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The Printing Press is the English Department Newsletter. Its purpose is to inform majors and minors about programs and activities within the department. The Press will inform readers of activities and opportunities outside of Monmouth College. For any questions or submissions, contact jskidmor@monm.edu or macarlson@monm.edu.


Features

An Interview with Alan Michael Parker
By Johnathan Skidmore



 

Alan Michael Parker
Alan Michael Parker


Cry Uncle, the new novel by Alan Michael Parker

Alan Michael Parker is a much celebrated poet, a budding novelist, a respected professor, and the Director of Creative Writing at Davidson college. 

Having already published several volumes of poetry and some critical prose, Alan Michael Parker has just recently published his first novel entitled Cry Uncle.  The novelist visited Monmouth College March 3rd and 4th to give his first public reading of the novel as well as to help council some of our own aspiring writers in special sessions.  The writer was well received and met with a crowd anticipating his first reading and and autograph session.  The turnout filled the Poling Hall lecture room to the point where several people were forced to be seated on the floor.

Afterwards, Alan Michael Parker allowed an interview with The Printing Press, discussing his new novel, an upcoming novel, his writing style, and much more.

Johnathan Skidmore: How much of yourself do you pour into your writing?  Or do you take on different characterís roles while writing?

Alan Michael Parker: I like to believe that my characters have free will.  I like to con myself into thinking it while Iím writing.  I know itís not true.  Nonetheless, the ways in which Iím in the character are only visible to people who know me well and probably better than those ways are known to me.  I think itís probably a blind spot and I donít really mind.

JS: Having now written in multiple mediums, such as poetry, novels and academic based works, which medium do you prefer?

AMP: Whichever Iím working on at the moment.  Having been trained as a poet and believing for a long time that it is how I learn best, by which I mean writing poems, Iím sure that poetry will never be far from my daily life.  Nevertheless, when I get hot for a project it is not a question of genre, it is what the project is, itself. 

JS: Which piece of work, published or unpublished, is your favorite work, in your opinion?

AMP: The one Iím writing is my favorite.  If the work Iím writing is not my favorite and an earlier work is, why would I be writing the work Iím writing?  If Iíve already done something that I like more, why would I possibly continue what Iím doing now? 

JS: How difficult was it for you to get your work published?  Were you noticed right away, or did it take some trying?

AMP: It took a lot of time and many years from the time my first book of poems was completed to its publication.  Nevertheless, Iíve been really unbelievably fortunate in the degree to which editors have looked carefully at my work.  There is so much good work out there that is unpublished.  I know how lucky I am.

JS: Following your poetic career from Days Like Prose to The Vandals to Love Song with Motor Vehicles, each volume of poetry seems to be based on a central theme.  DLP seems to be Romantic in nature, TV seems to be a playful joust, and LSwMV appears to be an urbanized combination of the two.  Why do you feel your work took this path?

AMP: Some of it is conscious effort.  I take as one of my role models, although certainly not as a person, because he was a jerk, Picasso who has had, I donít know, five major periods of completely different mature work in his career.  I do want to set standards for myself and challenge myself aesthetically in ways that are different book by book.  I donít want to rewrite the same stuff.  I rewrote those poems enough within that book that I donít want to write another book thatís like that book.  I also think that some of it is the inevitable maturation of an artist.  So the subjects of my work were specific to my own maturity as a person, but also to what I can and cannot do on the page due to my interests and limitations.  Iím always trying to exceed those limitations book by book.  Iím writing a book now, Iím writing a new novel now and I feel like, I say this but I donít know if itís the case, I feel like Iíve raised the bar so high that Iím not even sure that I can see it.  This book is incredibly ambitious, I canít imagine that itíll succeed.  Thatís what I do.

JS: Professor Mark Willhardt mentioned several times that you are now working on a new novel and you just mentioned a little bit of that yourself.  Do you care to elaborate on that a bit, perhaps give a trailer as to what type of novel we can expect or anything about plot?

AMP: Iím a third of the way through, so I have what Iím writing about.  I have the shape of the novel.  I have the characters.  I have one of two possible endings.  If it takes too long to get to the first ending, then itís the ending.  If I can get there quickly, then the second ending will be the ending.  The book is about a guy who has a very powerful dream and decides to enact what happens in the dream in his waking life.  It also a comedy and also a caper, which means it is about criminals and stealing and bank robbery.  Itís wild.  Itís also about the brain, Iím learning a lot about the science.

JS: Has it taken a lot of research?

AMP: Itís been fun research.  I even have a new friend in the FBI in North Carolina who has given me a lot of great information about the types of crimes my characters are committing.  I have a friend who teaches neuroscience who has been advising me.  I have a mathematician who is advising me.  I have a classicist who has been helping me with some stuff on Greek.  I also have two friends who have been significant help in terms of how to build large wooden objects, that which I know nothing about.  So Iím calling upon all of the resources I might have possibly had and in each case promising good wine in exchange, although not the guy with the FBI.  I have two new friends at Home Depot who think itís thrilling that a novelist is asking them how to build these huge wooden things.

JS: Thatís a pretty interesting combination you have there, you have the FBI agent, the neuroscientist, the mathematician, and then you have the guys who help you build large wooden objects.  Thatís pretty intriguing. 

AMP: Itís a crazy book and one of the goals for me, in terms of the research, was to write Cry Uncle and now as a result, Iím multiplying the task by ten.  This lets me be a student again, this lets me go out and look up all of the stuff that I know nothing about.  Now I know tons about the brain, and I didnít know anything about the brain, well now I know more.  I always liked being a student.  I became a professor because it allowed me to be a student. 

JS: Now that youíve written Cry Uncle, what do you expect to come of your writing styles?  Do you think your work might begin to take a more political route?  I know that you mentioned in the question and answer session that your writing had begun to take a political view, did this affect you?

AMP: The book that Iím writing at present does not have the social concerns that Cry Uncle has.  Thatís as far as I can go.  Thatís what I know today.  I havenít thought about the next book, so I canít answer beyond this particular project.  It does not have that dimension of social critique that underscores Cry Uncle.

JS: How do you write? Do you sit down and just jot down ideas that eventually become worked into stories?  Do you carry journals or pieces of paper with you and suddenly take them out when you have the urge to write? Or is it a more structuralized, ďIím going to try and write for a few hours today,Ē sort of thing?

AMP: Yes.  I do all three.  I write everyday, first thing.  I carry a notebook.  I jot down stuff that inspires me.  Iím very pleased that I got a Palm Pilot for Christmas, which allows me to press a button and make a voice recording at any time, which I do.  I rewrite like crazy, but primarily I just work.  I read my dayís pages for that day, I wake up and then I write again.  Teaching or not, whether Iím on spring break like I am now or teaching in a classroom.  I do it all the time.  Itís a little obsessive.  Not complaining or apologizing.

JS: Who do you admire as an author?  If you had one copy of a piece of literature under your pillow, what would it be?

AMP: I think that that author probably has six thousand names.  Shakespeare comes to mind, Milton as well.  Faulkner.  Just an incredible list.  Frost.  Bishop.  Lots of younger writers.  There is not one single person, single author, or era.  Itís the desert island question and the answer is, ďWell, Iíd be happy if the island were a library.Ē  Which books would you bring to a desert island? The library.

JS: What advice would you give to someone, perhaps an aspiring writer, that you wish someone had given to you, or had given to you?

AMP: Never trust your first drafts.  Ever.  Read and write in general.  People gave me that advice.  Itís hard for me to say, in retrospect, what someone might have said to me at an early time that I would have been mature enough to understand.  My immaturity was very much active as I was starting to write as a student of writing.  That immaturity, I hope, has faded although Iím still maturing Iím sure.  Much to my delight at some times and much to my horror at others.  Maturity is, well, overrated at times.  As to what type of advice that someone might have offered to me under certain circumstances, I donít really know. 

For more detailed information about Alan Michael Parker, his website may be viewed here.

 

 
 

Academic Course Catalog for Fall 2005 and Spring 2006

By Megan Carlson
and Johnathan Skidmore


 

Fall 2005


English 110: Composition and Literature
Taught by various members of the English faculty, this course is a study of basic rhetorical strategies and their application in thesis-based essays, as well as an analysis of literature emphasizing the symbolic and expressive uses of language. Students are introduced to the imaginative modes of literature and demonstrate their understanding of those uses through discussion and written work. (Four Credits)

English 126: Print Media and Workshops
Taught by Tom Withenbury, this course is described as an introduction to the print media, covering the basic elements of journalism. Students will participate as staff reporters on the Courier, the collegeís student newspaper. Open to all students. (One Credit)

English 180: Introduction to Literature
This course, taught by Professor Mark Willhardt, is a general literature course for non-majors, ENGL 180 seeks to encourage life-long reading through appreciation of literary language and form. The course will emphasize examination and comparison of literary genres, structure and form in fiction and poetry, and New Critical analysis (point of view, plot, setting, characterization, diction, imagery, metaphor and symbol, theme, etc.) In addition, the course will place a particular topic or sub-genre in the context of pertinent historical and cultural settings, while examining categorical assumptions about "popular" and "serious" literary treatments. (Three Credits)

English 210: Creative Writing
Taught by Professor Mary Bruce, this course promises to be a
practice in the writing and critical analysis of imaginative literary forms, especially poetry and fiction. (Three Credits)

English 220: British Survey I
A historical survey, taught by Professor Marlo Belschner, emphasizing literary and cultural developments in English literature from the Old English period through the English Renaissance. (Three Credits)

English 224: American Survey I
This course, taught by Professor Mary Bruce, is one of two introductory surveys in American literature emphasizing literary movements, and cultural and historical developments in the literature of the United States. Readings will include: native American creation myths; explorer narratives; poetry, fiction, and non-fiction from such writers as Bradstreet, Cotton Mather, Edwards, Franklin, Cooper, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson. (Three Credits)

English 226: Advanced Print Media and Workshop
This course, taught by Tom Withenbury, is an advanced study in print media, covering the more complex elements of journalism. (Two Credits)

English 343: 20th Century British Literature
Taught by Professor Mark Willhardt, this course features studies in various British authors of the 20th century. This year's study will be called "Angry Young Men:  British Literature After World War II"  This is a course which charts the growing disaffection of youth, particularly working class youth, after the close of World War II.  Starting with Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and ending with punk and post-punk, the course will cross genres as it tries to encapsulate the varieties of anger which drove youth movements in Great Britain during the mid- to late-twentieth century.
  (Three Credits)

English 350 Section 1: World Literature in Translation
This course, taught by Professor Craig Watson, is a new offering to the 300 level.  It is a course on masterpieces of world literature.  The syllabus will feature poetry, fiction, drama from India, Japan, China, South America, and Europe other than the United Kingdom.  In surveys that have been conducted in the past, English major alumni have suggested that the department offer more literature outside English and American writings.  Professor Craig Watson began as a GSTA and Assistant Professor teaching a couple of courses like this one and is excited about the return trip. (Three Credits)

English 350 Section 2: The Short Story
This course, taught by Professor Rob Hale, will cover short stories from the early nineteenth-century to the present (mostly British and North American stories, but also some translated European and South American ones).  For some authors the students will read a single story, but for others they will read an entire collection.  The students will also consider how the short story began and has developed over time and how historical circumstances have influenced stories.  Authors that will definitely be covered include Poe, Hawthorne, Maupassant, Chopin, Hemingway, O'Connor, Joyce, Garcia Marquez, Carver and Munro. (Three Credits)

English 430: Methods of Teaching English
A study, lead by Professor Kevin Roberts, of the basic approaches to the teaching of poetry, fiction, and drama and their application in the classroom. Attention is given to the teaching of composition, the marking of themes, and the preparing and grading of examinations. May not be counted toward a major in English. (Three Credits)

English 490: Directed Study in English
Directed by Professor Rob Hale, this course is an experience designed to allow the student to use writing, editorial and professional skills developed during the major by working on departmental publications. Will help prepare the student for employment in various English-related fields. (One to Three Credits)

Spring 2006


English 110: Composition and Literature
Taught by various members of the English faculty, this course is a study of basic rhetorical strategies and their application in thesis-based essays, as well as an analysis of literature emphasizing the symbolic and expressive uses of language. Students are introduced to the imaginative modes of literature and demonstrate their understanding of those uses through discussion and written work. (Four Credits)

English 126: Print Media and Workshops
Taught by Tom Withenbury, this course is described as an introduction to the print media, covering the basic elements of journalism. Students will participate as staff reporters on the Courier, the collegeís student newspaper. Open to all students. (One Credit)

English 180: Introduction to Literature
This course, taught by Professor Mary Bruce, is a general literature course for non-majors, ENGL 180 seeks to encourage life-long reading through appreciation of literary language and form. The course will emphasize examination and comparison of literary genres, structure and form in fiction and poetry, and New Critical analysis (point of view, plot, setting, characterization, diction, imagery, metaphor and symbol, theme, etc.) In addition, the course will place a particular topic or sub-genre in the context of pertinent historical and cultural settings, while examining categorical assumptions about "popular" and "serious" literary treatments. (Three Credits)

English 200: Introduction to the English Studies
A gateway to the English major, this course, taugh by Professor Craig Watson, is designed to introduce majors and minors to the broad range of scholarship and practice within the discipline of English. Included will be emphasis upon close reading and research skills, as well as overviews of the history of the discipline, creative writing, literary criticism and theory, and vocational paths. Dubbed by others as ďboot campĒ for English majors.  Professor Craig Watson prefers to think of it as a romp in the park. (Three Credits)

English 201: Grammar
A course, taught by Professor Kevin Roberts, that gives students practice in fundamental English grammar. Emphasizes basic skills, not theory. (Three Credits)

English 221: British Survey II
A course, taught by Professor Rob Hale, emphasizing major literary movements, cultural influences, and historical developments in English literature from the Neo-classical through Victorian periods. (Three Credits)

English 225: American Survey II
Taught by Professor Craig Watson, this is an introductory survey focusing on poetry and fiction written after the Civil War and before American involvement in the Second World War. Included are works from such writers as Jewett, Wharton, Twain, James, Kate Chopin, Crane, Pound, Robinson, Frost, Anderson, Stevens, Eliot, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner. Emphasis on literary, cultural, and historical movements. The course is a continuation of English 224, but may be taken alone and without regard to sequence. (Three Credits)

English 226: Advanced Print Media and Workshop
This course, taught by Tom Withenbury, is an advanced study in print media, covering the more complex elements of journalism. (Two Credits)

English 299: Writing Fellows
Taught by Professor Steve Price, this course is an introduction to the tutoring process, as well as basic pedagogical and developmental strategies for teaching writing. Course requirements will include readings in composition/tutoring theory and practice as well as tutoring in the Mellinger Teaching and Learning Center. (Two Credits)

English 301: Advanced Composition
A study, taught by Professor Mark Willhardt, of rhetorical strategies and their application to assignments in journalism, scientific writing, and essay writing. Open to juniors and seniors or by consent of the instructor. (Three Credits)

English 310: Advanced Creative Writing
This course, taught by Professor Mary Bruce, is one in which Students write intensively in fiction or poetry, individually selecting their subject matter throughout the course. Students sharpen their critical skills by evaluating one anotherís work and by investigating contemporary writing and publishing. (Three Credits)

English 348: Modern British Novels
This course, taught by Professor Rob Hale, will cover works written from 1900-1945 and will likely include such novels as Forsterís Passage to India,  Joyceís Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Waughís Brideshead Revisited, Woolfís Mrs. Dalloway, and West's The Return of the Soldier. The books will be examined in historical context and such issues as visual art, music, popular literature, the world wars, politics, imperialism, sexuality, and gender will also be considered.  
Professor Rob Hale states that he is open to considering other modern British novels, if you have any requests. (Three Credits)

English 350: Early Modern Masculinities
A course, taught by Professor Marlo Belschner, which
will explore cultural expectations for men in Shakespeare's time and considers the early modern period's understanding of masculinity as historically relevant to our own. The students will explore constructs of masculinity as the world changes to a more humanist, secular, and commercial world under the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, and James I ( exploring the constructs of their gender, also, as they related to masculinities).   The students will look at historical documents on expectations for men such as The Book of the Courtier, in which the gentleman of the court is instructed on how to behave concerning attire, women, leisure activities, and more. Consider the codpiece worn by Henry VIII in Holbein's 1540 portrait; the students will look at this and other paintings as well as look at early modern poetry and plays that deal explicitly with ideas of the gender and sexuality of men including, perhaps, Twelfth Night or Macbeth, Christopher Marlowe's Edward II (and the Jarman film), and works by others including Andrew Marvell and Philip Sidney.  The students will interrogate the political and sexualized concept of the early modern sodomite, as well as discuss whether women really were considered imperfect men with their "nasty bits" turned inside out.  The course will be run as a seminar, which means that discussion will predominate, and that it will be roughly 2/3 literature and 1/3 other cultural documents (art and portraiture, books providing instruction on masculinity, legal cases involving sodomites and cross-dressing). (Three Credits)

English 361: Shakespeare I
Taught by Professor Marlo Belschner, this course is a survey course studying the comedies and historical plays of William Shakespeare. (Three Credits)

English 400: Senior Seminar
Taught by Professor Mark Willhardt, this course is an intensive study of key literary periods and subjects. Recent seminars have focused upon: ďLiterature of the American South,Ē ďNew England Women Writers of the Late 19th Century,Ē ďThe Gothic Tradition,Ē ďThe American Expatriate Experience in LiteratureĒ and ďArthurian Literature.Ē Required of all senior English majors. This year's course will focus on Literary Nonfiction, discussing links between fiction and nonfiction as well as the specific distinctions which memoirs provide while focusing particularly on the rise of the memoir in the past thirty years, yet not limited to those. (Three Credits)

 

 
 


Click below to

Visit the Cultural Events Calendar

By Megan Carlson

The Cultural Events Calendar is a monthly update on the special activities going on at Monmouth College and other campuses such as Western, Knox, and Augustana.

 

Announcements

  • The English department party honoring graduating seniors will be on Friday, May 6th at Professor Craig Watson's House.  Invitation is extended to all English Majors and minors.
  • The honors convocation will be held Tuesday, April 19th, at the Dahl Chapel.
  • President Giese is leaving Monmouth College after 8 years.  His resignation will be tendered June 30.

 

If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?

The Printing Press was pleased at the amount of responses that were submitted to this question.  There were several great answers and here are a few of the submissions from fellow students:

 


Karen Krautwurst --
I would want to meet Ernest Hemingway just to ask, "Jeez, is life really so bad, dude?"
 


-- Mike Seufert
I would want to meet C.S. Lewis, hands down.  He is probably the greatest writer ever. 
Probably.


Matt Engelhardt --
I would like to meet the authors of the the books of the bible.  I think it would be awesome to get their entire story, motivations, and thoughts on how their books should be used and interpreted.


-- Kyle O'Keefe
I would like to meet Koushun Takami, the author of the Japanese novel Battle Royale, because Battle Royale is twisted, morbid, completely inhuman, and I absolutely love it!


Brandon Athey --
Alive - Kurt Vonnegut, because he is the best sci-fi satire writer of all time.
Dead - John Steinbeck, because he is the greatest writer of all time.


-- Lindsey Markel
I'd like to meet Oscar Wilde, because he's totally my homeboy.  We'd go out to a gay bar and sip cosmopolitans and wittily make fun of people together.


Jarred Mauck --
I would want to meet Shakespeare.  He is not my favorite author, but he is a legend.  I would want to figure out how, and if, he wrote so many great plays.  There are so many mysteries surrounding him, I would want to find out the truth.


-- Lucas Gorham
George Orwell.  Not only can his intelligence and insight be seen in all of his novels and essays, but all the personal level of his stories make the 'warning' message of his stories even more important.


Alexandra Graves --
I'd like to meet John Irving.  He's alive and kicking and writing some pretty amazing things.


--Katherine Neilson
Tennyson, because we all know that he was the best poet ever!


Scott Hagen --
If I could meet any author, I would have to say James Patterson as I personally believe him to be the best novel-writer as far as thrillers/mysteries go.  Also, he's still living so that'd make meeting him easier.  I'm not sure I could hold much of a conversation with someone six feet under...


-- Kelly Winfrey
I would have to say Anne Lamott, because she and I would be the best of friends.


Teri Edwards --
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter Series, simply because I enjoy those books.  I think she has an amazing imagination.


-- Chris Maurer
I'd have to say Shel Silverstein, because he's a funny guy, kind of like me.


 

Freeze Frame


Senior Garrett Balbach enjoys a Monmouth College spring day in the courtyard of his dorm, Cleland Hall, while catching up on some reading in between classes.

 

 

 

Writing Labs

Monday - Thursday                3:00-5:00  pm

 

Sunday - Thursday                7:00-10:00 pm

   

Math

Monday - Thursday                3:00 - 5:00 pm

 

Sunday and  Monday              7:00 - 9:00 pm

 

Wednesday and Thursday        7:00 - 9:00 pm

   

Spanish

Monday and Tuesday              2:00 - 3:00 pm

 

Wednesday and Thursday        7:00 - 8:00 pm

   

French

Wednesday and Thursday        7:00 - 9:00 pm

   

German

Monday and Wednesday          8:00 - 9:00 pm

   

Communication

By appointment Only
(3rd Floor of Wallace Hall)

Johnathan Skidmore
jskidmor@monm.edu

Megan Carlson
macarlson@monm.edu
 

 


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