On Thursday, Jan. 21 the Department of English at the College hosted an event commemorating the written work of its faculty. Held in the Alumni Center of the School of Education, Health and Human Performance, the event featured readings and presentations of four faculty members, each celebrating the recent publication of their work.
The four honored were Dr. Colleen Glenn, co-editor and contributor to “Star Bodies and the Erotics of Suffering,” Myra Seaman, co-editor of and contributor to “Dark Chaucer: An Assortment,” Kelly Owen, author of novel “The College Chronicles: Freshman Milestones” and Professor John Warner, author of short story collection “Tough Day for the Army.”
A short introduction was given by Professor Bret Lott, thanking members of the English department as well as those in attendance. Dr. John Bruns first introduced colleague and friend Dr. Colleen Glenn, highlighting her accomplishments and her work focused on the trauma of soldiers, particularly a post-World War II Jimmy Stewart. Dr. Glenn then gave some background information on her book, co-edited by Rebecca Bell Metereau. The work looks at the careers of 14 distinct Hollywood stars following a period of emotional trauma or suffering.
Glenn noted that the book featured a wide range of actors, from the Studio era to contemporary Hollywood. Classics like Rock Hudson and Rita Hayworth are examined alongside newer stars like Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day Lewis.
She read from a section centering on Mickey Rourke, calling the star “simply interesting.” Rourke left acting to pursue a career as a professional boxer in the 1990s, having already achieved acclaim in Hollywood.
After his retirement from boxing in 1994, a dramatic change in appearance and a string of film flops, Rourke came back into the mainstream in 2008, starring in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.” Glenn explained that the film acted almost as a biopic, exploring the life of a deteriorating entertainer entering the twilight years of his life. “’Hollywood is an unforgiving place,’” Glenn said, quoting Rourke.
Up next was Kelly Owen, who introduced her novel “The College Chronicles: Freshman Milestones,” the first in a series of four books published by Boxer Publishing.
A fictional account based on the experiences of Owen — both as an undergrad at the University of South Carolina as well as a grad student and professor at the College — the novel centers on Cadence Cooper as she navigates freshman year at a fictional Charleston university.
Owen retold how the inspiration for the book came after giving her students an essay assignment and instructing them to “skip lines.” Having seen a particular student write and underline the instructions on the back of her hand, Owen immediately began to work on the novel’s first paragraph. “It’s [always important] to skip lines and leave space in-between,” Owen said. “Time to reflect, time to breathe.”
Next was Dr. Myra Seaman, who discussed her book “Dark Chaucer,” which was published by Punctum Books and co-edited by Eileen Joy and Nicola Masciandaro.
Centering on the works of 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer, Seaman noted that his popularity in modern times tends to be attributed to his work as a comic author. This label, in Seaman’s view, does not fully represent his writing.
“There’s a lot of darkness in Chaucer,” she said.
She referred to the themes of horror and violence in Chaucer’s writing. He frequently employed motifs like madness, emotional extremes, death and the precolonial perception of race.
Finally, Professor John Warner discussed his book of short stories “A Tough Day for the Army.” Warner has an eclectic array of experiences, in both fiction and nonfiction. He has written for publications such as the Chicago Tribune and Inside Higher Ed. He also serves as the editor for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
Warner described his writing method as having multiple modes of writing, one of which as coming up with different what if scenarios. Warner described himself as a writer as “velcro, having picked up a lot.”
Warner then read a section of his book entitled “My Dog and Me,” a humorous account centering on the acquisition and companionship of his dog, Oscar. Warner went into detail as he satirically brought up works like “Marley and Me” in relation to his story.
A short Q&A session was then held at the conclusion of the event, closing out the night’s festivities.