Widener English

The English Department at Widener University

Smart Barker Holiday Single

Please enjoy our new holiday single, “Los Pantalones de Navidad,” inspired by the heartwarming traditional tale of the Christmas pants. Check it out at iTunes—only 99¢! Also available for download at Amazon—same low price!

via Smart Barker Holiday Single — Daniel Armstrong Robinson

Widener Students Take On FUSE

Every year, students from our English and Creative Writing program attend the national conference for the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE).  Regular readers may recall that last year Widener had the privilege of hosting the annual gathering.

This year, Kelsey Styles, Emma Irving, and Jennifer Rohrbach headed out to Bowling Green with Professor Michael Cocchiarale to share their work on our campus publications—Widener InkThe Blue RouteChester Magazine, and The Blue & Gold—and participate in discussions focused on the conference theme of literary citizenship.

We’re happy to link out to The Blue Route and share their reflections on this meaningful event.  Here’s a preview from Jennifer Rohrbach:

It was inspiring to realize that there is a community of writers and editors out there in the world who are as enthusiastic about literature as I am, and who are dedicated to instilling that enthusiasm within others to further cultivate literary citizenship.

Want to read more?  Head over to The Blue Route.

New Publication from Faculty Member and Local Author Melissa Mowday

We are pleased to announce a new book from Widener English faculty member and local 9781467123822author, Melissa Mowday.  West Chester, in Arcadia Publishing‘s Images of Modern America series, is a photographic tour of this historic town; Mowday co-authored the book with her father, Bruce Mowday.

Melissa will be signing books at the Devon Barnes & Noble on December 18th at noon—stop by and congratulate her!

Senior Seminar 2016: James Joyce’s Ulysses

The subject of this year’s Senior Seminar, directed by Professor Janine Utell, is James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses. In accordance with our tradition, Professor Utell, on September 29, presented the annual Fall Faculty Lecture on “James Joyce and Divorce Law,” which is related to her essay “Criminal Conversation: Marriage, Adultery, and the Law in Joyce’s Work,” forthcoming in an edited collection on James Joyce and the law later this year from University of Florida Press. Professor Utell’s lecture addressed late 19th- and early 20th-century adultery laws in relation to not only Joyce’s Ulysses but also his posthumously published Giacomo Joyce and his story “A Painful Case,” from Dubliners.

Professor Utell speaking on divorce in Joyce’s work.

On October 14, the seniors had the opportunity to visit the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, where they viewed pages from Joyce’s manuscript of Ulysses, issues of the serial publication and a first edition. Librarian Elizabeth Fuller discussed with the students the composition and publication history of Ulysses and provided some anecdotes about the Rosenbach brothers who founded the institution. Professor Utell has a longstanding relationship with the Rosenbach, having coordinated the annual Bloomsday event from 2005 to 2007.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, the English Department will host Temple University English literature Ph.D. candidate Ted Howell for a public lecture on how scientific discourse informs cultural production and expression in literary works.

Howell is also working on a dissertation about modernist fiction, early ecology and vitalist philosophy, which features a chapter on Joyce developed from material presented at three James Joyce conferences. He currently teaches in the Department of Writing Arts at Rowan University and leads a reading group on Ulysses at the Rosenbach. His course at Temple University on climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ashley DiRienzo and Elizabeth Fuller at the Rosenbach

The Nov. 2 lecture by Howell will take place in Room A of the University Center from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. All are welcome.

Daniel Robinson Honored with University Outstanding Researcher Award

We take the greatest pleasure in sharing the news that Professor Daniel Robinson has been honored with the University Outstanding Researcher Award.  Faithful readers of our blog will know that Professor Robinson has undertaken a robust and internationally-recognized research 9780199662128_450agenda on the poetry of the Romantic period, including his current project of editing a major new anthology on the subject for Bloomsbury.

Kim, Emma, Victoria, Bill, Amanda, and Jeannie in the reading room of the Jerwood Centre.
Kim, Taylor, Emma, Victoria, Bill, Amanda, and Jeannie in the reading room of the Jerwood Centre.

Professor Robinson has also involved students in his research through the program he has developed for Widener English in Textual Scholarship.  Undergraduates at Widener have a unique opportunity to work with original manuscripts at the Jerwood Centre in Grasmere, England, supported and advised by Professor Robinson.

This award is highly competitive, with nominees evaluated by a distinguished panel of outside reviewers.  We are incredibly proud of Professor Robinson, and grateful for all he does for our students!

Professor Robinson with students Ashley DiRienzo (l) and Taylor Brown (r) at the awards ceremony on Thursday night.
Professor Robinson with students Ashley DiRienzo (l) and Taylor Brown (r) at the awards ceremony on Thursday night.

Prizes and New Publications for Ken Pobo

We are beyond proud to announce a banner week for Professor Pobo!

  • Circling Rivers Press has accepted Loplop in a Red City, a collection of ekphrastic poems, due to be published in Spring 2017
  • Grey Borders has announced Professor Pobo as the winner of their Wanted Works chapbook contest; they will be publishing Dust and Chrysanthemums
  • Encircle Publications has announced they will be publishing Professor Pobo’s chapbook Calligraphy with Ball in March 2017

Congratulations, Professor Pobo!


Welcome Back and Happy Fall Semester!

Welcome back from Widener English and Creative Writing!

Our faculty and students had a busy summer traveling, writing, presenting, and publishing.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Daniel Robinson, along with senior English majors Ashley DiRienzo and Taylor Brown, presented at the Wordsworth Summer Conference in August
  • Janine Utell presented at a conference on Letters and Letter Writing at Oxford University
  • Michael Cocchiarale presented at a symposium in Chicago on sports and civic identity sponsored by the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature
  • Mark Graybill presented at the annual conference for the American Literature Association in San Francisco
  • Ken Pobo won the LGBTQ Flash Fiction Contest at Sweater Weather Magazine (read here!), and had work published at Quail Bell Magazine (read here!) and GFT Press (read here!), among others
  • Kelly Helm published a piece with the Naval Historical Foundation on Godzilla and the Bikini Atoll (read here!)

Now that the fall semester is up and running, make sure you add these dates to your calendar:

  • 9/14 at noon: Welcome Back Pizza Party for English/Creative Writing majors and minors in LC 339
  • 9/15 at 7pm: State Street Reading Series at the Media Arts Center Gallery
  • 9/21 at 4pm: Lecture by Martin Holt, visiting professor from Greifswald, Germany, in Freedom Hall Theater
  • 9/22 at 7pm: Open Mic (in honor of Susan Hastie) in LC 1
  • 9/26 at 3:30pm: Fall Faculty Lecture by Dr. Utell in UC Room G

Hope to see you out at these events!  Stop by and say hi, or get in touch with news!

Literature and the Environment and Linvalla

This is a guest post by Professor Tara Friedman, Senior Lecturer in English.  Professor Friedman is ABD at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; she teaches a wide range of courses in Widener’s English department, and specializes in American literature.  

On Tuesday, May 2, I had the opportunity to bring 32 students, all of whom were enrolled in English 124: Literature and Environment, to Linvilla Orchards thanks in part to a Faculty Mini-Grant. These students participated in a Hayride Tour geared toward the topics of sustainable agriculture, deep ecology, and the history of farming and its practices in Pennsylvania.


After the tour, students took part in a Q&A while making their own biodegradable lettuce pots and sampling apples and cider from the orchards. They were then asked to each write a 1-2-page SOA (Summary, Observation, and Analysis) essay connecting what they learned at Linvilla Orchards to our class. It was such a joy to have students engage with the natural world outside of the classroom and our course readings – they didn’t even mind the light drizzle!


Editor’s Note:

ENGL 124 is offered regularly in the fall and spring.  Here is the course description:

The literary imagination has depicted the natural world in varied ways—as untamed wilderness, pastoral ideal, scenic and sublime landscapes, and the damaged and threatened environment of industrialized society.  Whenever human impact on the non-human environment has changed, authors have continued re-imagining nature’s significance and rethinking relationships between environment, self, and society.  In this course, students explore how the natural environment gets mythologized, celebrated, altered, lost, lamented, and recovered in works of classic and contemporary literature.  The course investigates the work of nature writing as a genre—its common tropes, archetypes, and aesthetic strategies.  Students use literary interpretation as a lens for seeing and reflecting on a range of environmental issues such as sustainability, ecology, urbanization, pollution, overpopulation, consumerism, tourism, climate change, animal rights, and land stewardship.  They are also asked to situate their own experience of nature into environmental discourse.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The second-to-last week of the spring semester is one of the most joyful and rewarding times of the academic year.  This is when we celebrate the academic excellence of our English and Creative Writing students, when we recognize the commitment, passion, and accomplishments of those students and their faculty.

On Wednesday, we gathered in the Drost Room of Wolfgram Library to hear senior Creative Writing majors (and a minor) read from their portfolios:  the culmination of a semester-long senior seminar, and of four years’ worth of writing and revising.  Megan Lewis read from a series of episodic flash fiction pieces, and Sierra Offutt read from the first chapter of her YA novel in progress.  Minor Monica Colwell (who is a Political Science major) read a creative nonfiction piece about a moving encounter with an Alzheimer’s patient.  The students were advised by Professor Ken Pobo, who opened the event with a generous introduction and facilitated a post-reading Q & A about the students’ aesthetics.

l-r: Professor Ken Pobo, Monica Colwell, Megan Lewis, Sierra Offutt
l-r: Professor Ken Pobo, Monica Colwell, Megan Lewis, Sierra Offutt

Then, on Thursday evening, Humanities faculty gathered with students and their families for the annual Humanities Awards Ceremony.  This wonderful event, organized by the Committee on Recruitment and Retention and the Office of the Associate Dean, recognizes students with majors in the Humanities Division who have achieved a cumulative average of 3.5 or higher.  Nicole Crossey, a double History/Political Science major, gave the Distinguished Graduating Senior remarks, sharing reflections on how the study of History can help us understand our own turbulent times.  The Featured Alumni Speaker, Daniel DiPrinzio (’00), offered humorous and generous comments on the possibilities Humanities students can look forward to after graduation.  DiPrinzio, who is Director of Communications at Arcadia University and the author of several books, is well-positioned to share thoughts on success.

We were also pleased to present the two special awards given at the Humanities Awards Ceremony:  the winner of this year’s Allison Roelofs Award, given to an excellent early-career English major, was Emma Irving, and the winner of this year’s inaugural Justinian Society Award, given to a Humanities senior who plans to attend law school, was Christopher Ross, a History major.

Dan DiPrinzio and senior English major Christian Scittina, who introduced our speaker
Dan DiPrinzio and senior English major Christian Scittina, who introduced our speaker
Emma Irving, recipient of this year’s Allison Roelofs Award, and Professor Michael Cocchiarale, Co-Director of Creative Writing and Chair of the Humanities Recruitment and Retention Committee

Finally, today we celebrate Student Project Day, the annual showcase of undergraduate research.  Students working with Professor Daniel Robinson in Textual Scholarship shared their study of the history, theory, and practice of textual editing, their work preparing a text of William Wordsworth’s two-part Prelude, and their time at the Wordsworth Trust over spring break.  The students closed their presentation by reflecting on how much their work in English and Creative Writing means to them — we couldn’t agree more!


Professor Robinson introduces the Textual Scholarship students
Professor Robinson introduces the Textual Scholarship students
l-r: Ashley DiRienzo, Kimberlee Roberts, Emma Irving, Victoria Giansante, Jeannie McGuire, Taylor Brown
l-r: Ashley DiRienzo, Kimberlee Roberts, Emma Irving, Victoria Giansante, Jeannie McGuire, Taylor Brown


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