This fall, Jason Owens became one of three new faculty members to join the English Department. We asked him to tell us about himself and what he brings to FMU.
Q. Tell us a little about your research. In what areas do you research? What was your dissertation about? Any future plans?
My research interests include Black social and political thought, the systemic, institutional, and technological forms of violence against youth in the United States, and the impact/influence of privatization/corporatization on operations, curriculum implementation, and values orientations in public schools. My dissertation focuses on social reconstruction theory in education, particularly the work of Theodore Brameld, and the theory’s radical instructive influence on the values, vision, and mission of public education in the United States. In the future, my research plans are to engage social reconstruction philosophy with different areas of youth culture. I plan to offer social reconstruction theory as a force to defend violent capitalistic onslaughts against the youth, as well as offer awareness to the contemporary crises that endanger this most vulnerable and targeted group.
This fall, Jason Marley became one of three new faculty members to join the English Department. We asked him to tell us about himself and what he brings to FMU.
Q: Tell us a little about your research. In what areas do you research? What was your dissertation about? Do you have any ongoing projects? Any future plans?
My research focuses mostly on linguistic and narrative experimentation in 20th century global Anglophone fiction. I’m currently working on a project on speech in the postcolonial novel that explores questions of dialect, slang, accents, and vernacular language. Specifically, I focus on writers such as G.V. Desani and Sam Selvon, who experiment with the variability of national and local languages. I’m interested in the ways these texts enact resistance through their experimental—and often extremely antagonistic—representations of speech and language.
I also do some work on Modernism. My two most recent publications are on Jean Rhys and Felipe Alfau—writers who, I would argue, seldom get enough critical attention.
Next spring, Professor Gardner is offering a screenwriting workshop (English 431) for students who want to learn the fundamentals of screenplay design, including screenplay structure, presentation format, scene design, character and plot development, and tips for creating effective dialogue.
Professor Gardner began teaching English at Francis Marion University in 1980. He is a widely published writer of short fiction and is the author of two collections of short stories, Someone To Crawl Back To and Somebody Wants Somebody Dead. A third collection, Available Light (Boson Books), was published last November.
Also in 2013, his short story, “Happy Hour,” was selected for adaption for a short film and shown at the Expecting Goodness Film Festival in Spartanburg, SC in June, 2014. The story was first presented by Liar’s League in London.
In October, Professor Gardner was the featured writer for USC-Aiken’s Oswald Writers’ Series, and on November 10, he will be the featured writer for Barton College’s Victor R. Small Writers’ Series.
FMU students who would like more information on Professor Gardner’s upcoming screenwriting course can read the course description for English 431 online or visit Professor Gardner in his office.
In this joint-authored post, Dr. Catherine England and English majors Thomas Wampler and Meagan Hooks recount their trip to Dickens Universe, an annual event in Santa Cruz, California.
There’s a foggy, seaside town in California where scholars, students, and enthusiasts gather to discuss, analyze, and enjoy Charles Dickens’s works every August for a week. It’s called the Dickens Universe, and it has been hosted by the University of California, Santa Cruz for thirty-four successful years. I was lucky enough to take Thomas Wampler and Meagan Hooks, two FMU English majors, to this event last summer because of the generous support of FMU’s REAL Grant program. We attended lectures, seminars, and workshops to enrich our knowledge of Dickens, Victorian culture, and the field of English Studies more broadly. I am excited for Thomas and Meagan to tell you more about the Universe and their wonderful experiences in their own words!
What is the Dickens Universe?
One of the organizers of the Dickens Universe calls it a combination of a “scholarly conference, festival, book club, and summer camp,” and it lives up to that billing. Each year the Universe focuses its lectures, seminars, and other events on one novel by Charles Dickens. In 2014, the Universe focused on Dickens’s final, completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, a dark work that takes its readers from scenes of dead bodies floating in the Thames to massive heaps of “dust” (something like a Victorian landfill) as it explores the relationships between life and death as well as money and filth.
At the Universe, top scholars powerfully deliver lectures once or twice each day, and between these lectures, participants attend seminars and workshops lead by English faculty and graduate students from all over the world. It is an opportunity to listen and learn from others while formulating and expressing your own ideas about literature. As an added bonus, you get to stay in beautiful Santa Cruz with access to unbelievable views of the mountains, the Redwoods, and the Pacific Ocean. This unique event concludes its scholarly conversation by embracing whimsical fun with a Victorian ball on the final night, during which you can, despite your jeans and T-shirts, learn and practice nineteenth-century dances. The Dickens Universe provides daily intellectual stimuli, a very busy schedule, and the opportunity to learn all about Charles Dickens, the Victoria era, and contemporary scholarship.
One of the most exciting things that happened to me while attending the 34th Annual Dickens Universe was the opportunity to interact with Professor Jessica Kuskey. Dr. England, as part of our summer preparation before attending the conference, had us read “Our Mutual Engine: The Economics of Victorian Thermodynamics” by Kuskey. We were required to summarize the article and also prepare a basic response in support or disagreement with Kuskey’s work. I found out the first day we arrived at Dickens Universe that I was going to be in Kuskey’s seminar. I had the opportunity to discuss her paper in class and later one-on-one. She answered my questions and proved as kind as she was smart. She took the time to tell me her thought process in writing the paper and how she eventually “stumbled” upon the subject of thermodynamics, which was not originally her topic.
Another aspect of the Universe that struck me was how international its make-up was. In my morning seminar, there was a student from Japan. In my mid-morning session, there was a participant from Australia, and the session was led by a graduate student originally from India. In all my classes we had a variety of people from all over the United States: Colorado, Washington State, Washington, D.C., Maine, New York, Iowa, Hawaii, to name just a few. The fact that I was exposed to so many different people with different backgrounds only enhanced the educational and cultural experience.
I really enjoyed my graduate-student led discussion group at the Dickens Universe. This open forum was great for allowing participants to delve deeply into Our Mutual Friend and analyze critically through close reading and class discussion. In these forums, I was able to learn a lot from the grad students along with my fellow classmates, who all brought unique perspectives. I feel confident I will be able to apply what I learned from my experience in my own English studies, and hope to be able to apply teaching strategies in the future when I may have students of my own.
There was much more to Dickens Universe than just the classroom, however. One of my favorite activities was the Grand Ball on the last night of the conference, during which we were taught traditional Victorian dances. The dance was a great way to have fun and socialize with other participants, as well as get a taste for Victorian culture. Overall, Dickens Universe was a truly unique academic experience unlike anything else.
The deadline for this opportunity has passed, but you can read more about the fully-funded trip Dr. English and two FMU English majors took to Dickens Universe.
Calling All English Majors!
Apply for a full-funded trip to the Dickens Universe Conference at the University of California, Santa Cruz from August 2-9, 2014.
Email letters of interest to Dr. England by April 24th, 2014. More information on the application process and the Dickens Universe can be found below and on this flyer.
The Dickens Universe
The Dickens Universe is a unique week-long conference that focuses on one work by the Victorian writer Charles Dickens each year. This format allows its participants to fully prepare for an in-depth, scholarly experience that will include lectures by outstanding professionals in the field, discussions groups, and even Victorian-themed activities (yes, there will be lots of tea and even a ball).
For FMU English majors interested in increasing their knowledge of English Studies and who have experience reading nineteenth-century literature, this is an incomparable opportunity to learn from leading scholars while also experiencing the Pacific Ocean views, redwood forests, and California culture of Santa Cruz.
For more information, visit the Dickens Universe website or watch “The Dickens Project Mini Documentary” on YouTube.
Dr. England, Trip Coordinator
Dr. England (a three-time veteran of the Universe) will be accompanying selected students and preparing them for this year’s conference on Our Mutual Friend through reading and writing activities.
To apply, send a short email to c e n g l a n d [at] f m a r i o n [dot] e d u by April 24th. Your email should briefly describe your career goals and past experience with British nineteenth-century literature. Strong candidates will be asked for an interview. All majors (including graduating seniors) are strongly encouraged to apply.
Apply today! The application deadline is April 24th.
On April 10, members of the FMU university community convened to honor the recipients of the 2014 English Awards, including those students whose work was selected for next year’s edition of Final Draft. Inductees to the FMU chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society, also were honored.
Student Recipients of the 2014 English Awards
Excellence in Coursework
PERCY ADAMS AWARD, Amanda Graham
J. P. BROCKBANK AWARD, Melody Pritchard
KATHARINE S. BOLING MEMORIAL AWARD IN FICTION, David Guess & Janaya Hammond
ROBERT R. PARHAM POETRY AWARD, Nikki Clark
RICHARD B. LARSEN MEMORIAL AWARD, Tiara Felder
ENGLISH AWARD, Melody Pritchard & Cristin Richards
Excellence in Composition Courses
Cameron Poole, “EA Games Has Begun a Slippery Slope”
ENGLISH 111 AWARD
Kaylee Jarrett, “Beverly”
ENGLISH 112 AWARD
Stacey King, “Wanna Play?”
ENGLISH 200 AWARD
Connor Wessel, “During Normal Growth, Inflation Negates the Effects of Minimum Wage on Low-Wage Employment”
Exemplary Essayists Selected for Publication in Final Draft
Jasmine Thomas, “Preparing for College”
Kristen Pianks, “America and Unhealthy Foods”
Sherry Chichester, “The Taboo of Sex”
Mary Mulholland, “Copyright Reform for the Music Industry”
Marc Phillips, “WikiLeaks: The Evolution of Espionage?”
2014 Sigma Tau Delta Inductees
Anna Marie Cox
Congratulations on honors well-deserved!