Mary Karr, award-winning author, speaks to Marymount students

On April 18, the first day of Easter Break, Marymount students were out in force to hear author Mary Karr talk about writing, trauma, memoir, and more. Spanish minor and Biology major Aya Raihanoune introduced the author.

Karr’s first memoir, The Liar’s Club, was the shared text read this year by all first-year composition students at Marymount. All students in EN102 will be sharing research inspired by this book at the annual final exam conference event on May 4th. Karr spoke with humor about her life as a writer, growing up in a dysfunctional family, religion and spirituality, and dealing with alcoholism and sexual trauma.

The Liar’s Club won nonfiction prizes from PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters. Recently, Entertainment Weekly rated it number four in the top one hundred books of the past twenty-five years. Her second memoir, Cherry, which was excerpted in The New Yorker, also hit bestseller and “notable book” lists at The New York Times and dozens of other papers nationwide. Her most recent book in this autobiographical series, Lit: A Memoir, is the story of her alcoholism, recovery, and conversion to Catholicism.

Great turnout on the first day of Easter Break for Mary Karr!

Great turnout on the first day of Easter Break for Mary Karr!

Karr talks with students on April 18

Karr talks with students on April 18

Karr is an award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed and New York Times best-selling memoirs and five poetry collections, most recently Tropic of Squalor. Karr is also a songwriter, having collaborated with Rodney Crowell, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams and others on a country album called KIN. Her many awards include The Whiting Writer’s Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. She is also a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Poetry magazine. Karr is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University and she lives in New York City.

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Thinking like Shakespeare: Dr. Scott Newstok talks about education, research, and the humanities

by Meghan Burke

Dr. Scott Newstok, Professor of English at Rhodes College in Memphis Tennessee visited Marymount on Tuesday, April 9 for two events: a lecture on his recent research into “How to think like Shakespeare” and a colloquium about the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill with Humanities graduate students. I had the pleasure of attending both events with Dr. Newstok.  

Dr. Newstok talks to students in Dr. Rippy's EN429: Topics in Performance (Global Classroom)

Dr. Newstok talks to students in Dr. Rippy’s EN429: Topics in Performance (Global Classroom)

The presentation, “Thinking with Shakespeare’s Islands” provided much food for thought. In it, Dr. Newstok proposed that the island imagery in Shakespeare’s plays (the most obvious being The Tempest which takes place on an island) can make us think about how we create our own islands.  Personal islands can form in our education, or they can be the institutions of education themselves.  The students who attended the talk offered insight into their own “islands” and offered suggestions on how they can or could move outside of their islands to make connections.  

The conversation continued in the evening when the graduate students met with Dr. Newstok to talk about opportunities for involvement at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  The Folger offers a variety of programs and research opportunities to students and professionals on a myriad of subjects. The discussion proved fruitful for students in attendance, who discussed internships and job opportunities.  

I found the conversation interesting for another reason.  While I am a graduate student in the Humanities program, I am also a librarian at Marymount.  During my graduate program in library and information science I completed an internship in cataloging at the Folger.  I had only approached the Folger from a librarian’s perspective, and it was interesting to hear about it from the perspective of a researcher.

During our discussion that evening, I found myself returning to the idea of islands in Dr. Newstok’s earlier talk in relation to the work of librarians and researchers at academic libraries.  Libraries and librarians can be seen as islands. We do our own work and generate our own data about collections. Often, our data exist in silos, individual library catalogs that are not crawled by search engines or (even worse) in card catalogs only accessible to those with physical access to them.  At the same time, researchers also exist on their own islands, tirelessly combing through mountains of documents and text, discovering aspects of the text that are crucial to understanding it.

A comment by Dr. Newstok really brought this into focus.  He asked what librarians think about scholars linking back to a library record on a website for example, in order to enhance it, to add more meaning.  My answer was a simple yes, but I asked that the original link be to the carefully curated metadata librarians create to describe the object. The descriptive information librarians create and the analytic and creative research done by academics is not meant to exist in isolation, but to be complementary.  Rather than existing as islands, the information held in libraries should be discoverable and informative, enhanced by the research of those who are passionate about its contents, and described in a way that makes it easy to locate. With more conversations such as our colloquium, and less “island thinking,” it is my hope that we can create an archipelago between the existing library metadata and the information of those the libraries serve.  

I would like to thank Dr. Newstok for sharing his time, information, and insights with the Marymount community.    

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Four Marymount Students Present at the Virginia Humanities Conference

This April, four Marymount students attended the 2019 Virginia Humanities Conference hosted by Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach, VA. The conference, focusing this year on the theme of “The Fluid Humanities,” asked scholars from a variety of perspectives to consider how the humanities respond to topics as diverse as rising seas, water scarcity, accelerated migration flows, environmental disasters and geopolitical shifts that reshape physical and ethnic maps, and other ways that a sense of “fluidity” describes our experience of life.

Two undergraduate students in the English program presented current research. Julia Torrico, a dual degree student who will be receiving both her BA in English and her BS in Information Technology this May, presented her work on “The Consumption of Race and Color in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.” Elizabeth Ramos, an undergraduate English Education student, also presented her work, “Fluidity in Chicano Poetry.”

Additionally, two students from Marymount’s Graduate Program in English and Humanities also presented current work. Michael Weeks shared his analysis of “The Meanings and Uses of Black and White in Shakespeare’s Othello,” and Joey Robbins presented on the fluid depiction of gender in the Alien franchise with his project, “Geno/Transphobia and Xenomorphs.”

The Virginia Humanities Conference is an organization of universities, colleges, and community colleges in Virginia whose purpose it is to promote interest and research in the humanities. Next year, the VHC will be hosted by James Madison University, on the theme of “The Humanities and our Global Future,” March 27-28th, 2020. Dr. Tonya Howe is Marymount’s delegate to the conference; feel free to contact her with any questions.

Well done, Julia, Joey, Michael, and Elizabeth! We are so proud of you!

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Best-selling author Mary Karr visits Marymount, April 18

Bestselling author Mary Karr will visit Marymount this April to talk to first-year composition students about her first memoir, The Liar’s Club, which won nonfiction prizes from PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters. Recently, Entertainment Weekly rated it number four in the top one hundred books of the past twenty-five years. Her second memoir, Cherry, which was excerpted in The New Yorker, also hit bestseller and “notable book” lists at the New York Times and dozens of other papers nationwide. Her most recent book in this autobiographical series, Lit: A Memoir, is the story of her alcoholism, recovery, and conversion to Catholicism.

Karr is an award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed and New York Times best-selling memoirs and five poetry collections, most recently Tropic of Squalor. Karr is also a songwriter, having collaborated with Rodney Crowell, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams and others on a country album called KIN. Her many awards include The Whiting Writer’s Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. She is also a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Poetry magazine. Karr is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University and she lives in New York City.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Literature & Languages and the School of Design, Arts, and Humanities in partnership with Arlington Public Library and the Arlington Reads Program. This event is free and open to the public. Reception and book signing to follow.

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Alumna helps curate MARVEL: UNIVERSE OF HEROES exhibit at The Franklin Institute

Ariel (McManus) Odinson (MU alumna and English minor, 2012) is working on the MARVEL: Universe of Heroes exhibit that will open April 13th at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Ariel is a Curatorial Programs Assistant at The Franklin, and she is also a Museum Educator at the Mütter Museum. Congratulations, Ariel!

While she was an English minor at Marymount, Ariel helped Dr. Scott-Douglass organize The Avengers film symposium as part of the department’s annual Film Fest in Spring 2012. Ariel also received a grant through the Department of Literature and Languages to travel to The New York Comic Con where she spent the day working with the developers of the Kill Shakespeare comic book series. Ariel will begin her master’s degree at Temple University this fall. For more information on the MARVEL exhibit: http://www.fi.edu

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