Calling All Writers: Summer Youth Program a Success

The Class of Writers poses at Prince's Point on the Portage
The Class of Writers poses at Prince’s Point on the Portage.

Thirteen high school students joined us for a week of writing-related activities, led by Maria Bergstrom, Humanities Department Lecturer, and Kate Woodford (English). The students spent time exploring the natural world throughout the Keweenaw and using it for inspiration in individual writing projects. They also had the opportunity to meet professional writers and learn more about careers in writing-related fields.

Highlights of the week included a trip to McLean State Park, a hike to Hungarian Falls, and an opportunity to explore materials in the Michigan Tech Archives. The week ended with students reading their work for a broad audience in a Facebook Live event.

This year the Humanities department was able to offer four scholarships to encourage local students and underrepresented students to take advantage of this opportunity.

Michigan Tech Summer Youth Programs is organized through the Michigan Tech Center for Educational Outreach.

Calling All Writers Summer Youth Program

Hear about the student’s experience in their own words with local reporter Joshua Vissers of Late Edition.


“Bad Info” Project Funded by Michigan Humanities Grant

Dr. Stefka Hristova and Dr. Sue Collins (HU) have been awarded a grant by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, for their project “Bad Info: Fake News, Manipulated Photographs, and Social Influencers.”

This project explores issues of media literacy in relation to the spread of mis- and dis-information. It aims to educate college students as well as our local community more broadly on how to identify fabricated news, manipulated photographs, and social influencers and their infomercials, in digital media and social media contexts.

This initiative is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Humanities, J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, and Copper Country Community Art Center. Bad Info features three exhibits, four workshops, film screenings, panel discussions, and keynote experts in information literacy.

The series of events will run from October 2021 through the spring semester 2022.


Seigel Named 2021 Poet Laureate Fellow

M. Bartley Seigel
Photocredit: Adam Johnson

M. Bartley Seigel (HU) has been named a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellow by the Academy of American Poets. Seigel, director of the Michigan Tech Writing Center and an associate professor of creative writing and literature, is one of only 23 poets laureate of cities and states across the U.S. to receive the honor.

“I’m really humbled and honored by this fellowship,” said Seigel, who was selected as the 2021-22 Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate in January. “While it’s always been something of a challenge making art at an institution where attention is so firmly fixed elsewhere, my unique positionality in this pond of scientists and engineers has held me accountable to my words in unexpected and fortuitous ways. I wouldn’t be the poet I am were I not where I am, and were I not in the close company of so many different and exceptional minds.”

As a Poet Laureate Fellow, Seigel receives an award of $50,000 in support of his art, a portion of which is set aside to lead a public poetry program. He intends to collaborate with regional public and tribal high school teachers to launch the Upper Peninsula Young Poets Program. The program will introduce high school-aged students in the U.P. to the diversity and transformative power of poetry, encourage their emerging voices and provide them with a free college-level writing workshop.

In a press release announcing the 2021 Fellows, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets Jennifer Benka said, “As we begin emerging from COVID-19 restrictions, poetry — which has provided such comfort these past 15 months — will continue to be a source of insight. We are honored and humbled to fund poets who are devoted to their own craft and also their community. Poets will most certainly help guide us forward.”

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy of American Poets has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which in January 2020 awarded the Academy $4.5 million to fund the program.


Humanities Undergraduate Attends Society for Technical Communication Summit

STC 2020 Summit Logo

Professional development opportunities that students can take advantage of while they are in school contribute significantly to student success after graduation. For Julia Barnes, Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) major, a recent opportunity to hear from professionals in her field was a great way to continue to build her expertise and her network. Barnes attended the 2020 Society for Technical Communication Summit in May. 

While she was looking forward to a trip to Seattle, WA to attend in person, Covid-19 restrictions resulted in a shift to a virtual conference. However, the result was no less impactful for Barnes. “I was able to visit sessions that covered a wide range of topics from project tracking to giving feedback. I learned a lot and engaged in meaningful conversations with the other attendees as well.” One benefit of the virtual format? “All of the sessions have been recorded and the slides are available to download until August or so. So many of the topics this year are relevant, no matter the workplace or profession. I’m going to continue tuning into sessions so that I can hear what other technical communicators have to say.”

STC undergraduate students from Michigan Tech have been able to attend the Summit annually over the past several years thanks to the encouragement and support provided by Nancy Hoffman, a member of the Society for Technical Communication and generous friend of the Humanities department. The department thanks her for helping provide these valuable opportunities for our students.


Van Kooy’s paper for London conference examines ‘the plantationoscene’

Associate Professor Dana Van Kooy presented her essay, “Assemblages of the Plantationoscene” recently at The London Stage and the Nineteenth-Century World III conference, sponsored by the New College at Oxford University.

Invoking the neologism “plantationoscene,” the paper from Van Kooy, who directs Tech’s English program, examines John Fawcett’s pantomime, “Obi; or Three-Finger’d Jack,” which opened at London’s Haymarket Theatre in 1800. Linking the era (cene) to the performance and visual reproduction of specific theatrical scenes, this neologism offers an alternative framework for interpreting Fawcett’s pantomime, which assembled scenes of plantation life and its corresponding devastation into a formulaic plot.

Focusing on stage descriptions and those scenes advertised on its playbills, “Assemblages of the Plantationoscene” draws attention to the production of a visual ecology that reconfigured the colonial landscape.

In her abstract, Van Kooy established the relevance of the topic: “Throughout The Atlantic World, the plantation system marked a period of human and ecological disaster, one that theaters in Britain and the United States readily transformed into captivating spectacles throughout 18th and 19th centuries. The scale of this devastation continues to impact society in myriad ways, including racialized violence and policies that associate people and labor practices with ‘natural’ and/or geographical spaces.”


Technical Communication Internship, Michigan Tech Gardens

Whitney Johnson

When I applied for a student gardener position, I was overjoyed that I would get to spend all my time outside doing what I love to do while also taking classes and getting paid for my time.  It took me nearly a year to realize that what I was doing could be related to my Scientific and Technical Communication major based on the fact that the degree is incredibly broad and can be applied to a wide variety of situations.  The STC degree has allowed me to take bits and pieces of what I have learned in my classes and apply it to this internship.  This includes things such as design, spreadsheets, documentation, information organization, and prioritization. 

In this internship, I am mapping all 172 gardens across campus and documenting the plants in each one.  The objective is to create a page on Michigan Tech’s website where visitors can learn about the gardens and the overall ability to grow plants in a climate such as ours which, to some, may seem a bit difficult if not impossible.  The overall goal is to spread awareness and promote the creation of green spaces.  On the technical end, in addition to the garden mapping, I am revamping the garden department’s current method of chemical storage.  With this, I am reorganizing, documenting, creating spreadsheets, laying out safety procedures, and ensuring all OSHA standards are met.  This will be beneficial not only moving forward with day to day tasks but also with the overall training of new students.  I am thrilled that the work I am doing will be used for years to come.  It is not simply busywork, but instead, something that will help me progress in my career and also serve future employees in this role.

 I am realizing, while still in college and taking STC classes, that the skills I learn in school and apply in my working life are more concept-based than specific information/procedure based.  I am learning how to learn, and the STC program is putting me in the mindset to do that.  I know how to take in all sorts of seemingly unrelated information and connect them in ways that are unique and beneficial.  I think that this is a great opportunity for me to harness my skills in a real-world setting.  I entered this major because I was intrigued by the idea of being able to adapt to a work environment of my choosing and being able to take my work with me, not going where my work takes me. — Whitney Johnson, STC


Editing Intern, Portage Review Undergraduate Journal

When I was thinking about attending Michigan Tech some of the things I was excited about were the small class sizes and the opportunities that were available to me. I found these two things come together when, thanks to a small class size in my editing class, my professor reached out to me about an opportunity as an editorial intern with the Portage Review here on campus. 

I started my internship at the beginning of my second semester here at Michigan Tech and I was thrilled about the opportunity to work with graduate students and be a part of the school’s growing literary journal. So far, I’ve had the chance to write documentation, use WordPress, and edit blog posts. I have enjoyed learning new things and practicing my skills in my field. This internship has been a great opportunity I’m thankful for!

— Jayleen Rossi, STC


Design/Communications Intern, Visual and Performing Arts Department

My experience with my Humanities/VPA internship has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have been helping Professor Lisa Gordillo with an international art installation project, specifically I’ve been helping her design a model of the Mayan city Zaculeu, in Guatemala. She is planning on putting a temporary art installation at the site, so she wants a model to help plan what she will do for that instillation. Having a visual/physical representation of her site is very helpful to her process. I started working for her at the beginning of the 2018 Fall semester, and the position will continue until I graduate. It has been a truly fun and interesting experience. I have had the opportunity to practice my design abilities and frequently use equipment I have always wanted to play with. I have also learned so much about the fascinating Mayan culture, and Central America as a whole. This experience has improved my time management ability and help me experience a whole new culture. 

I don’t know where this internship will take me, but having international work experience will be great for my resume. If you are able to apply for an internship or research assistant position, go for it. It can only make your life and your academic experience more interesting, and having it on your resume is a huge advantage when you are looking for a job post-graduation. It is truly an amazing experience that I will never forget. 

— Zachary Marten, STC


Podcasting Internship, Portage Lake District Library

I managed to snag this internship at the Portage Lake District Library after talking to its director and Tech alum, Dillon Geshel, at a pre-career fair networking event last spring. I ended up talking to Dillon about an idea he’d mentioned toying with in the past: making a podcast. After playing with ideas for a while, we settled on a very broad “Keweenaw history and culture” topic.  

 My time at PLDL was very hard to describe.  The nature of my project didn’t require me to have regular working hours, but I still had to put in quite a bit of time to get things done.  I spent the first few weeks working in the library and the Tech archives trying to find topics and then write the first episode, a twenty-minute set of short stories about shipwrecks. 

When making the podcast, I had to dig up every bit of sound design knowledge I was taught in the two VPA classes I’ve taken. I wouldn’t have been able to make a professional piece without them.  Dillon gave me frequent feedback on what I’d been doing and was very positive about the whole thing; he seemed excited to have someone who could handle the technical aspects of podcasting.  

Having a background in STC wasn’t really essential for this internship, but it did make the initial stages much easier.  Because of the heavy emphasis on personal communication early on in the STC program, I was relaxed at the networking event and my first few days of work.  My early classes affirmed my confidence and let me start my work without too much stress. 

I would definitely recommend seeking out this internship.  It was heavily focused on my own growth as a professional, which really showed how genuine the program was.  You can tailor it to pretty much any humanities endeavor, and Dillon is always open to new ideas.

—Liam Andersen, STC