Summer Reading Recommendations: Doug Sugano Edition

Hello, Whitworthians! Summer is coming, and Dr. Sugano is ready to help you create your summer reading list. Check out Doug’s recommendations for a wide variety of informative subject matters and engaging stories!

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“Clever, funny, and a fantastical glimpse at post-graduation life.”

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“Really good sci-fi, that is as much a psychological novel as sci fi.  Smart, insightful, and unusual look at what a trip to Mars might be like.”

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“A Korean American remake of Jane Eyre with some American, Asian, and Asian American twists.”

 

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“A lovely, simple, but moving book about a disabled Math professor and his housekeeper.  Hard to put down, and hard to forget.”

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“I’m still reading it, but it is a thought provoking contemplation of the troubling link between mission work and colonialism.”

Thank You, Jericho Brown!

The Whitworth English Department had the honor of hosting poet Jericho Brown last week! More than sharing his beautiful and evocative poetry, Jericho had incredible things to say during an interview with Dr. Thom Caraway and Elyse Herrera. In his interview, he shared, concerning his writing process, “I have to grow my poems up.” Jericho’s philosophy of teaching and writing poetry aligns with the ways in which he writes his own work. Having grown up reading poetry, Jericho is now giving his poems space to grow themselves up as well. During Jericho’s Q&A, he was able to share his own philosophy of teaching poetry. Jericho believes poetry should be more than a short unit in elementary school, and that children should be exposed to poetry frequently and regularly. Just as his poems need “growing up,” he encourages his own students to read as much poetry as they can in order to let their own taste for and love of poetry “grow up” as well.

Please visit http://www.jerichobrown.com for more information about Jericho’s work as a poet. Thank you, Jericho Brown!

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Photos by Caleb Scoon

Here’s to Doug, and Here’s to Finding Your People!

This Spring, Dr. Doug Sugano is finishing up his final and 30th year of teaching in the Whitworth English Department. In his time at Whitworth, Doug has taught many valuable courses as the department’s Medieval Drama and Literature Professor. Though, when asked about what he has taught at Whitworth, his response was, “beats the hell out of me.” There is no denying that Dr. Sugano is a well-loved and admired professor, and you may have had the pleasure to get to know Doug in courses such as Early British Literature, Asian American Literature, Multicultural American Literature and Literary Theory. Doug’s humorous and engaging nature is reflected within his teaching style and course material as well.

It is common to find Doug’s Shakespeare classes putting on performances in Whitworth’s HUB throughout the year, but it’s the uncommon moments of student-acting that Doug remembers most. According to Doug, the most “horrifying” yet memorable instance of student-performances took place about four years ago when his students were performing the final scenes of Shakespeare’s, Titus Andronicus. Doug describes that in the last scene, Titus had two men killed, “and made them into a pie.” The best part, Doug says, is that “the class decided, ‘we’re going to use red Jell-O for the pie!’” Every student and passer-by was “kind of horrified” by the makeshift pie, “but the real problem,” Doug says, “was that the next day, I got this email from Facilities saying, ‘do you realize what the Jell-O did to our carpet?’” Moments like these, along with many others, are what Doug loves about teaching Medieval Drama.

Doug describes that he was  “drifting” through his PhD program when during his third year at UCLA he enrolled in a Medieval Drama class. Before enrolling in this course, Doug says, “I was going to do 20thCentury American poetry, literature and Asian American literature.” However, the trajectory of his career changed shortly after taking Medieval Drama. Doug’s experience in Medieval Drama “was wonderful,” he says, “because it had a lot of things I was really looking for. It put together everything I understood about Christianity and the Bible.” More than Medieval literature’s intersection with the Bible, the uniqueness of this area of study appealed to Doug as well. “I found out there really aren’t that many medieval drama scholars,” Doug says, and not only this, but the few people there were, “were super nice.” Sharing their research and expertise, Medieval scholars welcomed Doug into their community as he (as a grad student) began attending conferences in the field; Doug had “found [his] people.”

Doug’s courses have brought people together, building community within the English Department; sometimes through the humor of student-performances, and other times by helping students to learn about and connect with their own culture through literature. One of Doug’s favorite memories from his time at Whitworth was when this January, Doug taught his final section of Asian American Literature. Because of one relationship with a student who had a strong desire for Asian American Literature and how it relates to her story and culture, Doug said, “okay I’ll change my schedule,” and in doing so, created an opportunity this specific student (and others who took the course) to learn about themselves, to “find their people” in a sense, through literature. Doug’s ability to create deeper connections for students between themselves and others is yet another reason why Doug loves what he teaches, and why we’re all so grateful he does.

Lucky for the Whitworth community, Dr. Sugano has made the English Department and its students part of his “people” as well. Owing the notion to an author friend of his, Leif Enger, Doug describes Whitworth students as being “clear-eyed.” According to Doug, “they’re awake, they’re eager, and they’re purposeful and present.” Surely, each of Doug’s students and fellow faculty members have been fortunate to experience his eager and present character in return. The English Department as a whole is filled both with gratitude and sadness in saying good-bye to such a valuable member of the English community. But more than sadness, there is pride and excitement in having the privilege to have known and learned from Dr. Sugano, and to celebrate what lies ahead for our beloved professor and colleague. Thank you, Doug! Here’s to finding your people!

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Summer Reading Recommendations: Casey Andrews Edition

Dr. Casey Andrews is kicking off this year’s summer reading recommendations! Scroll below to hear from Casey about some beach-worthy books!

 

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“I’m ready for the beach! (Despite my sweater…)” Casey Andrews

Some of my summer work/fun reading is related to something I’m writing about British modernist novelists engaging with the problematic combination of Christianity and nationalism. My focus right now is on Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, and Sylvia Townsend Warner.My specific recommendations for your summer reading, though, are novels by Waugh and Warner.

Waugh’s Decline and Fall (1928) is an outrageous picaresque featuring the hapless Paul Pennyfeather unfairly expelled from university and drifting through a terrible teaching assignment at a boys’ school in Wales, then to prison, then back to university. It’s a must-read for all snarky undergrads.

The loose sequel Vile Bodies (1930) takes a similar, hilariously cynical approach to the Bright Young People of London’s wealthy party scene from the 1920s. This novel will make you want to shake cocktails, adopt new slang, and feel bad about yourself in the morning.

Far more earnest and romantic is Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited(1945), a nostalgic look at waning upper-class life drenched in Catholic mysticism.

I also heartily recommend the shamefully under-read Sylvia Townsend Warner, especially her first novel Lolly Willowes; Or, The Loving Hunstman (1926). It starts as an English comedy of manners set in a small village and morphs into a satanic romp through a secret coven of witches. Fun, funny, and completely unpredictable.

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Coming Soon…Jericho Brown!

Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 26th, when Whitworth University will be hosting poet, Jericho Brown. Jericho Brown is a poet and professor, whose most recent book, The New Testament, has been described by critics as being, “lyrical clarity,” and as “ushering the body from political and religious battlegrounds” (Jericho Brown website here). His first book, Please won the American Book Award and his second book of poetry, The New Testament won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is the Director the Creative Writing Program and an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University.

Invite your friends and family to enjoy this night of poetry, community, and fun!
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Påskekrim Participants are Loving their Crime Novels!

Many Whitworth students took part in a long-standing Norwegian Easter tradition during Spring Break thanks to this years Påskekrim event! Take a look at some of the student participants’ experiences with crime novels this Spring Break!

Anna Rajala is a freshman at Whitworth. Her major is Elementary Education. During Spring Break, she went to College Work Week at the Washington Family Ranch in OR for the first half, and then went home to Southern CA.

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I’m reading Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker. It’s about a private investigator/detective named Spenser who is hired by Patty, a divorced woman who is trying to get her teenage son Paul back from her ex-husband, Mel. Patty and Mel essentially steal their son back-and-forth in some sort of revenge competition, even though neither really wants Paul. Spenser befriends the boy and takes him away to a house in Maine to protect him from both parents. While there, Spenser discovers secrets about Paul’s family he never would have expected.

The book is pretty good so far; the story is interesting enough that I want to keep reading. However, unless it’s supposed to be a satire (which I don’t believe it is), it’s very cliché and mediocrely written. Maybe that’s the genre. It has the hokey melodrama of detective stories from the mid 1900s, complete with cringey metaphors, sexism, and an overly macho, womanizing protagonist. With all that being said, it has a kind of antiquated charm, and I certainly enjoy reading it, if only to laugh at the ridiculous plot twists and “creative” imagery.

Timothy Bruggeman is a sophomore at Whitworth, and for Spring break he visited my family in California.

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The book I read is Titled A Time to Kill by John Grisham. In the book, two men brutally rape and beat a little girl. The father tells his lawyer he is going to kill them, but the lawyer doubts that this is his real intention. The father succeeds in killing them while using an illegal weapon, and asks that the lawyer take his case because he helped his cousin. Now, the defense attorney must win the case with the biggest publicity in his life.
The first chapter was tough. I did not read the summary beforehand, so a brash description of a brutal murder was offputting. After that, the humor was subtle, and I took it slow to get everything. The book is divided into 44 sections, and I took a break after finishing each one.
Jadyn Baumgartner is a freshman, nursing major at Whitworth. During Spring break, she went home and spent time with family and friends! The crime novel she read was, Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy.
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This book is about how we all get caught up in the hustle of our everyday lives and many of us don’t take the time to fill a hole in our hearts. That hole many times is something that is deeper and truer than what we get out of just checking all the boxes of our daily lives. McKoy ties in God’s kingdom to all of this. This book was on the shelf that we were told to pick from but is not a mystery or crime novel.
The reading is going well. I enjoy the content of this book so so much and am easily able to apply myself to the situations presented and the advice given. I am about halfway through!

Dr. Emerson’s, “A Terraqueous Counter-Narrative in US History” [Review]

Hello English folk! Do you ever wonder what your professors are up outside of the classroom? One answer could be, they’re writing cool things! Dr. Emerson’s engaging and thought provoking piece, “A Terraqueous Counter-Narrative in US History,” is a great example of the many fine pieces of scholarly work that Whitworth’s English professors are producing. Please enjoy Dr. Emerson’s review, below!

In this piece, Emerson reviews Michele Currie’s Navakas’s Liquid Landscape: Geography and Settlement at the Edge of Early America (Penn, 2018). In this meticulously curated monograph ranging from the colonial era through the early 20th century, Navakas demonstrates that Florida has always — and importantly — compromised master narratives of US nationalism. Demonstrating the centrality of Florida in shaking up conventional conceptions and rhetorics that have undergirded property ownership, national expansion, and domestic practices ever since the Enlightenment, Navakas foregrounds a distinctive Florida environment — its marshes, hammocks, reefs, and shoals — as one of the strongest checks on national incorporation and its imperial ambitions. As critics continue to challenge the organizing myths of the US nation and the “roots and routes” of its literary history, Navakas adds an important and impressive new study to the conversation.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-terraqueous-counter-narrative-in-us-history/#!

Påskekrim!

The countdown to Spring Break and the Easter holiday has begun, and what better way to celebrate than with crime novels?

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Norway’s long standing tradition, Påskekrim, is an Easter celebration in which families and friends come together to read crime novels, and now is your chance to join in on the fun!

Whitworth’s first ever Påskekrim event begins this week! Påskekrim involves reading for fun, community, crime and pizza. Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Visit your nearest Resident’s Hall, the Whitworth Library or Westminister Hall to choose a crime book (for FREE).
  2. Read your book over Spring Break for fun!
  3. Bring the crime novel you read-or attempted to read-over break as your ticket in to a FREE pizza party with your fellow Påskekrim participants!

 

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Editing and Publishing: A Minor Study with Major Perks

Do you like books? Are you interested in editing? Do you ever wonder about practical and fun post-grad job opportunities? The Editing and Publishing Minor might be for you!

The Editing and Publishing minor is an interdisciplinary minor which stems from the English department. The program is designed for students to gain practical exposure and experience with text production, editorial discernment, design and publishing.

Dr. Thom Caraway describes the Editing and Publishing minor as one that “puts together seemingly disparate elements of a liberal arts education and describes a career path for them,” a type of study which “plays to the strengths of those-in any discipline or major- who are interested in reading well or writing well.”

Courses such as Creative Writing, Book Design, American Literary Journals and Typography are only some of the many exciting classes this minor has to offer! Visit the Whitworth catalog for more specified information regarding course requirements, and make Editing and Publishing your new minor!

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Poetry, Coffee, and Fly Fishing

By Ryan Hackenbracht

The beautiful thing about both poetry and fly fishing, I’ve often thought, is precision. In a well crafted poem, every word—every syllable—matters, and in fly fishing, it’s much the same thing: a bad cast will spook every fish in the pool, but a well placed cast will land the fly right on the nose of a rising trout. In this way, both poetry and fly fishing are mechanical—a matter of establishing just the right rhythm, of hitting the nail on the head. But at the same time, they are both an artistic craft, and as much as we might try to reduce them to formula, they consistently amaze us by transcending the very rules we think define them.

 

My fascination with precision and poetry began as an English major at Whitworth. In the classes of Doug Sugano, Laura Bloxham, Leonard Oakland, and Vic Bobb, I discovered that analyzing poetry was not only fun but hard. It took all my concentration to unravel the bits and pieces of jumbled language—much like sitting on the bank of a river and struggling over a knot of colossal proportions. I was attracted to the complexity of Renaissance poetry and to John Milton, in particular. Poems like Paradise Lost and Lycidas harbored some deep, delicious secret—some stunning revelation about the relationship between faith, politics, and literature—that spoke to me and simply needed to be teased out, dissected, and discussed.

 

One afternoon, sitting in his office in Westminster Hall and chatting, Doug told me (to my surprise) that I could actually make a living studying such things. With his guidance, I applied to English graduate school. I was accepted into Penn State’s program, and in the woods and spring creeks of Pennsylvania, I cultivated a second obsession: fly fishing. There, as I watched brown trout rise to the evening spinner fall, I understood what Dylan Thomas meant when he said he could hear the sabbath ringing slowly in the pebbles of the holy stream. On the water, fly rod in hand, I found another kind of enchanting, rhythmic poetry that complemented what I was studying on the printed page.

 

That is, of course, when I was not sitting in one of the many coffee shops that littered State College, sweating over my dissertation and first article publications. As any doctoral student can tell you, writing the dissertation is a lot like assembling a puzzle with 10,000 pieces—some of which play peek-a-boo and laugh as they run away, while others promise they will behave but then frustratingly, agonizingly, refuse to do so. In moments like those, caffeine was a necessity and a curse. It encapsulated much of the grad school experience: nervous excitement about your research coupled with the anxiety that—should you prove anything short of unflagging in your intensity—you’ll crash.

 

Today, as an English professor, I still measure out my life with coffee spoons, and afternoons are spent doing what I love most: sitting in coffee shops and writing about Renaissance poetry. Publication, I’ve found, is an intoxicating drug, and your addiction grows stronger the more you do it. Quite frequently, I marvel at the magical powers of Microsoft Word, which has the uncanny ability to lure me away from everything else in order to render a blank page not-blank. But here, too, I discover beauty in precision, and I’ve come to realize that writing scholarly books and articles is, in a way, its own kind of poetry. Whether I’m working on Milton, political philosophy, or Protestant theology, there’s something thrilling and satisfying about constructing a well-wrought argument that (I hope) will catalyze debate and produce “much arguing, much writing, [and] many opinions,” to quote Milton’s Areopagitica.

 

While much has changed since my time at Whitworth, much is surprisingly the same. Although I’m now the teacher, I walk into my classrooms with the same excitement I had walking into Westminster Hall. Now as then, I’m excited to be talking about the texts I love with like-minded English majors, and I learn new things from our class discussions all the time, just as I did when I was a student. At the end of the day, my educational philosophy boils down to this: I try to live up to the example set by my Whitworth professors. They put me on the path to where I am today, and if I can inspire my own students in a similar way, then great. If I can teach my students to cherish literature as the people in Westminster taught me, then I’ve done my job.

 

And if, by some miracle, I can get them to try fly fishing too—well, then I’ve done even better.

. . .

Ryan Hackenbracht (’06) is Assistant Professor of English and Associate Director of Graduate Studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from the Pennsylvania State University. Originally from the Seattle area, Ryan is adjusting to West Texas life, practicing his “y’alls,” and slipping out to New Mexico and Colorado for fly fishing adventures. You can check out his website here.