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News of the University of Washington Department of English

Autumn 1999

In English is published annually for alumni and friends of the University of Washington Department of English to encourage interest in and support for the University of Washington. To be put on the mailing list to receive a snailmail copy of In English, e-mail the editor, Cheryl Mathisen (


Snow Falling on Cedars -- The Movie
Notes from the Chair
UWAA Lecture Series
New Faculty
Surprising Sale
Alumni News
Faculty Notes
PhD Dissertations 1998-99
Rome, London, Paris
CIC (Computer Integrated Courses) Program Expands
Alumni and Friends Support

Snow Falling on Cedars -- The Movie

Mark your calendars for Monday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m.  The English Department will host a premier showing of Universal Pictures' "Snow Falling on Cedars" to benefit the University of Washington Creative Writing program, courtesy of Bainbridge Island author, David Guterson (MFA 1982), Universal Studios, General Cinemas, and Paul Allen, owner of the Cinerama Theater.

Guterson's best-selling/award-winning 1994 novel of the same name is set on San Piedro, an island closely resembling the island communities of Puget Sound.  The story revolves around a fictional 1954 murder trial. Kabuo Miyomoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is accused of killing a fellow salmon gill-netter, Carl Heine.  The novel explores the topics of lost love, racial tension, WWII internment camps, pressures of society and family, and civil duty.  What remains with readers, though, is the author's intimate sense of place.  Much of the movie was filmed on location in the Pacific Northwest.

"Snow Falling on Cedars" is directed by Scott Hicks, who received an Academy Award nomination for his last film, "Shine."  The film's cast includes Ethan Hawke ("Great Expectations"), James Cromwell ("Babe"), Max Von Sydow ("Pelle, The Conqueror"), Sam Shepard ("Crimes of the Heart"), and newcomers Youki Kukoh and Rick Yune.

The benefit film premiere is a fabulous opportunity for the department to not only raise a significant amount of money for the Creative Writing program, but also to have fun.  We are hoping to make this event a "homecoming" for our illustrious alumni and a festive gathering of friends.  The money raised by the premiere will go to graduate and undergraduate student support.

Guterson has always planned to share his success with his alma mater and his community.  Bainbridge Island, his home for the past 14 years, will also host a premiere of the film on Sunday, December 5, to benefit the Bainbridge Performing Arts, Bainbridge Island Library, Bainbridge Island Historical Society and the Multicultural Advisory Council.  The author and the director will attend both premieres.

If you wish to attend the UW benefit showing of "Snow Falling on Cedars," please reserve now. Your donation of $25 per person admits you to the Cinerama Theater on the evening of December 6 for the film's premiere and complimentary snack bar courtesy of General Cinemas.  For those feeling more generous ($250 per couple or $125 per person), we invite you to attend a gala pre-screening reception.  You will be able to meet David Guterson and Scott Hicks, ask for autographs, and pick out your seats early before the general public arrives.  Contact: Cheryl Mathisen, UW Department of English, Box 354330, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195; phone: (206) 543-2690.

The public release date for "Snow Falling on Cedars" is December 22 in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and nationwide on January 7.

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Notes from the Chair

Shawn WongAt the beginning of the summer I spent a week in Rome and at the end of the summer I spent a week in Berlin--two cities with massive amounts of scaffolding in place in preparation for the arrival of the year 2000.  The scaffolding in Rome is in place to repair the old and the scaffolding in Berlin is in support of the new.  Like these two exciting cities, our department is in a state of transition.  We're about to embark on the development of a strategic plan, erecting a kind of mental scaffolding to map out a building plan for the future.  I think our strategic plan will articulate our continued commitment to excellence in teaching and research and, at the same time, propose a blueprint for the English department of the 21st century.

In many ways we are already well into the next century. With this academic year, there are now fourteen assistant professors which means about 20% of our current faculty are at the beginning of their academic careers. They will be in place to see our strategic plan unfold this next century.  Who are these young assistant professors?  Are they sitting in their offices stroking their scholarly beards and pondering a single poem by Yeats?  They might be, but ten of them are women and none of the four men have beards.  They use the latest computers and software.  They are more likely to speak and read a variety of languages from Chinese to German, they've delivered papers at conferences from South Africa to Shanghai to Rome to Australia and, yes, London, and they've published books and taught courses on a wide variety of topics relating to literature and langauge.  It speaks volumes for the prestige of the University of Washington and for our department that we've been able to hire the assistant professors who were our top candidates year after year.  Part of the reason we can attract such talented young professors is due to the caliber and reputation of the senior professor who make up the other 80% of the faculty.  They created, cultivated, and continue to nurture the vision this marvelous department pushes forward with pride and care.  A few of them even have beards.

I am certain that I'm cut from a very different mold as a scholar from the chair of English who presided over this department at the end of the 19th century.  And, no, it wasn't Bob Heilman, now in his 90s and still working in his office in Padelford Hall!  That 1899 professor and I actually might have something in common--we are committed to achieving excellence in our curriculum, demanding the most out of our students and our teaching and, while on a recent trip to Dublin, I sat in my room at the Shelbourne Inn and read a short story by Joyce, read a translation of a poem in Gaelic and, yes, pondered a single poem by Yeats.

Shawn Wong

UWAA Lecture Series

Explore the world of 20th-century American authors with four outstanding UW English professors.  Discuss writers whose works reflect the cultural changes of their era.  Attend the University of Washington Alumni Association lecture series, "20th-Century American Authors Who Impacted Our Culture," October , 13, 20, and 27.  Even if you haven't read any of the books, this series will provide excellent background for discussion and will inspire you to pick up some of the century's finest works.  (Special thanks to the College of Arts and Sciences, PEMCO Financial Services, and the University Book Store.)

Series Tickets: $25 UWAA members, $30 non-members, $15 students.
Contact: UWAA at 1-800-AUW-ALUM or 206-543-3839.

October 6: 1900-1925
Professor Ross Posnock
speaking on
Henry James, The American Scene,
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie,
W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

October 13: 1925-1950
Associate Professor Leroy Searle
speaking on
T. S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations, The Waste Land
William Carlos Williams, Imaginations
William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

October 20: 1950-1975
Assistant Professor Shelly Eversley
speaking on
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans
Saul Bellow, Herzog

October 27: 1975-1999
Assistant Professor Jessica Burstein
speaking on
Robert Hass, Human Wishes
Ezra Pound, Selected Poems

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New Faculty

We welcome five new faculty to the English Department this year.
Brian Goldberg Brian Goldberg received his PhD in 1995 from Indiana University, his M.A. from Northeastern and his B.A. from SUNY-Oneonta.  Since 1996, Goldberg has been a lecturer at Harvard University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Bentley College.  Obviously, he comes to the UW with several yearse of teaching experience at a very high level.  Assistant Professor Goldberg will teach primarily in Romanticism.
Anis Bawarshi Anis Bawarshi joins the department as an Assistant Professor in Rhetoric and Composition. Bawarshi received his Ph.D. from Kansas last May, where he also received his M.A. with Honors.  He graduated with a B.A. from CSU Northridge with Honors (1992).  Bawarshi received eight teaching and/or graduate student awards at Kansas, including the Universitiy's Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award and the department's Outstanding Instructor Award.  After a two-year search, Bawarshi was by far our top candidate in a very competitive field.
Catherine Sanok Catherine Sanok comes to us from UCLA where she received her M.A. (1995) and Ph.D. (1999) with an emphasis in medieval literature.  She received her B.A. from Yale (1992). Sanok has a broad interest in "women's relation to textual culture" in the late Middle Ages, women as readers/hearers, as writers, and as patrons.
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges begins her appointment as a lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program this Fall.  She has been the director of The Writing Center at Claremont GGraduate University since 1996 and has given several workshop presentations on the subject of writing and teaching.  She received her B.A. from UC Davis (1988), her M.A. from the University of Washington (1990), and aher Ph.D. from Claremont (1999).
John O'Neill John O'Neill will also join the Interdisciplinary Writing Program as a part-time lecturer.  He has been teaching composition classes since 1996 in the Marketing and International Business program at the University of Washington, and since 1998 has been writing assistant in the Department of Health Sciences.  O'Neill is a Ph.D. candidate in our department and received his M.A. from us in 1986.  He has a B.A. (1976) in creative writing from the University of Montana. 

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Surprising Sale

This neither announces a sale of anything by the English Department nor describes anything about Professor Roger Sale that students over the past 35 years have not known about his teaching and writing.  Rather, the department is proud to let all who have not heard know about the surprise Roger received from students and colleagues who wanted to honor him on his retirement at the end of the last school year.

Late in the Fall of 1998 an enterprising and insistently anonymous former student suggested that Roger be honored for the many ways in which he has assisted students, especially those preparing for and persevering in teaching.  Fittingly, the anonymous instigator wanted Roger himself to determine the use for a departmental fund in his honor.  So that the whole effort could remain a surprise, he had to be sounded out with the harmless question of, "What might be the best use of new funds the department might receive for the support of undergraduates?"

His reply was quick: We should recognize the long-time, part-time degree seekers who could most benefit from a period of full-time study.  So assisted, they might take related courses in a quarter, concentrate full time on undergraduate research or a senior seminar, or even participate in the Spring Quarter in London (of which Roger was a founder).  Best of all, these students could finish their degrees up to a year sooner than if they continued part-time.

We appealed to a number of former students and colleagues.  The response was wonderful.  By the time Roger learned of all this just before leaving to finish his UW teaching Spring Quarter in London, contributions had reached nearly $22,000.  (Only $3,000 more is needed to endow the fund.)  Friends report that the surprised Roger was truly wordless, but he soon regained his considerable powers to thank all but those who prefer to keep their contributions anonymous.

This is a fund that needs to increase so that as many deserving students as possible may benefit from it.  Like Roger, the fund is unique, for there is no other undergraduate scholarship or prize to make full-time study possible for those who have not been able to have it.

If you would like to contribute to the Roger Sale fund, please mail your checks made out to the University of Washington Fundation to the Department of English, Box 354330, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.

Richard Dunn

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Alumni News

Christina Alfar (PhD 1997) has recently been appointed Assistant Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama at Hunter College.

Steven Andrews (PhD 1998) has joined the faculty at Grinnell College.

Clinton Atchley (PhD 1998) now teaches at Henderson State University.

Eva Calcagno (BA 1985) is director of Washington County Cooperative Library Services.

Dennis Chester (PhD in progress) has accepted an academic apopintment at California State University, Hayward.

Greg Choy (PhD expected Autumn 1999) begins teaching at the University of Minnesota this Fall.

Jenness Clark (English major, 1983) has published her first novel, An Unobstructed View (Goodfellow Press, Redmond).  The book is a social satire of a Lake Washington neighborhood southeast of the UW.

Bill Dodds (BA 1974) and his wife, Monica Dodds (Social Welfare, 1990) have written Caring for Your Aging Parent: A Guide for Catholic Families.  They are also the authors of Joy of Marriage.

Scott Driscoll (MFA 1990) was honored when his story, "The Intruder," was published in Best American Essays--1998.

David Engle (BA 1978) is principal of Interlake High School in the Bellevue School District.

Sarah Flygare (MFA 1998) works in the Office of the Governor of the State of Washington.  She is Gary Locke's speech writer.

Susan Georgecink (PhD 1999) has accepted a position at Columbus State University.

Gordon Grant (MFA 1998) is teaching high school this year in Winthrop, Washington through the federal program, AmeriCorp.

Tammy Greenwood (MFA 1996) published her first novel, Breathing Water, St. Martin's Press.

'David Guterson's (MFA 1982) new novel, East of the Mountains, was published by Harcourt Brace (1999).

Jill Kronstadt (MFA 1998) and Julia Tonkovich (MFA expected) published short stories in Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops 1999.

Suzanne Lepeintre (PhD in progress) has joined the faculty at Bellevue Community College.

Julia Leyda (PhD 1999) will begin teaching at the University of Dresden this Fall.

Chris McGonigle (PhD 1982) published Surviving Your Spouse's Chronic Illness, February 1999, Henry Holt.  The book includes a personal account and interviews with forty other well spouses on the emotional and psychological aspects of the experience.

Deborah Miranda (current PhD student) published her book of poems, Indian Cartography with Greenfield Review Press.

Mia Robison (MFA 1999) will begin medical school at Pennsylvania State University this fall.

Michael Shanahan (MA 1994), formerly of the Pacific Science Center, has accepted a position as producer at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Jeff Shelley (BA 1979) wrote and published the third edition of his book, Golf Courses of the Pacific Northwest.

Alan Silrus (BA expected Autumn 1999) made his directorial debut with Passing Throught Through Ecuador, a documentary film about the impcat of Ecuador on himself and his travel companions.

Hans Turley (PhD 1994), professor of English at the University of Connecticut, has published Ruin, Sodomy, and the Lash: Piracy, Sexuality and Masculine Identity, New York Press, 1999.

Sean Williams (PhD 1999) has accepted a teaching position at Clemson University.

Marianna Wright (BA 1985, MA 1988) was on the Board of Directors of Madison, Wisconsin's non-profit writers' organization, The Writers' Place.  She is now editing a collection, Third Stream: riting Across the Boundaries Between Poetry and Prose (Lonesome Traveller Publishing).  her work has appeared in Cream City Review, CALYX, Radiance, WIND Magazine, and Word of Mouth. 

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Faculty Notes

New Books

Honors and Awards Community Service
Shelly Eversley, assistant director, Flav'a Fest Black Film Festival.

Colleen McElroy, writer-in-residence (poetry), Alaska Literary Consortium.

Karen Shabetai, In Celebration of Writing, Lowell Elementary School.

Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill, writing committee member, Shorecrest High School Site Council.

Gail Stygall, representative, Higher Education Coordinating Board, Senior Writing Assessment Project/Baccalaureate Institutions.


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Ph.D. Dissertations 1998-99

Rebecca Aanerud, "Maintaining Comfort, Sustaining Power: Narratives of White Liberalism" (Susan Jeffords).

Joseph Baillargeon, "The Page of Eliot: A Biographical Study of The Waste Land" (William Streitberger).

Dagni Bredesen, "Categorical Exceptions: Widows, Sexuality, and Fictions of (Dis)Coveture in Victorian Domestic and Imperial Narratives" (Kathleen Blake).

Michael Caufield, "Let There Be Life: Notes Toward a Philosohpy of Art in the Works of D. H. Lawrence and Wallace Stevens" (Hazard Adams).

John Eckman, "Confronting Modernity: Urbanization and American Fiction, 1880-1930" (Sydney Kaplan).

Ellen Evans, "Back to Nature: Location, Identity, and 'Naturalization'" (Priscilla Wald).

Susan Georgecink, "Practices of Writing: Early ModernMetaphors of Literacy and the Function of Composition, Past and Present" (Sara van den Berg).

Allan Goren, "Fathers and Sons in the Prime of Youth: Milton's Major and Minor Poetry" (Sara van den Berg).

Carl Grove, "The Official English Debate in the United States Congress: A Critical Analysis" (James Tollefson).

Mark Lester, "Reading of Leibniz: Metaphysics in the Writings of S. I. Witkiewicz, Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis" (Steven Shaviro).

Julia Leyda, "Room to Move in the American 30s, 40s, and 50s" (Susan Jeffords).

Tilar Mazzeo, "Producing the Romantic 'Literary': Travel Writing, Plagiarism and the Shelley/Byron Circle" (Hazard Adams).

Gretchen Murphy, "Locating the Nation: Literature, Narrative and the Monroe Doctrine, 1823-1904" (Priscilla Wald).

Thomas Nissley, "Intimate and Authentic Economies: The Market Identity of the Self-Made Man" (Mark Patterson).

Russell Prather, "The Apocalyptic Argument" (Hazard Adams).

Wendy Somerson, "Sexual Spaces: Narratives of U. S. Sexualities in the Era of Transnationalism" (Susan Jeffords).

Laurie Stephan, "Political Correctness vs. Freedom of Speech: Social Uses of Language Ideology" (Juan Guerra and Gail Stygall).

Michael Weingrad, "Benjamin or Bataille: Transgression, Redemption, and the Origins of Postmodern Thought" (Raimonda Modiano).

Jeanne Yeasting, "Double Trouble: Romantic Idealism in the Novels of Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, and Angela Carter" (Hazard Adams). 

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Rome, London, Paris

"Those have not lived who have not seen Rome," remakred Margaret Fuller, one of the 19th-century writers our students study in Rome in the department's recent addition to our study abroad program in the eternal city.

To make the unique cultural legacy of Italy come alive, English faculty take twenty students one quarter each year to study at the incomparable UW Rome Center.  They stand before the paintings, culpture and architecture that had inspired some of the most enduring works of 19th-century literature.  In such courses as "Rome and the Romantic Imagination," "Romantic Aesthetics," and "Henry James and American Literature in Rome" (all offered Spring of 1997), students explore the enormous shaping power of Rome on the English and American literary imagination.  Helping to enlarge their experience of Rome are classes with Roman students of American literature, with whom our students exchange views about both Italy and America.

Our majors come to live the truth of Goethe's remark that "only in Rome can one educate oneself for Rome."  Study abroad allows such an education. Students study Shelley's beautiful lyrical drama "Prometheus Unbound" in the very spot Shelley composed it, "the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla," and they visit his grave and that of the young John Keats in the beautiful Non-Catholic Cemetery.  Our students study the statues that prompted the birth of Neo-classicism, those that Lord Byron had made famous in his poetry, and those that Shelley called "the vital, the almost breathing creations of genius."  To study Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun, the group shivers in the crypt of the Capuchin church of St. Maria della Concezione, where, as Hawthorne and his characters once did, they grope among the rooms of bones and skeletons.  They gaze upon the Coliseum in the footsteps of James' Daisy Miller and Isabel Archer, of Percy and Mary Shelley, of Lord Byron who dubbed it "the gladiator's bloody Circus," "A noble wreck in ruinous perfection."  In his famous letters from Rome, Shelley remarks "how delicate the imagination becomes by dieting with antiquity day after day!"  Students and faculty alike will cherish these days, during which they are steeped in the splendid abundance of beauty and culture.

Students in Rome
Students in a seminar at the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome

Our revered and long-standing London Program continues to flourish.  Our Rome Program has been a wonderful success and now includes a Summer Creative Writing Seminar.  Paris is our newest destination (beginning summer of 2000).  Our Paris program will include an intensive French course as well as a literature course.

Study abroad has become an integral part of a student's education and our goal is to make this opportunity available to all students.  A gift in support of a scholarship fundwould be an invaluable contribution to the education of our majors.  The mind-expanding stimulation of exploring the art, literature and language of other cultures cannot happen in a classroom in Seattle.  Reading a classic while standing before its subject is something all students shouldhave the opportunity to experience.  Students have given our international programs rave reviews, and we hope that you will help us make them available to all English majors.

Karen Shabetai 

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CIC Expands

The English Department's computer-integrated-course curriculum will expand when Mary Gates Hall opens in Spring 2000.  The larger facility will allow for more multimedia and interactive courses in teaching of writing, linguistics, literature, and humanities research. Laurie George, Associate Director of Expository Writing, is the faculty director of the CIC program and this expansion project.

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Alumni and Friends Support

A recent admissions newsletter listed the ten most popular majors at the University of Washington.  In order they are:

The University is stepping up its appeals to alumni and friends for annual gifts. Please help us continue to enrich our programs by considering one of the designated uses for an annual gift to the University of Washington. Your gifts are tax deductible in accordance with the law.  Pursuant to RCW 10.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, State of Washington.  For information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-332-4483.

If you want to make a contribution, you may send a check (payable to University of Washington) to:

Department of English Box 354330
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-4330
attn: Cheryl Mathisen.

Please indicate your name and address and toward which designated use your gift should be applied (i.e., Discretionary, General Program Support, Lectures/Readings, Publications, or Study Abroad).

To get on our mailing list or to give us news of your recent activities or any suggestions you have for us, e-mail Cheryl Mathisen ( 

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