Happy New Year!

I’m not sure I really get January 1st as New Year’s Day. It feels like just another day somewhat shy of the middle of winter. The first day of Spring as the beginning of the new year makes a lot more sense to me, and the Medievals celebrated it that way at times. Yes, the month is named after Janus, god of new beginnings, and Julius Ceasar was deified on January 1st, but I’m not a Roman, and I feel no affection for any Ceasar.

I also quit making resolutions years and years ago. I think I figured out that if I know what I need to do, I’ll either do it or I won’t.

So I’m thinking about the things I want to see happen instead. I think it all comes down to, “Create great things with great people.”

The great things with great people I’m working on now are a couple of edited anthologies. I’ve very grateful for the fantastic contributors I’m collaborating with on these:

  • Rock and Romanticism. This edited anthology in development explores the intersections of rock and roll and Romanticism as a literary movement. Contributors are really excited about this one and having fun with their essays. I’m having fun reading them.
  • Interpretation: Theory: History. This edited anthology, also in development, reads literary (and other) theorists against their historical backgrounds to see how history influences our reading practices and how our reading practices might influence history. Essays should start coming in this summer.
  • Exhibit: Ohio Rock and Roll. Cool thing I’m working on with Lee Fearnside. We will see what happens.

The stuff I hope to create on my own:

  • The Pretenders — this book will explore the music of the Pretenders’ first two or three albums against the background of the Cleveland rock scene of the 70s and the London rock and punk scene of the 70s and 80s.
  • Tripping the Light Ekphrastic. I want this to be my first collection of poetry. Hasn’t happened yet. I hope it does.
  • Maybe a second collection of poems too? Or another one instead?
  • I want to write an essay about Ex Machina that I’ve had on my mind for awhile now. Very soon. In the next week.
  • I have three book reviews on the docket. One is about eighteenth-century thing theory, another one about an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century bookmaking family, and the third is about the element of surprise in fiction and poetry from Milton to Austen. I’m looking forward to learning from these books.

I want to learn a Nirvana song and a Stones song on guitar. Or maybe EITHER a Nirvana song OR a Stones song. Or maybe just play scales without goofing up the strings.

I’d like to see my son Penn start playing guitar, if he winds up interested.

I want my literature classes to be more self-consciously devoted to student writing and creating — creating stuff in response to literature.

I want to plan my next monograph, finally, and get a proposal for it accepted by a publisher.

I want to finish all coding work for the Mitford poem Watlington Hill and see it go live on the Digital Mitford project website, or at least get it very close. I’m close on this one.

I’d like to create some of my own visual artwork. I have some ideas.

I want to spend more time with my kids and parents in Florida. And with my kids here right now with them at the same time.

I’d like to see what I can make happen for some other people. No idea what this might be yet, or even who they are. I’ll just be open to it.

I want to meet more talented, creative people and be a resource for them.

That’s what I want to see happen in 2016.

2015 in Review

What I’ve done in 2015. This is what a teaching scholar looks like. I accomplished what follows during 2015 while teaching a 4-4-3 load with a one semester sabbatical in the Fall, for which I am grateful to my current institution. What could your teaching scholars accomplish with better support? I know quite a few, and they deserve it. Everything listed below was written or published between January and December of 2015.


  • Submitted my first volume of poetry for consideration to a publisher: Tripping the Light Ekphrastic. Still waiting to hear back. These things take time. The poems for this volume were written between 1991 and mid Summer 2015.
  • Submitted about ten individual poems for publication to different venues. Some were declined, some are still under consideration. They may all get declined. That is how it goes. I know, because I’ve been publishing since the 90s. You need thick skin to be a writer; we all face a lot of rejection. I had four poems published in late 2014, though, so that’s good.
  • Wrote about another forty pages of poetry, all new in 2015.
  • Served as a literary agent for Martin Reaves and helped guide his first novel, A Fractured Conjuring, through the entire publication process from contract to editing to release. It was a pleasure. It’s a dark, disturbing novel, but it’s a great one. It is now available in both print and e-book format through amazon.com. This publication is personally meaningful to me — Marty was my best friend from seventh grade through all four years of high school. I spent almost as much time at his house during those years as I did at my own. His family was great to me. He told me about his first date with his wife Charla in our middle school locker room the day after it happened. I was in his wedding party, got pictures of his two beautiful daughters when they were little kids, and now know them both as beautiful grown married women with children. Marty has been writing excellent fiction for well over ten years with only a little luck. My hope for this book is that it makes him a little money, gets him at least a little recognition, and helps to land his next book with the higher end publisher that he deserves.

Exhibits. The “Exhibit” category falls between the categories of “Creative” and “Scholarship,” I think:

  • Blake in the Heartland. This great exhibit ran in the Spring of 2015. It focused on the work of visiting scholar Dr. Michael Phillips, who I recruited to visit. He curated William Blake exhibits at the Tate, the Met, the Petite Palais, and most recently the Ashmolean. He delivered two lectures open to the public, gave two printmaking demonstrations (one for local high school students and one for my institution’s students and faculty), and guest lectured for an honors class. The exhibit was curated by Associate Professor of Art Lee Fearnside — who is the gallery Director. She suffered through all of the institutional work to make this happen, doing most of the heavy lifting to make it happen. I co-authored a grant to support these events with her. For this exhibit, Phillips provided his facsimiles of pages from Blake’s illuminated books that were printed using Blake’s materials and printmaking methods. The exhibit also featured contemporary art by regional artists inspired by Blake. You can see images from the exhibit linked above.
  • I then came up with the the idea for an exhibit at my institution’s art gallery dedicated to Ohio rock and roll. Lee liked the idea, so we wrote a grant to support it, recruited three Ohio rock photographers to contribute photographs, and I recruited two scholars to come present papers in a roundtable session either about Ohio rock bands or rock scholarship in Ohio. I’ve also contacted several Columbus-based bands to see if any of them are available for performance, pending budgetary approval. So far, things are going well. But, there’s more — one thing leads to another. I then came up with an idea for an honors class that would study the intersections of rock and roll with literature — and they are many and fertile, believe me — so I queried a Romanticism listserv for ideas. It turns out we’re not running honors classes this Spring, but responses to my query were so enthusiastic that I decided to develop an edited anthology titled Rock and Romanticism, which leads to my next category: scholarship.

Scholarship: Books

  • Rock and RomanticismWonderful project. I sent out a CFP, collected over forty paper proposals, sent out three book proposals (waiting to hear back), and since then have received seventeen papers and edited fourteen. I see this as an ongoing project resulting in two to three volumes, so I’m still accepting proposals. I’ve set up a book blog (linked above) and am continuing to receive and edit essays.
  • Interpretation: Theory: HistoryI started this anthology back in 2012 and have been wrestling with it ever since. I was awarded a contract last summer, didn’t like the terms, went back to my contributors and slimmed down then revised my proposal, and now have a very good publisher looking at it. I’ve edited three essays and wrote a provisional introduction to provide the interested publisher a writing sample.
  • The Pretenders: I co-wrote a proposal for this book with a colleague, and we submitted it to Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series. They received 605 proposals and accepted 16. Ours didn’t make it. I revised, expanded, and resubmitted it as an individual project, and it is now moving through the stages with another publisher. It’s gone through one round of editorial review and is moving into another. We will see. This project was supported by a week of research at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library and Archives in Cleveland. The archivists there were great.

Scholarship: New Media. Since my institution may be moving toward a professional writing focus in its English major, I’ve started to expand my profile in New Media publishing.

Scholarship: Articles, Edited Anthologies

  • “Late-Romantic Heroes as Archetypes of Masculinity: Breaking Bad, The Fast and the Furious, and Californication,” by invitation for the edited anthology Class, Politics, and Superheroes: Populism in Comics, Films, and TV, Ed. Marc DiPaolo. Forthcoming 2016: currently under contract with the University of Mississippi Press.
  • “Silly Love Songs and Gender in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron,” by invitation for the edited anthology Assemble!: The Making and Re-making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ed. Julian Chambliss and Bill Svitavsky. Forthcoming 2016: currently under contract with McFarland & Company, Inc.

Scholarship: Book Reviews

  • Rev. of Sexy Blake, eds. Helen B. Bruder and Tristanne Connolly for Romantic Circles Reviews and Receptions. Forthcoming 2016.
  • Rev. of The Emigrants, or, A Trip to the Ohio, A Theatrical Farce (1817), by George Cumberland. Elizabeth B. Bentley, ed., and Angus Whitehead, Intro. 2013 for Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly. Forthcoming 2016.
  • Rev. of Sexual Enjoyment in British Romanticism: Gender and Psychoanalysis 1753-1835 by David Sigler for Romantic Circles Reviews and Receptions, published October 2015.
  • Rev. of William Blake and the Production of Time by Andrew M. Cooper for Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies. 38.3 (Sept. 2015): 472-4.
  • Rev. of The God of the Left Hemisphere: Blake, Bolte Taylor, and the Myth of Creation by Roderick Tweedy for Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, published Summer 2015.

Scholarship: Conferences. I’ve been presenting papers at three to four conferences a year since 2007. Most of them have been national, with some regional and some international. Unfortunately, my institutional support only covers about 25% of my costs at most, so I’ve had to scale back. I had a panel and a paper accepted for the CCCCs conference, but I had to pull out because of costs. I will still list the panel below, though, as the panel itself was accepted and did run. I also had a paper accepted for the Midwest MLA conference, but I had to pull out. I’ve been trying to focus on lower-cost regional conferences near me lately.

  • “Cohorts and Risk Management,” CCCCs National Conference, St. Petersburg, FL 2015. Successfully wrote the panel but did not attend.
  • “Imagining the Mind-Body Relation: The Skull as a Cave in Blake’s Mythological Works.” March 2015 for the national College English Association conference, Indianapolis, IN.

Scholarship: Digital Humanities

  • I attended a coding workshop for the Mary Russell Mitford project (Digital Mitford) in June of 2015 and finished my first round of markup for her poem Watlington Hill. I need to mark up people and places and write site index entries for it now.
  • I created an online gallery for the Blake in the Heartland exhibit.

I haven’t included blogging for my book projects or for my personal blog (here), which includes the online gallery for the Blake in the Heartland exhibit linked above, but I can provide links to my annual reports for my personal blog and my Rock and Romanticism blog.

All that I’ve listed here is my publishing productivity during 2015. It doesn’t include teaching, advising, or committee service: four courses in the Spring and three graduate courses in the Summer, including being a reader for one Master’s thesis. It also doesn’t include about twenty letters of recommendation, editing books for two friends of mine, and editing a few essays for friends too. This stuff is all part of the job that most college teachers do.

I’ve also tried to be a husband and father, but I think I suck at that.

Support your teachers. I’m just one of them, but they’re all working hard for you, their students, and their schools.

I would like every teacher to post a list like this about their summer work so that people know what we do.

Next up: forthcoming in 2016.

Forthcoming in 2015

Here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2015, at least so far:

1. I’ve been invited to guest lecture on Milton at a state university in Brazil. I will be presenting a paper that applies Robert Brandom’s analytic pragmatism to Milton’s Areopagitica. Here’s an abstract of a paper that I presented at the SCMLA conference in 2013 along the same lines: what I present in Brazil will be revised and expanded.

“Pragmatics in the Public Square: Robert Brandom and Milton’s Areopagitica

Robert Brandom’s Between Saying and Doing (2008) suggests a richly and intricately intertwined relationship between semantic and pragmatic approaches to a philosophy of language. Semantic approaches, being concerned with meaning, have been the primary domain of philosophies of language in the analytic tradition, but Brandom argues that pragmatics provides “special resources for extending and expanding the analytic semantic project” (8) by asserting that the meaning of a term originates in its use. The specific use value employed here is one explored by Brandom in Making It Explicit (1994), where he seeks to articulate the expressive or nonlogical content of logical statements, specifically how “deontic statuses. . . are made explicit by the use of propositional-attitude-ascribing locutions” (xx). In other words, Brandom is concerned with how statements of propositional truths are in fact relational claims made upon the hearer of these truths, means of both making and staking one’s claims or rights.

Brandom’s theoretical stance therefore seems especially apropos for analyzing public discourse, especially discourse about rights, as this form of discourse is rife with implied relational demands upon its speakers. John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644) is an especially compelling test case for Brandom’s pragmatics. As an impassioned plea for freedom of the press in the midst of the English Civil War it is a foundational document for establishing free public square discourse, yet it seems riddled with contradictions. Milton excluded papists from the benefits of freedom of the press, for example, and not long after publishing it accepted the position of state censor. Understood in the light of Brandom’s pragmatics, however, these contradictions seem less thorny. Though Milton appeals to a number of compelling ethical and political principles, Brandom’s pragmatic approach might also read Milton’s propositions as a series of claims made upon his readers, claims intended to serve the practical goal of the establishment of Milton’s ideal republic, one characterized by a limited public square comprised of members who recognize and acknowledge Milton’s relational claims.

2. I’ve been invited to submit a chapter to a forthcoming anthology devoted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ll be writing about Guardians of the Galaxy. My previous post on this blog about the Guardians soundtrack was a kind of note taking for this article. Here’s the abstract:

“Silly Love Songs and Gender in Guardians of the Galaxy

“Silly Love Songs and Gender in Guardians of the Galaxy” argues that this film’s juxtaposition of aggressive and murderous males embodied in the characters Ronan and Thanos against nurturing and protective females embodied in the characters Gamora and Nova Prime illuminates how gender relationships work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large. Specifically, the power of nurturing is extended from a femininely-conceived earth to a hostile and aggressive cosmos through Peter Quill’s music, particularly in the two mix tapes given to Peter by his mother, Awesome Mix Vols. 1 and 2. Director James Gunn describes the Walkman on which Peter plays these tapes as an “umbilical cord” connecting Peter to Earth, so that it represents the extension of Peter’s mother’s nurturing and care across time and space. When non-human characters come into contact with Earth music, they are invariably calmed or, in Gamora’s case, feminized and nearly seduced. It could even be argued that Ronan was finally defeated because he was distracted by the music on one of Peter’s mix tapes, which happened to be playing when he stepped onto the surface of Xandar, home planet of the Nova Empire. Because both Peter and Gamora must simultaneously embody stereotypically masculine and feminine characteristics in order to defeat an exclusively and stereotypically masculine villain, the film idealizes characters who embrace an androgynous mind, complicating these stereotypes by combining them in different ways across a variety of central characters. These gender relationships can also be seen in other films both within and auxiliary to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, such as Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and the 2011 and 2013 Thor films.

3. I will finish coding Mary Russell Mitford’s Watlington Hill for the Mary Russell Mitford Archive, and I mean soon.

4. I will get out my next book proposal. I’m about 1/3 of the way through it.

5. I will be presenting a paper at the national 2015 CCCCs conference this coming March, for which I wrote the session proposal:

6. I will start submitting articles to journals. I have a backlog of conference papers that could be revised and expanded.

7. I will finish revising my poetry and start sending out submissions to publishers.

8. And I will see to it that Marty Reaves finally has one of his novels published by a decent press.

I’m Going to be Interviewed for a Podcast


UPDATE Dec. 8th, 2014: Just finished the interview. It ran about 10-15 minutes, and we had a good conversation. It didn’t run as a live feed, so it should be available via iTunes and the LJN website by the end of January (after sound editing). Many thanks to Tim Muma and LJN radio for the opportunity.

Yes, I’m going to be interviewed on Monday, December 8th at 4 p.m. EST for a podcast to be broadcast through the internet radio service of localjobnetwork.com. The found me through this blog, specifically the entry, “What Employers Say about College Graduates’ Job Preparedness,” and college graduates’ job preparedness will be the focus of our discussion. If they run it live streaming, you should be able to listen to it on their live link. If you miss it, or if it’s not run live, the podcast will be archived on their resources page.

Short Story Published

Bald Eagle Stew 2014The Michigan Authors Syndicate has just published Bald Eagle Stew, an edited anthology of fiction and poetry that includes my most recent short story. Many thanks to my editors Sherry Truffin, Martin Reaves, and Diana Edelman-Young for their helpful feedback and to Malcolm Magee and the Michigan Authors Syndicate for soliciting a submission from me.

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