Presidents’ Day — When one thinks of academics who study the American Presidency, political scientists and historians usually come to mind, but not English professors. However, several members of our English Department have taken a scholarly interest in particular American Presidents. Given that today is Presidents’ Day, I will provide some information about these professors’ contributions to our understanding of the American Presidency.
Jeffrey Leak regularly teaches a course titled “Reading and Writing the Black Self: Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century African American Autobiography.” One of the autobiographies that he uses in this course is President Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. In a recent email message, Jeffrey discussed his reasons for teaching this text: “The memoir introduces students to a kind of black identity that is literally global. The very idea of the term ‘African American’ is reconfigured through Obama’s African father and white American mother. It pushes students, whatever their racial backgrounds, to think in more thoughtful terms about racial and cultural identity–which in turn complicates their understanding of American identity and citizenship.”
Daniel Shealy has taken a strong interest in President Abraham Lincoln. Daniel’s interest in President Lincoln is tied to his ongoing research on role that Concord, Massachusetts, played in the American Civil War. In November 2014, the Concord Free Public Library opened an exhibit on President Lincoln’s connections to Concord, and they invited Daniel to deliver the keynote lecture for the grand opening of the exhibit. Titled “‘The Pulse of 20 Millions Throbbing in His Heart’: Abraham Lincoln and Concord’s Civil War,” this lecture attracted a large an appreciative audience as well as local media attention.
Both Jeffrey and Daniel have shown how the study of American Presidents can help us gain a better understanding of the larger political and cultural forces that shape our history. Of course, this is quite a challenge, but this is not a job for Superman–it’s a job for English professors.
CLGO Spring Colloquium — The Children’s Literature Graduate Organization (CLGO) is holding its Spring Colloquium on Friday, February 19 from 9:00 to 2:00 in the Center for Graduate Life (Cone 268). Titled “Difference, Other, and Activism: A Colloquium on Expressions of Identity in Children’s and Young Adult Literature,” this event will feature presentations by several of our graduate students as well as an MA student from the University of New Hampshire, and two Ph.D. students from UNC Chapel Hill. The event will also include a faculty panel, featuring Paula Connolly, Janaka Lewis, and Sarah Minslow.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here are some dates to keep in mind:
February 16 — Sigma Tau Delta is sponsoring a social event called Pizza & Paperbacks. The event will take place in on Tuesday, February 16, from 11:30 to 1:30 in Fretwell 290B. Participants are asked to bring a paperback version of one of their favorite books along with a note explaining why they like the book. Participants will then exchange their book with another person’s book. Free pizza will be provided.
February 16 — Jeffrey Leak will deliver a presentation on his book Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas as part of the Personally Speaking Series. The event will take place at UNC Charlotte Center City on Tuesday, February 16, at 6:30 pm.
February 16 — The UNC Charlotte Faculty and Staff production, “Tales From Down There” featuring the work of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues & A Memory, Monologue, Rant & Prayer, will be presented on Tuesday, February 16 at 7pm in McKnight Hall, Cone Center. The performers include Angie Williams, Janaka Lewis, and Tiffany Morin from the English Department as well as Alison Walsh, honorary English Department member.
Quirky Quiz Question — President Obama’s Dreams from My Father is not the only book he wrote. In 2006 he published a book about “reclaiming the American dream.” Does anybody know the title of this book?
Last week’s answer: the monkey
There is always an animal associated with the Chinese New Year. These animals are tied to the Chinese Zodiac. What animal is associated with this Chinese New Year?