public liberal arts institution that empowers students to make meaningful connections across their academic experiences.”

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Author and activist Bill McKibben to deliver 2017 Walter Harding lecture September 30

Author and environmental activist Bill McKibben will deliver The 2017 Walter Harding Lecture on Saturday, September 30 at 4 p.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium on the SUNY Geneseo campus.

[Download the 11 x 17 poster here.]

McKibben is the founder of 350.org, an environmental advocacy group that uses grassroots organizing and mass mobilization to oppose new coal, oil, and gas projects; limit climate-warming emissions; support sustainable energy solutions at the community level; and educate governmental leaders and the general public.

McKibben is the author of more than a dozen books, including The End of Nature, widely regarded as the first book about climate change written for a general audience, and Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. He writes frequently for such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, McKibben is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Award and honored by the Thomas Merton Center with its yearly prize recognizing “activists who work on national and international issues that transform our world.”

McKibben’s annotated edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden gratefully acknowledges its “comprehensive and illuminating” predecessor, Walden: An Annotated Edition (1995), edited by Geneseo’s late SUNY Distinguished Professor of English Walter Harding. Harding’s annotations are available in an online edition of Walden from Digital Thoreau.

You can learn more about Bill McKibben on his personal website.

Photo © Nancie Battaglia

Students at Duke Kunshan University Analyze Thoreau Across Cultures

[Editor’s Note: A version of this post appeared earlier on the blog of Digital Thoreau.]

This spring, about two dozen students in two sections at Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China are taking “Walden International: Analyzing Thoreau Across Cultures” from Patrick Morgan, a Ph.D. candidate and Graduate Instructor in English at Duke University and a graduate of SUNY Geneseo (English, Geological Sciences, 2010). Morgan wrote about his experience as an English major at Geneseo for this blog back in December, 2013.

Morgan’s Kunshan students are discussing Walden in the margins of Thoreau’s work at The Readers’ Thoreau, the online community of Digital Thoreau, a collaboration among SUNY Geneseo, The Thoreau Society, and the Walden Woods Project directed by SUNY Geneseo Professor of English Paul Schacht.

Campus of Duke Kunshan University
Duke Kunshan University

The students are also “analyzing [Thoreau’s] writings from an international perspective, focusing primarily on his engagement with Asian thought,” according to Morgan’s syllabus, asking how Thoreau “‘package[s]’ ancient Asian philosophies in order to comment on nineteenth-century American culture” and what “cultural forces and contexts … allow scholars like Lin Yutang to claim Thoreau as ‘the most Chinese of all American authors.’”

In addition to meeting with Morgan for 300 minutes each week in class and exchanging ideas online in the margins of Walden, the Kunshan University students are taking a digital field trip to Walden Pond thanks to a website Morgan has created that links passages of Thoreau’s text to YouTube videos he made in which he reads aloud from Walden while capturing the pond’s sights and sounds.

patrick_morgan
Pat Morgan

Morgan has been active in Thoreau studies since his undergraduate days at Geneseo, where he presented on “Thoreau’s Bedrock: Emerson’s Influence and the Geomorphological Significance of Emerson’s Cliff, Concord, Massachusetts” for Geneseo’s day celebrating undergraduate research, GREAT Day, in 2010. That same year, his article on “Aesthetic Inflections: Thoreau, Gender, and Geology” appeared in the Thoreau Society’s scholarly annual, The Concord Saunterer. In 2015, Morgan participated in an NEH summer institute for college instructors on “Transcendentalism and Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller” conducted in Concord by a roster of scholars that included Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, Phyllis Cole, Jayne Gordon, Robert Gross, John Matteson, Wesley T. Mott, and former Geneseo Harding lecturers Laura Dassow Walls, Megan Marshall, and Joel Myerson.

In addition to his studies and teaching at Duke University, Morgan serves as an editorial assistant at the scholarly journal American Literature, published by Duke University Press.

Geneseo students shine at 2016 Sigma Tau Delta Conference

Seven Geneseo students represented the English department last week at this year’s convention of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. The students — Noah Chauvin, Ariana Dipreta, Jeremy Jackson, Elizabeth Landrum, Megan Meadows, Zachary Muhlbauer, and Michelle Mundt — were accompanied by Prof. Gillian Paku, faculty advisor to Geneseo’s chapter of the society.

IMG_9212Over the course of three days, the students presented their peer-reviewed work in front of engaged and enthusiastic audiences. Each student participated in a panel with papers on related topics (James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, issues of race or postcolonialism), offering opportunities for members of the audience to pose questions and for presenters to establish running dialogues among themselves. Showing great support for one another, the students attended the panels of their Geneseo peers, along with many other panels of interest, be it one focused on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, on African American literature, or featuring creative nonfiction on addiction and depression.

[See more photos from the convention.]

There were numerous ways to network and meet like-minded peers, domestic and international, as well as chances to explore the cultural backdrop of Minneapolis, from performances at the renowned Guthrie Theatre to wandering the huge Mall of America, plus the occasional gathering at an Irish pub. As has been the case for several years now, the Geneseo group also took home one of the convention prizes for best submissions, with Noah’s creative non-fiction essay, “For Want of Syncope,” winning second place as a response to the convention’s common reader, Charles Baxter’s The Soul Thief (2008).

All students who are members of Sigma Tau Delta are eligible to submit to the convention, a competitive process. Next year’s convention will be held March 29 – April 1 in Louisville, KY, where one of the featured speakers will be Marlon James, recent winner of the Man Booker Prize.

Submissions are usually due at the end of October, and the Sigma Tau Delta student e-board is always happy to help with the process and keep our excellent tradition of participation strong.

English major Meghan Barrett wins Phi Beta Kappa writing internship

This news is so fresh that the press release below isn’t yet live on the Phi Beta Kappa website (though by the time you click that link, maybe they’ll have posted it).

English major (creative writing) Meghan Barrett has won a prestigious Phi Beta Kappa writing internship. Here’s the release:

MEGHAN BARRETT SELECTED FOR PHI BETA KAPPA WRITING INTERNSHIP

WASHINGTON, DC – The Phi Beta Kappa Society is pleased to announce that Meghan Barrett of the State University of New York at Geneseo has been selected for a 2016 Phi Beta Kappa Writing Internship.

The Phi Beta Kappa chapter at SUNY Geneseo recommended Meghan to work with the Society’s national office in Washington, DC. The internship begins this month and continues through May 2016.

A native of Penfield, New York, and a graduate of Our Lady of Mercy High School, Meghan is a senior with a double major in Biology and Creative Writing. She is also part of the college’s Edgar Fellows Honors Program and was inducted into the Alpha Delta of New York chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 2015.

Meghan is also serving as a website management intern for the Geneseo Office of Sustainability and is a writer of book four of Liber Primus Games’s Narborion Saga. She is the President of Alpha Delta Epsilon regional sorority and was named Geneseo’s 2015 Outstanding Sorority Woman. Meghan plans to earn a PhD in Biology after completing her bachelor’s this spring—while continuing to write poetry, plays, and novels in her spare time.

Phi Beta Kappa’s writing internships are for juniors and seniors majoring in the liberal arts or sciences who attend institutions where our chapters are located. Interns must make a five-month commitment to the program and prepare a minimum of six publishable articles for the Society’s publication for news and alumni relations, The Key Reporter.

The program has two deadlines annually, for internships in the fall or spring of each academic year.

No more than 15 students are selected from a national pool in each round.

New edition of works by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, edited by Caroline Woidat, out from Broadview Press

cover of Woidat edition of works by Oakes SmithProfessor Caroline Woidat’s edition of works by nineteenth-century American author Elizabeth Oakes Smith, The Western Captive and Other Indian Stories, has just been published by Broadview Press.

From the Broadview website:

This edition recovers Elizabeth Oakes Smith’s successful 1842 novel The Western Captive; or, The Times of Tecumseh and includes many of Oakes Smith’s other writings about Native Americans, including short stories, legends, and autobiographical and biographical sketches. The Western Captive portrays the Shawnee leader as an American hero and the white heroine’s spiritual soulmate; in contrast to the later popular legend of Tecumseh’s rejected marriage proposal to a white woman, Margaret, the “captive” of the title, returns Tecumseh’s love and embraces life apart from white society.

These texts are accompanied by selections from Oakes Smith’s Woman and Her Needs and her unpublished autobiography, from contemporary captivity narratives and biographies of William Henry Harrison depicting the Shawnee, and from writings by her colleagues Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.