Prof. Fallon’s Sabbatical: Writing Her First Novel

After a professor has been granted tenure, they are able to take either a semester or year off from teaching, known as a sabbatical, to further their research on a current project, or to spend time writing on prior research they have gathered.

Two Wittenberg professors are on sabbatical during the fall semester, Professor D’Arcy Fallon and Dr. Cynthia Richards. Here is a preview of what D’Arcy has been working on during the summer months and these first five weeks away from Wittenberg:

“I’ve been in Nova Scotia ten days. I’ve mastered how to lock the front door, learned where to take a free shower, and learned the finer points of separating the trash into garbage, compost, and recyclables. As for the toilet, well, I’m still learning.” – July 16, 2017

As that journal entry from the summer of 2017 attests, I spent nearly two months in a little cabin built on stilts above the Atlantic Ocean without plumbing or running water. I was in Nova Scotia with my two dogs, China and Sebastian, trying to get a running start on my fall sabbatical. I believed that some intensive alone time in a primitive cabin without modern-day distractions would help me get cranking on The Yum Yum Bus, a novel about a creative writing teacher who must negotiate the tricky territory between praise and truth-telling. (It did!)

I had access to electricity, a tiny fridge, and an assortment of lackadaisical space heaters. But there was no TV, no internet, no bathtub, and very spotty phone service. It rained the first three weeks I was there. I wrote in my journal, “Forty-six degrees outside and this place feels like it’s constructed out of Popsicle sticks.”

“Cleaning” the cabin, I accidentally touched a few panes of ancient window glass too vigorously and broke them. At low tide, using a ten-foot ladder, I tried to putty in new panes, only to break those too. I was on a first-name basis with the people at the hardware store. Did I mention it was cold and rainy?

The cabin was located in Vogler’s Cove, on the Atlantic side. I loved living by the tidal clock. My bedroom was located directly above the ocean and I could feel the tide surging in the middle of the night. The sunsets were breathtaking, the morning fog a delight, and the birds and ocean critters afforded non-stop entertainment. It was like watching The Animal Planet nonstop, without commercials. There were lots of challenges, but overcoming them became part of the charm of life at The Black Duck. I mastered using the Incinolet Carefree toilet, which burns solid waste. As for the other kind of waste, a hole in the floor above the ocean sufficed. I thought about re-naming The Black Duck “Camp Commando.” There are many things to be embarrassed about in this world, but going to the bathroom should not be one of them.

Now it’s September in Springfield, Ohio. Did I mention it’s cold and rainy? My office wall at home is covered with three by five cards, taped notes and charts and little phrases are helping me concentrate on The Yum Yum Bus. I have never written a novel before. I am extremely grateful for this time to write and I vow I’ll have a draft of the book finished by the end of December. And if I can’t keep that promise, there’s always Nova Scotia.

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Included is an excerpt of some of the work Prof. Fallon has written thus far:

The Vapors: Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia

There were a few moments when the sun burned through the fog and it was actually hot and I thought I might go swimming, but then the fog swirled in. I would not have been surprised to see someone in a trench coat with the collar turned up scurry by. With fog, you never know what you’re getting. Love, romance, lost pets, confessions, old movie stars.

Who walks in the fog? Who are you? The tide is low and the ocean is sighing: fog, fog, fog. Waves roll up on the shore, sandpipers run, kids fly kites, people kiss on the sand dunes, dogs chase sticks. We’re all newborns in the fog: blind, intimate, random, strangers.

Walking in the fog is like opening a birthday present. Unwrap the moment. We’re in a cocoon of mist, swaddled in clouds, diapered in moisture. Maybe it’s the last day of life as we know it. We’re all here, with our dogs and tennis balls, sun screen and bottled water, folding chairs and metal detectors.

Look. Three adolescent girls in bikinis do cartwheels. A grandmother in a fuchsia windbreaker takes photographs. The sweet black lab looks like a sugar donut as he rolls in the sand.

I am a visitor from another country, a pilgrim trying to make a fresh start. Is it here, on the beach? Will you take me in? Fog forgives. It looks the other way. Make me yours.

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The List: Can An English Major Complete It?

Since its inception in 2010, The List has been a challenge to Wittenberg’s English majors and students alike. Although it may seem impossible, alumnus Jordan Hildebrandt, a geology and computer science double major, became the first (and only) student to complete The List in 2012.

With sixty-four names inscribed in The List’s sign-up book, why has only one, and not even an English major, been able to complete The List in its seventy-five book entirety?

Sophomore Sophie Reutter was quick to add some input of her own after signing on to complete The List last year:

I chose to sign up for The List a little over halfway through my freshman year last year in hopes of being able to complete it by senior year. I mainly chose to do this since I adore literature and I really wanted to do something that would help to propel my English major forward in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I haven’t gotten very far into the long list of titles, but I do most of the reading over the summer. I don’t think it is terribly difficult, but I do see where the trepidation would come in with having to see the professors who have also read the stories. It isn’t surprising that some English majors may consider themselves introverts and may get a serious amount of anxiety when they have to think about going to talk with an absolute stranger. I don’t think English majors are able to finish the task because the minds of English majors work very differently. We’ll be thinking of one thing one second and another the next. Not to say that we are all scatter-brained, but we have a very strong sense that we should always be doing something, and perhaps The List isn’t something people deem “worthwhile” to complete. I think we might also never finish it because it isn’t a recommended or “required” reading list. We may be missing the incentive to get such a gigantic task out of the way.

In the past three years, the most a student has completed is a total of four discussions.

Professor Robin Inboden also shared her thoughts on the process and possible reemergence in popularity of The List:

I think The List is hard to complete in four years when you’re a full-time student because the things you read in your courses create a completely different “list.” Some of the works on The List are taught in classes, but students, of course, can’t choose their courses only to catch items on The List. I haven’t read all the items on the current list because a lot of them are contemporary or outside my specialties, or from genres that may not be as appealing to me. The magic of attempting The List when you’re young–in college–is that your tastes are still being formed, and the variety can be eye-opening and world-widening… Unfortunately, I haven’t had anyone request a List item discussion in years. It makes me a little sad, but I still get to discuss some of the works with students in my classes… My advice (to students) would be to start by discussing books you’ve already read and know well with the appropriate professor. Find out which books are likely to be taught in some class or other and see if any of them are ones you’re likely to take, then wait to read those then. Use your summers and breaks.

With only a handful of current students signed up to tackle The List, it seems unlikely that a student in the classes of 2018 or 2019 will complete The List. However, with a few dedicated students who love to read, The List can be a great incentive to try a little of various genres, and also to get acquainted with all of the English Department’s wonderful professors.

The List’s sign-up book is in the English Department for those who wish to challenge The List. Once a student completes 35 books, the department will buy the student a copy of their favorite book from the List. If a student completes 50 books, they have the option of adding a book of their choice to The List, like Jordan’s selection of Flatland. Students can stop in to see Christina Reynolds for more information.

A list of professors and their selections for The List books can be found here.

It’s an English Extravaganza!

This Thursday, the English Department will hosts its annual Opening Party English Extravaganza. Students are invited to indulge in pizza (it’s not Domino’s!), get-to-know-you games, and great discussion about the English major and minors, plus all the wonderful opportunities that come with being involved in the English Department.

Pictures will be taken at approximately 4:45 p.m., so don’t be late!

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New Year, New Opportunities, New Adventures

Ah, another year of endless reading and writing. The joys of being an English major, right?

As another academic year rolls around, so does a host of opportunities for students, whether that be academic, personal, or something completely unexpected. Opportunities are everywhere for students, so let this be the year that you jump at every opportunity that is offered.

Go on the conference trip, read the 700-page novel a professor recommended in passing during class, head outside the Wittenberg bubble to eat something other than the C.D.R. But most importantly, spend the 2017-2018 academic year exploring the words of others with simultaneously creating words of your own.

Just like poet Adrienne Rich once said, “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.”

Welcome back to Wittenberg everyone. On behalf of the English Department, we wish you nothing but success and happiness during this academic year.

For a list of faculty office hours, click here.

For an updated faculty list, click here.

Saying Goodbye: Emma Arace ’17

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It’s simple: the Wittenberg English department has changed my life for the better. In every single class, I have been wowed by the passion, dedication, and sheer brilliance of our faculty. They care so deeply about their work and their students. It is because of them that I have had learning experiences that have not only deepened my love and understanding of language, but of the world around me.

Saying Goodbye: Korie Sharrar ’17

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The Wittenberg English department has given me so much.  What I will miss most is working with our professors.  They have listened to my endless ideas, read draft after draft, and worked with me as I would change a thesis over and over again.  Their encouragement to get me through every challenge has allowed me to grow and become a better student and writer every semester.  I am thankful for the experiences and relationships this department has offered me.

 

 

Saying Goodbye: Camila Quinones ’17

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Wow, four years have come and gone so fast, but how blessed I’ve been by this department.  Faculty, you are incredible.  You’ve opened my eyes to new worlds and taught me lessons that transcend the books we’ve studied.  My fellow English majors, thank you for friendship, support, and your never-ending love of literature.  We’ve been through so much together, and though we’re ready to cross that stage, I’ll always cherish our many memories in Hollenbeck’s hallowed halls.  Thank you Wittenberg for being my home these four years, and thank you Wittenberg English Department for changing my life.  I’ll miss you dearly.

Saying Goodbye: Jillian Edwards ’17

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My time as a part of Wittenberg’s English Department has definitely impacted the person I am today and the person that  I will be one day.  My time at Wittenberg has been short (only two years), but in these short years I have met and had the opportunity to get to know an amazing group of professors who not only supported me through every little obstacle, but also loved literary puns as much as I did.  The English Department at Witt isn’t just a group of faculty and students, but rather a family.  I know that as graduation nears, I will have to soon leave this home and the people in it, but I am not worried because I know that I am prepared to tackle whatever comes next.

Saying Goodbye: Amanda Rogus ’17

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Wittenberg English department has given me a haven and a home for four years and has provided me the confidence to spread my wings and fly.  I entered Wittenberg four years ago knowing that I wanted to be a double major in English and Theatre.  What I did not know is that these majors would enable me to become the person that I am today.  Throughout my four years, I have had the blessing of getting my work published in Spectrum and have had counteless wonderful discussions with professors during their office hours.  Some of my greatest memories of Wittenberg occurred in the one-on-one conversations with the sensational professors in this department.  I am forever thankful for the wise advice I have received in the Hollenbeck halls.  Thank you Dr. Buckman, Dr. Hinson, Dr. Incorvati, and Dr. Askeland for being my second family.  Wittenberg’s English department has helped me get into the graduate school of my dreams.  I am leaving for MAry Baldwin’s MLitt and MFA Shakespeare and Performance Program determined and sure.  I know what I am destined to be and who I want to become.  The English department has enabled me to think deeper and dream beyond myself.  Thank you to every professor who helped me along in my Wittenberg literary journey, you have helped mold a strong storyteller and a destined dreamer and as Shakespeare says, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”