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

Summer 2020

Message from the Chair

Dear Alumni & Friends of English at WSU:

This year has been incredibly challenging, but I am proud to say that our faculty, staff, and students are meeting the challenges with grace, good will, and creativity.

Donna Potts smiles beside a filled book case.
Donna Potts

Just before Spring Break, we received Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and had to suspend on-campus classes. Our faculty and students transitioned well to online teaching. Without physical access to our archives and libraries, we learned to rely even more on electronic resources. Ingenuity and dedication to excellence in education, research, and service were demonstrated department-wide.

Immediately before the broader shutdown, the editors of our undergraduate journal, LandEscapes, attended the Associated Writing Programs annual conference—the largest Creative Writing Conference in the country. Despite the circumstances, they managed to produce a beautiful edition of the journal in April. In support for our community in Pullman, Linda Russo, director of Creative Writing, organized an online fundraiser for baristas at the local coffee shop who have hosted our Open Mic for nearly seven years and are now unemployed or underemployed. And, although no recognition ceremonies could be held, we were honored with a record number of departmental, college, and University awards.

The following month, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, which highlighted the heart-breaking pattern of violence against people of color, we responded in various ways to the Black Lives Matter movement. Our new director of Composition, Melissa Nicolas, worked with graduate students and faculty to craft a statement and to meet weekly to read and discuss anti-racist pedagogy. We hope to continue these conversations in the fall, expanding them to include our undergraduates.

When the pandemic ends, we look forward to resuming our plans for Summer Experimental Theatre, English Club (reading groups, attendance at community theatre performances, movies, parties, and more), Visiting Writers Series, and other activities. Meanwhile, our English Club advisor, Rachael Wolney, has agreed to offer online opportunities for English Club members this fall.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter, and please know your continued support and shared commitment to the Department of English—and to our mission as an integral part of a land-grant university—is greatly appreciated.

Take care, and stay healthy.

Donna L. Potts

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)