EL Senior Reading Tomorrow


As the grand finale to finals week, come out and support the English Seniors this Friday, May 16, at 6 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall! They will be reading pieces of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and academic writing. They would love to see you there!

Congratulations Class of 2014!


EL Faculty Summer Reading Picks, Part II


As summer inches closer, here are Professor Vic Bobb’s  and Professor LuElla D’Amico’s summer reading recommendations. Enjoy!

Professor Vic Bobb: Lazy Days…and Energetic Page Turning

So what are you going to read this summer?  There are a lot of books out there.  Not all of them feature characters with skin that sparkles in the sunlight.  In fact, most of them don’t.  And all of the best and most worthy among them…um…don’t.

Reading during the summer being a sacramental act, I’m suggesting books in accord with the sacrament of marriage.  What to read?  Here are Vic’s suggestions for the Marriage of True Minds:

Something Old:  I know, I know; some of you think that “Old” would refer to some character’s third year at Hogwarts.  I’m thinking of an older old.  Howsabout Tristram Shandy, published in chunks during the 1760s and, as far as I know, taught not even once at Whitworth in the past 28 years.  A person who wanted to proclaim Tristram Shandy the funniest book ever published was in a defensible position for more than a century and a half…but with the publication of Right-ho, Jeeves, in 1934, the question of the most truly pantswettingly funny book of all time was abruptly and finally settled, and partisans of the Reverend Mister Laurence Sterne were pleased to acknowledge that, because of P.G. Wodehouse, their idol was forever to be known as the second funniest writer in the history of the English language.  (Peace, Terry Pratchett fans…)

Your alternative (or additional) “something old” for this or any other summer: something by Dickens that you haven’t read recently.  And if you don’t have any Dickens in your past, go ahead and dive right in to Bleak House, simply one of the greatest novels ever written.  Read some Dickens; you’ll be glad you did.

Something New: How new is “new”?  Howsabout “this century”?  Penelope Lively’s The Photograph (2003) is a very fine (and sad) novel (and if it’s your introduction to Lively, next you can read all her novels except Heat Wave, which is thoroughly unworthy of her enormous talents); Ian McEwan started the century [2001-2007] with a pretty swell triad (Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach); Pat Barker’s Another World is cheating because it’s 1998, but she’s worth reading in whatever century; Never Let Me Go continues the excellence that Kazuo Ishiguro began back in the 20th; and from this side of the Atlantic—not for the fainthearted—is Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, about which I said in my reading journal, “Wow.  For action-suspense, McCarthy can make Mickey Spillane look like Jane Austen, and The Terminator look like a Teletubbies episode.  And Bell’s reflections on the state of our culture…gulp.”  Be warned.

Something Borrowed:  (These books needed an intermediary, someone to borrow the original language and transform it into eloquent English.)

Michel Quint, In Our Strange Gardens  (France, French, translated by Barbara Bray)

Cristina Peri Rossi, The Museum of Useless Efforts  (Uruguay / Spain, Spanish, translated by Tobias Hecht)

Slavenka Drakulić, The Balkan Express (Croatia, language-is-part-of-the-question, translated by Maja Soljan)

Victor Pelevin, The Yellow Arrow  (Russia, Russian, translated by Andrew Bromfield)

Pär Lagerkvist, Barabbas  (Sweden, Swedish, translated by Alan Blair)

Something Blue  Not blue as in the sitcom star’s stand-up routine that you’re really sorry you took your grandmother to for her birthday; not blue as in blue states, blue laws, blue-sky regulations, or blueberry pie, but blue as in These Are The Books Vic Listed Under “Blue” in order to round out the rather pointless and clunky theme of this list….

Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady  (Actually, this one is pretty blue as to language; herewith a Serious Vulgarity Alert.  But a very funny, and touching, memoir.)

Fanny Flagg, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man  A sheerly delightful book.

Ron Hansen, Atticus  The final sentence.  Now you have to read the whole book again.

Bob Dylan, Chronicles (Volume One)  Only for people who are already favorably inclined toward Bob Dylan.  For those folks…a) you’ve never read anything like this in your life; b) maybe this is something like what it’s like to be inside Bob Dylan’s head; c) you won’t put it down, and you’ll wish it were twice as long as it is.

Philip Larkin, Selected Letters 1941-1985.  Hilarious, heartbreaking, insightful, utterly fascinating.  The correspondence with Kingsley Amis is, itself, worth whatever the book costs.  In fact, once you’re a quarter of the way into this collection, get Betterworld.com to send you the immense volume of Amis’s correspondence: that book is also an enormous pleasure to read.

Don’t forget sunblock.

I now pronounce you Reader and Book.

Professor LuElla D’Amico: First, of course I have to suggest one of my favorite nineteenth-century women writers, E.D.E.N. Southworth.  If you haven’t read the “gothic comedy,” The Hidden Hand, you should–and do so as soon as possible.  Bandits, thieves, madwomen, and lots of cross-dressing…what could be more fun?  And if you find you like Southworth, you should also check out Love’s Labour Lost, the book by her that I most recently read.  In fact, Love’s Labour Won, the sequel, is already on my personal summer reading list.  Warning:  Southworth like most nineteenth-century authors specializes in long, long books, but they’re quick and juicy reads, perfect for rainy Spokane summer days especially.

In terms of newer fiction, which I suppose you must delve into every once in a while, I suggest Paulo Coehlo’s Veronika Decides to Die.  It’s one of those books that made me remember why I love what I love (and perhaps will remind you why you love what you love as well).  Quite simply, Coehlo helps readers appreciate what I like to think of as the ever present, but often obscured, music of life.  And speaking of the music of life and remembering how to enjoy summer days fully, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being is another perfect summer reading pick.  This book is especially good if you’re planning on traveling and need a good read for the plane or long car ride.  I promise it’ll make your trip all the better.  Happy break!

Image from here.

EL Faculty Picks for Summer Reading


What better way to stockpile for summer than the Westminster Annual Book Sale? Be on the lookout for these reading recommendations tomorrow at the book sale, 11:30-1:00. Due to weather concerns, books will be in Lied Art Center, not the garden. Don’t worry, hot dogs and Laura’s List will still be available.


Professor Casey Andrews: Not everyone’s idea of a beach read is to cozy up on a blanket with a World War I novel, but even skeptics will be taken with Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of George Sherston. Unlike other classics in the wave of Great War books that emerged in the late 1920s and early 1930s (e.g., Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Barbusse’s Under Fire, or Graves’ Good-bye to All That), Sassoon’s work stands out as a comic masterpiece. His presentation of foolishness in the English upper-crust reads like an even more sardonic E. M. Forster, and his depiction of trench life full of buffoonish officers and absurd situations anticipates the later antics of Thomas Pynchon and Joseph Heller. On top of all this, Sassoon’s book is a wonderful experiment in genre, being an “autobiographical novel,” a “fictional memoir,” or even an “exaggerated history.” That one of the greatest pieces of anti-war writing can be so experimental and witty has been a delightful discovery in my current research.


Professor Laura Bloxham: Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland. Okay, let’s get the accolades out there: National Book Award Finalist. Shortlisted for the Man Booker 2013 Prize. Oh, and by the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning collection Interpreter of Maladies.   But to my mind it is just plain good reading. Engrossing. An epic story moving back and forth between Calcutta and Rhode Island. Highlighting two brothers and one woman. Their history. Politics and yearning for knowledge, self-fulfillment, but also finding an ethical basis for choices they make. Living with the consequences over a lifetime. I’ve already written “epic.” Epic, indeed.


Professor Laurie Lamon: For poetry, The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa and The Great Enigma by Tomas Transtromer. For novels, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk and The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt, which just won the Pulizter for fiction. It’s astonishing.


Professor Nicole Sheets: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters. How can I consider myself a Spokanite if I haven’t read a Jess Walter book? I began with Beautiful Ruins and found myself, against all pedagogical wisdom, staying up too late on a couple of school nights just to finish it. In Beautiful Ruins, it’s hard not to fall for Pasquale, whose capacity to dream far exceeds the economic potential of his remote, bedraggled, seaside hotel. When a beautiful movie actress arrives without warning, her distress sets into motion events that unfold across decades and continents. This novel is many things: a Hollywood romp, a commentary on modern courtship, a testament to the trials of the artistic temperament, a satire of self-help and memoir, and at its core, a love story.


Professor Leonard Oakland: A wise person said, “When a new book comes out, read an old one.”

Read one of the Big Books:
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
James Joyce’s Ulysses
George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Newer Books:
Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland
Penelope Lively’s The Photograph
P.D. James’s Devices and Desires

Not so New:
Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth
William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom 
J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey
Rainer Rilke’s poetry


Professor Doug Sugano: I like post-apocalyptic fiction as a genre, and my latest favorite trilogy is Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam group.  But that’s not my recommendation, although I do recommend reading Atwood’s.  Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is a novel that fits into that post-apocalyptic genre, but not necessarily for the reasons that you’d think.  Yes, it’s in the future, but that future U.S. (Is it the U.S.?  In what way is it the U.S.?  Who is running the country?  What is there of the country beyond the planned communities?  Is this a post-racial U.S.?)  isn’t what most of us have imagined.  Rather, what appears to be the U.S. is a rigidly stratified, loose castellation of “cities” that are defined only by economic status and productivity—i.e., cities are known largely by what they produce.  And this future U.S. seems to be populated by newer Chinese immigrants.  Hence, the protagonist, Fan, is a resident of B-Mor (Baltimore), is known for her diving exploits (since B-Mor produces mostly seafood for the rest of the country).  The plot meanders about Fan and her quest to find her missing boyfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared out in the “counties,” where there is no government, no services, and few vestiges of civilization.  On her odyssey, Fan dives through many layers of the country’s social strata laid bare.  In a sense, she discovers the perverse social products of each stratum.  It seems that Lee is depicting what happens (or will happen) to all of us when corporations run everything—as if we are that far from that point, even now.

Listen to Your Mother, May 11


Come out and support cast members Mackenna Kuehl, ’14, and Adjunct Professor Erin Davis in the Fourth Annual Spokane Listen to Your Mother show this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 11 at 7 p.m at the Bing Crosby Theater (901 West Sprague Avenue, Spokane)Tickets are $15 and can be bought at LTYM website or at the door. This national series focuses on themes of motherhood, whether you are a mother or have one.

Professor Nicole Sheets participated in the 2012 LTYM Spokane cast. Check out her reading of “Be Sweet” here.

Logo credit Sarah Fite.

An Afternoon of Words: Off-Campus Reading, May 10

Reading Poster-01

This Saturday, May 10, at 3 pm, there will be food, live music, and many many words. Join us for this off-campus reading at 9511 N. Wall St. between Mountainview Inn and Holland St.

Readers will be Josie Camarillo, Rowanne Fairchild, Mackenna Kuehl, Maggie Montague, Adam Reed, Kaitlin Schmidt, Olivia White, and more.

Hosted by members of EL 444: Advanced Writing Workshop.

For more information or if you would like to get involved, contact Josie Camarillo at jcamarillo14@my.whitworth.edu

Sneak Peek (#2) into Laura’s List


Here is another taste of what is to come from Laura’s List. This book honoring Laura Bloxham’s 35 years of Summer Reading Lists will be released Friday, May 9 at the Westminster annual Book Sale which will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the garden between Westminster and Lied.

To donate books to the sale, contact Annie Stillar at astillar@whitworth.edu or (509) 777-3253 and arrange a pick-up.


The Stones of Mourning Creek
by Diane Les Becquets (2012)

I fell in love with The Stones of Mourning Creek my freshman year of high school. It’s one of those books I could read over and over again and get some new meaning from each time I read it. The element of mystery forced my fingers to turn each page the first time I read it.

I can’t remember if the writing was even “good” and I can barely recall the storyline. But I do remember the feeling I got from reading the book –a kind of aching in my chest and throat, like I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.

Despite the title, this book is not just a young adult romance novel, a genre that perpetually lived on my bookshelf at the time. Rather, it follows the story of a young Caucasian girl who finds herself battling a racist society when she befriends an African American girl in 1960 Alabama. The novel portrays unlikely friendships, complicated familial relationships, death, racism, and heartbreak.

Ivy Beck is a sophomore at Whitworth who is studying English and French, and has taken to writing creative nonfiction.

May and All That It Brings

May 1 reading flier

As of today, there are 18 days until the end of finals week. To help energize you for the last three weeks, we have lots of activities coming your way.

Thursday, May 1

Writing Awards at 4 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. This year’s Writing Awards have a surprise in store for you. Check out the video featuring Annie Stillar and Ryan Stevens on The Whistle’s facebook page.

Writing in the Community Reading at 6 p.m. at Indaba Coffee (1425 W Broadway, downtown Spokane) as seen in poster above made by Rowanne Fairchild. Come out and support Nicole Sheets and her class EL 396: Writing in the Community Practicum.

All semester we have been working closely with different community groups from Mountainside Middle School to Cooper George. Join us for the chance to hear our workshop members read the materials they have been working on for the past eight weeks. And there will be cake!

Friday, May 2

Annual Westminster Round BBQ at 5 p.m. in the garden between Westminster and Lied. Celebrate the end of the semester with friends and burgers (and veggie burgers)!

Next week Friday, May 9

Westminster’s Annual Book Sale and the release of Laura’s List. The book sale will be from 11:30-1:00 in the garden between Westminster and Lied. Donations are still welcome. Contact Annie Stillar at astillar@whitworth.edu or (509) 777-3253 to arrange a pick-up.

Proof that Our Department has Talent

Check out these photos, courtesy of Josie Camarillo (’14), of the Pinecone Cabaret, the annual English Fun(d)raising Talent Show. If you missed it, here is your chance to check out the raw talent of our department, and if you were there, here is the chance you have been waiting for to relive the night.


Professor Nicole Sheets was the MC for the night.


Luke Eldredge (’16) instructed and performed how to ride a unicycle.


Meredith Friesen (’14) shared her musical skills on the piano.


Dana Stull (’16) performed her bird whistle and taught us all how to construct the ultimate paper airplane.


Professor Nicole Sheets and her husband Charlie had the world premiere of their band Makkaroon.


Rosie McFarland (’14) provided us with a taste of her YouTube channel Lostbetweenthepages


Jan Shannon talked about SpokaneFAVS (for which we ended up raising $58) and its mission.


Professor Casey Andrews sang the melancholy tunes of Brit Pop.


Ana Quiring (’14) read a comic compilation of her thoughts on being an English major (and explaining why), and her love of Virginia Woolf.


Hannah Brenneman (’14) also shared her musical skills and played the oboe.

Also, though there is a lack of photographic material (since she was the event photographer), Josie Camarillo regailed us of her experiences at Rodeo Bible Camp.


Snapshot: EL Seniors on Whitworth and the Future

As graduation grows closer and the epidemic of senioritis reaches new highs,  let’s take a moment to hear from a few of the members of EL Class of 2014 as they share what they have learned during their time at Whitworth and what is the next step after graduation.


“During my time in Whitworth’s English department, I have had an incredible academic experience, but even the most technical aspects of that education have been made possible by the people who make up this department. Without the support, expertise, and friendship of the faculty, as well as the bonafide family-like community of the students, my passion for English would not have been fostered in the way that it has. This department has given me both a career direction and a sense of home.”

“In the fall, I will be pursuing my Ph.D. in English literature at University of California, Riverside. One of the reasons I have chosen UCR is its commitment to community alongside scholarship, a value I certainly learned from Whitworth. I hope to one day be an English professor who can continue that legacy of academic excellence and mentorship, collegiality, and fun.”

–Ana Quiring


“It’s not about the work, though the work is considerable.
It’s not about the grade, or even the class.
It’s not even about the future.
It’s about the moment things will never be the same,
pushing beyond what you’ve always known
into a world you never knew existed
and finding there, to your surprise,

“I want to help people find their wholeness just as Whitworth helped me find mine, whether that’s through work as an English professor, leading a community writing workshop, or writing as a witness and voice for the voiceless. Good things await.”

–Claire Roth


“One thing that Whitworth has taught me is how to handle myself under intense pressure or stress. As a double major at a liberal arts university, I often feel spread thin, but I have been so grateful for the opportunity to pursue both of my passions that it was all worth it to me. Looking back, I sometimes regret not slowing down, but living life at such a breakneck speed has been both exhilarating and rewarding. As I look ahead to graduate school and my career, I am realizing how unlikely it is that I will ever be so diversified or so busy all at once as I have been these past four years at Whitworth.”

“I will be graduating with my BA in both English and Psychology. After graduation, I will be moving to Texas to attend Baylor University’s School of Social Work in pursuit of my MS.”

–Josie Camarillo


“Being an English major has, in many ways, been a practice in humanism. I came to college expecting English to be some sort of disconnected study of language and the craft of writing. But the English department has taught me the valuable lesson that good literature and good writing is not disconnected from that which is around it. Indeed, it is integrally connected to politics, globalization, history, pop culture, religion, etc. One cannot be a good writer or a good reader while remaining blind to the world.”

“Next year I’ll be attending beginning a joint degree program, through which I will earn both a law degree and a master’s in mass communication. I will be focusing my studies on First Amendment law — specifically media and speech law.”

–Lindsie Trego (Wagner)

Rosie FAVS pic

“I learned that it is important to learn more about ourselves as individuals, and to not be scared to express ourselves, but also that we can never be truly independent from those around us. We need to trust and invest in our friends as we all try to navigate this weird road to adulthood and maturity together.”

“After graduating and raising money over the summer, I will backpack around the UK in September and October, 2014. Then I will spend time with family over the holidays, and then hopefully find a full time job somewhere in film in Los Angeles.”

–Rosie McFarland


Sneak Peek into Laura’s List


Laura’s List is coming soon! It will be released Friday, May 9 at the annual Westminster Book Sale. Laura’s List is a compilation of reflections and reviews on books recommended from over 35 years of Laura Bloxham’s Summer Reading Lists.

Here is a sample of what is to come:


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

After completing a Holocaust Literature class with Laura Bloxham, I continued the journey to discover the truths revealed by suffering through the biography of Louis Zamperini.

At its core, the biography is a journey to discover freedom. Zamperini’s captors are numerous: the Axis Powers, the ocean, sharks, hunger, fatigue, and Japanese Sergeant Watanabe. The most formidable enemy, however, is the invisible force that continues to enslave him after the war’s end—namely hatred.

To conquer hatred, Zamperini is tasked with the arduous challenge of forgiveness. He is initially consumed with thoughts of revenge, but when told of his former tormentor’s suicide, he is overwhelmed by compassion. “At that moment, something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louie Zamperini, the war was over”(379).

The path to forgiveness allows Zamperini to reflect on the miracles God wrought to keep him alive throughout the war. Years later, the greatest miracle of Zamperini’s life is when God intervenes, not in the realm of nature, but in the realm of the human heart.

The longing for freedom burns perhaps more passionately than any other human desire. We are enslaved by fears of abandonment and death, uncertainty and failure. These fears stem from pride that drives our hatred of anything interfering with our own wellbeing. In relinquishing the pride, however, hatred dissolves away and freedom is ours.

Amber Johnson is a 2012 Whitworth graduate who is currently in her first year of medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. She is thankful to Laura for giving her the ability to fully enjoy and skillfully analyze literature through the three classes she took with her at Whitworth, as well through the guidance she received from her as an advisor.