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Furman student presents at prestigious conferences

Furman undergrad getting noticed for research


Furman University senior Beth Fraser of Shelby, North Carolina, has won the respect only few undergraduate-level researchers receive in the world of literature and Romanticism. This summer, Shelby (right) presented her research at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment held at University of California, Davis, and at the International Conference on Romanticism hosted by The University of Manchester, England. Both conferences are known for discriminating audiences, researchers, and equally scrutinous research review committees. At the two meetings, Fraser presented “Poesy breaths in all: Ecocritical Explorations of Romanticism’s Omnipoetic Universe.” Born of Fraser’s interdisciplinary project examining ecoacoustic avian telemetries, the paper explores naturalistic figurations of birdsong by Romantic poet John Clare, who was described by his biographer as “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced.” The opportunity to present at both conferences was a pleasant surprise for Fraser. “I scarcely dared to hope that either would accept me, and yet here I am with the beautiful opportunity to present at both,” she said. Mentor Michele Speitz, Furman associate professor of English literature, said that many graduate students and faculty members submit work to these conferences without success. “So for Beth to be selected as the only undergraduate to present at two major professional conferences is truly remarkable,” Speitz said. “She is not only presenting her work in front of an exacting audience, but is speaking as an expert, as someone with something important to share with people in the know.” Fraser said Furman’s Office of Undergraduate Research and the Furman Humanities Development Fund encouraged and supported her investigations. An English literature and art history double-major, Fraser specializes in 19th-century British literature and early 20th-century painting with particular interests in Romanticism, ekphrastic poetry, the Simultaneous movement, aesthetic theologies, ecocritical theory, and the intersection of art and literature. Fraser is especially interested in Romantic-era metaphysics and ecocritical art history. She is co-writing an article with Speitz entitled “Avian Telemetries & the Audible Anthropocene: Romantic Ecoacoustics, Transdisciplinary Ecologies, Sympoetic Worlding.” Following graduation next spring, Fraser plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Romantic literature or modern art on her way to becoming a professor in the field.

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New book takes dogs in literature for a walk

Furman librarian Jeffrey Makala co-edits anthology

Jeffrey Makala, Furman University special collections librarian and university archivist at the James B. Duke Library, has co-edited a new book about dogs in literature. The book, “In Dogs We Trust: An Anthology of American Dog Literature,” is co-edited by Jacob F. Rivers III and published by the University of South Carolina Press. A book signing event is set for Saturday, June 8, 10 a.m.-noon at M. Judson Booksellers in downtown Greenville. University of South Carolina Press offers this description of “In Dogs We Trust”:

“‘In Dogs We Trust’ is a grand anthology that celebrates the many sterling virtues of the canine species. Dogs have lived with humans for thousands of years as working partners. By the 19th century, their role expanded to companions. American dog literature reflects this gradual but dramatic shift that continues even today. Our household dogs are quite literally closer than ever to us: sleeping in our beds, getting dressed in Halloween costumes, and serving as emotional support companions.

“The first comprehensive anthology of American dog literature, ‘In Dogs We Trust’ features stories, anecdotes and poetry from periodicals dating from the 19th to the early 20th century. By mining the vast American literary archive of this time, Rivers and Makala reveal the mystique and magic of the human-canine relationship and what they believe is one of the best connections humans have to the mysteries of the natural world.”

Rivers is the director for the Office of Veterans Services at the University of South Carolina and a teacher in the Department of English. He is the author of “Cultural Values in the Southern Sporting Narrative” and “Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen: 1830-1910.” Apart from his roles as special collections librarian and university archivist at Furman, Makala is owner of Two Terriers Press. He has written about 19th century American literature and book history in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America; Literature & History; Printing History; and The Oxford Companion to the Book. He is also an editor for The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP News).

Young readers invited to write to favorite authors

[caption id="attachment_23308" align="alignright" width="250"]Lindsey Knott Lindsey Knott, Level 1 first place winner, reads her letter during the 2015 awards ceremony.[/caption] Young readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the Letters about Literature contest, a national reading and writing promotion program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre (fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic) explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s life or view of the world. The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, in partnership with the South Carolina Center for the Book and the South Carolina State Library with financial support from the South Carolina State Library Foundation. Prizes will be awarded on both the state and national levels. The South Carolina Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select the top letter writers in the state, to be honored in an awards ceremony on April 29, 2016. Their winning letters will be published online at the South Carolina Center for the Book’s website. South Carolina winners will also receive monetary prizes, and then advance to the national judging. South Carolina winners will receive $100 for first place, $50 for second place, and $25 for third place in each level. For more information and entry forms, please visit www.read.gov/letters. Last year’s South Carolina winners may be found at the ReadSC.org website. Submissions from grades 9-12 must be postmarked by December 4, 2015. Submissions from grades 4-8 must be postmarked by January 11, 2016. Image above: seven of the nine winners from the 2015 contest.

Sumter County Library awarded Big Read grant

The Sumter County Library has been awarded a grant to host The Big Read. Managed by Arts Midwest, The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big ReadThe Sumter County Library is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2013 and June 2014. Sumter’s Big Read will focus on The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Activities will take place during October 2013. According to Library Director Robert Harden, “the Sumter County Library is pleased and excited to be chosen to host The Big Read.  This will afford our community the opportunity to explore one of the great works of American literature through a variety of events and programs.” NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, “It's wonderful to see that these 77 communities are making reading and the celebration of books a priority. I look forward to seeing the innovative ways they find to engage their communities in these great works of classic and contemporary literature." The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. The selected organizations will receive grants to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings and performing arts events. For more information about The Big Read in Sumter, contact Ford Simmons, Sumter County Library, at 803-773-7273 or simmonsf@spiritcom.net. Via: South Carolina State Library

Annual North Charleston Arts Festival set for May 3-11

The 31st annual North Charleston Arts Festival kicks off  May 3 and continues through May 11. Recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event, the nine-day event has matured into one of the most comprehensive arts festival in the state, drawing thousands of residents and visitors to experience the talents of national, regional and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts, and Literature. Nearly 100 festival offerings are scheduled to take place in a variety of venues throughout North Charleston and the surrounding area, including libraries, community centers, schools, civic auditoriums and parks. The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department organizes and presents the event, striving to maintain the spirit of a public celebration with the mission of presenting a broad, multi-discipline schedule with a wide range of performances, exhibitions, and activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many of the offerings are free, and those that are ticketed are moderately priced. “The variety of Arts Festival offerings and the inclusiveness of the event have really become a point of pride for the City of North Charleston,” says North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. “The event provides both our residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast a myriad of opportunities to experience high quality programming in every arts discipline in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings.” The Arts Festival Main Event, held on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center, offers free admission and parking to more than 40 performances on four stages. Features include judged fine art and photography exhibits; the 12th annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit; youth art from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester county students; the Lowcountry Gem & Mineral Society show and sale; the Village Antiques & Collectibles show; children's activities at Box City and Creation Stations; art & craft vendors, a food court, and much more. Free and ticketed offerings throughout the nine-day schedule include concerts, street dances, theatre presentations, film screenings, art workshops and demonstrations, an art walk and  children’s programs. This year’s Grand Finale on May 11 features a Tri-County school showcase, music and dance performances, a slam poetry show, children’s activities, food trucks and an evening concert by Rivers & Company. The event concludes with a fantastic fireworks display over the Cooper River. For more information, visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com or contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843) 740-5854. Via: North Charleston Cultural Arts Department

Performing arts groups sought for Opening Processional at North Charleston Arts Festival

Application deadline April 19 at 5 p.m. The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is accepting applications from local performing arts groups of all ages for participation in the 2013 North Charleston Arts Festival Opening Processional on Saturday, May 4, at 9:45 a.m. In past years the processional has been led by African drummers and dancers and has included groups dressed in brightly colored outfits and costumes, volunteers carrying giant puppets, banners and other props, jugglers, dance troupes, theatre groups and more. Applications can be found on the Applications page at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com. Deadline for applications is Friday, April 19, at 5 p.m. The Opening Processional has kicked off the Arts Festival’s Main Event festivities at the Charleston Area Convention Center Complex for over a decade. Participants parade around the complex toward the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Once the Processional enters the North Charleston Performing Arts Center Auditorium, the celebration continues with a Performance Spotlight, featuring 3-5 minute performances by pre-selected groups. Performance Spotlight slots may be requested on the Opening Processional application and are filled on a first come, first served basis. The North Charleston Arts Festival will be presented May 3-11, 2013, at various venues throughout North Charleston and the surrounding area. The nine-day event is one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state, highlighting national, regional, and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts, and Literature. For 3o years the festival has made quality arts programming affordable and accessible to the widest spectrum of the public, attracting over 30,000 residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast to participate in a fabulous array of free and modestly priced performances, workshops, exhibitions and activities. The Main Event weekend at the North Charleston Performing Arts and Charleston Area Convention Center on May 4 and 5 offers free parking and admission to more than 40 performances on four themed stages. Other Main Event activities include fine art and photography shows, the S.C. Palmetto Hands fine craft exhibit, a gem and mineral show, an antique show, activities for kids at Box City and Creation Stations, art and craft booths and a food courtyard. The Arts Festival continues with more than 60 free and ticketed events and exhibitions throughout the week at various locations, including street dances, concerts, theatre presentations, film screenings, workshops and demos, children’s activities, a National Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition and the Grand Finale with fireworks. For more information on the Opening Processional, contact Nancy Rodriguez at (843)740-5851. Visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com for more information and other participation opportunities, including applications for judged art, photography, and youth art exhibitions; art & craft and food vendor space; and volunteers.