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Dr. Michael O’Conner, Associate Professor of English,self-published the second version of his textbook, the Digital AmericanLiterature Anthology. Included in thisnew version is an entirely new third volume, covering authors from Mark Twain toZitkala-Sa, a native American writer.Author biographies and short bibliographies have also been substantiallyrevised and updated. This freeopen-source textbook and its accompanying hypertextual learning resources areoffered to students as an alternative to expensive traditional print texts andmeant to be read on tablet devices or laptops.Access to the many versions of this this book is located at: http://digitalamlit.com.

StephenFrech (Associate Professor of English) has an academic paper titled You Are an I: Poetry, Translation, andthe Unconscious” accepted for presentation at the2014 Modern Language Association national conference. He has another paper withco-presenter Dr. Chung-Ha Kim titled “APalace of Strangers:Gesamtkunstwerk and Collaboration of Artists” acceptedfor the Collaborationin the Arts Conference inNew York City. His poem “Enough, Not Enough” is to be published in the literaryjournal Ninth Letter. George MasonUniversity Special Collections Library bought 11 poetry broadsides printed byDr. Frech’s Oneiros Press to initiate their poetry broadside collection and fora presentation at a professional conference.

Purna Banerjee, Associate Professor of English, delivered a lecture on "Androgyny and its Relevance to Gender Theory" at the Department of South and South East Asian Studies, Calcutta University, India. The lecture was attended by M.A. and Ph.D. students of the Department and of Women's Studies, as well as faculty from all across the Humanities and Social Science disciplines. I received a commendation from the Chair of the department, Prof. Lipi Ghosh for this lecture. It was delivered on March 21st 2012.

Dr. Carmella Braniger, Associate Professor of English, had three poems published in the January issue of GUSTS: International Contemporary Tanka, and she has had her poetry sequence, "Letting You In Again," accepted for upcoming publication in red lights, an international biannual poetry journal.  Her article "Responsive Tanka Trios & Quartets: A New Twist on Collaborative Composition" recently appeared in Issue 11 of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka, along with the republication of collaborative poetry composition, "Green Tongues: A Trio of Tanka."   Finally, her poem "leaf-cutter ants" was selected for upcoming publication in Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4.

In addition to these significant artistic achievements, Dr. Braniger also engaged in scholarship of education and philosophy on several occasions this semester.  She led colleagues Dr. Robert Money and Dr. Larry Troy in presenting research on contemporary general education trends in higher education at the Higher Learning Commission Annual Conference in Chicago, IL, April 1, 2012.  On April 18, 2012, she demonstrated her "commitment to the life the mind" (Humanities Plan, 5) by presenting scholarship of philosophy “Self-Writing and Correspondence: The Life of the Mind in the Writing Classroom” at the 48th Annual Allerton English Articulation Conference, in Monticello, IL.  And, she was invited to share her scholarship on contemplative education and philosophy at the International Symposia of Contemplative Studies Poster Symposium in Denver, CO, April 26-29.

Finally, Dr. Braniger was recently promoted from Reviewer to Associate Editor (2-yr appointment) of the peer-reviewed journal English Language Teaching. Not only will she continue to engage in review of the scholarship of other professional colleagues, but she will also provide advice and suggestions to the publisher and editorial team and promote the journal in the academic community.

Dr. Stephen Frech, Associate Professor of English, had his chapbook A Palace of Strangers Is No City reviewed by Roseanne Ritzema in Presa literary journal: “Stephen Frech writes with taut phrasing, surreal imagery and a mysterious sense of reality. A Palace of Strangers Is No City is an engaging and haunting prose poem sequence that gives us a dark, disoriented view […] Beauty, art and love are continually compromised by external restraints. Reality and fantasy are often intertwined. Frech combines surreal imagery with tight description to give cohesion to the sequence. […] Along the way we may briefly connect with others but we ultimately make the journey alone. Mystery provides significant tension in this striking sequence of prose poems.” His book of translation from the Dutch of Menno Wigman’s Zwart als kaviaar/Black as Caviar was published in February. He has been invited to participate in an education panel at the Pressing Prints/Pressing Palms: The Entrepreneurial Printmaker conference hosted by Southeast Missouri State University.

Dr. Michelle Jewett, Assistant Professor of English, published “Can We Put the Canon-YA Debate to Rest and Focus on Instruction?” in English Leadership Quarterly, a national journal from National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) that reaches supervisors, department chairs, secondary English Language Arts teachers and leaders. In this essay, Professor Jewett argues for an end to the literature versus literacy debate that diverts many English departments away from the greater problem: students’ inability to engage in the intellectual work of books and ideas.

Dr. Tony Magagna, Assistant Professor of English, has been selected as the "Potsdam  Junior Fulbright Lectureship in American Studies." He will be a lecturer within the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Potsdam, Germany during the 2012-2013 school year. As part of the program in American Studies at Potsdam, Dr. Magagna may teach at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and has offered to teach courses in modern and contemporary American literature, as well as courses in his area of specialty: the literature and culture of the American West (a subject with much allure within popular German culture). In addition to teaching duties, Dr. Magagna will be granted funds, office space, and a student assistant with which to pursue both scholarship and outreach activities while in Germany. As the Fulbright Commission describes it, "This special grant is meant to enhance the strong American Studies program in Potsdam and to offer the visiting scholar the regional and international network of resources and scholars in and around Potsdam. It is an ideal position for a career-oriented scholar seeking international experience, who is willing to share American scholarship and teaching methods."

Dr. Anne Matthews, Associate Professor of English, has had a book chapter published in The Captivity Narrative: Enduring Shackles and Emancipating Language of Subjectivity, just out this spring from Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  Originally presented at the 2011 Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association conference in San Antonio, the chapter, entitled “’No Wallace Was There’: The Disappearing Acts of a Runaway Slave,” examines the ways in which an escaped slave exploited his liminal status to outwit his captors and secure his freedom.  This publication represents the culmination of work begun by Dr. Matthews during the 2009 Yale seminar on slave narratives.

Dr. Michael O’Conner served as an external reviewer for a study and review of the English program at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, at the invitation of Provost Christine M. Bahr.  O’Conner visited the campus on April 22 and 23, and will help prepare the final report for the department’s program review throughout the month of May.

On March 31, Dr. O’Conner acted as guest interviewer and moderator for a discussion and lecture between “President Abraham Lincoln” and “Governor Richard J. Oglesby,” performed by actors Randy Duncan and Dick Torgerson, for the annual “Breakfast with the President” program sponsored by the Lincoln Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America, at Central Christian Church in Decatur.

Dr. Robert Wells, Assistant Professor of English, Faculty Advisor to the Decaturian, accompanied eight of the publication's student editors and writers to Chicago to attend the annual Illinois College Press Association conference in mid-February, one of 36 colleges and universities to participate this year. There, Editor-in-chief Lindsey Compton and Design Editor Erie Patsellis were honored with a First Place ICPA Award for Excellence in the category "Front Page Design", restoring the tradition of "the award-winning Decaturian".  The new tabloid format of the Decaturian, in addition to being considerably more cost-effective, has generally met with favor among students and faculty, attracting more attention, more Dec staff members (now nearly 50 student editors, writers, photojournalists, etc), and more advertising. We regularly produce 16-page issues, although we have been as large as 24 pages with extensive 4-color work (March 7, 2012 edition), a first in the publication's history. This increase affords more space to campus-related news, events, personalities, activities, art and photography. Efforts are underway to restore the online version of the publication, including archives of past issues, before the semester ends.

Previous News

On April 4, 2011, Professor Julialicia Case was selected as the winner of the University of New Orleans' Writing Contest for Study Abroad, in the category of creative nonfiction. Her piece, entitled "Bigfoot," was chosen from a national field of over 150 entries by the editors of The Pinch literary journal. As a prize, she will be a sponsored participant at the University of New Orleans' Writing Workshops in Edinburgh, Scotland this summer, and her work will be published in an upcoming issue of The Pinch. For more information on the prize and on the program in Scotland, please visit: http://lowres.uno.edu/contest.cfm and http://lowres.uno.edu/edinburgh/.

In the Fall and Winter months, Dr. Carmella Braniger had 16 poems or poetry sequences published or accepted for publication: 13 were individual tanka poems, one was a collaborative sequence written with fellow colleagues and students, and two were phota tanka or haiga published in collaboration with senior Writing Major Aubrie Cox. The Autumn issue of Ribbons included individual poems “tying his tie” and “red balloon.” In November, “her head nods” was published in Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal issue 9.  Fall/Winter issues of Moonbathing: A Journal of Women’s Tanka and Gusts: International Contemporary Tanka included Dr. Braniger’s poems “snow melts,” “signs of an absent child,” and “the tender gesture.”  In December, Notes from the Gean published two individual poems, “through the haze” and “he wraps me,” as well as two collaborative haiga (photo tanka) “early morning” and “you think me,” with photos by Aubrie Cox.   Most recently, the January issue of Magnapoets published “pink ladies” and “at the drugstore,” and the January issue of red lights included her poems “gathering apples” and “across the prairies.” “What Luck: A Summer Tanka Quartet,” written in collaboration with Dr. Randy Brooks and English Writing Majors Joseph Bein and Jackson Lewis, was accepted for publication by Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka and is forthcoming in their Winter issue, number 8.  Finally, “leaf-cutter ants” was selected as one of 25 to be featured by Atlas Poetica in their Tanka for Children Special Feature.


Dr. Stephen Frech, Associate Professor of English, has a chapbook titled A Palace of Strangers Is No City accepted for publication with Cervena Barva Press.   The book is an experimental mixed-genre sequence described by Laughlin award-winning poet Peter Johnson in the volume’s introduction: “Another prose sequence, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities comes to mind, and with Frech’s mastery of the prose poem, it’s not an exaggeration to say A Palace of Strangers Is No City ranks with that masterpiece.”  Novelist John Dalton writes: “A Palace of Strangers Is No City is a one-of-a-kind experience.”  Dr. Frech has Menno Wigman poetry translations from the Dutch published in the most recent issues of the following literary journals: five poems in Absinthe: New European Writing; four in Copper Nickel; and three in Dirty Goat.  He has a poem accepted for publication in Columbia Poetry Review.

Letterpress poetry broadsides by Blue Satellite, a Millikin student-run press operating as part of Dr. Frech’s Broadside Publishing course, enjoyed a featured exhibit for the month of October at Blue Connection in downtown Decatur.

In October 2010, Dr. Tony Magagna's article "A Place Apart: Transcending Social Topographies in The Song of the Lark" was released as a chapter in Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark. The volume is the latest in Rodopi Press's renowned Dialogue Series and was edited by Cather scholar Debra Cumberland. Also in October, Dr. Magagna traveled to the national Western Literature Association conference in Prescott, Arizona, where he was invited to present a paper entitled “Some Open Space Between: Geography, Mythology, and Determinism in Annie Proulx’s Wyoming Stories.”

Dr. Carmella Braniger, Associate Professor of English, was very busy this summer writing and publishing poetry.  Over the 2010 summer, she had several individually and collaboratively written poems accepted for publication in national and international literary magazines. 

Dr. Braniger’s tanka sequence “kretan firewater” was published in the Summer 2010 issue of 3LIGHTS: Journal of Micropoetry.  This sequence was written while travelling with students in the 2009 Summer Immersion to Greece. 

Collaboratively written tanka sequence “Dream Walk: A Summer Tanka Trio” by Randy Brooks, Natalie Perfetti, and Carmella Braniger was published in the summer 2010 issue of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka.  And collaboratively written tanka sequences "Where We Come From: A Tanka Quartet," by Randy Brooks, Jackson Lewis, Joseph Bein, and Carmella Braniger, and "the knife slips loose" by Natalie Perfetti and Carmella Braniger were accepted for publication in the upcoming October issue of Lynx: A Journal for Linking Poets. 

In addition to publishing tanka sequences, Dr. Braniger also had individual tanka poems appear this summer in Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (“face pressed”), Ribbons (“colored purple”),  red lights (“in the evening” & “white narcissus”) and international literary magazines Magnapoets (“spider monkey”) and Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (“heartbroken”).

In March 2010, Dr. Devon Fitzgerald's report on "jailbreaking" devices like the iPhone, e-readers and Android phones, was published in the NCTE's Annual Intellectual Property Report. You can find a copy of the report online here: http://www.ncte.org/cccc/committees/ip/2009developments.

Dr. Devon Fitzgerald presented a paper titled, "Craft as Composition: An Examination of the Digital DIY Movement" at the national Computers and Writing conference held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. This paper is a small piece of a larger collaborative project Dr. Fitzgerald is working on, which explores the ways in which digital media sites like craft blogs, Etsy and sites like Ravelry provide women who craft with community, a showcase and a space to express and sell their art. The project, though in its early stages, will be a collection of scholarship, women's stories and a look into the space of the domestic and digital arts.  

Dr. Fitzgerald also participated in scoring Advanced Placement exams for the third year in a row. The AP Reading is a professional development event where high school and university teachers of English come together to evaluate student essays and share pedagogical approaches to teaching writing and literature.

In October, she will travel to Louisville Kentucky to present at the biannual Thomas R. Watson conference held at the University of Louisville. Her paper entitled, "Don't Aggro the Whole Room While Trying to Sheep, Ya Noob: Language Conventions at Work in World of Warcraft," explores the ways in which language is worked not only "ingame" to build collective identity among players but also outside of the game to form connections.

Dr. Stephen Frech, Associate Professor of English, has a chapbook titled A Palace of Strangers Is No City accepted for publication with Cervena Barva Press.   The book is an experimental mixed-genre sequence described by Laughlin award-winning poet Peter Johnson in the volume’s introduction: “Another prose sequence, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities comes to mind, and with Frech’s mastery of the prose poem, it’s not an exaggeration to say A Palace of Strangers Is No City ranks with that masterpiece.”  Novelist John Dalton writes: “A Palace of Strangers Is No City is a one-of-a-kind experience.”

 Dr. Frech read his poetry and taught the poetry workshop at the 2010 David R. Collins Writers’ Conference at St. Ambrose University in June.  His session titled “Writing from the Senses”

Dr. Frech served as regional judge for the Midwest Writing Center’s Poetry Contest.

Dr. Frech has a sequence of poems titled “The Book for Going Forth by Day” published online in Waccamaw Journal. He has five poetry translations accepted for publication in Absinthe: New European Writing: Menno Wigman’s “My Half”, “Misunderstanding”, “After the Reading”, “Everything You Wanted, It was Everything”, and “Bad Thoughts”.

Professor Michelle Jewett, Instructor of English, had an article accepted for publication in the English Journal entitled, “Between Dreams and Beasts: Four Precepts for Green English Teaching”. This article argues for the integration of the natural and social sciences into the English/Language Arts secondary curriculum via environmental issues and concepts. Drawn from her fourteen years in the public schools, Professor Jewett provides examples of “green” interdisciplinary pedagogy she’s used successfully with high school and middle school students. English Journal is published by the National Council of Teachers of English and is the only national journal that targets English-teaching professionals in the secondary schools. 

Dr. Carmella Braniger, Associate Professor of English, participated in July in a faculty seminar “Ancient Greece Across the Curriculum: Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns” sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies located in Washington, D.C.   Dr. Braniger contributed along with over twenty other faculty members from a broad range of disciplines at diverse institutions.  The seminar, led by Professor Gregory Nagy and Professor Kenny Morrell, focused on how to successfully integrate the poetry of Homer and Hesiod into a variety of undergraduate courses and classrooms.  Dr. Braniger extended her knowledge of ancient Greek texts and developed strategies for incorporating them into courses at Millikin. She will use what she has learned to further develop the study of poetics in the English Department’s offering of EN241 Classical Traditions, and in other poetry-related and interdisciplinary courses.

Dr. Braniger's poetry chapbook No One May Follow was released by Pudding House Publications in May 2009.  A collaboratively written poetry sequence entitled "Green Tongues: A Trio of Tanka" by Carmella Braniger, Randy Brooks & Natalie Perfetti was published in The Dirty Napkin Volume 2.3, Summer.

Dr. Randy Brooks, Professor of English and Acting Dean of Arts & Sciences, had an essay, “The Love Haiku of Raymond Roseliep” published in Modern Haiku, 40.3, (Evanston, IL) Autumn, 2009, pages 22-37. He also published a book review of “Poems of Consciousness by Richard Gilbert” in Roadrunner, 9.3, (Allentown, PA) August, 2009. He had two poems published in Chasing the Sun: Selected Haiku from Haiku North America 2007. Pittsboro, NC: Rosenberry Books, 2009.

Dr. Brooks and Dr. Braniger and recent Millikin graduate, Natalie Perfetti, had a sequence of 39 poems entitled, “Green Tongues: A Tanka Trio,” published in Dirty Napkin 2.2, Summer 2009. http://thedirtynapkin.com [Subscribers to the web site edition can enjoy an audio recording of the sequence performed by all three poets.]

Dr. Stephen Frech, Associate Professor of English, has his poetry translations from the Dutch appearing in the following literary journals: Pleiades Compulsory Education; Spoon River Poetry Review, Inner Fire, Night Rest, and A Skin; and Natural Bridge Big City Life. These poems are the first US publication by Dutch poet Menno Wigman. Frech used his Junior Sabbatical (Spring 07) to translate Wigman’s book of poems Zwart als kaviaar [Black as Caviar]. Frech has poems of his own appearing in Bateau (“In the Hands of the King”) and Flyway (“Oh Preludes, Oh Fantasies”).

Also, Dr. Frech has won the Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Prize for his manuscript The Dark Villages of Childhood. The volume, Frech's third, will be available in December of this year. Poet Gary Miranda says of the volume: "Stephen Frech’s great strength in The Dark Villages of Childhood is not the elegant metaphor, though he has some of these, but the uncanny selection of mundane details that startle by their rightness. In “The Ghost of Him,” a 10-part elegy for a childhood friend who died young, Frech calls upon every sense we own to evoke a boy’s world that is remarkably real and unmistakably American. Don’t let the “dark” in his title fool you: his images shimmer."

Dr. Michael W. George, Associate Professor of English, presented a paper entitled "Gawain's Struggle with Ecology: An Eco-critical Look at Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association in St. Louis.

Dr. Vicky Gilpin, Adjunct Instructor in English,  presented at Richland Community College's Diversity Conference this summer before spending seven weeks taking two graduate English courses at Harvard. She is also excited as several books containing her works will be published this fall: Online Education and Adult Learning: New Frontiers for Teaching Practices, edited by Terry Kidd, After Dark: A Collection of Haunting Tales from Diversion Press, and Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages from All Things that Matter Press. She will be presenting at the Rural Women's Studies Association Conference in September, be honored as one of the 2009-2010 Emerging Leaders Class at the Phi Delta Kappa Summit in Indianapolis in October, and be presenting at the Modern Language Association conference in Philadelphia in December. She is currently reviewing several books for various journals and prepping proposals for 2010 conferences, particularly the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association in St. Louis in April.

Dr. Anne Matthews, Associate Professor of English and Dean of Teaching and Learning, in June, had the privilege to participate in a seminar on slave narratives, co-sponsored by the Council for Independent Colleges and the Gilder Lehrman Center and held at Yale University.  For three intense, exciting days, Anne and twenty-nine other college professors from the disciplines of English and History explored the issue of slavery from both literary and historical perspectives.  David Blight, the Yale historian who led the seminar, encouraged all of the participants to use what they learned not only for their research, but also—and especially—for their undergraduate teaching.  Anne came home with a notebook full of ideas, which she plans to develop over the next few years.  She is grateful to VPAA Donna Aronson for nominating her to the seminar, as well as to the CIC, the Gilder Lehrman Center, and Professor Blight. 



Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL