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!


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


“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.”










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



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


“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 for more information about Jericho’s work as a poet. Thank you, Jericho Brown!


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!



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


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!



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.


A Reflection on Marci Johnson and David Wright.

By Meghan Long

Marci Johnson and David Wright not only made an impression on me by simply being the adorably quirky couple that they are, but also through their intricate, thoughtful, and musical poetry.

I had the privilege of meeting these two poets before the reading in Laurie Lamon’s Poetry Writing workshop course that I am enrolled in. This was a special time for our class because we got to ask them questions such as, “how do you come up with your titles?” or “how to you integrate your faith into poetry?” Enlightened as we were by Johnson’s hot pink beanie marked with the word “Whatevs”, we also attained pieces of advice that will be helpful to us as writers ourselves. The reading on Tuesday evening was sensitive and funny, informational and witty, personal and jarring. Seeing photos and videos of what inspired Johnson’s writing up on a slideshow was incredibly helpful and interesting, and Wright’s explanation of his Bach pieces was intriguing.


Overall, this experience was one of a kind and breathed inspiration into the English department.



One Pine Day supports Rock & Sling

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.01.34 PMWhitworth’s 24-hour giving event, One Pine Day, provides an opportunity for donors, alumni, community members, etc., to give gifts to projects such as Rock & Sling, Whitworth’s National Literary Magazine.

“Rock & Sling provides readers a vital center for Christian literary arts, and is one of only eight such magazines in the country. Rock & Sling serves as a live teaching laboratory for students in the interdisciplinary minor in editing and publishing. The magazine also exposes its staff of students to an accessible career field and provides a practical application of their liberal arts and humanities education. Rock & Sling prepares our students to be leaders and innovators in the Christian and commercial publishing worlds, and to enter the editorial career field as well. They are prepared in ways no other undergraduate program in the country can match.” -Whitworth University, office of Institutional Advancement.

Please visit the link below to sponsor Rock & Sling on this One Pine Day!

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Meet the Finalists!

Congratulations to the 2017 Chapbook Contest finalists, Natalie Cross, the contest’s first place winner, and Devon Clements, our second-place finalist!

Whitworth’s Chapbook Contest is an opportunity for students to submit any genre of writing for the chance at receiving publication of their work, and cash prizes. In December 2017, submissions were evaluated by an award-winning guest judge, Amy Leach, author of Things That Are.

This years runner-up, whose poems Amy Leach described as “follow[ing] a versatile consciousness through absurdity, disappointment, and delight,” is Devon Clements. Devon’s writing earned him a spot as a featured reader at the annual “Script” reading.

Devon Clements is a Senior English major, philosophy minor, from Warrensburg, Missouri. With an emphasis on rhetorical communication and design thinking, he pursues academic and creative writing with a dedication to finding authenticity in our post-modern context. He enjoys quoting obscure movie lines, working in the Composition Commons, and the literary works of W. Somerset Maugham and David Sedaris.


Please enjoy this excerpt from Devon’s poetry manuscript!



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The 2017 Chapbook Contest winner, who’s work will be published in a small print run of their work, is Natalie Cross. Judge Amy Leach described, “What I found so moving about these poems, besides their wondrous music, was the sympathy for other bodies, the cow “always tired/always thin/always hungry” and the mom swinging, blackening her organs with her cigarette.”

Natalie Cross is a senior English major on the writing track. Some of her favorite works she’s encountered include In Cold Blood, Franny and Zooey, Gilead, and Lolita. Outside of her literary pursuits, she enjoys spending time with her family and boyfriend, eating tacos, discovering new board games, wine tasting, all things Harry Potter, and hanging out with her cat Greg. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in creative writing, editing, or teaching.


Please enjoy this excerpt from Natalie’s winning submission!

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Whitworth Takes DC!

By Rachel Klade

This past January, nine Whitworth students traded strolls on the Hello Walk for walks on the National Mall, long boards for the DC Metro, and snow days for government shutdowns—all things one may experience while interning at the Smithsonian.

Whitworth has a unique relationship with the Smithsonian Institution which allows Whitworth to send students to Washington DC to intern at world famous museums. Though some dismiss this opportunity as something only a history major could pursue, that is not the case at all!

The nine Whitworth students represented a wide array of majors—physics, biology, computer science, sociology, and history. The Smithsonian does its best to align a student’s placement with their interests and career goals. Part of the application process includes a resume, cover letter, and a series of essays, where students are encouraged to express which museums and activities they believe would best contribute to their educational goals.  One of the interns, a history-education major, was placed at the National Postal Museum where they developed curriculum for visiting school groups. An intern, studying biology, was placed at the National Zoo, where they researched the correlation between insect migration and weather patterns. A physics major was placed in the National Air and Space Museum where they engineered experiments for interactive stations, and a history major at the National Museum of American History researched a variety of artifacts for the Special Collections Department. There was really a place for everyone!

I have  had previous experiences interning at museums, but I wanted something a little different this time—something that didn’t involve research or archival work. Therefore, I expressed interest in exhibit design on my application essays, which lead me to be placed in the Exhibits Department at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Granted, this came as a little bit of a shock, and my first thought was that I knew nothing of astronomy, physics, aerodynamics, or any other study that involved air and space. I am a humanities girl, and my brain tends to short-circuit in science classes. However, as I focused on what I would be doing rather than where I would be doing it, I became excited about this incredible opportunity.

My supervisor was the Writer/Editor of Exhibits, meaning she oversees all the exhibit scripts. (Scripts are the informational boards visitors read throughout museums). NASM is undergoing a major transformation and revitalization, and all the exhibits, including the scripts, are being redone. So, my daily responsibilities included examining scripts, graphic layouts, and film transcriptions to ensure they were grammatically correct, as well as adhering to NASM’s in-house style. As I edited scripts, I provided suggestions and comments on the scripts’ content, and some of my comments were added to the final script, which is cool to think that my words are going to be on the museum’s walls someday!

My time in DC was not consumed only by grammatical errors and editing. Being a Smithsonian intern definitely has many perks! For the most part, supervisors want their interns to receive a holistic experience, encouraging them to take long lunches or leave work a little early to venture through other museums. As interns, students got free entrance into the IMAX theaters and some behind-the-scene experiences, such as going to new exhibits before they were opened to the public, attending Smithsonian employee-only events after work, or visiting the Smithsonian storage facility (where the Smithsonian museums hold the majority of their collections that are never seen by the public).

In addition to all the cool experiences, this internship offers an awesome opportunity to network. From the people at my internship site to all the Whitworth alumni in DC, there is a plethora of connections to be made, and nowadays, its all about who knows who.

Most importantly, I not only gained real-world experience, I also walked away from this Jan Term with a better understanding of my potential. Even though I have yet to answer the “what-will-you-do-after-graduation” question, this internship expanded my possibilities. It refined my interests, developed new skills and matured previous abilities. Internships are one of the coolest way to explore a career path without actually having to commit to a career, and I would encourage students who are still trying to figure things out (which is most of us, I think) to pursue an internship, even if its in a field of study they don’t think they would ever end up in. Internships can surprise us, and we discover an interest that we didn’t know we had, opening a whole world of new possibilities.


Whitworth interns at the Pentagon for a private tour.


Whitworth interns in front of the Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center.


Interns take a tour of the whalebones collection at the Museum Support Center (the Smithsonian’s storage facility).