Congratulations to Prof. Ted Anton, who was featured on WTTW TV’s “Chicago Tonight” talking about his book, Planet of Microbes.
by Taylor Spies, contributor to the Underground
The Gamma Psi Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the National honor society for students majoring in English, held a Gothic and Horror Fiction Open Mic Night on the third floor of Arts and Letters Hall on Monday, October 30th at 6pm. The event was small, but the intimate environment was perfect for ghost stories.
Chapter President Bintou Sy began by greeting those that had gathered and introducing Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program, Jennifer Conary. Conary gave an overview of the origins of the gothic novel and how we interpret the genre today. It was easy to tell that Conary was passionate about her topic, and her warm voice invited the audience to become intrigued by the gothic, stating, “Gothic novels offer physical manifestations of psychological horrors or fears.”
The first reader, Hannah Cantafio, read a short story from the novel Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, published in 2005. “Dog Years” follows a rich and mysterious wheelchair-bound man. Her words came quick and clear, painting the picture the author created.
The next reader was Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, Janet L. Hickey. Hickey read from The Book of Irish Weirdness by Mairtin O’Griofa, published in 1997. The book showcases short stories by well-known authors. Hickey read “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker. This was quite a step back in time as the story was originally published in 1891. However, the story had gotten no less eerie with age, and, followed a student renting out a house rumored to be haunted.
Assistant Professor Bill Johnson González read the next piece, a chapter from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, published in 1984, titled “Geraldo No Last Name.” This piece varied strikingly from the traditional Gothic. González expressed his attempt to find a piece of gothic writing by someone with a Latino or Hispanic background.
Associate Professor and Chair Michele Morano gave the final reading. She read excerpts from a short story by William Faulkner, published in 1930, titled “A Rose for Emily.” This story follows an eccentric lady whose behavior grows increasingly odd as she ages. She never marries, refuses to pay taxes, and dies in the same old house she was born in. It isn’t until after she has been buried that her house is investigated and the truth about her past comes out. The story’s shocking conclusion was the perfect ending to the night. The stories read drew the audience in. One became aware of Halloween’s approach, the dead leaves swirling outside, and the quickly growing darkness.
The Open Door series presents work from Chicago’s new and emerging poets and highlights the area’s outstanding writing programs. Each hour-long event features readings by two Chicagoland writing program instructors and two of their current or recent students. November’s Open Door Reading presents Chicago State University’s Kelly Norman Ellis and her student April Gibson along with DePaul University’s Kathleen Rooney and her student Andrea Rehani.
Tuesday, November 21st at 7:00 PM
The Poetry Foundation
61 W. Superior
Stressed out over impending finals? Drop by the English Department Student Lounge for a quiet, relaxing place to work on group or individual projects, enjoy a snack, or catch up on the latest literary journals.
It’s located in the second floor English suite of Arts & Letters Hall, the fourth door down on the right. There are two computers, tables, armchairs, bookcases filled with contemporary literary journals (especially useful for creative writing students researching where to send their work), and as of this week there’s a hotpot, tea, hot cocoa, and cookies. Across the hall is the kitchen area, which you can use for filling the hotpot and washing cups.
The Student Lounge is open from 9am to 6pm Mon-Thurs. and 9am to 5pm Friday. Please feel free to use it as a place for working and/or for chatting with other students and even faculty members who stop by for a cup and a bite.
by Albora Memushi, contributor to the Underground
Ted Anton’s latest book release, Planet of Microbes: the Perils and Potential of Earth’s Essential Life Forms, was hosted in the Arts & Letters building at six in the evening, on Thursday, Oct 26. The lecture hall was filled with students and faculty. Rebecca Johns-Trissler presented Anton in a brief bio. Anton’s previous publications include The Longevity Seekers (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and Bold Science: Seven Scientists Who Are Changing Our World (W.H. Freeman, 2000, Paperback: 2001). His book Eros, Magic and the Murder of Professor Culianu (Northwestern University Press: 1996) won the Carl Sandburg Award and was a finalist for a Book Award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Music was heard from backstage as Anton walked in playing the trumpet. The audience applauded frantically. Dressed in a blue t-shirt and blue khakis, Anton smiled as he played. He thanked the students and his colleagues for helping him shape the book. Anton had prepared a PowerPoint, and he took the audience through an hour-long presentation about his research.
He spoke about the ways our lives might depend on microbes. “The same chemicals that can kill us can also save us. Most of our antibiotics come from microbes,” said Anton.
“How many microbes are on earth?” he asked the crowd. Someone shouted, “Can you give us multiple choices?” As some guessed the answer, Anton said, “There are actually 10 to the 30th power, which is more than the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; if you line them up they would extend from earth to the sun and back two hundred trillion times.”
Anton ended his presentation by reading a snippet of his book. The passage spoke about the NASA conference in Chicago and Anton’s thoughts as an observer, writer, and a scientist as he faced the greatness of life among the fellow L commuters in the downtown district.
Anton completed his presentation by playing the flute and taking questions from the audience.
Upcoming presentations of the book will be hosted at Columbia University, University of Chicago, and others.
By Caitlyn Ward, contributor to the Underground
On Wednesday, October 18 in Arts and Letters Hall, the English department held a career night featuring a panel of editors. Wendy McClure, senior editor at Albert Whitman and Company, Kate DeVivo, VP at Agate Publishing, and Donna Seaman, editor for Booklist and the recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism, shared what it takes to make it in the world of editing and publishing.
Wendy works in children’s publishing, Kate in developmental publishing, and Donna in the world of book reviews; each career requires passion and creativity. Seeing these women talk about the love they have for their jobs reassured me that this was a field in which I want to work, and hearing about their different backgrounds inspired me to think about all the different career paths an English major can take. Each woman spoke highly of the challenges that come with editing and how each day was a small puzzle in making sure that this book, magazine, or textbook goes out into the world to positively impact readers.
Donna spoke about the need to be inventive, critical, and curious when evaluating any piece of literature. The panel also touched upon the importance of dabbling in different areas of publishing. For instance, you might go from working on cookbooks to working on children’s books, and each experience will add to your understanding of the publishing process. After listening to this panel of women, I took away a valuable lesson: have passion. Whether it’s love for an author, a genre of literature, or a project you hope to work on, a love of English is a must. Seeing three publishing professionals so enthusiastic about their work was inspiring and has made my love of literature, as well as my respect for those who work to bring new books and ideas to readers, grow.