2015 Faculty Summer Reading Lists

Have you recovered from finals yet? Need some new reading material? Here are a few suggestions from our lovely English department faculty. Happy reading!



Laura Bloxham: I’m not just recommending these two books.  I’m telling you these books are stunning.  Your life will be better for having read them.  Both books are by authors currently living in the northwest, Anthony Doerr in Boise and Daniel James Brown just outside Seattle.

4A93A6BE-8DFD-4C84-983C-BBAD3A1A379DDoerr’s book, All the Light We Cannot See, recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is set primarily in occupied France during World War II.  But this book is not a book about war.  It is a book about resiliency.  Two inordinately strong children tell their stories, Marie-Laure, a blind French girl living in Paris, and Werner, an orphan in Germany who earns his way into the Hitler Youth.  There is a third narrator who enters the story later and gives urgency to the plot, as well as presenting a mystery of sorts. The highlight of the book is the people we love and the details of their lives.  All that is presented in short narratives and gorgeous prose.  The novel grows from pieces into one story.
D1DBAD68-DB46-4657-B1FA-052E571B4018Daniel Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is non-fiction, narrative history.  It is similar to
Doerr’s novel in that it is a person’s story primarily, one of the boys in the boat at the University of Washington who wins a spot rowing at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.  The central figure lives in Spokane and in Sequim, before moving to Seattle.  It is his early life, his struggles with abandonment and poverty, that makes him our cherished center of the story.  All of the boys in the boat have circumstances that provide back stories and qualities necessary for great collective achievement.
But you just have to trust me.  These books belong on the top of your reading list this summer.



poetry_rankine_citizen_fThom Caraway:Citizen: an American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, 2014). This book won the 2014 National Book Critic’s Circle awards for both poetry and criticism. One book has never been nominated in both categories, much less won, so I am very interested in reading it. In a long series of prose poems, cultural critiques, and artworks, the book explores issues of racial identity in America.

30ywarMy Thirty-Year’s War, by Margaret Anderson (Knopf, 1930). Anderson was the founder and editor of The Little Review, one of the most influential and important little magazines of the Modernist period. Anderson published, in serial format, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and was tried for obscenity as a result. The magazine was always on the brink of financial collapse, but she published everyone we still consider important (including Mina Loy, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and many others). With Harriet Monroe, Anderson is one of the most important poetry editors of the 20th century. This is her autobiography.41MBJ0BJq+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems, by B.H. Fairchild (Norton, 2014). I’ll read anything written by Fairchild. He’s one of the best living American poets, and will be visiting Whitworth in the fall of 2015.

Well, that’s a start!




Amowi Phillips: 

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson




Casey Andrews: I’ve been spending a year reading about peace and war, which I realize is not everyone’s ideal for the beach, but here are a few suggestions regardless.

Parade's EndFord Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy. One of the great modernist monster-pieces, but with an engaging plot and characters to pull you through the dense, impressionistic passages.

And, if you don’t feel like hundreds of pages worth of Ford’s prose, there is the excellent mini-series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. According to Stoppard, this film—more than any he has worked on—feels like one of his own original plays.


Rose Macaulay’s The World My Wilderness. A young girl named Barbary returns to London in 1946 after serving the French Resistance. She wanders the rubble, living in the bombsites and trying to make sense of a war that was supposed to bring peace but instead leaves devastation. Macaulay was a supremely popular comic novelist, but this is my pick for her finest work of serious fiction.

the-love-charm-of-bombsLara Feigel, The Love-charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War. This “group biography” traces in marvelous detail and great storytelling a set of five writers as they experienced the London Blitz and its aftermath—among them Rose Macaulay, Graham Greene, and Rebecca West.

1303921Helen Zenna Smith, Not So Quiet… The romance novelist Evadne Price got a contract to capitalize on the success of Erich Maria Remarque’s antiwar novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Writing as Helen Smith and basing her novel on true stories, she chose to write a book even more brutal than Remarque’s about the realities of war from the perspective of volunteer ambulance drivers and nurses. There are plot twists and turns and enough hard-edged, tough talking female characters to make Orange is the New Black jealous.



downloadDoug Sugano:

The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa.




41FD2KGPX9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Laurie Lamon:

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Just won the Pulitzer….it’s gorgeous!), and  The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz !


Vic Bobb: Reading in the Summer.  It’s the thing we’re born for.  Reading is what Summer is for.  Summer is the definition of Readingin the Unfallen State.  This is a delicious subject.  (Especially if you eat bacon while you’re Reading in the Summer.)

BB0493_3I’m going to open the summer with the bizarre magnificence of Faulkner’s Snopes Trilogy.  The Hamlet.  The Town.  The Mansion.  This triplet work (published in 1940, 1957, 1959) has some slack moments, but is immense and wonderful (and very funny) and faulknerian…and its capacity to immerse the reader in the character of Mink is astonishing and implausible (and, to some writer / readers, awe-inspiring).  I commend my beginning-of-summer choice to your attention.

111201However, if you’ve never managed to click with Faulkner, you can skip the Snopeses and go directly to some contemporary English writers: sample one each from Penelope Lively [The Photograph, or City of the Mind, or Moon Tiger…virtually any Lively novel, in fact, except Heat Wave, which I insist is a forgery, with a lame ending that could not have come from so wonderful a writer as P. Lively]; and Pat Barker [Double Vision, Ghost Road, or Union Street]; and Graham Swift [Last Orders or The Sweet-Shop Owner]; and Penelope Fitzgerald [The Book Shop or Offshore]; and John Berger [To the Wedding]; and Joanne Harris [Five Quarters of the Orange]; and Julian Barnes [Metroland or Staring at the Sun]; and Ian McEwan [assuming you’ve already read Atonement and Saturday, try On Chesil Beach or Amsterdam]; and Anita Brookner [Hotel du Lac or A Friend From England]; and Nick Hornby [How to Be Good, A Long Way Down; or the stunning creative nonfiction / memoir Fever Pitch {don’t worry: you Shakespeare_Wrote_for_Money_loresdon’t have to know or care a thing about soccer for this book’s writing to blow you away}; or the offbeat goofiness of The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs the Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and More Baths Less Talking]; and Barbara Pym [An Unsuitable Attachment]; and Kazuo Ishiguro [The Remains of the Day or Never Let Me Go]; and PD James [The Black Tower, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, or The Children of Men]; and Martin Amis [Koba the Dread, or Night Train; plus any of his books of essays].  Yes, there are some good and celebrated writers missing from that list, but by now you’ve gotten to July, and it’s time to widen your scope, and take in some literature in translation.

But that’s a list for another time….

“S’GO BUCS” A This Whitworth Life preview by Izze Ginley (’16)

I flirted with many sports before I found my true love. As a young girl, I itched to play catch or shoot hoops outside whenever possible. But once I picked up a volleyball, I didn’t look back. I set every ball-shaped object in my house. I had “vbgrl23” as my Myspace password. I too often wore volleyball themed sweatshirts, ribbons, and slippers.

I was all in.

Throughout high school I aspired to play at the highest level possible. I made the varsity team as a freshman and played competitively year-round, attending five Junior Olympic Tournaments.

When it came to college, my parents did not even ask if I wanted to compete at the next level. They knew. One recruiting trip led to the next and I quickly realized that playing time was my priority. Multiple coaches told me that Whitworth would give me this opportunity. I looked forward to a starting position all four years of college.

My freshman year was a major adjustment. Despite my hours of effort, I hardly saw the court. Fortunately, I was the back-up to one of our starting defenders, so the coaching staff brought me to every game for those rare emergency subs.

Sophomore year brought even more adversity. Whitworth hired a brand new coach. Another coach meant another shot at getting on the court come game day. This was my chance to prove myself.

At the end of pre-season that year, we were about to embark on our first tournament. That first tournament kicks off our season—line-ups are solidified, chemistry is made, and our training is tested as we compete for the first time together. This trip brings extra excitement because we always travel outside of the region. It feels like a mini vacation on top of the great competition. My sophomore year, the sunny Thousand Oaks, California was our destination–our last glimpse of summer before classes kicked into full gear would include volleyball, palm trees, and beaches. Unfortunately, out of the sixteen of us, only twelve players can go. That year, I was sure that I would make the roster.

At the end of the last practice before the tournament, coach asked six of us to meet her in her office. Three including myself played defense, while the other three played offense.

My heart dropped. In my head I quickly calculated my chances. Four of us were not going. I thought she would only take one of us defenders. My face flushed.

The walk over to coach’s office felt longer and sweatier than ever. Coach first called four of us in, three on offense and myself on defense. My stomach churned. Before we even sat down, I knew I wasn’t going.

Coach said we had potential, but we didn’t make the cut. She also said something about how sorry she was that the budget was too scant to allow us to go.

My legs burned for another chance. Just one more drill, one more scrimmage to prove that I made a difference, but there was nothing I could do. My heart broke. My identity was shattered. I had failed. I was not good enough.

After reflecting while my team was gone, I gained a new perspective. Although I was devastated, my drive to play was renewed, but for different reasons. I decided to play for the people standing next to me, not for myself. Their success became my success; their failure, mine.

I learned what it takes to be a part of team: the only way to succeed after failure is to put others first and give it everything, every day. Instead of seeing my teammates as benchmarks for my own success, I worked to build us as a team by encouraging and supporting them.

This experience changed the path of my volleyball career: I played a supporting role in games my sophomore year, and my junior year I started in every single one. But, more importantly, my failure transformed my approach to teamwork in all aspects of my life. In the classroom, as I tutor, and in my relationships, I strive to put the people I work for and with before everything else.

During my time at Whitworth, I learned how to lose, which taught me how to be a part of a team that wins. Failing taught me how to lead, and showed me that leading can only come from giving. This, for me, defines what it means to be a Buc.


My name is Elizabeth Ginley, but most people call me “Izze.” I am a junior English Major, completing both the Literature and Writing tracks. I also play for Whitworth’s Women’s Volleyball team. And, I serve as a writing consultant and technical manager at our university’s writing center: The Whitworth Composition Commons. I continually see the lessons that I have learned in athletics as analogies to the rest of my life. This piece attempts to capture the lessons of failure, humility, and teamwork that I have learned during my time at Whitworth, thus far.

NCUR Presenters

anna_kareninOn April 16, 17 and 18 Eastern Washington University hosted the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. English Majors Terra Ojeda (’15), Maggie Montague (’15) and Nick Avery (’16) presented their papers as part of the event.

Avery’s paper entitled “Searching for Anna in Anna Karenina” is a feminist analysis of Tolstoy’s classic novel that examines Anna as a non-allegorical character who challenges patriarchal values, and whose death is the result, not of moral wrong, but of flawed cultural modes.



Ojeda’s paper “An Animalistic and Supernatural Form of Justice” examines the flaws in the human justice system in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Black Cat,” redefining justice as an act of supernatural intervention. Ojeda compares this reading to her reading of Poe’s “Murders at the Rue Morgue” to develop an argument that attempts to address the central flaws in the American Justice system.




Montague’s paper, “Perhaps Liars Do Prosper; An Exploration of Trickery and Heroism in Charles Brockden Brown’s Weiland” aligns the mysterious character Carwin with the trickster archetype, arguing that he is both a selfish, sexually driven character and a cultural hero who forces readers to reconsider the flaws in human reason and faith.



To read full abstracts of these papers, visit the NCUR website.

WaCLA Essay Winners

Congratulations to English Majors Elizabeth Merriam (’16) in the Junior/Senior category and Josh Tuttle (’17) and Chris Volk (’17) in the Freshman/Sophomore category for their winning essays!

The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) advocates for the importance of a liberal arts education and believes that the voices of those who are benefiting from such an education are profoundly persuasive.

Whitworth students were invited to submit essays based on the prompt “A liberal arts education values ways of knowing that cross the humanities, the arts, and the social, natural, and physical sciences.  This multifaceted approach to knowledge inspires creative responses to important topics and pressing issues, both present and future.  Drawing on your experience with a specific topic or issue that you have explored either inside or outside of school, discuss the importance of the liberal arts as a means of engaging with the present and shaping our individual and collective future.”

The essays were judged in an anonymous format by a cross-disciplinary group of Whitworth faculty. These winning papers will be forwarded to the WaCLA statewide paper competition.