The English Department Has Received a Grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council — I am pleased to announce that the English Department has just been awarded one of the North Carolina’s Humanities Council’s “Large Grants” to support a series of community events around the theme of “The Child Character in Southern Literature and Film.” This $20,000 grant will make it possible for the English Department to bring several authors to Charlotte, engage in collaborative literacy projects with area educational organizations and programs, and co-sponsor a film series with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library. Sarah Minslow and I co-wrote the grant proposal with valuable input from Paula Eckard and Sam Shapiro.
As I see it, this project is part of the English Department’s larger commitment to engage with the Charlotte community. Our department has a long record of sponsoring or co-sponsoring cultural and educational events that are open to everyone in the Charlotte area. These events include the Center City Literary Festival, the Shakespeare in Action’s lectures and performances, and the annual Seuss-a-Thon.
As I reflect on our record of community engagement, I have a sense that we are truly of the city for which our university is named. The official name of our institution is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but when it comes to the English Department, I think it might be more accurate to say that we are of Charlotte, not just at Charlotte.
Reflecting on Hurricanes — Like most everyone else, I have been closely following the distressing news about hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Perhaps more than any other meteorological event, hurricanes command our attention. Not only are they amazingly powerful and destructive, but they seem almost sentient as they relentlessly advance toward land. It is no wonder to me that we give them human names and anthropomorphize their behavior. One gets a sense that they are indeed hellbent on destruction. Even after they die, hurricanes continue to haunt us. They transform lives and communities, and in the process, they resurrect themselves in the form of stories.
JuliAnna Ávila and Paula Connolly have turned their attention to hurricane stories, in particular stories related to Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, JuliAnna moved to Louisiana, where she worked with children displaced by the hurricane. One of the ways in which JuliAnna helped these children deal with the trauma in their lives was by creating opportunities for them to create stories about their experiences. JuliAnna wrote about this work in several articles. She also maintains a website with some of the then-young Katrina survivors’ stories as an ongoing tribute to them: storyagainstsilence.org Paula has studied children’s books that deal with Katrina. She published her findings in an article titled “Surviving the Storm: Trauma and Recovery in Children’s Books about Natural Disasters,” which appeared in Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature.
I have no doubt that hurricanes Harvey and Irma will generate their own stories in the coming years, but for now I am just hoping that the loss of life will be minimal, and we can all pull together to help with the recovery.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines—Here is a list of an upcoming meeting that will take place this month:
-English Department Mtg Friday, Sept. 15 11-12:15pm
Fretwell 280C (English Department Conference Room)
Quirky Quiz Question — I remember well when Hurricane Hugo hit Charlotte? Does anybody remember what year Hugo came to town?
Last week’s answer: New York Public Library
The animal characters in Winnie-the-Pooh are based on toy animals that A. A. Milne’s son (Cristopher Robin) played with during his childhood. These toys are now on display in a public library. In what city is this library display located?