Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Kari Nixon Edition

Dr. Kari Nixon has exactly what you need to get pumped for Christmas vacation. Take a break from your papers and exams and rock out to this killer “upbeat and low-key” playlist!

Check it out here on Spotify or look below!
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  1. “Technologic,” Daft Punk
  2. “Stjerner,” Karpe Diem
  3. “Silicone,” Mono
  4. “Vestkantsvartinga,” Karpe Diem
  5. “The Brainwasher,” Daft Punk
  6. “Club Montepulciano,” Hooverphonic
  7. “Tuna Fish,” Emilíana Torrini
  8. “Krølla 50’lapp y’all,” Daft Punk
  9. “2 Wicky,” Hooverphonic
  10. “Sour Times,” Portishead
  11. “Piano,” Karpe Diem
  12. “Autoharp,” Hooverphonic
  13. “They,” Jem
  14. “Renaissance Affair,” Hooverphonic
  15. “24” Jem
  16. “Ompa til du dør,” Kaizers Orchestra
  17. “Battersea,” Hooverphonic
  18. “Optimistic,” Worm Is Green
  19. “Robot Rock,” Daft Punk
  20. “Kråkevisa,” Leaves’ Eyes
  21. “Yess!,” Folk & Røvere
  22. “Manisk,” Trang Fødsel

Tunes to Get You Through Finals: Fred Johnson Edition

Do you need a study break? Are you looking for fresh new music? Whitworth’s very own English department has what you need to make it through the semester. In the midst of this finals season, explore a great new playlist inspired and compiled by Dr. Fred Johnson!
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To add a bit of “Crime & Prayer” to your study sessions, click here https://open.spotify.com/user/123344969/playlist/4fNSah84p4p2gd5VcaJjaE or scroll below! Happy listening!

  1. “Lawyers, Guns And Money,” Warren Zevon
  2. “Resume,” Vigilantes Of Love
  3. “Dig for Fire,” Pixies
  4. “Blackbirds,” Erin McKeown
  5. “Gun Street Girl,” Tom Waits
  6. “Shine A Light,”Wolf Parade
  7. “Is There A Ghost,” Band of Horses
  8. “Irons in the Fire,” Marshall McLean
  9. “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life,” 77s
  10. “I Will Dare,” The Replacements
  11. “Breath Deep,” Lost Dogs
  12. “Pray Naked,” 77s
  13. “The Magnificent Seven Live at She Stadium,” The Clash
  14. “Armageddon Time Live at Shea Stadium,” The Clash
  15. “Magnificent Seven(Return) Live at Shea Stadium,” The Clash
  16. “Under Pressure Remastered 2011,” Queen David Bowie
  17. “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” R.E.M.
  18. “Debaser,” Pixies

Codes, Victorians, and Zombies: A Conversation With the English Department’s Newest Professor, Dr. Kari Nixon!

Out of all the possible music genres one would anticipate Whitworth’s Victorianist Dr. Kari Nixon to enjoy, least expected is rap. However, her stunning interests in academia align with this same concept: mixing (as one would in a rap album) old ideas and aesthetics with what humanity has learned in the 21st century.

Nixon connected her interests in music with her passions regarding the Victorian Era and research in medical humanities. I asked why she pursued both English and medical studies and she replied, “Well, the Victorian era kind of lends itself to that… Those very basic foundations of science were all developed in the Victorian era.”
When she was an undergraduate student, Dr. Nixon tended to have an idealistic view of how sciences and statistics can affect the world. She passionately believed that, somewhere out there, there was a formula that could “solve the world.” While in graduate school, she learned about how fallible statistics and math could be; how the tools humanity uses are only as good as the humans who use them. It was at this point in her life that Nixon found a personal connection to those in the Victorian era. The 19th century scientists discovered some of the most foundational aspects of how the medical world functions. They discovered the law of entropy, the theory of evolution, the infinite expansion of the universe and germ theory. Nixon notes how anxiety-provoking these discoveries and ideas were in the time they were made. “The world is full of a lot of flawed and fallible systems… but we really want that ‘meaning framework’… I was seeing them go through the same kind of struggle that I did and that got me thinking about what some of the lesser-known discoveries were.”

Branching off of interests in English and medical humanities, Dr. Nixon shared of her passion for research. She states, “Research, for me, feels like my creative art. And I feel most in my creative prime just when I’m researching and buried in an archive.” One of her works on research is the book Endemic: Essays in Contagion Theory where she and Lorenzo Servitje explore the idea that knowledge of germs’ ability to spread can impact foreign aid and stigmas revolving around illnesses. Her interest in this research was largely driven by how monumental contagion theory was in the Victorian era.

Her passion for Victorian ideas and how they interact with modern times extends to her workspace. Her office shelves are full of old books that she has collected over the years while on her wall she posts some of her research about pregnancy tests and social media. On her door, she has magnets in Norwegian (a language she teaches at the high school level) beside a vintage poster warning about a household under quarantine. “I love the contradiction of like really old Victorian aesthetics and like techno-culture look… Because for me, the Victorians are both like kind of beautiful and stately, and kind of creepy.”

Dr. Nixon is excited to help students open their minds to the breadth of literature in her classes such as Victorian Literature and Modern Global literature. The idea that texts are far more than dusty old books is exciting to her. As a professor, Dr. Nixon appreciates both that research makes her courses more interesting, and that her students can help to open her mind to new ideas in literary studies. At the same time, Nixon is indeed a Victorianist and loves sharing those same dusty old books with students. To study a specialized field such as this means you must learn the language of that field. Nixon describes this technical jargon as “codes”

These codes and secrets are part of what attracts her to rap music. Nixon enjoys listening to music that involves what is called “sampling” (the technique of using a track from another song) and a large amount of allusion to other songs. Those techniques and references create an environment where “unless you know the other music you can’t really understand what’s going on in a given song.” This same concept is what drove Dr. Nixon into researching pregnancy tests and teaching students about the intricacies of Victorian literature.

While many tend to avoid the strange, creepy, and unknown, Dr. Kari Nixon is drawn to it. She is glad to join the Whitworth community here and to experience that passion that those in the English department share.

By Adira McNally

Beyond the Pinecone Curtain- English Professor Dr. Casey Andrews presents meaningful lectures to a wide range of learners.

Early in September, Whitworth English Professor Dr. Casey Andrews made a visit to the Waterville Library in Wenatchee Washington to give his presentation called “Great Writers and the Great War: Literature as Peace Activism” which mirrors his latest book, Writing Against War. 

Casey’s lecture and insights on peace movements within literature between World War I and II greatly impacted this quaint library community. Click on the link to a piece written by the Empire Press for more information and a sweet look into the influence that English professors are having on eager leaners and communities beyond Whitworth.

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Pat Thomsen speaks with Humanities Washington presenter Charles Andrews following Andrews’ Sept. 6 presentation at Waterville Library. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)”

Welcoming Dr. D.B Emerson to Whitworth

By: Emily Hanson

This past fall, Whitworth welcomed Dr. Bert Emerson to the English Department. For those of you who were fortunate enough to take a class from him — either his Survey of American Literature Before 1865, British Women’s Writers, Novels of the Upper 19th Century , or Hamilton — you know him as an enthusiastic professor with a grudge against the dark and the cold. For those of you who haven’t gotten the chance to interact with him yet, I was able to ask Bert ten questions so that you might get to know him as well.

dr-emerson

Where have you taught before Whitworth?

I have taught at Pomona College and at Cal Poly Pomona.

 What about Whitworth made you want to come teach here?

I was drawn to Whitworth because it is a liberal arts college,that has the small school experience. The community was a big part of it as well. I was really interested in the faith and learning aspect of Whitworth because it was different from the other schools that I have taught at.

What exactly do you specialize in?

19th century American Literature and Political Culture.

What has been your favorite class to teach at Whitworth?

They have all been wonderful. The Survey was a challenge because it covered such a vast time period. The Novels of the Upper 19th Century was amazing because of the depth and trajectory with which we explored the novels with. With British Women Writers, I was able to explore and read books that I haven’t in a long time while thinking about how much the culture of Britain and America were intertwined and affecting each other. With Hamilton, I was able to immerse myself in Jan Term and think about the founding of America and explore the literature there.

What work of literature has influenced you the most?

That’s a really broad question, I don’t know how to answer that, there are so many different possibilities and different literatures that affect the present day — but it has to be provocative and innovative; like a cliché destroying and imaginative work.

Being from Alabama and California, what about Spokane is different, aside from the weather?

The weather is a big part of it, but it is interesting to see that there are good people in different places, along with different attitudes. The local culture is also something that is always different from place to place and something that I want to explore. I want to experience the world, and I believe in the inherent goodness of people and it is amazing to see the different manifestations of that.

What are you looking forward to most at Whitworth? What are your goals?

I’m excited to craft my way of teaching as well as working with the student’s getting to know them, as well as the community. Getting to know Spokane — when it’s warm and in the light. Writing as well, I get to finish my book. My goals are to get to know and work with every student, help them learn culture and knowledge and writing skills. I hope to make sure that everybody improves.

What research are you working on right now?

I am writing an introduction to a book on democracy in America which is also connected to my book project about democratic thinking before the Civil War.

What book do you seem to come back to?

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Fun fact?

No fun facts, I’m a pretty boring person.

As I quickly learned after getting the initial answer to question #10, that it was a lie, he just told me not to write about it in the article. But, as I hope you are all interested in getting to know Bert better, as he is a delightful person and is great at having thoughtful and deep conversations, I hope that you swing by his office, get to know him better, and ask about that fun fact — I promise that it will be worth it.

Dr. Emerson has also recently published an article for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Check it out here.

Emily Hanson is one of our freshman writers and is a lively addition to the team.

 

A Reflection on the Faculty Research Presentations of Fall 2016

By: Emily Church

To start off the academic year, Professor Casey Andrews and Thom Caraway invited faculty, students, and community members to share in their excitement over the current research projects.

Professor Andrews presentation, “Writing Against War: Literature as Peace Activism,” gave us a sneak-peak into his upcoming book (the cover of which his wife painted) about the ways in which British novelists like Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley wrote peace activist fiction in the 1930s.”His research dives into the question of “How can art be clearly political and also “artful”?” Virginia Woolf, who is the center piece of the book, criticized all writers who wrote books that were composed of endings that made the reader feel like they had to act by doing a certain service or by writing a check. She instead vouched for the type of writing that had politics in it, since you can’t avoid politics or social issues, but not a clear message. This is what, in Woolf’s opinion allowed it to still function as art. Another one of the points in the presentation looked at literature as “peace witness.” British author Vera Brittan, and her novel Testament of Youth, thought of war literature as a way of preserving the memory of our suffering so that successors may understand it. Andrews expressed a clear excitement over his topic, which was expected as this is within his area of expertise and Virginia Woolf is among his favorite writers.    (Andrew’s book cover can be view here)

Professor Thom Caraway’s presentation and research, titled “Poesis: The Language of Creation” did not emerge from a past interest in the subject. Instead, his path towards the topic began with a simple text message from a college and friend that said, “Theopoetics?” to which Caraway eventually replied back “Yes.” He began his talk with the disclaimer of “I am not a theologian,” in order to make it clear that he is still in the learning process. While most approach the topic of theopoetics with a theological background, Caraway comes from the expertise of poetry, which allowed him to focus on the use of the word “poetics.” The goal of theopoetics is to see both scripture and God with fresh eyes, recontextualize our understanding of faith, and demytholize scripture; all through the use of poetry, which for Caraway is perfect because according to him, “poetry is the purest kind of literary writing.” He connected Theopoetics to specifically poetry of witness, defined as poetry speaking to the truth of experience and the realization of God’s revelation. In both contexts, Caraway made clear, it is the responsibility of the reader to witness to the text and they therefore cannot remain passive. It is only in this way that theopoetics and poetry of witness can be successful.

If you wish to learn more about either of the topics presented during the Faculty Research Presentations, I’m sure they would be happy to share more.

Emily Church (’17) is an English Writing and Sociology major at Whitworth University from western Washington and dreams of one day traveling the world. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, collecting journals (not writing in them), fall leaves, summer warmth., and adventure.

Recently Published in the The Cresset: A review of literature, the arts, and public affairs

The most recent issue of The Cresset featured two Whitworth names.

Associate Professor of English, Charles Andrews published a review of the recent movie version of Vera Brittain’s memoir Testament of Youth titled “Learning to Live with Ghosts” as part of his research of the British peace movement.

Testament-of-Youth

Also appearing in the same issue is a poem, titled “Losing His Religion” written by Whitworth alumnus Michael Schmidt (’13)
 

Annie Stillar: Superwoman

By: Olivia Shaffer

For a little over a year now, I have had the privilege of working for Annie Stillar at the English Department front desk. She has become a mentor and a friend, and her commitment to our department is ceaseless. (I am often reminded that I am not Annie by faculty in the department, as they frantically look for her to solve their crises while I’m working and she takes lunch).

Ask anybody in the English Department about Annie Stillar and you will hear words like “ebullient” and “magical” to describe her. Annie is the Academic Program Assistant for our, as she puts it, lively department. Aside from assuring that the building does not burn down, she relieves all of the administrative tasks from the faculty in the department so they are less overwhelmed. In all honesty, the title of Academic Program Assistant is much too narrow to describe everything Annie does for our cozy little department. Assisting the English Department, the Honors Program, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as working as managing editor for Rock & Sling is incredible. And she does it all with a smile on her face and a witty attitude that keeps the department alive.

Annie works toward creating communicative and trusting relationships among the students and staff to ensure she can best support and assist us academically and, maybe more so, emotionally. Professors and students alike would agree that Annie is often the rock in our department, keeping us from going completely insane. As she says, “it’s for the greater good that [she] be intuitive, attentive and not burn out” – which makes her job equally rewarding and challenging, having to be our collective backbone even when she may not have it all together all the time.

Outside of work – because yes, she does enjoy doing things that do not involve alleviating us of our own demands – she feels she’s her best self when she does what scares her the most. She spends her time outside: hiking, being adventurous, and jumping from really high places and living to tell about it. Only once did an experience like this completely terrify her: when she scaled a 400-foot mountain without a harness, but made it to the top without turning around or calling in the helicopters (pictured below). In addition to an insanely adventurous life, she’s made an unofficial career out of singing – and is good enough to make her own album, in my opinion.

Annie Stillar

I asked Annie to outline details of her work, and got an answer with an overwhelming list, which I’ll add here because there’s no other way to fully understand her dedication to us:

“On a wider scale, my job entails pulling off an academic year’s worth of events like endowed readings, socials, graduation fun, retreats and informational meetups (and where applicable, playing travel agent to guests, getting them paid, keeping them fed and hydrated and feeling like Whitworth is a delightful place to be), fostering a healthy and communicative relationship with the Business Office, becoming BFF’s with the department chairs and directors housed here (current count: 4), assisting in the execution of course schedules, contracts and office space (or as I like to call it—musical chairs), the acquisition of class/department resources from far and wide, the management and oversight of six program budgets, and the general endearing of myself to all persons regardless of how much they can do for me and how quickly. I’m an equal opportunity provider of fun and snark alike, if anyone asks”.

She is our own personal superwoman. She has worked here for 6 years, and I’m not sure how the department got through every day without her before. She is witty, and joyful, and full of an energetic spirit that executes the ideal of mind and heart. And she (almost) always has chocolate. No matter what happens, no matter what crisis we are in, she’ll tell you that the show must go on. And because of her, it does. Annie Stillar, we thank you.

 

Olivia Shaffer (’16) is an English Literature major and History minor at Whitworth University. Aside from academics she dedicates a large part of her time to the Jubilation Dance program at the university; an extra curricular that allows her to continue to pursue her passion for dance. She has no idea what post-graduation life will look like, but hopes for the best.