Tag: English


Innovative teaching methods lead to heartfelt relationships, practical learning

It started out as an idea, and worked into a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary, cross-town collaboration with deep relational benefits and stories that span and can be shared for generations to come.

class-unityThe University of Wisconsin-Green Bay class, HUS 483: Documenting Memory, involves students working on multiple projects in oral history and story collection. Led by English Prof. Rebecca Meacham, in coordination with Social Work Professor Gail Trimberger, UW-Green Bay English, Education and Humanistic Studies majors worked with interns from UWGB’s Social Work program to document the lives of Unity palliative patients. Students met with interview subject multiple times, interviewed them, and created transcripts and audio files for the UWGB archives. Unity-partnered students prepared a full-color, hardbound, professionally printed Life Journal, which was proudly presented to the patient.

unity-presents-book“I knew walking in that going out to document a 92 year-old’s life story would be life changing,” reflected UWGB student Hannah Stepp. “Having only lived 21 years myself, adding another 70 years gives you plenty more stories to tell and lessons to share. I think the most moving moment of it all was learning that no matter how many years you’ve lived, there are still moments or people or conversations that ignite feelings that are still very raw. My interviewee in particular began to cry when talking about a member of her family who had been deployed, and it was incredible to me that 70 years after this had occurred it still could bring tears.”

English major Jamie Stahl worked as a photographer throughout the project and said the impact was profound.

“Life-changing seems such a hollow term, but the best under the circumstances,” she said, after sitting in on a number of interviews. “It truly opened my eyes to the treasure of each life, the value in truly listening to another, and the wealth gained in such an exchange. The Documenting Memories class is one I have discussed endlessly in my home community as revolutionary for students, but it also works towards building and valuing the community in which we live. As a future English teacher this will be a lesson I hope to bring a version of into my own classroom!”

unity-second-photoStepp said the experience provided a new perspective for her. As one who is busy with with Student Government, volunteering, school and a job, she said the experience taught her to slow down.

“In my crazy busy life I forgot to slow down and really appreciate my life and observe what is going on around me,” she said. “Life moves so quickly, and one day if you’re lucky like my interviewee, you get to sit back and reminisce on those times. Don’t let it fly past you. I talk about this project nearly every day to my friends and family, because it really had an impact, and I told my interviewee this when we last talked.”

Other members of the class partnered with military veterans, as well as UWGB alumni and notable community liaisons, providing them with similar opportunities. University Archivist Deb Anderson worked with the class as well. The class will be offered again in Spring 2016.

Photos by UWGB student Jamie Stahl and Prof. Rebecca Meacham
Top photo: UWGB student Katie Nieman and Delores, a Unity palliative respite patient
Second photo: Rebecca Meacham (left) and Deb Anderson (second left) with the Documenting Memories class
Third photo: Nieman presents Delores with the life journal she made for her; Lizzie, a Unity Hospice social worker is to the right
Fourth photo: From left to right, Delores, Nieman, Meacham, and Unity’s Christy Brozak

Award-winning poet Coutley, a UW-Green Bay alumna, returns for reading 

Award-winning poet Lisa Fay Coutley, recently named a visiting professor at the University of Oregon, returns to her undergraduate alma mater, UW-Green Bay, for a free public reading and question-and-answer session at 1 p.m. next Monday (Oct. 26) in the Union’s Christie Theatre. Coutley will read from works including her debut poetry collection, Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), which deals with the lingering consequences of abuse and addiction while also describing the power of hope, determination and will to move forward. Errata won the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award, and Coutley’s two previous chapbooks — In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and Back-Talk (Articles Press, 2010) — also earned literary honors. Coutley earned her UWGB bachelor’s in English in 2004 and completed master’s degrees from Northern Michigan University and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. Associate Prof. Rebecca Meacham director of the school’s creative writing program, arranged for the visit by her onetime student. For more on Coutley and her career.

Published poet Coutley, a UW-Green Bay alumna, returns for reading

Lisa-Faye-CoutleyAward-winning poet and educator Lisa Fay Coutley returns to her undergraduate alma mater, UW-Green Bay, for a reading and question-and-answer session on Monday, Oct. 26.

The program, free and open to the public, is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Christie Theatre on the lower level of the University Union, located on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive.

Coutley is an assistant professor of creative writing and poetry at Snow College in Utah. In January 2016, she will relocate to Eugene, Ore., for a half-year assignment as a visiting professor with the poetry and creative writing program at the University of Oregon.

Coutley will read from works including her debut poetry collection, Errata, published earlier this year by Southern Illinois University Press.

The author describes Errata as exploring the delicate balance between parent and child, love and loss, hope and grief. The collection deals with the lingering consequences of abuse and addiction while also describing the power of hope, determination and will to move forward. Wrote one reviewer, “Coutley dares her readers to a staring contest and never looks away.”

Errata won the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award. Also earning honors for Coutley were two previous chapbooks — In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), which won the Black River Chapbook Competition, and Back-Talk (Articles Press, 2010), winner of the Rooms Chapbook Contest.

Coutley earned a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, and her poetry and prose have been anthologized in Best New Poets, Best of the Net, Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and elsewhere.

As a student at UW-Green Bay, Coutley majored in English, minored in Humanistic Studies and earned her bachelor’s degree with cum laude honors in December 2004. She went on to receive a master’s in nonfiction and master’s of fine arts in poetry from Northern Michigan University before completing her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. She was poetry editor for each institution’s literary journal: Sheepshead Review at UW-Green Bay, NMU’s Passages North and Utah’s Quarterly West.

Rebecca Meacham, an associate professor of English and Humanistic Studies at UW-Green Bay and director of the school’s creative writing program, arranged for Coutley’s visit.

Students enrolled in Meacham’s Intermediate Creative Writing course will be among those in attendance for Coutley’s 1 p.m. Oct. 26 reading in the Christie Theatre. Meacham recalls teaching the course for the first time at UW-Green Bay in fall 2002, with Coutley — the future Meacham teaching assistant, published poet and guest lecturer— as a standout student.

“To put it mildly, she’s done quite well since graduating from UWGB,” Meacham says. “To achieve what she has, in a relatively short time, is very impressive. She’s a star.”


This Friday, UW-Green Bay students sing Lord Byron

If you’re interested in a small, edifying and entertaining demonstration of the interdisciplinary approach for which UW-Green Bay is known, you might want to stop by the University Theatre in Theatre Hall between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 20). English students of Assistant Prof. Rebecca Nesvet will hear and discuss songs by the British Romantic poet Lord Byron and Isaac Nathan, “Australia’s first classical composer.” Excerpts of Byron and Nathan’s Hebrew Melodies (1815) will be performed by UW-Green Bay Music students Nicholas Schommer and Ryan Dummer, voice students of Associate Prof. Courtney Sherman. Open to all.

UW-Green Bay English alumna writes in favor of funding education

Angela Bub of Benicia, Calif., a May 2012 UW-Green Bay graduate in English now pursuing a master’s in social work at the University of Southern California, is the author of a guest column on the Feb. 4 opinion page of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. She writes, “Humanities is not a field of education; humanities is a way of life. My interdisciplinary education through a public institution (UW-Green Bay) has shaped my life and the lives of many others.” Bub continues: “There is a professor who taught me throughout my four years at UWGB. She inspired me to look within myself and explore further opportunities. It is an insult to suggest professors should work harder, should do more, or should take pay cuts. I graduated in 2012 and continue to receive guidance, knowledge and good conversation from said professor. It is unjust to cut the budget of the UW System. Think twice about these decisions: They will not only impact those who are in school now, but future generations.”

College roommates, world-class problem solvers

top-story-roommatesHalvorsen ’92 acts locally, Bhojwani ’90 works in developing nations.

On a late-summer day, fellow UW-Green Bay graduates and lifelong friends Noel Halvorsen and Haresh Bhojwani agreed to meet on campus.

There was the usual catching up on each other’s families and reminiscing about good times shared as roommates 25 years ago in the old student apartments.

They also talked about their professional careers and challenges. It’s something they do at least a few times a year, using each other as trusted sounding boards. Though Halvorsen and Bhojwani arrived at UW-Green Bay in the late 1980s with vastly different backgrounds, pursued entirely different majors and now often find themselves on different continents, they tend to see things the same way.

“When we met, Haresh had been all over the world, and I had never been anywhere,” recalls Halvorsen, a Sheboygan native who now lives in Green Bay, “but we were almost surprised to find out that we had very similar world views.”

Then and now, they tend to believe that good public policy requires good data, that even relatively small adjustments can bring maximum benefit, and that organized and dedicated people can make change happen.

Halvorsen, a 1992 graduate in Urban and Regional studies, is well-respected locally as longtime executive director of NeighborWorks, a not-for-profit housing and community development agency based in Green Bay. NeighborWorks promotes neighborhood revitalization and home ownership through counseling, education, loan programs and new investment.

Daily, he applies lessons learned at UW-Green Bay and in previous jobs with the city of Green Bay and Brown County. His first five years after graduation he was a planning specialist with the city and then spent three years as land information officer, managing land records and GIS activities, for the county.

Halvorsen says his approach to his work is not all that different from Bhojwani’s, whose involvement in economic development projects takes him from South Asia to Africa to Latin America.

“We learned a lot at UWGB about how to look at the world,” Halvorsen says, mentioning the liberal arts emphasis, the breadth and scope of the problem solving and the ample opportunities for students to lead and create. “Those were the experiences that made a great difference.”

Bhojwani, a ’90 graduate in English, is based in the New York City area as deputy director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University.

He racks up frequent flyer miles establishing partnerships with governments and international development organizations to help at-risk societies be pre-emptive and proactive. The time to respond to a massive crop failure in Ethiopia, for example, is not afterward when children are starving, but when it’s apparent that crucial early rains aren’t going to materialize. A relatively small financial intervention up front, then, can tide people over and keep a farm family from eating their seed stock or selling their oxen… which would all but guarantee a larger, multi-year failure.

Bhojwani came to Green Bay from prep school in the United Kingdom. After graduation, he taught English in Spain and worked in a peasant cooperative in El Salvador during that nation’s transition from civil war to peace. He came back to earn a law degree at Marquette and create the first legal services for the indigent in Milwaukee, working with long-term immigration detainees and human rights victims. From 1999 to 2005, he worked with indigenous communities, NGOs, the private sector, and government agencies on economic development programs in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Bhojwani naturally points to UW-Green Bay English faculty including Tom Churchill and E. Michael Thron as early influences, and Halvorsen cites Urban and Regional’s Ray Hutchison, Ron Baba and Marcelo Cruz, but they don’t stop there. They mention Orville Clark in philosophy, Martin Greenberg in international relations, geographer Bill Laatsch, linguist Don Larmouth, academic dean George Rupp… and several others.

Professors were academic mentors and also, often, friends.

“Bill Laatsch was such a knowledgeable and talented professor,” Halvorsen recalls. “Then, one of my first weekends on campus, I see him dressed as a giant mouse (for the annual Cheese Classic). Things like that did so much to make you comfortable here.”

Bjohwani remembers open poetry readings and other activities that offered students a chance to test their ideas among not only faculty and staff but also peers. Students learned from one another.

“I think it was a particular advantage at UWGB that not every student was the same age, 18 or 20, straight out of high school,” he says. “There was so many returning adults… people who had worked in a paper mill for 15 years, perhaps raised children, and then gone back to school to look at something different or to pump up their skills. They added so much to the experience.”

The two men learned from each other, of course, and continue to do so as proud alumni a quarter century later.

“It’s amazing how similar the issues are that we face,” Bhojwani says. “I’ll go to Noel for advice and he’ll do the same. Whether it’s in Wisconsin or on the other side of the world, it’s about making the right choices, or sometimes a small investment at just the right time.”

Eco U’s integrated curriculum made big impression on Northwoods naturalist

top-story-naturalistUW-Green Bay’s integration of higher education and the environment has imprinted a lasting impression on alumnus John Bates ’74 of Communication Action.

Bates used lessons learned at Eco U to forge a successful career as a Wisconsin naturalist, writer, blogger, professor and nature guide in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Bates looks back on his days at UW-Green Bay as a dynamic time to be on campus.

“I attended UW-Green Bay at a time of great energy and excitement. It was a time of converting cornfields into a vision of what an environmental campus should look like,” says Bates.

His writings include several books on nature in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region. He uses observations of the seasons, plants, animals, phenology and ecology as inspiration for his work. Bates was initially attracted to UW-Green Bay by the ecologically oriented curriculum and the school’s commitment to the environmental sciences.

“I relished the many field trips – all the hands-on, get your feet wet learning that we were exposed to. Those perhaps were my best memories at UW-Green Bay,” Bates recalls.

He credits the faculty at UW-Green Bay with sparking his interest in environmentalism and steering him toward a rewarding career as a naturalist and author. Bates reminisces about his favorite classes at UW-Green Bay.

“I took every class I could from Dr. Keith White, and sat in on several classes for a second time just to hear it all again. His introductory Vegetation of Wisconsin class launched a lot of young students into the ecology field. I also really enjoyed and benefitted from Dr. Paul Sager’s freshwater invertebrates class, Dr. John Reed’s botany class (co-taught by Gary Fewless), and Dr. Richard Presnell’s many environmental education classes. They were all superb professors and made a lasting impression on me,” Bates says.

He returned to UW-Green Bay and received his Master’s Degree in Environmental Science in 1986. Bates and his wife, artist and fellow UW-Green Bay alum, Mary Burns ’85 of English and Natural History, live on the Manitowish River in Iron County where they own and operate the Manitowish River Press, a publishing company devoted to producing books that celebrate the natural world. Bates is currently working on his eighth book, Old Growth Forests of Wisconsin. The work Bates is most proud of is “A Northwoods Almanac,” a regular column for the local newspaper in Minocqua. This is his 25th year writing it, and he feels it seems to have mattered to a lot of folks.

“I post their sightings, discuss what’s going on currently in the natural world — the flowerings, nestings, migrations, and try to truly celebrate the beauty of this place we call the Northwoods. Hopefully I’ve helped some people fall more deeply in love with, and understand more thoroughly, their home,” Bates says.

Creative writing showdown: Meacham, Rybak plan novel competition

Rebecca Meacham and Chuck Rybak, associate professors of English and Humanistic Studies and a.k.a. UW-Green Bay’s creative writing program, are teaching concurrent — and competing — workshops in novel writing this fall. This is the first offering of English 305: Novel Writing Workshop, at UW-Green Bay. Each workshop student will produce a complete 50,000 word novel draft by Nov. 30. Follow the stories of #writestuff (Team Meacham) and #pulitzerposse (Team Rybak) on Twitter @uwgbnovelists, where students vow that #wewillwriteallthewords !

Faculty note: Meacham publications

Rebecca Meacham, associate professor of English and Humanistic Studies, published multiple flash fiction and nonfiction pieces this spring and summer. Her piece about the 1871 Peshtigo fire, “Mrs. Williamson Winds the Watch,” was published in Indiana Review‘s summer 2014 issue as a finalist for the magazine’s “Half-K” prize, while other flash fiction pieces appeared in The Collagist and Monkeybicycle. Another story, “Exercises for Printing and Writing,” was published in Digital Americana as a finalist for that publication’s “501-Word Fiction” prize. Meacham’s flash non-fiction appeared in Carve magazine and in Superstition Review, which also features a vodcast (http://superstitionreview.asu.edu/blog/2014/09/02/sr-podvod-series-writer-rebecca-meacham/) of Meacham reading the piece at iTunes U. Meacham was also interviewed at the blogs for The Collagist, Monkeybicycle, and New Delta Review upon the publication of her 2013-14 award-winning flash fiction chapbook, Morbid Curiosities. In June, her story “Beached” was long listed for Wigleaf journal‘s Top 200 Very Short Fictions of 2014.