Category Archives: General News

Literary Matters 3.4 Released

The latest issue of Literary Matters reflects on the ALSCW’s accomplishments at the end of 2010, and anticipates the new year with a new president and new staff.  The issue includes updates on recent member activity and accolades, as well as poems by Robert Gibb and Brent Joseph Wells, bios of the ALSCW interns, and the winning essays from our first annual secondary school essay contest.  There is a write up of the latest local meeting in Baton Rouge, where members celebrated the prevention of catastrophic funding cuts to the comparative literature program at LSU, thanks in part to the efforts of the ALSCW.  In the Neglected Authors column, Rosanna Warren champions the work of Byron Herbert Reece, a poet and novelist she calls “a casualty of modernism.”  Adelaide Russo remembers Brent Joseph Wells, and in the Portrait of a Donor column, President Greg Delanty presents a bio of novelist, translator, and donor Francis O’Neill.


Brendan Ryan


Link to new issue


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ALSCW and Foreign Language Departments


re: the crisis, coming or already here, for foreign language departments in US Academe

As you know, ALSCW has been supporting departments of comparative literature facing termination, and has prevailed, in collaboration with the MLA and other associations, in reversing an execution at LSU Baton Rouge, and has brought about a stay of execution and a chance for rethinking the question at University of Toronto.

1. The situation at SUNY Albany is still in play, with drama and classics also on the block.  Rosemary Feal, our cordial ally (she’s executive director of the MLA and a member of the ALSCW too) has written this forceful article, which has been published in the MLA newsletter, the MLA website, and now on Huffington Post.  If you haven’t read it, it should interest you.

Rosemary G. Feal
Executive Director
Modern Language Association
(646) 576-5102

Your Immediate Past President,

Susan Wolfson

SUNY Letter

ALSCW & Comparative Literature

For more on this topic, see or earlier post, Foreign Language Programs in Academia

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Longman Cultural Editions

We are still energized by our last great conference, and we wonder, if you had a chance to visit the book exhibits, if you saw the offer by Pearson Longman to receive your requests for a Longman Cultural Edition (those major works on the rack with the gorgeous covers) or a  Longman Anthology of British Literature.  If you’d like an examination copy, and you don’t  have the paper form for this request, you may send your request to

Joyce Nilsen: <>

If you need a refresher, you may visit the Longman site at

or for the Anthology

Since I’m General Editor of the Cultural Edition series, and on the Board of Editors for the Anthology, I had a special interest in bringing this exhibit to the conference, and would welcome your comments and feedback.

Yours sincerely,
Susan Wolfson
Chair, ALSCW Conference 2010
Immediate Past President, 2010-2011

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Oct 22 Boston Local Meeting: Al Basile

The New England sect of the ALSCW gathered at Boston University’s Editorial Institute for its second local meeting this fall on Wednesday, October 22nd.  Al Basile, accomplished musician and poet gave a presentation, “Words and Music, and the Music of Words: the Writing of Song Lyrics and Formal Poetry” touched upon the nebulous nature of writing.  After sharing a childhood anecdote about the timing of rhyming billboards on a drive to Florida, he discussed the challenge that  lyricists face in fitting language into the constraints of tempo and rhythm.  Additionally, he addressed such topics as the intuitive nature of his writing process, the relationship between the writer and his creation, and more.  He also presented two poems, two songs, and two encores.

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Councilor Profile: Rachel Hadas

As a member of ALSC, Rachel Hadas enjoys actively recruiting new members. Professor Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University’s Newark campus, where she has taught for many years. She especially enjoys teaching courses such as Mythology in Literature, Children’s Literature, and Literature and Medicine, and also teaches in Rutgers-Newark’s new MFA program. Author of numerous books of poetry and essays, including Halfway Down the Hall (1998), Indelible (2001), Laws (2004), and The River of Forgetfulness (2006), she has recently translated Racine’s “Iphigenie en Aulide,” and is currently coediting an anthology of Greek poetry from Homer to the present, to be published by W.W. Norton & Co. at the end of this year. She is also completing a memoir about her husband’s dementia and literature. Her new book of poems, The Ache of Appetite, is due out later this year from Copper Beech Press.

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ALSC VP to Give Clark Lectures

ALSC Vice-President Susan Wolfson has been invited to give the Clark Lectures at Cambridge University in the spring of 2011.

The Clark Lectures are on aspects of English literature. Past Clark Lecturers have included T.S. Eliot (1926, published as The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry), E.M. Forster (1927, Aspects of the Novel), C.S. Lewis (1944, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century), Dame Helen Darbishire (1949, The Poet Wordsworth), F.R. Leavis (1967, English Literature in Our Time and the University), Richard Rorty (1987, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity), Toni Morrison (1990), Rowan Williams (2005), Seamus Heaney (2006), Elaine Scarry (2007) and Frank Kermode (2007).   Two distinguished ALSC members, former president John Hollander (1999) and our immediate past president, Christopher Ricks (1991) have previously been invited to speak in this renowned series.  Susan thus continues an illustrious ALSC sub-tradition within the larger tradition.

Susan has also recently been featured in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin (in the April 6th volume). She has been teaching at Princeton since 1991. Her courses focus mainly on the romantic poets and their contemporaries.

The article highlights Wolfson’s emphasis on close reading, upon which her study of literature rests. Despite the wariness of some of her students when approaching the poetry of another century, Wolfson maintains that romanticism is accessible to anyone, given a willingness to spend time with the work. The article also showcases Wolfson’s desire to apply the skills of literary criticism to the world at large by instructing her students to analyze political language in the same way that they would analyze the language of a poem by Yeats or Wordsworth. Wolfson feels that such an approach allows students to gain insight into how language works in everyday situations as well as in literature.

In addition to her courses at Princeton, Wolfson has works forthcoming in Johns Hopkins University’s ELH, Literature Compass, entries in The Cambridge Companion To British Poets and The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Her new work Romantic Interactions: Social Being & the Turns of Literary Action will be published in 2010 by Johns Hopkins University Press. Borderlines: The Shaping of Gender in British Romanticism has also been recently reprinted in a paperback edition by Stanford University Press.

– Thom Plasse

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ALSC Announces Title of the Forthcoming FORUM No. 3: THE LATEST ILLITERACY

The Association of Literary Scholars and Critics understands that it has an obligation to direct some of its force, time, and imagination to the bad examples that are set, as against the good example that the Association itself tries to set, for instance in its journal, Literary Imagination, and at its annual conferences. It was in this spirit that the Forum series has come about. Forum No. 3, The Latest Illiteracy, now brings together many instances of, as well as some reflections on, how different—largely, how much worse­—things are these days, both in print and in speech. The underlying questions are the enduring ones. Really worse, not just different? What is the evidence? Is it merely that all of us are getting older, and that the invocation of a golden age is becoming more of a lure? Is it not the case that in the Paston Letters, as long ago as the 15th century, the complaint was being voiced that servants be not so diligent as they were wont to be? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

The Latest Illiteracy resists excuses and acquiescences. It is the work of two highly articulate writers—Jim McCue and Bryan Garner—who wish to help others to be no less articulate­—and, since individuality is to be respected and fostered, help them to be variously and personally articulate. This, as being able to do right by oneself as well by others because doing right by the great inheritance that is language, that is a language.

Neither of the present contributors, the one English, and the other American, is a university teacher, which was one reason why the Association, which is committed to allying the world of the university with the worlds of the arts, of the professions, and of the common reader, recently invited these two to put their experienced minds to illiteracy, new and old, and then to give the rest of us the pleasure of witnessing these two minds, their findings and their provocative speculations.

Forum No. 3 is set for publication in spring 2009.


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ALSC Podcast: William Flesch on Comeuppance

In the latest ALSC podcast, William Flesch (Brandeis University) speaks on his book Comeuppance. This talk was recorded at the Editorial Institute, Boston University, on December 12, 2008.

To download and listen to the podcast, click here.

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Work Begins on ALSC-sponsored Project on High School Literature Curricula

ALSC Councillor Sandra Stotsky has begun the work of collecting data for the long-anticipated ALSC-sponsored project on high school literature curricula in the U.S. The project has substantial support from the University of Arkansas, The Bradley Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities*, and partnerships with The Concord Review and the California Reading and Literature Project.

Dr. Stotsky has provided ALSC with a basic outline of the project. We hope members and non-members alike will be as pleased and excited about this development as the governors and staff of the Association are. Queries about the project (one of the products of which will be an issue of ALSC’s special topics journal, Forum) can be directed to Sandra Stotsky c/o the ALSC at or 617-358-1990.

Literary and Non-Literary Works and Approaches Used in American High School English Classes.
Project Description: Based on recent surveys and observations, most American students graduate from high school with little literary knowledge and understanding. They also seem to have had minimal exposure to high quality historical nonfiction and other expository texts in their English or history courses. Their reading and writing skills are in decline, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments in grade 12.

This study will gather data on what major literary and non-literary works are being taught in English classes in grades 9-11, how much class time is devoted to literary and non-literary study, and what pedagogical approaches teachers use. We seek to explore the extent to which high school students are sufficiently challenged by what they are assigned to read and write in grades 9-11 so that they can develop the reading and writing skills needed for authentic college-level coursework in the humanities.

Data collection for this study takes two forms. (1) A nationwide representative sample of English teachers in grades 9-11 (about 900) will be interviewed over the telephone by an experienced survey center on their assignments and approaches in teaching literary and non-literary texts. (2) Ten focus group meetings will be held during the fall of 2009 to explore in greater depth issues raised by the interview data. Each focus group will consist of 8-12 English teachers and school librarians.

Data analysis and interpretation will reflect the collaboration of an Advisory Board consisting of members of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. We anticipate being able to present an accurate picture of the central content of the high school English curriculum in this country at present. We will also make recommendations for a coherent sequence of reading assignments from grade 9 to grade 11 in order to strengthen the high school English curriculum for all students.

*N.B. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Report of ALSC Nominations Committee, March 25, 2009

The 2009 ALSC Nominations Committee collected suggestions for filling ALSC’s forthcoming leadership vacancies, and after deliberation and a unanimous sanctioning vote by the ALSC Council, nominates the following for confirmation by the membership:

  • For Vice President: Greg Delanty
  • For Council: Adelaide Russo, Helaine L. Smith, and John Talbot

Greg Delanty (BA University College Cork) teaches at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.  His latest books are Collected Poems 1986-2006 (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, 2006), The Ship of Birth (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, 2003; LSU Press, 2007),  The Blind Stitch (Oxford Poets Series, Carcanet Press, LSU Press 2001), The Hellbox (OUP, 1998). Currently, he is editing a book for WW Norton with the working title of Living Poets Translate Anglo-Saxon Poems as well as an edition of poems titled The New Citizen Army, a book centering on complicity in our lives to be produced by Veterans Against War, who make the paper from US soldier uniforms. He is finalizing The Greek Anthology, Book XVII, a book of original poems which use the template of The Greek Anthology.  His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Norton Introduction to Poetry, Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, American Poets of the New Century, 20th Century Irish Poems, and Contemporary Poets of New England.  Individual poems have been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Statesman, the New Republic, American Scholar, the Irish Times, PN Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and our own Literary Imagination. His translations include Aristophanes’ The Suits (The Knights) and Euripides’ Orestes (U of Pennsylvania Press, 1999).  He has received many awards, most recently a Guggenheim for poetry (2007-08).  The National Library of Ireland just acquired his papers up to 2012.  The magazine Agenda devoted its most recent issue to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Adelaide Russo (BA Sweet Briar, PhD Columbia) is Professor of French Studies and Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she has taught since 1981. A student of Michael Riffaterre, she has published widely on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century French literature, and on contemporary French poetry. Her most recent book, Le Peintre comme modèle : Du Surréalisme à l’Extrême contemporain (Lille: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion—Collection « Perspectives », 2007) won both the Prix Debrousse-Gas- Forestier Académie des Beaux-Arts  2007 and the 2007 MLA  Aldo Scaglione Prize in French and Francophone Studies. Adelaide is also active in a range of professional activities: much involved in translation both from and to the French, she is presently serving on the MLA Executive Committee on Twentieth-Century French Literature and has participated in numerous interdisciplinary initiatives at LSU.

Helaine L. Smith (AB Boston University, MA Hunter College) is a teacher of middle and secondary school English.  She is the author of Masterpieces of Classic Greek Drama (Greenwood, 2005), an analytic text for high school and undergraduate use, and participated in the 2005 ALSC panel on “Mythology in the K-12 Classroom.”  She currently teaches English in grades 6-12 at The Brearley School in New York City, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1989.  Before that she taught grades 7-12 for 15 years (1974-1989) at Hunter College High School.  She has been a reader of AP Literature and AP Language Exams and of English Composition Tests for the College Board, and has taught electives in Shakespeare, Pope, Kafka and Becket, and Bishop, Hecht and Larkin.

John Talbot (PhD Boston University) teaches ancient and modern literature at Brigham Young University. His scholarship mostly concerns the relationship of ancient Latin and Greek to English literature; his publications on this topic include several articles and book chapters. A book-length study of contemporary poets’ engagement with Greek and Latin lyric meters is under contract from Duckworth. He is also a poet and translator whose verse has appeared in leading journals in both the US and Britain. His first volume of poems is The Well-Tempered Tantrum. Some of his verse translations will appear in the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Greek Verse, and his current project is a new version of Virgil’s Eclogues.

After a one-year term as Vice-President, beginning on October 10, 2009, Greg Delanty would become President of the ALSC as of the fall meeting of the incoming Council in 2010, and serve a final year thereafter as Immediate Past President for 2011. The nominated Councilors would also serve three-year terms, beginning on October 10, 2009. ALSC Bylaw, Article VII, provides: “Nominations may also be made through a petition signed by any fifteen members in good standing.” Additional nominations must be received at the ALSC office by April 3, 2009. If no additional nominations are received by that date, the above nominees shall be declared elected. The Nominations Committee wishes to thank everyone who submitted names for its consideration. Appointments for the standing committees on curriculum and publications will be announced in the summer issue of Literary Matters.

Respectfully Submitted,

Rachel Hadas
Sarah Spence


On February 20, 2009, our dear friend and colleague Susan Bullock died unexpectedly at home, leaving a great and in many ways unfillable hole in the ALSC Council. Susan’s obituary appeared in the February 25 issue of the Boston Globe (read the full text on our Website). Our tribute to her appears in the current issue of Literary Matters (2.1-2, Winter/Spring 2009). On March 19, after a brief-but-intense search, Council appointed ALSC Past President (2004-2005) Rosanna Warren to serve as Interim Councilor for the remainder of Susan’s term. Professor Warren, whose biographical statement appears below, will serve from March 20, 2009 until the fall 2010 meeting of the Council, the date of which has yet to be determined.

Please join us in thanking Professor Warren for undertaking this great responsibility.

Biographical Statement:

Rosanna Warren (BA Yale, MA Johns Hopkins) is the author of one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981), and three collections of poems: Each Leaf Shines Separate (Norton, 1984), Stained Glass (Norton, 1993), and Departure (Norton, 2003). Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, a book of literary criticism, appeared from Norton in 2008. She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. With Stephen Scully, she translated Euripides’ Suppliant Women for Oxford University Press (1992).  She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, among others.  Stained Glass won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. She was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 – 2005. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004-2005 she was president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. Beginning in May 2009, she will be Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

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