Webinar Series: Literature Responds to Crisis

Mini-talks from English faculty on the importance of narrative in these times
Literature Responds to Crisis banner with title, Department of English, and this text: A webinar series of short faculty talks & readings

This webinar series invites you to hear—in short, sharp segments—English professors thinking about the importance of story and meaning-making as so many people reckon with trauma, loss, and uncertainty. As Director of Undergraduate Studies Dan Philippon says, the stories people tell about a tumultuous time "shape how we understand and respond to it."

Please register. Each webinar will last approximately 15-20 minutes. Viewing information will be sent upon registration.

Thursday, July 9 (1 pm): Assistant Professor V. V. Ganeshananthan: "The Missing Are Considered Dead"
The author of Love Marriage reads from her short story about a Tamil woman whose husband has been "disappeared" during the Sri Lankan Civil War, and the government gaslighting and social disappearance she experiences. The story has been selected for the 2021 Pushcart Prize anthology. At work on her second novel, Movement, Ganeshananthan has received the U's Human Rights Initiative Fund faculty research award, an Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. Ganeshananthan continues to co-host (with Whitney Terrell) the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast with LitHub. View the recording.

Thursday, July 16 (1 pm): Professor John Watkins: "Literature and the Plague"
The creator of the English course "The End of the World in Literature and History" talks about parallels between our current moment and the "plague years" of novelists such as Defoe and Camus. What can we learn from these past writings? Watkins is the author of four books, most recently After Lavinia: A Literary History of Premodern Marriage Diplomacy. He has won multiple awards for teaching, including the Morse-Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. View the recording.

Thursday, July 23 (1 pm): Professor Julie Schumacher and Swati Avasthi: "Trauma and Kid Lit"
Professor Schumacher and MFA alum Avasthi, both writers of young adult fiction, address why and how hurt and sorrow are part of children's literature, with recommendations. Author of five YA novels, Schumacher won the Thurber Award for American Humor for the adult novel Dear Committee Members; a sequel, The Shakespeare Requirement, was published in 2018. She has received the U's top awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching. Avasthi is the author of YA novels Chasing Shadows and Split, which won multiple honors; she teaches in the Creative Writing Program of Hamline University. View the recording.

Thursday, August 6 (1 pm): Associate Professor Nathaniel Mills: "Black American Writers and the Great Depression"
How did Black writers in the US use literature to participate in the economic and racial political activism that characterized the Great Depression? The author of Ragged Revolutionaries: The Lumpenproletariat and African American Marxism in Depression-Era Literature describes the activity of the cultural networks of the Communist left and the new forms of social transformation and radical imagination the period’s leftist writers generated. The current Director of Graduate Studies for English, Mills was awarded a University of Minnesota sabbatical and Donald V. Hawkins Professorship of English for 2020-2021 to work on a project exploring the history of 20th-century African American writers' workshops. View the recording.

Thursday, August 13 (1 pm): Professor Ray Gonzalez and Assistant Professor Kathryn Nuernberger: "Writing in a Time of Crisis" NEW DATE
Poets Gonzalez and Nuernberger discuss their recent writing practice and offer new poems. Gonzalez is the author of numerous collections of poetry, fiction, and essays, most recently Beautiful Wall (BOA Editions) and Cutting the Wire: Poetry and Photography From the U.S.-Mexican Border (with Lawrence Welsh and photographer Bruce Berman). He has won two Minnesota Book Awards, as well as the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetic Achievement from the Library of Congress and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Latino Literature from Con Tinta. Nuernberger this spring published her third poetry collection, Rue (BOA Editions); her second collection of essays, The Witch of Eye, arrives next February. She is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Institute for Advanced Study Fellowships. View the recording.

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