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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

English Newsletter - Fall 2010

Off the Press: New Books from the English Department Faculty

Islamic Conversion and Christian Resistance on the Early Modern Stage (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) written by Jane Hwang Degenhardt explores the specter of Christian conversion to Islam in twelve early modern English plays. In works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Massinger, and others, conversion from Christianity to Islam is represented as both tragic and erotic – a fate worse than death as well as a sexual seduction. Degenhardt examines the stage’s treatment of this intercourse of faiths to reveal connections between sexuality, race, and confessional identity in early modern English drama and culture. In addition, she shows how England’s encounter with Islam reanimated post-Reformation debates about the embodiment of Christian faith. As this book demonstrates, the erotics of conversion added fuel to the fires of controversies over Pauline universalism, Christian martyrdom, the efficacy of relics and rituals, and the ideals of the Knights of Malta.
For full article Off The Press.


MFA Program for Poets and Writers Highlights


he MFA Program is flourishing. Ranked among the top MFA Programs nationwide, it's a hub of dynamic literary activity and a home for poets and writers creating important new work.
Read the full MFA Program Highlights.


Western Massachusetts Writing Project Highlights


Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, leader of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project’s English Language Learners Team, was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year for 2011 by Governor Deval Patrick at a State House ceremony in June, 2010. A teacher at Amherst Regional Middle School, she is the first teacher of English Language Learners (ELL) to receive the award. She is also the third WMWP teacher-leader in recent years to be named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, following Mary Ginley in 1998 and English Department alumnus Bruce Penniman in 1999.


Professional Writing and Technical Communication Highlights

In Fall 2010 Janine Solberg was named a Lilly Teaching Fellow. The Lilly Fellowships are a competitive award program, established at UMass-Amherst in 1986, that enables junior faculty to cultivate teaching excellence in a year-long collaboration. Each year, eight to ten teaching fellows are selected to work closely with the Center For Teaching on individual projects that involve developing or redesigning a course. Congratulations, Janine! Read full article on Professional Writing & Technical Communication Highlights


Edinburgh Program Highlights

This summer, the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival Program grew from 11 to 23 participants. Newly designed as a 4-credit honors course, the program attracted students from McGill, U of San Diego, Goucher, and Hampshire College in addition to UMass students in English, Theatre, Anthropology and Communications. Thanks to a grant from CHFA, Theatre Professor Harley Erdman was able to join the group (and will also attend next summer). And unlike earlier years, students this year also enjoyed unusually warm and often sunny weather.or full article on Edinburgh Program Highlights.


Oxford Odyssey

Writing about life and art in the twentieth century, Oxford scholar Peter Conrad observes that “culture is merely a costume party, and the purpose of travel is to try on funny hats.” While arch in its phrasing, his idea is essentially true. From language to money, religion to cuisine, architecture to dress, it is the symbols, not the creatures, that constitute cultures on planet earth.


Student Achievements and Awards

For the Student Achievements and Awards.

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