Seven: a most literate number
Seven books + one department + one year = incredible. Yet that’s just what the English department has accomplished. Six professors wrote or edited seven books that were published, or are about to be published, this year.
“There’s a culture of scholarship among the English faculty that is pretty impressive,” says Michael Marsden (English), coeditor of “Westerns: The Essential ‘Journal of Popular Film and Television’ Collection” (Routledge, 2012). “And it’s a good example of why the argument that teaching and scholarship are not complementary is wrong. They are.”
But is there more to it than that? Is there some kind of synergy among staff members spurring such creativity? Yes, says Marsden, to some degree. While he and his colleagues are fairly independent and don’t typically discuss their work at staff meetings or, say, ask each other for editing assistance, they’ll casually chat about their projects over coffee or at social gatherings. And there’s a strong undercurrent of support, says Marsden, which is invaluable.
Laurie MacDiarmid (English) agrees. Her new book, “Consolation Prize” (Georgetown Review Press, 2012), is a collection of poems about her family’s life after her father’s death when she was not quite two years old. She had written nearly all of the poems before she arrived at St. Norbert in 2000 and had been trying to get them published for years. So while she didn’t find her creative impetus in her colleagues, she says, “What this place gave me was the encouragement to send it out over and over again.”
MacDiarmid also credits her students for her success: “The push to publish is arduous and soul-killing. But then I had a moment where I realized, I can’t be standing in front of my students saying they should write every day, and have a thick skin [about getting rejected], so I sent it out one more time.”
That’s when her submission bested more than 300 entries to win the 2011 Georgetown Review Poetry Manuscript Contest.
Although Marsden says the group’s sudden slew of published books is “so unusual” and “like an alignment of the stars,” he’s already at work on another book, his 12th.
Along with Marsden and MacDiarmid, English professors with recently published books include:
Karlyn Crowley, author of “Feminism’s New Age: Gender, Appropriation, and the Afterlife of Essentialism” (State University of New York Press, 2011).
John Neary, author of “Shadows and Illuminations: Literature as Spiritual Journey” (Sussex Academic Press, 2011).
John Pennington ’80, co-editor of “Behind the Back of the North Wind: Critical Essays on George MacDonald’s Classic Children’s Book” (Winged Lion Press, 2011) and “At the Back of the North Wind” (Broadview Press, 2011).
Ed Risden, author of “A Consideration of Anglo-Saxon Humor” (Mellen Press, forthcoming).
Oct. 31, 2011