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Department of English Newsletter College of Arts & Sciences

2021-22 Chair’s Message

English Matters. College of Arts and Sciences, Washington State University.

2021-2022

Message from the Chair

Dear Alumni, Friends, and Family,

We are thrilled that our students, faculty, and staff are again enjoying seeing each other and making connections in-person as well as online, and we are pleased to share this newsletter highlighting many of the English department’s activities during the past year.

Donna Potts smiles beside a bookcase of faculty publications.
Donna Potts

In addition to resuming our Scholarships and Awards Ceremony in person, we celebrated together at WSU’s Spring and Fall commencements. Our Visiting Writers Series, co-directed by Cameron McGill and Julian Ankney, hosted a range of remarkable writers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natalie Diaz.

Professor Donna Campbell’s “Editing Wharton in a Digital Age” provided opportunities for our graduate students to contribute to an edition of Wharton’s 1905 novel, The House of MirthCreative Writing Director Linda Russo worked with our students on the Plant Poems Project, which gave emerging poets the opportunity to write about local flora and install signage featuring their poetry along a walking trail that runs beside a section of Missouri Flat Creek in downtown Pullman. 

Last spring, we hosted an in-person launch of our undergraduate journal, LandEscapes, featuring Ferdinand’s ice cream and readings by contributors at WSU’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Later that month, we had a performance of A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” by our program coordinator, Kim Pedersen, and one of our poetry professors, Colin Criss. 

From May to June, Criss led students on a study-abroad trip to Ireland (the trip had been on hold for the past two years), and I was delighted to accompany the group. We visited various sites in Ireland—the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the Giant’s Causeway—and students had opportunities to meet poets, discuss poetry, and explore the landscape. I had a Fulbright lecturing award in Ireland from 1997 to 1998, and have returned there often; it was a pleasure to introduce an amazing group of students to the country, and we hope to make it an annual event.

I also hope to resume our Summer Experimental Theatre for high school students. Young Jean Lee, a Broadway playwright who grew up in Pullman, has been my inspiration, and I hope that she will come to Pullman to see the students perform. 

English Department Excellence funds provided money for Study Abroad, student travel to conferences, English Club activities, technology, and the general enhancement of experiences and opportunities for our students. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni and friends, we can begin to enjoy the light at the end of this long tunnel.  

All my best,

Donna L. Potts
Professor and Chair

Stack of English faculty authored or edited books.
A sampling of the many books authored or edited by WSU English faculty. (click to enlarge image)