English Department: Literary Lunches and Decennial Review

Anya Gruber '16 Assistant News Editor

The English department will be hosting a number of events this semester, including a continuation of last semester’s Literary Lunches series. Two Literary Lunches have already occurred this semester. The first, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, which featured members of Smith’s Creative Writing Club, including Susan Brunelle ‘AC, Isa Dumond ’17, Rose Chiappone ’16, Tatiana Tarringer ’17, Elena Andreopoulos ’17 and Olivia Woods ’14, who read their own original work. The second was held on Friday, February 21, and centered on a discussion of the history of the English major. Professor Richard Millington, head of the English department, led the discussion, which chronicled the changes made to the requirements of the major over the years as well as a comparison to the requirements of two other colleges, Oberlin and Macalester. This second Literary Lunch was in part a preparation for the department’s Decennial Review, an event that takes place every ten years, and entails, as Administrative Assistant to the Department Jennifer Roberts explained, “the college [asking] us to reflect on our work as a department.” Said Millington, “There’s value in the chance the Review gives us to think together, as we prepare for the Review, about the department’s present strengths and weaknesses, about our ambitions for our students and about the future.” The second Literary Lunch, in addition to being a history of the major, served as an opportunity for students to air their concerns, including the difficulty of taking a seminar course while working on an honors thesis and a lack of support for creative writers. The strengths of the department were discussed as well. Said department liaison Woods, “One thing I love about the English department is its professors … their willingness to help their students learn, coupled with their enthusiasm for the subjects they teach, creates a wonderful environment in which the material comes to life and learning becomes a pleasure.” “Something I think is very strong in the English department is the well-roundedness of the professors,” added Chiappone. “I enjoy knowing that I can approach my Shakespeare teacher about a variety of subjects, and this can be said for all faculty of the English department with whom I’m familiar.” The English department liaisons also held a tea for majors only on Friday afternoon to further discuss issues that came up during the lunch. A visit from professors from other colleges constitutes part of the Decennial Review. This year, the reviewers include Nora Johnson from Swarthmore, Sonita Sarker from Macalester, and William Maxwell from Washington University. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, these reviewers held a lunch in the Campus Center. “My main interest is to find out how the reviewers imagine the future of the department,” commented Professor Andrea Stone. “There will be significant turnover in English department faculty in the next ten years, and I’m curious about which fields the reviewers think we should concentrate on when we’re hiring.” Future Literary Lunches will include a reading by Gillian Kendall on Wednesday, March 5, and a student scholarship work presentation on Wednesday, March 26. All Literary Lunches take place at noon in Seelye 207.

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