Professor Hugh Egan, founding director of the Honors Program, and Professor of English concludes his three year term as the Robert Ryan Professor of the Humanities with lecture on the rhetorical relationship between Fredrick Douglass and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ithaca College is a long-standing member of the international English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. Every year our chapter organizes special events for both students in the English major and the broader student body. These include a weekly a coffee roundtable in the English Department, lectures by current English faculty members, readings at the community-owned Buffalo Street Books, and a yearly induction ceremony and gala dinner for newly initiated members of the society.
On April 4, 2011, playwright Tony Kushner, author of the acclaimed play Angels in America, visited Ithaca College as the Distinguished Humanities speaker. Instead of the usual lecture, Kushner was interviewed by English Department chair Claire Gleitman, whose On the Verge reader's theater troupe performed Angels in America, part one, on April 14. Interview and reading both took place on the Hoerner Main Stage, Dillingham Center. Kushner's visit coincided with a Block I seminar in the Honors Program, "Tony Kushner and Angels in America."
"A Survey of Literature: M.H. Abrams Visits Ithaca College," by Samuel B. Lupowitz
On the afternoon of April 13th, 2011, IC professor David Kramer introduced a special session of his Honors seminar, "Ithaca: The Art of Place." The course focused on works of art (mostly of the literary variety) created in the area, and throughout the semester, a number of guests had helped guide the class through a discovery of what Professor Kramer calls "the uniqueness of where we are, and the artistic importance of what has happened here." In this regard, the day's guest was special, and Professor Kramer made sure everyone was aware of it when he introduced Cornell University Class of 1916 Professor of English Literature Emeritus M.H. Abrams.
Declared by the New York Times to be an "arbiter of the canon" of English literature, Abrams has a lengthy history of academic accomplishment. His 1953 work The Mirror and the Lamp is 25th on the Modern Library list of 100 best nonfiction books of the past 100 years. He has taught such distinguished writers and scholars as Thomas Pynchon and Harold Bloom. Most importantly, for over 40 years (and since its inception), Abrams was the chief editor of the legendary Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Although he had spent decades on the "other hill," the day marked Professor Abrams's first visit to Ithaca College. Dr. Kramer's inquisitive students -- and members of the English faculty -- were delighted to spend the next hour and fifteen minutes listening to Professor Abrams discuss his early years studying literature, describe the development of the Norton Anthology, and answer an array of questions about his experiences in between. His anecdotes were both humorous and heartwarming, enlightening and emotional. He spoke fondly of the quirks of his late colleagues and friends A.R. Ammons and Vladimir Nabokov, as well as his co-editors and successors on the Norton team.
Throughout the session, Abrams remained seated. Occasionally, he asked for a question to be repeated more loudly. Yet his responses came in a thoughtful but deliberate tone that rarely betrayed his ninety-eight years. He expressed marvel at the success of the Norton, which he and his handpicked team of editors "expected to sell some thousands of copies . . . what happened was inconceivable. It took off and sold all over the world." Though he admitted regret for the size to which the volume has grown since his time at the helm, he emphasized his great pride in his work on this influential tome for teachers and students. Most strikingly, he spoke of his hope for the future of literature, and the wonder that it can bring. "Turn off the boob tube," he said intently, and smiled.
Abrams ended his stay by delighting the audience with impassioned readings of Dowson’s “Cynara,” and Keats’s “La Belle Dame sans Merci," his own commentary. For a man with such a vast array of accomplishments, he was remarkably gracious and humble in response to the applause that he so richly deserved.
Graduating seniors and faculty at the post-commencement English Department reception.
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Scenes from On the Verge's November 19, 2009, production of Martin McDonagh's 1996 play, The Cripple of Inishmaan, directed by Professor Claire Gleitman of the English Department.
From the director's program notes:
The Cripple of Inishmaan takes place in 1934 on the remote island of Inishmaan, one of three Aran Islands that lie off the west coast of Ireland. Inishmaan is a place so dreary, as McDonagh portrays it, that there is little to do apart from staring at cows and, occasionally, pegging them with stones. Life becomes enlivened when word arrives that Robert Flaherty, a Hollywood director, is coming to the nearby island of Inishmore to make a film about its inhabitants. Most excited by the news is Cripple Billy, an earnest young misfit whom the other islanders treat with scorn. Billy's twisted body is a physical expression of his frustration and longing; his gently poetic spirit sets him apart from the other islanders, for whom cruelty is an irrepressible instinct borne out of their unrelieved boredom and longing for sensation of any kind. The arrival of Flaherty's film crew offers Billy his one opportunity for adventure, stardom, and--most precious of all--escape.
Like many Irish plays, The Cripple is about the importance of storytelling in Irish culture. Yet McDonagh is no J. M. Synge, nor does he wish to be. The Cripple is a darkly comic send-up of more reverential representations of rural Ireland--such as The Man of Aran, the film that the historically real Robert Flaherty did indeed make about the Aran Islands--as well as the tradition of Irish drama represented most famously by Synge's Playboy of the Western World.
Kate: Judith Levitt (faculty, Theatre Arts)
Eileen: Kathleen Mulligan (faculty, Theatre Arts)
Johnnypateenmike: Kevin Murphy (faculty, English)
Cripple Billy: Ned Donovan (student, Theatre Arts)
Bartley: Max Lorn-Krause (student, Theatre Arts)
Helen: Celeste Rose (student, Theatre Arts)
Babbybobby: Graham Drake-Maurer (student, Theatre Arts)
Doctor: Michael Twomey (faculty, English)
Mammy: Susannah Berryman (faculty, Theatre Arts)
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Scenes from On the Verge's Fall 2009 production of Girish Karnad's play Hayavadana, directed by Claire Gleitman, for which the playwright was in the audience. Read about it in Intercom.
On November 15, 2009, MAT candidates Mim Readling, Nicole Hartz, and Rachel Woodward braved the buzz at the Ithaca Public Education Initiative's annual Adult Spelling Bee, which took place in the gym at Ithaca High School. IPEI provides small grants for faculty and students in the Ithaca City School District. The bee emphasizes obscure words borrowed from foreign languages. Although they were eliminated after their fourth word--the Scottish dialect word "lachan," meaning a small lake--Mim, Nicole, and Rachel lasted longer than the typical team, and they left the field with honor.
Scenes from On the Verge's April 23, 2009, production of J. M. Synge's Playboy of the Western World, directed by Claire Gleitman.
From the director's program notes:
When it premiered in 1907 at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Playboy provoked riots so intense that the police had to be called in to try (with little success) to the keep the crowd in order.... A Dublin newspaper summed up the general outrage when it pronounced the play "an unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men, and worse still, upon Irish peasant girlhood."
The "playboy" for whom the play is named is a cowardly boy who is transformed into a man when he inadvertently acts out the unconscious desires of a peasant village through a dramatic act that turns out to be not quite what it seems. The act, simply described, is a rebellion against the father and, more broadly, against repressive, authoritarian control. Ireland, not yet an independent nation, had many reasons to long to strike out against tyrants... but finally lacks the courage of its dreams and banishes revolutionary promise, and also poetry, from its door.
Christopher Mahon: Ned Donovan (student, Theatre Arts)
Old Mahon (his father, a squatter): Kevin Murphy (faculty, English)
Michael James Flaherty (a publican): Michael Twomey (faculty, English)
Margaret Flaherty (his daughter, called Pegeen Mike): Nicole Intravia (student, English)
Shawn Keogh (her cousin, a young farmer): Alex Krasser (student, Theatre Arts)
Widow Quin (about 30 years old): Paige LaRoss (student, Theatre Arts)
Philly Cullen (a small farmer): Anthony Derrick (student, English)
Jimmy Farrell (a small farmer): Sean Golan (student, Theatre Arts)
Sara Tansey (village girl): Annie Goodenbour (student, Theatre Arts)
Susan Brady (village girl): Dani Stoller (student, Theatre Arts)
Honor Blake (village girl): Alana J. Webster (student, Theatre Arts)
Tony-Award winning actor Frank Wood performs in a reading of Paula Vogel's "How I Learned to Drive" with a cast of Ithaca College Students.
Ithaca College English majors at the Frederick Douglass Academy, New York City, in February 2006.
Why spend a semester at the Ithaca College London Center? Here is a gallery of places to visit in London and elsewhere in England.
On March 23, 2006, an audience of nearly 100 students, faculty, and administrators gathered in the college's Handwerker Gallery to hear English Department faculty read selections from books that were or still are banned in the US and elsewhere, or that have caused other kinds of controversy. The reading was part of the School of H&S's 50th anniversary celebration.
Cast of Characters:
Thomasina Coverly (Monique Huff)
Septimus Hodge (Matt Prigge)
Jellaby (Joshua Johnston)
Ezra Chater (Kevin Murphy)
Richard Noakes (Kurt Merrill)
Lady Croom (Elizabeth Bleicher)
Captain Brice (Michael Twomey)
Hannah Jarvis (Kathleen Mulligan)
Chloe Coverly (Addie Davis)
Bernard Nightingale (Jesse Bush)
Valentine Coverly (Chris Holmes)
Gus Coverly and Augustus Coverly (Tony Conaty)