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The First Book Institute

Applications for the inaugural First Book Institute are due February 18, 2013.

Scholars who are at work on their first book and who hold a PhD and a tenure track position or postdoctoral fellowship are invited to apply for the week long First Book Institute, June 10-14, 2013, directed by Sean Goudie and Priscilla Wald. The Institute will feature workshops and presentations aimed at assisting participants in transforming their book projects into ones that promise to make the most significant impact possible on the field and thus land them a publishing contract with a top university press.

More information about the First Book Institute can be found here.

Marathon Reading of Catch-22

The Penn State community participated in a 24-hour long marathon reading of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22, co-sponsored by CALS.

On Thursday, September 13, the Center for American Literary Studies co-sponsored a Marathon Read of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 (other co-sponsors included the College of the Liberal Arts, the University Libraries, the Department of English, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Paterno Fellows Program, and the Center for Democratic Deliberation). For twenty-four hours, students, faculty, staff, and community members took turns reading five-minute sections of the book aloud. The tent filled for the kickoff reader, Sue Paterno, and a devoted crowd remained throughout the night.

Catch 22 was a fitting subject for the Marathon Read, as Joseph Heller began writing the book while he was an instructor at Penn State. A sign celebrating his work, along with the work of Penn State novelist John Barth, can be found outside of Burrowes building on campus.

Part of the event's purpose was to unite two parts of the campus not always viewed as working in harmony--athletics and academics. "Proud to Celebrate Penn State Academics" signs hung alongside the already present "Proud to Support Penn State Football" signs," reminding viewers that the university is both academic and athletic, a site of many great things.

The event opened with an illustrious group of Penn State readers--after Sue Paterno kicked the event off, she was closely followed by Dean Susan Welch and Penn State women's volleyball coach Russ Rose. Throughout the event's two days, the reading continued to feature an eclectic mix of professors, administrators, coaches, graduate students, student athletes (including members of the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the women's volleyball team), undergraduates, and community members. This variety of voices propelled the event forward for twenty-four hours of readings.

Upon hearing about the event, the first reaction of many people I spoke to was to ask, "Why?" Why on earth would you set up a tent in the middle of campus for two days to read Joseph Heller aloud? But the event--the hundreds of readers, the much larger number of passersby and listeners, the people walking through town during the event and after wearing "I read, Did you?" commemorative t-shirts, the space in which indeed we could celebrate literature and academics out loud--seemed to speak for itself. The Marathon Reading served to remind us of the power of public literature, of the moment in which an audience members asks "What is this?" and then "Can I read?." Now, the only question is what to read next year...

View Event Photos

Turn, Turn, Turn Podcast Now Available

Poster for Turn SymposiumThe podcast recording of Turn, Turn, Turn: A CALS Symposium, is now available on iTunes by clicking here. Listen and enjoy!

More About Turn, Turn, Turn

Spotlight: Graduate Students

Bob Volpicelli and Katie Owens, recent graduate student recipients of CALS funding, report on their successes.

Every year, the Center for American Literary Studies awards a number of grants and fellowships to various Penn State graduate students.

Robert Volpicelli

Robert Volpicelli photoRobert Volpicelli was awarded funding for graduate travel to a research collection. This award allowed him to travel to the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, home of Marianne Moore's letters, papers, and a reconstruction of the famous living room of her apartment in Greenwich Village. His research resulted in the article, “Against Things: the At-Home Objects of Marianne Moore,” forthcoming in Twentieth-Century Literature.

Katie Owens-Murphy

Katie Owens-Murphy photoWhile Volpicelli's award granted him the space to travel in order to better examine Marianne Moore's spaces, the award granted to Katie Owens-Murphy, the recipient of the 2012 Summer Graduate Fellowship, gave Owens-Murphy the gift of time. She was able to spend the summer finishing her dissertation project, “Lyrical Strategies: The Poetics of Fiction in the 20th Century American Novel.” She writes that the project "takes a comparative approach to genre by examining twentieth-century American novels in relation to the lyric, rather than the narrative, tradition. I argue that many novelists from this period abandon the defining characteristics of narrative fiction for rhetorical aims that we typically associate with lyric poetry-- structural repetition, rhythm, figurative meaning, dramatic personae, and apostrophe." Thanks to the Summer Graduate Fellowship, Owens-Murphy defended her dissertation in the early fall and is currently on the job market.

Learn More About Graduate Funding

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