Westminster Round Presents Literary Live-Action Clue

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by Ana Quiring ’14 (photos by Krystal Valle ’13)

One of the most striking attributes of English students, I think, is our ability to take any event, game, or object and turn it into a literary artifact. Christmas party? Dickens reading party. End of the year bake sale? Used book bake sale. Movie night? Dead Poet Society night. And these are just Westminster Round events. The possibilities for overzealous TV show analysis, real-life symbolism (watch out, Whitworth Campanile), and relating pop songs to classic literature are nearly endless. We’re an industrious and sometimes single-mindedly nerdy bunch.

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We at Westminster Round, your English department club, decided to continue the trend with our April event, which we dubbed “Literary Live-Action Clue,” which is exactly what it sounds like. On Friday, April 19, we turned a set of classrooms in Westminster Hall into the backdrop for a sinister and nerdy murder.

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Instead of Miss Scarlet with the candlestick in the conservatory, we followed our primitive English-geek instincts and chose literary rooms, suspects, and weapons. Narnia’s Wardrobe and the Room of Requirement looked especially sinister; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern and Sherlock & Watson were under suspicion; and tuberculosis and the Norton Shakespeare Anthology were just a few of the possible weapons. Edgar Allen Poe, fallen prey to mysterious circumstances, was our victim (mostly so I could model for the tape outline on the floor, complete with mustache, and shout “Poe is no moe!” at random intervals).

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While these categories didn’t affect the procedure of the actual game (which involved searching for clues that Caroline Swinford and I hid with delighted malice in increasingly difficult hiding places) they certainly made it more fun. Caroline and I stood with Professor Fred Johnson before the start of the game, the solution envelope in hand and the possible murders spread out on their custom cards. “Well, Fred?” I asked. “Who should we pick for our murderer?”

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He hesitated over Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald before settling on the portrait of the ominously straight-faced Bronte sisters. “If anybody was going to lose it and kill somebody,” he concluded with obvious amusement, “It would certainly be them.”

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So the Brontes it was. When English majors, minors, and unwilling accomplices alike arrived, the Bronte team had the perhaps more fun job of finding our clues and re-hiding them in other places. When we reconvened for our murder mystery-style accusatory reveal, Lennie and George from Of Mice and Men correctly identified the murderers, as well as the weapon, the Thorns of Life from that Shelley poem we love to mock, and the scene of the crime, King Arthur’s Court (perhaps better known as Westminster 246).

But who were the real winners? Lennie and George, who went home with the promise of free books from the upcoming hot dog and book sale (May 10)? The Brontes, who laughed maniacally as they mislead the other teams? Or Caroline and I, who ran rampant through the building, switching off lights, turning up portentous mood music, and tucking Clue cards into the ceiling tiles? Well, who’s to say. But I think it’s safe to conclude, a good time was had by all.

Ana Quiring is an English major, probably for life. The only thing she likes better than Virginia Woolf is talking about Virginia Woolf with other English majors. Also, popcorn is pretty good.

EL Department Will Represent at SIRC on 4/27

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Whitworth hosts the annual Spokane Intercollegiate Research Conference this year on Saturday, April 27. Several EL profs and students will present papers and essays. Check the online program available on the SIRC web site for up-to-date info about session times and locations.

Please support your classmates and colleagues as they share their work.

EL panels include:

Dr. Casey Andrews moderating “Imagining England in Modern British Fiction” (morning session)

Dr. Laura Bloxham moderating “Jane Austen Adaptations” (early afternoon)

Dr. Bloxham moderating “Jane Austen: Gender and Money” (late afternoon)

Dr. Nicole Sheets moderating “Explorations in Creative Nonfiction (late afternoon)

and Dr. Pamela Corpron Parker moderating “Victorian Literature and Social Critique” (late afternoon)

Diana Cater (’13) is part of another EL early afternoon panel. Sarah Jaymes Kenney (’14) is also part of a history panel in the early afternoon.

Go, team!

“Don’t Look Bored” And Other Useful Thoughts As You Prepare To Read Your Work

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The crocuses have given way to the daffodils in the courtyard garden outside Westminster Hall. The tulips make themselves known.

This means that in the EL department, the Script and senior readings are on the horizon.

I recently came across this useful and witty post by fiction writer Joseph Scapellato with advice for his creative writing majors preparing for a reading. His counsel includes:

Don’t be bored with the work you’ve written that you’re reading.

Don’t appear to be bored with the work you’ve written that you’re reading.

Don’t look like you dont’ want to be there, up there, even if you don’t want to be there, up there. This doesn’t mean that you need to look like you would rather be there than anywhere else, but err on the side of enthusiasm.

(Owl pic above from bookishheather.com)

Creative Writing Sampler: Katherine Bryant (’13) On Gluten-Free Girl Cookbook

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Katherine Bryant (above) is a senior studying Speech Communication, Theology, and English. She came to Whitworth from Portland, Oregon and hopes to return there after graduation to work and do ministry in the city.

Katherine submitted the photo below of one of her favorite Portland haunts. She also recently wrote this piece of creative non-fiction about the book Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern.

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I received this book for Christmas from my parents after I spent a few hours in Powell’s looking for various cookbooks. Shauna has a beautiful blog which I try to check every few days. She is a gourmet chef, working with her husband to create wonderful and seasonal gluten-free meals. The book has over 100 recipes but is interspersed with the story of how these two artists met, fell in love, and developed a lifetime of happiness by inventing this cookbook and delicious recipes.

Food, to this couple, is a complete gift. They spend massive amounts of time searching for the right meat, the freshest Brussels sprouts, and investing in the community which supplies their industry.

When we go to Don and Joe’s meat counter, Danny watches the butchers break down a side of lamb and says he wants to do that someday.

I spent the whole month of January discussing the role of the Church and how food affects community in that eternal relationship. One concrete lesson I will take away is: it is impossible to eat well alone.

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When it comes to matters of the food industry, or when one more person consumes Foster Farms chicken, or we fail to properly investigate what is actually in cereal, I want to cry for a while. I want to explore the vast ways that the factory farm has destroyed community, has given little hope to the existence of well-maintained animals in the future.

I know many folks who stay home, and miss the restaurant meal and the inspiration it can provide, because they are afraid of making a fuss. But in the hands of the right chef, creating a meal for someone with a food allergy is not only an interesting challenge, but also a privilege.

Living with food allergies is a nuisance. It is ridiculous the stares I have received, the probing questions that follow the words “gluten-free” and the number of waitresses and waiters who have never heard those words uttered in their restaurant.

It is impossible to eat well alone.

Brianna Wheeler (’13) On Whitworth’s 2013 Writing Rally

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Brianna Wheeler, above, is a senior English major at Whitworth. She teaches fencing and art classes and will begin Whitworth’s MIT program in the summer term.

Brianna participated in the 2013 Writing Rally in March and sent us this dispatch:

The energy, the excited little faces, the volunteers praying that they can manage.  Around 400 children registed for this year’s writing rally and gathered at Whitworth for the chance create their own books.

Patrick Jennings, a children’s author, asked for the children’s thoughts and validated their ideas. He offered an outline for writing that would help the children, parents, and volunteers have a shared vocabulary and vision for creating story structure.

It was in the second of three sessions that I helped my first kid of the day: a sweet second-grade girl who was sure she couldn’t write a story and whose mom had to go help her brother in a computer room for fourth graders.

Half way through dictating her tale of a runaway blue watermelon and his visit to the zoo she stopped short.

“Is this a book?”

“Well, yes, you are making the story.”

And then she just looked at me, huge eyed, unsure of what she had done.

Shortly, we had a ten page narrative, each page starting with the next letter in the word “watermelon” (and yes, this brilliant child who didn’t think she could write came up with sentences starting with the appropriate letter on her own). We were ready to craft the book itself.

She had to take the story home to finish transcribing it into the book, but as she showed it to her mom, she beamed with the conviction that she was creating.

What I loved about the rally was the opportunity for children to realize their own potential as authors.  They were given the affirmation of creativity, support of a structure to shape plot, manual tools or computers to compose and create a finished book with, and the aid of parents and college volunteers to allow them all an opportunity to write for pleasure.

Check Out Photos From Fool Me Once: A Talent Show

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On April Fools’ Day, students, faculty, and friends gathered for Fool Me Once: A Talent Show in the HUB. (Above: Dr. Fred Johnson reads Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss). We raised just over $60 for Project Hope Spokane in our tip jar.

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Thanks to Krystal Valle (’13), our event photographer. Krystal describes herself as “excellent at pretending to be good at things like writing, designing, photography, baking, and sometimes, on a really spectacular day, a nice slow jog. Her real talents hail from her dry humor full of cheeky remarks.” (Above, Professor Maggie Wolcott demonstrates the art of making jam. She also passed out sweet samples.)

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Cameron Parker, above, plays a medley on his ocarina.

It takes a village to put on a talent show. Thanks to the tireless Annie Stillar, to Diana Cater for the promotional materials, to Karina Basso and Fred Johnson for serious tech support and piano-moving abilities, to Liv Larsen Andrews and Arlo Andrews for reading us a bedtime story, to faculty support from Casey Andrews, Maggie Wolcott, Amy Rice, Katherine Karr-Cornejo, Fred Johnson, Laurie Lamon, Laura Bloxham, Doug Sugano, and Brytton Bjorngaard. High-fives of appreciation to our student performers: John Taylor, Ruth Nalty, Rosie McFarland, Cameron Parker, Karina Basso, Brett Bajema, and Blaine Eldredge.

Enjoy these highlights! Karina Basso plays a tribute to Weird Al Yankovic.

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John Taylor discusses the nuances of indoor gardening.

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Casey Andrews regales us with melancholy British pop.

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Liv Larsen Andrews and Arlo tell us about Project Hope Spokane.

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Ruth Nalty displays her prodigious collaging abilities.

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Katherine Karr-Cornejo reads poetry from Nicanor Parra in Spanish and English.

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Librarian Amy Rice shares the joys of subject headings.

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Brett Bajema creates beats while Blaine Eldredge raps about gardening, chickens, and other issues of our day.

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Rosie McFarland shows her Potter Puppet Pals film from her youtube channel.

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English ElectiveFest and Book Sale Presale This Thursday (April 4)

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This semester’s English ElectiveFest will be Thursday, April 4, from 11:00-12:30 in 252 Westminster.

Hobnob with EL faculty and students, find out about EL courses for Fall 2013, and eat some pizza.

Black tie optional.

We’ll also have some book sale books handy. Paperbacks are $1 and hardbacks $2. Book sale money goes to the courtyard garden between Westminster and the art building.