Tackling T.I.N.A. and Creating a Successful Public-Facing Discussion Group

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Tackling T.I.N.A. has entered its second year and is going strong.

The reading for the September meeting was an approximately 30 page selection from Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted, published in 2016, in which Desmond tracks the precarious lives of people in Milwaukee as they face eviction and homelessness while he explores the policies that cause these problems. Desmond also offers concrete solutions to begin fixing the problem of eviction, making an argument for increased housing subsidies.

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Monday Meet and Greet: Kelsey Stratman

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Tell us about yourself!

I’m really thrilled to be here in this environment. These first few weeks have been a whirlwind but have also been exhilarating- how lucky am I to be here essentially getting paid to learn?

Academically, I’m currently on a kick of saying that I want to study Appalachian literature, but my answer to that question tends to change every few months so we’ll see how it goes. Personally, I like cooking, spending time in the woods, taking bubble baths, and hanging out with my cat.

Why did you choose Lehigh?

I chose Lehigh because the department seems supportive not just of students as academics but as well-rounded people. I’m also really into the idea of Lit and Social Justice and trying to figure out what exactly that can mean.

What is your favorite book outside your field of study?

Pride and Prejudice is probably my favorite book. It feels like a cop out because my answer to that question hasn’t changed since I was fifteen, but I would honestly die for Jane Austen. I also love Cormac McCarthy and have recently been getting into Wendell Berry.

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

I’m really looking forward to developing my critical reading and writing skills through intensive practice. I’m also excited to learn more from the other students in the program, who all seem like smart and wonderful people.

Diversity at Lehigh

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It is not easy to be a person of color in America. Being a person of color on a campus is un-easier still. Narrow that field down and being a person of color at Lehigh can often feel like a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lehigh. I love Drown Hall which increasingly, has started to feel like my second home. I love the woods that appear to spring out of the earth on all sides as I take the bus to campus. I even love taking the bus – as clustered and dangerous as it can feel sometimes.

But standing out – something which to a certain degree, I experienced in New York – is a whole other experience at Lehigh. By standing out, do not mean that there are absolutely no other people of color (POCs) at Lehigh, I just mean that sometimes it feels as though there aren’t enough of us. While the University states how increasingly, it strives for more diversity on campus, I still experience little waves of shock every time I see an African-American student, a girl in a hijab or members of the University, who appear to be Indian or Pakistani. People like me.

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Monday Meet and Greet: Robin Lee

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Tell us about yourself! 

This is my first time living outside Tennessee, and it’s wildly exciting! I got my BA in 2016 and have been working various odd jobs ever since, always holding some vague idea of graduate work in the back of my mind. During this stretch, I wrote a lot of poetry and taught creative writing in East Tennessee jails after my shifts at boutique hotels and high-end jewelry shops. The contrast was, to say the absolute least, odd.

Beyond that, I love hiking and cooking and bourbon, and I cannot wait to wander the green spaces up here.

Why did you choose Lehigh?

The emphasis Lehigh’s English Department places on social justice peaked my interest (as did the fully-funded MA). I felt, through my work with incarcerated students, the immediate connection between social justice and literature but had not exactly articulated it, let alone encountered an English department expressly committed to it. Lehigh’s is the only program that I applied to.

What is your favorite book outside your field of study? 

I think asking an English scholar for his/her favorite book is a little sadistic. That said, my favorite book that I’ve read this year is Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. It’s a lovely novel about crumbling relationships; it is also pretty damning of academic culture.

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

I’m most looking forward to growing as a writer and articulating myself better.

Do You Smell That?

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I smell something in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Do you know what it is? It’s fear. Kavanaugh, Trump, McConnell, Graham, Grassley: they reek of fear. They’re scared shitless because the structure of white male domination is crumbling before their very eyes, on their watch.  

That’s right, we are witnessing the death throes of the white male power structure. This bunch of he-man woman haters knows that even if Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, their glory days of smash and bash, grab ‘em by the pussy governance are OVER. And they are freaking the fuck out.  

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Teaching Tip Tuesdays: One Minute Feedback

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One of my favorite pedagogical tools is what I call one minute feedbacks. I shamelessly stole this tool from Lieutenant Colonel John Church, whose pedagogy I deeply admire. Through our Writing Center, I taught grammar/formatting lessons for his honors composition class as a junior and senior in college. He printed them on yellow paper (known as “yellow canaries”) and told his students to “make ‘em sing!”

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Monday Meet and Greet: Katherine McCaffery

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Tell us about yourself! 

Well, I majored in English and Spanish and minored in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Dayton. I am originally from Memphis, TN (which means I’m likely severely underprepared for the winter). My academic interests include medieval and 18th century literature, feminist and queer theory, women writers, and feminist post-Franco Spanish literature. Looking forward, I’m interested in learning more about postcolonial studies, Early Modern literature, and writing pedagogy. Some Fun Facts: I have a dog named Grasshopper; I had a hermit crab named Hermione, but he passed away when I was 13; I could eat breakfast food for every meal; and, I can do a cartwheel.

Why did you choose Lehigh?

I chose Lehigh because it was the best fit for my academic interests as well as my personal situation. I needed to be able to afford graduate school without accruing more loans, and I was really interested in the opportunity to teach for both years (in most programs I applied to, students would only get one year of teaching experience). Additionally, I heard great things about the program from previous graduates, and I felt drawn to the Literature and Social Justice aspect of the graduate program.

What is your favorite book outside your field of study? 

The Hours by Michael Cunningham: While not totally outside my field of study, I really love what Cunningham does in this novel. He folds Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway into a narrative about three women’s lives (one is Woolf herself), and the prose is exceptional.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: This book is written like a poem. It’s powerful and tragic and meaningful; it’s truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: So I study Jane Austen, but I loved this book before I knew anything about the author, which is why it’s on this list. P&P is a major reason why I’m here today, as it fostered my love of reading as a teenager. My first copy is quite literally falling apart from overuse.

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

I’m really excited just to be in a space where I can focus all of my attention on teaching and learning. I am looking forward to getting to know the faculty and grad students in the English department more; they all seem so nice and so interesting, and I am really eager to learn from them.

Lead the Summer Reading Discussion

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Literature & Social Justice

In the flurry of emails I received as a new graduate student this summer, I took notice of one request in particular. The Office of Student Affairs and the staff of the First-Year Experience were recruiting volunteers to be a Summer Reading Discussion leader for fall orientation. I was anxious to take advantage of as much as I could while working toward my PhD and thought that this experience would be good practice before the stepping into a classroom of my own.

9780393249248Part of the new student orientation since 2003, the Summer Reading Program encourages incoming students to take part in a community reading experience. Each year a new title is selected by a committee made up of faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students, with the goal of “engag[ing] the entire Lehigh community in discussions around a theme of contemporary interest and concern.” This year’s selection, No Apparent Distress by Rachael Pearson, M.D, will also be discussed in Critical Reading and Composition (ENGL 001), giving the students who participate a head start on their reading for the semester.

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Monday Meet and Greet: Ashlee Simon

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Simon

Tell us about yourself! 

My name is Ashlee Simon. I was born and raised in Southern California and received my bachelor’s degree in June 2017 from the University of California, Riverside. My parents live on a farm in Norco, Horsetown U.S.A. where my mom owns and shows myotonic (fainting) goats. She’s currently working on setting up a “goat yoga” business. Stay tuned for updates on that one…

Why did you choose Lehigh?

As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work on a thesis surrounding the instability of medicinal substances. I’m very eager to learn more about the medical humanities, and Lehigh is a wonderful place for me to continue to develop that knowledge.

What is your favorite book outside your field of study?

I highly recommend “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Greatest Drinks” by Amy Stewart. Other than that, my “fun” reads tend to dwell in the world of historical fiction – especially concerning European monarchy.

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

I’m so excited to get back into the classroom! It’s been a long year off…

“We were very tired, we were very merry”: Reflections on the Lehigh alLUsions Program

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This past August, I had the pleasure of leading nine incoming first-year students and three undergraduate student leaders through the alLUsions program. alLUsions began six years ago when two former graduate students in the department wanted to find intentional ways to build bridges with undergraduate students. The idea was simple: invite incoming students to move in early and use writing as a tool to build community and unleash creativity before they began their college careers. By writing at home, in the city, and in the country, students would, hopefully, begin to discover the world and, more importantly, themselves.

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