University of Mississippi

UM Liberal Arts Graduate Programs Jump in Rankings: English, History and Political Science doctoral programs named among nation’s best

OXFORD, Miss. – On the heels of achieving the university’s highest-ever standing in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of Best (Undergraduate) Colleges and Universities, the publication’s most recent graduate academic program rankings confirm the university’s commitment to academic excellence.

Doctoral programs in English, history and political science all made significant strides in the 2018 graduate program rankings, indication of the growing strength and upward trend for UM’s graduate programs in social sciences and humanities.

The U.S. News & World Report graduate rankings for the three programs were last updated in 2013.

“We are proud of the faculty who have worked hard to distinguish our graduate programs, and these new rankings clearly indicate that they are gaining recognition for their efforts,” said Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “We have encouraged each of our programs to pursue excellence and I am pleased that this pursuit is bringing recognition to our faculty, our university and our state.”

The English doctoral program demonstrated the biggest jump as it improved 16 spots, where it tied for No. 40 in the nation among public universities with fellow Southeastern Conference institutions the universities of Florida and Missouri.

A Ph.D. in history from the university has never been more valued, as the graduate program cracked the Top 40 for the first time. UM tied for No. 37 in the category – up nine spots from 2013 – and shares the position with fellow SEC and Carnegie R1 research universities Texas A&M and Kentucky.

The political science graduate program entered the rankings for the first time and tied for No. 58 among public institutions.

Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, says the rankings are a testament to the university’s strong faculty, staff and students.

“These rankings demonstrate what we have believed for some time: that we have strong, competitive doctoral programs on our campus that are well-respected at the national level,” Cohen said. “Of course, without the hard work of our faculty, staff and students, and the support of university administration, none of this would be attainable.”

The rankings are based on data collected last fall via surveys sent to administrators or faculty members at schools that granted five or more doctorates in each discipline from 2011 to 2015.

“Graduate education is increasingly important and valued in today’s competitive global marketplace,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “A UM graduate degree marks someone as a leader who will exceed employer expectations and be a real-world change maker.

“In order to continue the rise of our graduate programs, we are committed to enhancing our R1 standing as well as faculty excellence, research and scholarship.”

http://english.olemiss.edu/2017/03/22/4119/

Olivia Davis Wins Fulbright ETA to Greece

SMBHC senior Olivia Davis has been awarded a 2017 Fulbright US Student Program English Teaching Assistantship to Greece.

Olivia was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but grew up in different cities and states throughout the south and went to high school in Jackson, Mississippi. She will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in chemistry, music, and classics, with an emphasis in ancient Greek. She hopes to study Byzantine chanting and Christian hymnody in the Greek Orthodox Church as a side research project while she teaches English as a second language. Her senior thesis advisor is Dr. Daniel Stout.

Olivia’s Fulbright Campus Committee wrote: Olivia is an experienced piano teacher, musician, artist, and writer. She has worked with beginning and intermediate students. She has researched Byzantine liturgical music and postmodern literature. She has excellent communication skills and is mature and respectful in her interactions with others. She is highly organized and able to work on complex tasks independently.  Olivia is an excellent writer and public speaker. She is a patient teacher, a good listener, and has an eclectic and interesting set of interests in art, literature, music and philosophy. One of the most intelligent candidates we’ve interviewed.

Congratulations, Olivia!

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For more information on the Fulbright ETA or other major scholarships, please visit the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, or contact ONSA Director Tim Dolan.

http://english.olemiss.edu/2017/03/21/english-major-olivia-davis-wins-fulbright-eta-to-greece/

Spotlight on Classrooms: Early American Literature at The University of Mississippi with Dr. Jaime Cantrell

Meredith recently spoke to Dr. Jaime Cantrell, Visiting Assistant Professor of English at The University of Mississippi. Dr. Cantrell has introduced undergraduate students to the importance of archival research and materials by encouraging them to become citizen transcribers for the National Archives as part of their coursework.

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background and what courses do you teach?

Jaime CantrellI am a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at The University of Mississippi, where I teach courses in English, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Southern Studies, including “American Literature I”, “American Literature II”, “Literary Criticism”, “The South & Sexuality”, “Women in Literature”, and “Queer Theory”. Innovative pedagogy is crucial to my intellectual life as a scholar, and my research and teaching methods challenge institutional and individual biases. In short, I am familiar with teaching against the grain and through an intersectional perspective.

I co-edited Out of the Closet, Into the Archives: Researching Sexual Histories (SUNY Queer Politics and Cultures series, December 2015). With a foreword by Ann Cvetkovich, OCIA meditates on the ways queer archives spark precarious pleasures and compelling tensions for researchers—ultimately taking readers inside the experience of how it feels to do queer archival research and queer research in archives. OCIA is a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best LGBT Anthology. I am presently at work on a book project titled Southern Sapphisms: Sexuality and Sociality in Literary Productions, 1969-1997.

How do you use the National Archives as a venue for primary sources? Why is this important in the classroom?

Two years ago, in my ENGL223: Survey of American Literature to the Civil War course, I lectured from a unit on our reading schedule titled “The Revolutionary Period”, which included, among other texts, selections from Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography Part I (1791) and Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1785). As I launched into discussions on shifting American identities, a refocusing of the Puritan worldview and the rise of the enlightened citizen (and why students should care that Benjamin Franklin is the most humorous literary voice we’d encountered in class since Thomas Morton!), my students’ eyes wandered away from their textbooks and out the window paneled wall of the large auditorium. Careful not to lose their attention entirely, I enthusiastically redirected their gaze to a library slip from the Free Library of Pennsylvania that once belonged to Franklin, and read across that ephemeral document to his Autobiography: “These Libraries have improv’d the general Conversation of the Americans…” Sadly, that library slip was little more than a stock-Norton power point slide image projected on the screen behind me.

How did you learn about the Citizen Archivist Program at the National Archives?

I hoped to enhance the “general conversation” in my ENGL223 courses by turning to the library—or more specifically, to archives. I applied and was accepted to a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers titled “Early American Women’s History: Teaching from the Archives” that took place in Providence, RI in partnership with the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs at the Rhode Island Historical Society. It was an incredible opportunity! Nearly two dozen community college and university professors collaborated for two weeks–intent on developing classroom methodologies to “access, recover, and contextualize the voices of marginalized women…” through archives. We heard lectures from leading scholars in multiple humanities fields; each described their own struggles and successes with archival research. We visited collections, and met with librarians and archivists at The Massachusetts Historical Society, The American Antiquarian Society, the John Hay Library (Brown University), and the RIHS Library. That NEH workshop heralded many productive shifts in my pedagogical practices for ENGL223; I refined strategies for facilitating student access to digitized primary sources. Upon returning to my home institution, I immediately reframed my course description to read (excerpted, in part):

“In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne lamented that ‘America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash-and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed…” Writers and critics have long tried to dismiss or ignore the achievements of early American women writers. In the last several decades, however, feminist literary critics have recovered the works of women writers and reshaped the early American literary canon to include works from Phillis Wheatley, Lydia Maria Child, Angelina E. Grimké, Fanny Fern, Sarah Orne Jewett, Hannah Webster Foster, Sarah Josepha Hale, and Rebecca Harding Davis, alongside more familiar contributions from Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Abigail Adams, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Jacobs. This course will highlight a number of women’s writings from the colonial period to the middle of the 19th century.…….Particular attention will be paid to questions of race and gender and the relationship between history, culture and writing (including both “literature” and other written or transcribed forms of expression).  As archival collections are increasingly made available online, students will have the opportunity to digitally engage with exciting primary-source materials. In doing so, students become active critics and curators of those literary productions rather than mere explicators of them.”

To date, students in ENGL223 have sifted through the John and Abigail Adams Family Collection to access Abigail’s 1776 letter to John, exhorting him to “Remember the ladies…” (accessible through the Massachusetts Historical Society’s digital repository), they’ve discovered postcards and correspondence from the Charlotte Perkins Gilman Collection, available online from the Harry Ransom Center’s Project REVEAL (Read & View English and American Literature), and they’ve analyzed Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I Heard a fly buzz” in her own handwriting, available through the Dickinson Archive at Harvard’s Houghton Library. I believe the archive—and paradoxically, the past itself—is an innovative path for moving forward into a radical, digital learning future. With that in mind, I turned again to the archives when structuring course assignments, and exhorted students to whet their appetites for archival research by participating in Citizen Archivist Transcription Projects through NARA. As part of the assignment, students completed Written Document Analysis worksheets developed by the Education staff at the National Archives. Below is a partial screenshot of a “Getting Started Guide” I posted to our course Blackboard page:

ENGL223 Assignment page

Example of a document selected and transcribed for Dr. Cantrell’s ENGL223 course. U.S. v. Sale of Negro Man, Woman, and Two Children https://catalog.archives.gov/id/12130607

Example of a document selected and transcribed for Dr. Cantrell’s ENGL223 course.
U.S. v. Sale of Negro Man, Woman, and Two Children. National Archives Identifier 12130607

 

Did you or your students experience any unexpected hurdles throughout the course of this assignment? How did you resolve them?

Yes, these things do happen. About forty or so of my 120 students experienced difficulty registering their personal and/or university emails with the catalog; Ms. Suzanne Isaacs, my NARA point of contact, was especially generous and gracious in ensuring they were able to register successfully. My own hurdles encompassed fielding questions and concerns from students as they undertook the assignment; to that end, I developed a “Troubleshooting” Blackboard page (see below) to address common concerns as they arose:

ENGL223 screenshot troubleshooting section

 

For many of your students, this assignment was the first time they had interacted with archives and transcribed historical documents. What were some of their takeaways from the experience?

Michael FortierMichael Fortier, a Junior Psychology major at The University of Mississippi with a minor in Gender Studies, transcribed documents in the National Archives Catalog for the first time during this course. Michael said of his experience, “A lot can be learned just from the use of language, and a lot of history can be uncovered from just a simple document. It really gave me appreciation for bookkeeping in the modern era, and appreciate the importance of it as well. Some of the most interesting revelations I had were from just the few moments I would write out a sentence and then go ‘no, no, that can’t be the right word.’ Discovering what the words could be, and having the same word suddenly make sense to me throughout the entire document was quite fun. It was like a puzzle piece just falling into place.”

While transcribing documents related to legal situations surrounding slaves, Michael learned more about a topic that was previously unfamiliar to him: “It isn’t a topic I find most schools to delve deeply into, and so it was all new information to me. I would love to look over the same kind of documentation about women’s rights battles.”

Katherine Campbell, also a student at The University of Mississippi describes the connection she felt with the documents as she transcribed: “What makes the process of transcribing documents so engaging is that it allows for a first hand experience of the way that people communicated with each other in the past. Before I participated in the National Citizen Archivist Project I thought that the art of transcription was confined only to important government documents and declarations. Upon visiting the website I found instead an abundance of personal letters and diary entries as well. I was able to view directly the diction people used to speak to each other, their styles of handwriting, and even the type of paper that was used. Transcribing a letter from the 19th Century was like reaching back into history and bringing a small piece of the past into the present.”

Do you have any advice for other educators or students who want to incorporate primary sources in the classroom/are considering contributing as Citizen Archivists?

For educators and students alike: Citizen Archivist transcription projects are both time consuming and rewarding; that pleasure and challenge is a privilege not to be missed.


Are you looking for ways to bring primary sources into the classroom? We can help get you started! Contact us at citizenarchivist@nara.gov. You can also explore documents, browse lesson plans, create teaching activities and more on DocsTeach.

Check out Jay Watson in the new SEC commercial.

The Conversation comes to Oxford on Monday, October 17th and Tuesday, October 18th

The Conversation Literary Festival comes to Oxford. Second year MFA student Aziza Barnes is co-directing this inaugural southern literary festival featuring some of the country’s most celebrated African American writers. The Conversation comes to Oxford on Monday, October 17th and Tuesday, October 18th.  Please click here for more details about the festival.thumbnail_purewhite-background_web-2

MFA Program ranked sixth for Aspiring Writers

Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers

The Edith Baine Lecture Series presents: “Nineteenth-Century Facebook: John Ridge and the Archives of Cherokee Resistance” by Kelly Wisecup. Oct. 24th at 4:30 p.m. Barnard Observatory Tupelo Room

wisecup-kellyKelly Wisecup is assistant professor of English at Northwestern University, where she researches and teaches Native American and early American literatures, focusing especially on Native American writers’ and activists’ engagement with colonial science, archives, and genres.  Her first book, Medical Encounters: Knowledge and Identity in Early American Literatures (2013) explores how medical knowledge served as a form of communication among colonists, Native Americans, and African Americans, one in which people defined and defended their bodies as well as their relationship to the environment and to other than human beings.  Her current book project, Assembled Relations: Compilation, Collection, and Native American Writing, investigates how Native American writers adapted forms of compilation and collection—herbals, vocabulary lists, museum inventories, catalogs, and commonplace books—to restore and remake environmental, epistemological, and interpersonal relations disrupted by colonialism.  Her articles have appeared in Early American Literature, Early American Studies, Atlantic Studies, Studies in Travel Writing, Literature and Medicine, The Southern Literary Journal, and Literature Compass, and she has received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the American Philosophical Society, the John Carter Brown Library, the Newberry Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Lecture will take place on October 24th at 4:30 p.m in the Barnard Observatory Tupelo Room.  This event is free and open to the public.

Mission Statement
The Edith T. Baine Lecture Series for Scholars and Writers invites the best and brightest scholars and writers to our campus. The Baine lecturers and writers are chosen on the basis of energetic and engaged scholarship and creative work, innovative approaches, and dynamic presentation styles. The lectures showcase paradigm-shifting research and groundbreaking writing. The visiting scholars and writers are intended to expose undergraduates to the fullness of a life deeply engaged in literature while inspiring graduate students to pursue ambitious work.

Edith T. Baine
Mrs. Edith Turley Baine of El Dorado was born November 29, 1945 in Greenville, Mississippi, the daughter of Edith Waits Turley and George Turley. She graduated from Leland High School and the University of Mississippi, where she received B.A.E. and M.A.E. degrees. Mrs. Baine was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of El Dorado, El Dorado Service League, Phi Mu Sorority and Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity International. She was a former member of the Board of Directors of the Union County Humane Society. She was an El Dorado Jaycettes and later became an El Dorado Jaycee. She was a tree farmer and retired English teacher who taught in Mississippi and at El Dorado High School. On April 13, 2012, Mrs. Baine passed away at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock. Her generous gift to the English Department at the University of Mississippi supports this lecture series and promotes academic and creative exchange.

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UM’s very own Beth Ann Fennelly chosen as new poet laureate for Mississippi

Photo by Gabriel Austin, Mississippi Today

Photo by Gabriel Austin, Mississippi Today

Three volumes of poems, two books of essays, and a book co-authored with her husband has led to Beth Ann Fennelly being named Mississippi’s Poet Laureate.

Fennelly’s selection was announced Wednesday by Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, at the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.  She was chosen from among three finalists submitted to Gov. Phil Bryant by the state poet laureate selection committee.

Although Fennelly submitted an application to be considered for the post, she says her only reaction was to giggle when she found out she had been chosen.

“I’m really tickled, I’m so happy. Even though I knew I was nominated and knew that my application had been progressing through the system, somehow I just didn’t imagine it would happen,” said Fennelly.

A Chicago native, Fennelly, a University of Mississippi associate professor directing the master of fine arts program in the English Department, says it’s an honor to be recognized by a place she loves:

“To leave the place where you are from, and to find a new place, and to think this is my spiritual home. I want to die here, this is where I want to raise my kids, this is where I want to educate my children, this is where I want to live and make my friends. And for that place to claim me as I have claimed it has been a profound experience.”

Being in the South, she says is a great place to be a writer, especially in Mississippi. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Arkansas.

“I feel like Oxford specifically, and in Mississippi in general, reading still matters. It’s still a place where the stories we tell about each others lives influence our lives,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly says she thought she began to think about being a poetess in college, but that turned out not to be the case. At a reading, a person in the audience asked her when she knew she wanted to be a poet.

“I told them the story about being in a great college creative writing class,” Fennely recalled, “and my mom was in the audience, and she raised her hand. And she said, ‘that’s not true Beth Ann, I have a letter you wrote when you were seven saying you wanted to be a poet, p-o-i-t.’”

Now that Fennelly is Mississippi’s poet laureate for the next four years, she hopes to spread the enjoyment she gets from poetry to other people in the state.

“That’s always been my lifelong mission,” said Fennelly.

She thinks Mississippi is a perfect place to do so with its storied traditions in oral history, literature and music.

“I want to remind Mississippi that poetry can be there in such a rich way, and if I can help spread that message I’ll be very content,” said Fennelly.

She really wants to focus on exposing children to poetry

“I feel like poetry is pleasurable, and children understand because they nonsense rhymes, and they clap, and they like Dr. Suess,” said Fennelly.

She believes that a disconnect for students comes through the way poetry is taught in schools.

“I hate to say it,” said Fennelly.

Some students, she says, are taught that poetry must have a rigid structure.

“You can’t approach poetry with the heart or the ear; you have to approach it purely with intellect and knowledge. I think you start with the heart; I think you start with the ear,” said Fennelly.

She notes that people who don’t live in Mississippi like to harp on the state’s negatives while ignoring its rich literary history.

“I want to say, you know what? Most Pulitzer Prize winning authors, best book store in the South, how about we talk about that?” asked Fennelly.

Fennelly was named in 2011 as Outstanding Teacher of the Year at Ole Miss. Among her publications are three full-length poetry books — Open House, Tender Hooks andUnmentionables — and a book of nonfiction (Great with Child). With her husband, Tom Franklin, she co-authored the 2013 novel The Tilted World.

See Professor Fennelly’s interview here.

Matthew Brown, Associate Professor of English and the University of Iowa Center for the Book, will be giving the keynote for the “Early American Materialities” symposium on Thursday, May 5 in Bondurant Auditorium

The symposium, sponsored by the Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School and the Department of English, culminates the hard work of my graduate students this semester. They will be giving conference length versions of their final projects (critical and creative) from noon to 4:30 in the Hannah-Ford Room of Bondurant Hall.  While anyone is welcome to attend their papers, the keynote, Brown’s talk, will begin at 5 pm in the Bondurant auditorium. Below is poster for Brown’s talk, “A Phenomenology of the Reading Room: Data, Post-Criticism, and the British American Printshop.”

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English Education major, Heather Williams, elected Associated Student Representative for the southern region of Sigma Tau Delta

HWilliamsThis March Heather Williams, a senior English Education major at the University of Mississippi, attended the  national conference of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, where she was elected  Associated Student Representative for the Southern Region.  Heather currently serves as the Vice President of her chapter, Eta Nu, and will become President in May 2016. She is a transfer student from Bevill State Community College in Jasper, AL, where she was involved in Sigma Kappa Delta (SKD), The English Honor Society Two-Year Colleges. She also is published in SKD’s 2014 literary journal, The Hedera helix. Besides Sigma Tau Delta, Heather also is involved in other leadership roles including the Transfer Leadership Organization and 1+1 Transfer Student Program, both of which help make the transition into university life easier for transfer students. When not reading or writing, Heather enjoys playing the guitar and loves putting music to her poetry. Her favorite literature genre is Southern literature, and her favorite book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.