Tag Archives: writing

Books Acquired Recently

McPhee, John. Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. 2017. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.

I received a free copy of this book for filling out an online survey for the publisher. Hurray for free books!

Swarstad Johnson, Julie. Jumping the Pit. Georgetown, KY: Finishing Line Press, 2015.

I just recently read Swarstad Johnson’s full-length collection, Pennsylvania Furnace, and enjoyed it, so I decided to buy her first chapbook. She has another chapbook coming out later this year.

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Sabbatical Productivity: January

I am on sabbatical this semester and have been keeping a list in my journal of the academic activities I engage in. This practice is partly for myself so that I make sure I am using the time productively and partly for my institution, which requires me to write a report about the sabbatical once it finishes. Here is a list of what I accomplished in January (along with the end of December after the Fall semester ended), generally in chronological order.

1. Wrote and submitted an invited abstract for a possible issue of Political Theology on Mennonite political theology.

2. Accepted an invitation to write an essay for a collection about new “Anabaptist Visions” and sent the editor a rough proposal for the essay’s topic.

3. Wrote and submitted an abstract for the 2020 Mennonite/s Writing conference.

4. Wrote a rough draft of a panel proposal (link here, and see number 14) for the 2021 MLA convention on Dungeons & Dragons.

5. Typed up the senryu I wrote between mid-October and the beginning of January.

6. Worked on revising my current book project (this continued throughout the month).

7. Asked two friends to read a draft of the book project and they both accepted.

8. Attended and presented at the 2020 MLA convention and got helpful feedback on my presentation.

9. Evaluated abstracts for the 2020 Mennonite/s Writing conference and worked with another member of the organizing committee on a draft conference program. Read a few late abstracts throughout the month.

10. Updated the Mennonite/s Writing in the U.S. Bibliography.

11. Compiled a list of authors who have published books with Pinchpenny Press (including myself!) who are currently involved in the Mennonite literary scene for the upcoming Pinchpenny anniversary celebration.

12. Emailed a fellow Mennonite literary critic working on a paper about David Bergen, who I have written about (see section 3).

13. Began prepping a new course for the Fall 2020 semester, Latinx Literature.

14. Talked with a colleague about co-facilitating the 2021 MLA convention panel on Dungeons & Dragons mentioned in number 4, agreed to do so, and submitted the Call for Papers.

15. Looked at other 2021 MLA CFPs and made notes on which panels I might want to submit abstracts to.

 

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Books Acquired Recently

Camp Deerpark. Forever God is Faithful: The Story of Camp Deerpark. Westbrookville, NY: Camp Deerpark/Morgantown, PA: Masthof Press, 2019.

Camp Deerpark is a camp owned by the New York City Mennonite churches. I spent lots of time there as a kid because my parents have always been heavily involved with it (my mom was the director for a few years). This year is its fiftieth anniversary, so, in true Mennonite archival fever fashion, it has published a book to commemorate the occasion. My parents sent me a copy in the mail which I look forward to reading.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

I have shifted away from using MLA style in my scholarship since the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook came out because it is clearly geared toward students rather than scholars. I’ve been using Chicago style instead, and finally decided to break down and buy the seventeenth edition. I purchased it and Gundy’s book from amazon.com.

Gundy, Jeff. Without a Plea. Huron, OH: Bottom Dog Press, 2019.

I bought this book, Gundy’s latest poetry collection, as soon as it came out last month. I have already read it and it is a fascinating, thought-provoking work, definitely ranking in the top half of his poetry books.

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Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

The new semester begins on Monday. Over the past few months I have received desk copies of the following books for my courses (note that not all of the books I will be teaching are represented here).

For Written Communication II:

Darms, Lisa, ed. The Riot Grrrl Collection. New York: Feminist Press, 2013.

Heti, Sheila, et al. Women in Clothes. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2014.

This book is always a hit with students and is one of my favorite books ever. Everyone should read it.

For Introduction to Literature:

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. 1996. New York: W.W. Norton, 2018.

Rivera, Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. Riverdale, NY: Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016.

Samatar, Sofia. Tender: Stories. Easthampton, MA: Small Beer Press, 2017.

Schakel, Peter, and Jack Ridl, eds. 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.

I love poetry but it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to learn how to teach it effectively. Now that I do, I have made it a goal to assign a poetry anthology in all of my literature classes.

For American Writers After 1865:

Dove, Rita, ed. The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry. 2011. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

 

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Queering Mennonite Literature: Archiving, Activism, and the Search for Community

I am excited to announce that my book Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community has just been released by Penn State University Press!

Though the terms “queer” and “Mennonite” rarely come into theoretical or cultural contact, over the last several decades writers and scholars in the United States and Canada have built a body of queer Mennonite literature that shifts these identities into conversation. I bring this growing genre into a critical focus, bridging the gaps between queer theory, literary criticism, and Mennonite literature.

My analysis focuses on recent Mennonite-authored literary texts that espouse queer theoretical principles, including work by Christina Penner, Wes Funk, Jan Guenther Braun, Jessica Penner, Stephen Beachy, Corey Redekop, Casey Plett, Miriam Suzanne, and Sofia Samatar. Their books argue for the existence of a “queer Mennonite” identity on the basis of shared values: a commitment to social justice, a rejection of binaries, the importance of creative approaches to conflict resolution, and the practice of mutual aid, especially in resisting oppression. The book encourages those engaging with both Mennonite studies and queer studies to explore the opportunity for conversation and overlap between the two fields.

By arguing for engagement between these two identities and highlighting the aspects of Mennonitism that are inherently “queer,” the book gives much-needed attention to an emerging subfield of Mennonite literature. It makes a new and important intervention into the fields of queer theory, literary studies, Mennonite studies, and religious studies.

You can find Queering Mennonite Literature on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-27-108245-5.html. You can get 30% off by using the code NR18. Please ask your local libraries, whether institutional or public, to order a copy.

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My Article in the New York Times

About a month ago I was contacted by an editor from the New York Times who asked whether I would be interested in writing an article to accompany a photo essay about Mennonites in Belize. I said yes, and the article was published today. You can read it here.

Aside from several pieces in the Goshen College Record when I was in college, this is the first time I have written for a newspaper, and it was an interesting experience. I had to think about a very different kind of question when writing for a general audience than when writing for a scholarly one. It is also fascinating to me that the online headline, “A Simple Life,” is different from the one in the print edition, “Mennonites in Belize.” I am grateful to have had this opportunity to grow as a writer.

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Queer Mennonite Literature Special Issue

The issue of the Journal of Mennonite Writing that I guest-edited on Queer Mennonite Literature is now out, and you can access it free here. It includes work by nine writers across the genres of poetry, fiction, personal essay, photography, and academic essay. Check it out!

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