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A Publication of UC Irvine School of Humanities • Winter 2012

Shards Rise: Notes from the Graduate Programs In Writing Founded in 1965 by Howard Babb, The Programs In Writing in the Department of English at UC Irvine is going on forty seven years old, and its students continue to bring acclaim to its name, but even more important, students, after admission, arrive ready to work assiduously, and to bring a depth of perception to the craft of writing. The Programs In Writing is as proud of the culture of community and cloister and endeavor that it has created and preserved, as it is of the world’s broader imprimatur, publication. A look inside the seminar room where the writers discuss the work before them is not an interesting thing, except to the players. It isn’t a movie set or a painter’s studio or even a rehearsal hall. It is a table with twelve writers

talking deeply about one of the oldest things: the way writing works. The issues before them are big and small, and the discussion ferrets into corners and roams across the landscape, some of it about the very center of literary art, some of it about the elements of craft. The writer’s story or poem is on the table in the old perfect format of ink on paper, and it has been read and reread, and the writers arrive in the room ready to find something out in a rich discussion, something that has not been in the daylight before. Omnipresent is the absolute attention they’re all giving the manuscript before them. Three hours later, they will have talked about two or three poems or two stories. The writing isn’t easy and the reading is not easy,

though the pleasures are great. It is the kind of discussion around which universities are built, and it is the kind of discussion that addresses the layered complexities of language and being human. The mission of the writers in the Programs In Writing is to make their work as true and powerful and tender and humorous and challenging and credible and confrontational and honest as they can, and in doing that also gain and develop the character and the skills necessary to carry forward their lives as artists. Two of the first principles of the Program’s design were that it never be advertised, as to do so was

The writing isn’t easy and the reading is not easy, though the pleasures are great. It is the kind of discussion around which universities are built, and it is the kind of discussion that addresses the layered complexities of language and being human.

to appear as though writers could be made or certified. To date, the Programs In Writing’s reputation rests solely on what its writers have created, not on institutional claims. The other principle, perhaps more an ethical stipulation, was that its writers not leave the Program with debt, as writers stood little chance of being able to pay off loans within a reasonable number of years. Though graduate students are all teaching assistants, for which duties they receive a small stipend, due to increased student fees and out-sourced housing which is more costly, this, unfortunately, is no longer true.

writing is as different from eachother as it could be, some serious, some comic, some traditional, some modern, some historical, some ironic, some post-modern, but the thing they have in common is the significant respect for the work, and that is reflected in the quality of the yearlong discussion. Meeting every week in the fall with Latiolais and then a visiting writer in the winter quarter, this year Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside, and then with Professor Ron Carlson in the spring, the writers roll up their sleeves and speak about the fiction before them.

Professor Michelle Latiolais, (whose most recent book is the collection of stories Widow) directs the fiction workshop every fall, setting the tone for the year to come. There are six first-year writers who join six second-year writers. Their

The twelve poets meet with Professor James McMichael every fall, a visiting writer in the winter, this year Doreen Gildroy, author of The Little Field of Self and Human Love, and then Professor Michael Ryan in the spring.

The Programs In Writing is hiring a poet this year as after spending forty-five years at UC Irvine, almost as long as the program has been in existence, Professor McMichael is retiring. The UCI Programs In Writing continues to be one of the top writing programs in the country, attracting hundreds of applications every year for the places at the table. Some recent notes and suggested titles for the bookshelf:

Forthcoming in 2012 are a collection of short stories by L. Annette Binder titled Rise, which won the Mary McCarthy Prize at Sarabande Press. Lisa Binder’s story “Nephelim” was published by One Story and received a Pushcart Prize, and her story “Sea of Tranquility” won second place in the American Short Fiction Contest judged by Wells Tower. It will be published in American Short Fiction. Ramona Ausubel’s novel No One Is Here Except All Of Us will be published by Riverhead Books this spring, 2012, and her collection of short stories is also under contract to Riverhead Books and will be released in 2013. Mona’s story “Atria” was published in the April 4, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. Belle Boggs’ collection Mattaponi Queen was awarded the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction in 2011. The award honors the best work by a Virginia author. James Zwerneman was awarded the Henfield Prize, recently established at UC Irvine in the Programs In Writing by a $300,000 endowment from the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation. His story “Horse and Rider Thrown into the Sea” was published by One Story, issue #153, in August 2011.

Recent books by students and alumni of the Programs in Writing

Shards by Ismet Prcic was published by Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic in 2011, and received an immensely favorable review in The New York Times on October 21, 2011. Shards was a finalist for the 2011 FlahertyDunnan First Novel Prize given by the Center for Fiction in New York City. Ryan Ridge’s collection Hunters and Gamblers was published by Dark Sky Books in September 2011, and his long short story “Ox” was published by BatCat in a numbered, handbound limited edition. His novel, American Homes, an excerpt of which took second place in the 6th Annual Italo Calvino Prize, will be published in 2013 by Mud Luscious Press.

Small Porcelain Head, Allison Benis White’s second collection of poems, won the 2011 Four Way Books’ Levis Prize. White’s first poetry collection, Self-Portrait with Crayon, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. Several writers, long out of the Program, published books this last year. Michael Jaime-Becerra’s novel This Time Tomorrow won first place at the International Latino book Awards in the Adventure/Drama in English category. Louis B. Jones’ fourth novel, Radiance was published by Counterpoint, as was James Brown’s This River: A Memoir. Ron Carlson, Director of the Programs In Writing in fiction, will publish Room Service, a collection of poems this coming spring with Red Hen Press.


Undertaking She had to wash away the black silt worked into his pores, into the wrinkles around his eyes that made him look older than his 47 years. She walked his naked length on the table at her waist where she kneaded dough, where she told the men to place him. She had given them the children and made them all leave. She took her time. By lantern-light, she washed each finger, cleaning underneath the nail with a splinter sheathed in cotton. She started once to wrap him in a blanket. He was so cold. She found a mole on his hip she never knew was there. I thought he would have liked to have her find the mole like this when he was still alive.

The way it’s done now, they make her leave the room, leave the body with a stranger who zips it up in a plastic bag, tags it like a specimen, puts this warm sweet body in a drawer. They let a stranger handle you that one last time. They would have to drug me. They would have to drag me away. Remember how I told you that?

I said to you when the husband died,

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A Glimpse of Sylvia Reines


By Alisa Reines Cowden - September 2007


s we begin 2012, I would like to profile our amazing new colleagues. Alex Borucki, an assistant professor in history, complicates our understanding of the slave trade in the Americas, especially the development of African communities in Uruguay. His research fits squarely within the department’s strengths in the Atlantic World, Latin America, and transnational histories. A critical theorist, Nahum Chandler joins the Program in African American Studies as an associate professor. In his forthcoming book, he extends W.E.B. DuBois’s philosophical range, demonstrating his engagement with modernists on a world stage as well as presaging a postmodern turn decades before Derrida. The leading authority on Emily Dickinson, Virginia Jackson is the first holder of the UCI Chair in Rhetoric and Communication. A prize-winning author, she is completing a comprehensive study of nineteenth century American poetry, featuring works from poets as familiar as Walt Whitman and as relatively forgotten as Helen Hunt Jackson. Given my own field, I appreciate the fact that Jackson bridges literary theory and the archive, setting nineteenth century texts within their historical moments. The Department of History successfully recruited Matthias Lehmann for the Teller Family Chair in Jewish History. A scholar widely-considered the leader in Sephardic studies in North America, Lehmann explores the ways in which rabbinical literature and networks of philanthropy fostered a common identity among JudeoSpanish communities in Ottoman lands. As an example, Lehmann demonstrates how the translation of rabbinical texts into vernacular prescriptive literature served as guides for ethical behavior in a secular world. Viviane Mahieux, an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, provides a fresh perspective on the impact of the literary avant-garde on popular culture in the decades after the Mexican Revolution with her emphasis on print culture, photography, and gender. An imaginative instructor, she incorporated a service-learning component to one of her previous literature courses. Last but certainly not least, we welcome Allison Perlman, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Film and Media Studies and History. Focusing on the ways in which television influences (not reflects) American culture, she is putting the finishing touches on a book that uncovers the ways in which social movements, from the NAACP of the 1950s to the religious right of the 1990s, have shaped both media coverage and policy. I am happy to announce that the School is poised to repeat its recruitment successes with an anticipated nine

colleagues joining us this summer. Another exciting development is the creation of a new department. Colleagues affiliated with the departments of German and French and Italian have come together as the Department of European Languages and Studies. Under the intrepid leadership of Professor Gail Hart, this new department represents an invigorating intellectual synergy. Colleagues in French, Italian, and German not only continue to offer language instruction and upper division literature courses but also draw on the expertise of faculty associated with our undergraduate major in European Studies. Though the department is only onemonth old, colleagues are busy conducting a national search for an assistant professor of French. The School continues to face fiscal challenges, but we are buoyed by the outpouring of support from our community stewards. Most recently, we received two separate $50,000 gifts for the School. The first, a gift from Dr. Vahe and Armine Meghrouni in support of Armenian heritage and culture, will underwrite the popular community lecture series as well as scholarships and courses in Armenian history and literature. In the pursuit of excellence through diversity, the second from an anonymous donor launches an endowment to support an undergraduate scholarship in each of the following interdisciplinary units—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Women’s Studies as well as a fellowship for a graduate student in Culture and Theory. We thank all of our community ambassadors for their support, encouragement, and most of all, trust. With my very best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012. Sinceramente,

Vicki L. Ruiz, Dean

Visit the School of Humanities online at for up to the minute news on events, faculty, students, and general happenings in the school.

BOOKSHELF In The Jaguar, the 19th novel by T. Jefferson Parker ‘76, Charlie Hood returns to help a fellow deputy in the L.A. sheriff ’s department, whose pregnant wife has been kidnapped by the head of a powerful drug cartel. Amid the ancient beauty of the Yucatecan lowlands, the long-simmering rivalry between these two men will be brought to an explosive conclusion.

I Was Building Up to Something is the first collection of poetry from Susan Davis, director of the Undergraduate Emphasis in Creative Writing at UCI. Her work reflects her birth in Louisiana, childhood in upstate New York and stints in Texas and Alaska. Davis’ poetry is filled with crisp narratives, clarity of emotion and distinct images, Robert Pinsky, former U.S. poet laureate, likens her poems to “the indelible yet understated quality of certain great photographs.” In The Barbarian Nurseries 1995 Programs in Writing alum Héctor Tobar tells a tale of modern Southern California. Araceli is a live-in maid in a tony Orange County suburb. After her employers disappear, she takes their two boys on a journey through Los Angeles to find their grandfather. Dinah Lenney of The Washington Post wrote, “[Tobar] explores the boundaries that bind and divide families, neighborhoods and Southern Californians; this time, to darkly hilarious and moving effect.”

Poetry continued... Purity April brings Santa Ana winds and babies. I can’t keep up watering, rescuing. A mallard passed on the sidewalk this morning, her twelve babies out behind like a kite’s tail. A following boy came to my door for advice. I said, Don’t touch them. Stop traffic so she can cross. She will lead them to the park. Tonight on my walk, there are peeps from a man’s garage. I knock on his door. She killed the rest, he says, when we set them down on the other side. What duck wants a baby that smells like a boy? Asleep in the street like a brooding football she perfects her violence to make sure they stay entirely duck.

Susan Davis is director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Emphasis at UCI. Her collection of poems, I Was Building Up To Something, was published by Moon Tide Press in 2011.


Four Questions for Julia Lupton

Lupton, professor of English & director of the Program in Jewish Studies, in conversation with Humanities staff 1) Two of your research interests are Shakespeare and design. You’ve written books on each topic separately (Thinking with Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life and Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things) but in your new project Shakespeare by Design: Objects, Affordances, and Environments you’ve tackled both. Shakespeare and design seem like subjects that are worlds apart. How did you find a way to combine the two? What can readers expect from this book? Lupton: Contemporary designers are jacks of all trades: they need to understand typography and graphics, emerging media platforms, how different spaces flow among each other, and what sustainability might be. Landscape architects, for example, are increasingly environmental engineers Julia Lupton and natural historians, concerned with water systems, air flow, way finding, and the history of place. Public buildings and public spaces increasingly combine architecture with signage and graphic design as well as experiential elements like sound and lighting. In contemporary design, life is theater, whether we are talking about the kinds of home entertainment reinvented by Martha Stewart or the display of cultures and styles in urban and retail spaces. I am interested in moments in Shakespeare’s plays where similar sensibilities seem to be at play – where a character like Juliet’s father Capulet becomes a multi-track manager of space, sound, light, and temperature, or when a character like Timon of Athens designs his funeral monument at the far edge of the beach, creating a kind of land art that marries human making to natural systems of entropy and change. I believe that Shakespeare’s plays have something to tell us

about our designed environments today, both because his world practiced low-waste forms of gardening, housekeeping and craft that are making a comeback in today’s slow food, urban farming, and DIY (do it yourself) movements, and because his countrymen were already investing in forms of industrial agriculture and global trade that have created some of the problems that we are trying to resolve through design today. 2) There must be thousands of books on Shakespeare. How do you find a fresh approach to a subject that has been written about so comprehensively? Lupton: I like to read Shakespeare with an openness to issues in our own world, like the multimedia character of designed environments, or the pressures on our contemporary experience of space exerted by global recession and climate change. If you read a famous scene like Birnmam Wood in Macbeth as a commentary on the history of forests or the role of foliage in home entertaining, new questions emerge for you as a reader and teacher. Because these are play scripts, open to being staged anew by actors, directors, and designers for new audiences, the dramas of Shakespeare are surprisingly open to this kind of creative re-reading. 3) What is it about Shakespeare that makes his work continue to resonate so powerfully with students, critics, and scholars? Lupton: In the classroom, I am increasingly focusing on the emotional dimensionality of Shakespeare’s characters. I adore Juliet’s jumpstart development, as she moves from docile daughter to courageous if foolhardy director of her own destiny. (As the mother of four adolescents, I find this play increasingly interesting to read and teach!) Unlike a novelist, though, Shakespeare builds his characters up through richly textured poetic language. Teaching students how to read Shakespeare’s poetry for an underlying emotional story is not just good literary criticism. It’s a life skill. 4) This spring Jewish Studies, in collaboration with the Department of Nursing, is holding a symposium on Judaism and Health. How did the idea for this symposium come about? What topics will be discussed at the event? Lupton: My fabulous colleague Ellen Olshansky, director of UCI’s dynamic nursing program, is, like me, also active in the local Jewish community. Ellen’s vision of integrative health care

that addresses body and soul within healthy organizations and ecologically thoughtful spaces really resonates with my interests in designs for living. Jews and medicine go way back – in the Middle Ages, medicine was one of the few occupations open to Jews (along with money lending, music, and selling used clothing!). Even today, the stereotype of the Jewish doctor remains an active one in movies and TV (the Jewish nurse less so – but don’t forget Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents!). Our one-day conference on Judaism and Health, scheduled for April 24, will feature Rabbi Elliot Dorff, an expert on Judaism and medical ethics. We will also host a panel of health professionals and rabbis who will discuss the Jewish perspective on health and wellness. We will end on an experiential note: participants can attend either a session on Jewish meditation or participate in traditional text study in the Talmudic tradition. This is a unique partnership between humanities and health sciences, and we hope it will be of interest to a broad range of people across campus and in the community, Jewish and non-Jewish.

The Philosophical Hitter

Fourth year literary journalism major Mohammed Shariff interviews philosophy professor Marcello Fiocco

Tucked away at the end of the hall in the

Humanities Office Building, which itself is tucked away on the outskirts of the Humanities quad, is philosophy professor Marcello Fiocco’s office, where everything is in its place, nothing strewn about. The black bookshelf is impeccably fitted with books, one of the many titles reads, The Order of Things. In his blue jeans and t-shirt Fiocco looks more like one of the Yankee players on the calendar fixed above his desk than a philosopher. He’s an assistant professor in the philosophy department—close to a tenure position. “This is my dream job,” he says. Fiocco was born and raised in Upstate New York, a curious child who asked atypical questions about his reality and surroundings. “Being a philosopher enables me to develop the curiosity I had as a child.” A UC alum himself, Fiocco received his Ph.D from

UC Santa Barbara and spent two years teaching in the Middle East before joining the Anteaters in the fall of 2008. “I was fortunate to get an offer from UCI,” he says. “It’s a great department, it’s a great university, and I love Southern California.” With his teaching and research focused on Metaphysics, Fiocco pursues general inquiry into the nature of reality, such as “what exists and how it exists.” He’s also interested Laura Swendson/Humanities in Epistemology, Marcello Fiocco asking questions about what we know and what is the justification for knowing these things. Made possible by a grant from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, Fiocco will have a chance to further pursue such philosophical questions this fall at the prestigious Institue Nicod in France as part of his research project, “Ontology and Intentionality: The World in Mind.” “The Institute Nicod is a very prestigious institute in Paris that houses different types of philosophers,” he says. “I’m looking forward to interacting with them all.” A constant focus on new research means Fiocco’s courses for both graduate and undergraduate students are always evolving. “All the courses are new and exciting to me because my research projects are always developing,” he says. A book about developing a systematic view of the world is on the horizon as well, with Fiocco approaching the topic by first attacking the questions of nature and time. “The nature of time relates to change, it relates to possibility, and it relates to what things are and how

Continued on page 9...


Hitter continued...

Dates, times and locations subject to change. Please visit www. for up-to-date information about Humanities events. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

they can be,” he says.

MARCH Ann Marie O’Connor on Gustav Klimt’s “The Lady in Gold” March 1, 2012 - 5:00 p.m. UCI Bookstore One of Gustav Klimt’s most celebrated paintings encapsulates a fascinating, complicated cultural history of fin-de-siècle Vienna, its Jewish intelligentsia, and their near complete destruction by the Nazis. Join author Ann-Marie O’Connor for a lively lecture and discussion. Part of the UCI Bookstore Author Series. Bridget Cooks on “Exhibiting Blackness” March 11, 2012 - 2:00 p.m. LACMA - The Brown Auditorium Associate Professor Bridget R. Cooks discusses her new book, Exhibiting Blackness. The first in-depth look at how American museums and institutions have exhibited art by African Americans, Cooks’ book analyzes the strategies, challenges, and critical receptions of the most significant exhibitions of African American art. A book signing follows the talk. APRIL Judaism and Health April 24, 2012 - 12:00 p.m. Humanities Gateway 1030 and 1010, UC Irvine Featuring Rabbi Elliot Dorff, a leading expert nationally on biomedical ethics and Jewish philosophy, and a panel on the Jewish perspective on health and wellness. The afternoon will end with break-out sessions on traditional Jewish text study and Jewish meditation. Soka Afrika - Film screening and Q&A April 26, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. McCormick Screening Room, Humanities Gateway 1070 Soka Afrika documents the lives of two young African men, each taking very different paths in pursuit of their dreams: success in professional football on the world stage. The film screening will be followed by Q&A with Alex Borucki, assistant professor in the Department of History. MAY In Search of “Alternative Imagination”: Reading the Chinese “New Left” Wednesday, May 16 , 2012 - 1:00 p.m. Humanities Gateway 1341 The Humanities Center presents a lecture by Wang Chaohua, UCI Humanities Collective Visiting Fellow, on the Chinese New Left.

His work leads to one goal—to develop a systematic view of the world. “What the world is like and how we know what it is like, and how we engage in the world,” he says. Quite the undertaking indeed but all in a day’s work for this philosophy professor whose motto might be “questions lead to questions.” But before he can tackle the complex realm of philosophy, this die hard Yankees fan has to check the latest baseball scores.

Art History makes “friends” to fund student internships T

he Department of Art History is making new friends. This past December art history alumni, students, and community members sipped wine and nibbled hors d’oeuvres at the home of art history professors Cécile Whiting and James Herbert as part of the inaugural Friends of Art History (FOAH) event. Contributing members to the newly minted FOAH will gather at quarterly events to indulge a shared passion for art history, benefitting from the community of renowned art history faculty who call the UC Irvine campus home. Whiting, who’s served as chair of art history since 2008, gave guests an overview of the program—its history, mission and the courses and student activities offered. Current faculty members introduced themselves and gave an overview of the courses they teach and their current research pursuits. Being a “friend” of art history boasts more perks than rubbing elbows with professors however; annual contributions will supplement student internships at local art museums and galleries, which are often unpaid and therefore out of the realm of possibility for students already effected by rising tuition costs. The importance of student internships in the proper training of aspiring curators and art historians is crucial to success in the field and being able to offer students with a wage ensures they don’t miss out on the opportunity. “Our goal is to raise money to fund student internships at

museums,” Whiting said. “Many of our undergraduate majors would love to intern in the many fabulous museums located in Los Angeles and Orange County, but most simply cannot afford to accept unpaid internships.” Art history major Lisa Cavin shared her experience working as an intern on Laguna Art Museum’s exhibition “Best Kept Secret,” part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative by the Getty. “My internship at the Laguna Art Museum has been a vital addition to my educational endeavors as an art history student,” Cavin said. “I was lucky enough to experience the full spectrum of preparing for one exLaura Swendson/Humanities hibition: research, planning, layout, choosing artworks, Art History faculty. Back (l to r): Bridget Cooks, James Herbert Cécile Whiting, catalogue design, and more, all up to the opening night. Shanna Kennedy-Quigley Front: (l to r): Bert Winther-Tamaki, Roberta Wue, Alka Patel Doing research for the exhibition has expanded my knowledge and interests beyond what I’ve learned in the classroom. Meeting artists, making connections, and learning about career paths with hands-on experience has been invaluable to my future career plans.” The inspiration for the FOAH came after a retirement party last spring for Anna Gonosova, now professor emeritus of art history. The department reached out to former students and invited them to attend the party. “The enthusiastic presence of so many former art history majors at the retirement party made me realize how many alumni live locally and maintain a deep passion for art history,” Whiting said. Whiting taught at UCLA earlier in her career and recalled an active group of art history alumni who organized events, hosted lectures by faculty, and donated funds to students, leading her to wonder, “Why not launch the same sort of thing at UCI?” Already FOAH is making an impact - engaging members with events that combine learning and socializing; creating new bonds between faculty, alumni and the community; and increasing support for students. “Thanks to the incredible generosity of our new members, we have raised more than $3,000 for student internships, and we plan to award three fellowships to students this spring,” Whiting said. Future events include a lecture by Professor Jim Herbert on Impressionism over café au lait and croissants on Saturday, March 10, 2012, and an evening at architect and FOAH member Warren Lortie’s art-filled home on the bay. To become a Friend of Art History, please send a check for $60 made out to the UCI Foundation to: UCI Department of Art History Attn: Cecilia Flanagan 2000 Humanities Gateway Irvine, CA 92697-2785 For further questions about FOAH contact Cecelia Flanagan at or 949-824-5386.

Between the Lines is published quarterly by the UC Irvine School of Humanities Office of Development and Alumni Relations Humanities Gateway Building, Irvine, CA 92697-3376 Contact Emily Stone at 949.824.1605 or to be added to the mailing list or to update your e-mail address.

Between the Lines - Winter 2012  

Between the Lines Newsletter - Winter 2012

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