Category: English – News

Humans of Michigan Tech: Tucker Nielsen

Tucker Nielsen posing in front of Legos

I’m an AFOL, part of the growing community of adult fans of LEGO®. I bought my first, a Star Wars set, when I was 6. I enjoyed how each brick clicked together and changed depending on how it was placed. One minute, a slope brick was a roof shingle. The next, it was the top of a space reptile.

The infinite capabilities for rebuilding and the universal appeal still draw me. As someone on the autistic spectrum, my interests change frequently, from space and castles to Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. But LEGO products cater to each of my changing interests and encourage me to build beyond the instructions. It’s a toy I’ve never grown out of because it grows with me.

My university experience has also been one that explores all the possibilities, and I’ve learned to hold on to my values and make time for hobbies and causes that matter to me. Initially drawn to Michigan Tech as a computer engineering major through my mechatronics courses at the Kent Career Technical Center in high school, I began realizing what my true interests were through editing and nature writing courses. I fully transitioned to an English major in summer 2020, with minors in writing, computer science and German. Since I faced the truth that I didn’t want to code for a living, I’ve found much more pleasure in schoolwork, connected more fully with my professors and peers, and become more active in my department. I work in the Michigan Tech Writing Center. In Room 107 of Walker Arts and Humanities, you’ll find our team of coaches helping clients with any kind of writing they bring — everything from resumes to cover letters. We even had a student bring in a Tinder bio (unfortunately, I wasn’t the coach who helped them!). Our goal is to help all students improve their writing as a communicative tool. For me, it’s great practice teaching what I enjoy. 

I was a Michigan Tech Orientation team leader in summer 2021 and am currently an ExSEL (Excelling the Student Experience of Learning) peer mentor. In both jobs, I work with incoming students to help them transition to college life. I use these opportunities to pass on lessons I’ve learned, such as utilizing a planner/calendar for all schoolwork, prioritizing your self-care needs and knowing when to ask for help. It’s also a chance to learn about new identities and cultures from the diverse body of students.

The organizations I’m involved in also allow me to work with people of different backgrounds across campus. I serve as vice president of Women’s Leadership Council, participating in  encouraging equality for everyone, especially for women and nonbinary individuals. I write and edit for our student newspaper, The Lode. And I serve as secretary of the Creative Writing Club, a group that encourages all writers to explore and develop their skills.  

I plan to work locally in content creation, including public relations and social media. I have my sights set on Michigan Tech, but I’m open to working for other companies in the area. I want to use social media to build up relationships, so businesses aren’t just selling products to customers. Many Keweenaw businesses are or should be incorporating community events, histories and culture into their brands. It goes beyond simply selling bikes, photos or food. In this field, I can see my creative potential fully realized.

If Michigan Tech has taught me anything about myself, it’s about being true to my passions. It’s about figuring out if you can push through the menial tasks in your field, so you can enjoy the fun parts and the skills that call to your strengths. It’s about finding a profession that’s interesting and worth growing in. I recommend embracing your interests, as long as they aren’t harming yourself or others. Life should include individual exploration and growth. Why are there infinite choices if we’re destined for only one path? These questions helped me find where I can grow from. Perhaps they’ll help you, too. 

– Tucker Nielsen ’22


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.


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.”


11th Annual Feminists Reading Feminists

Join us for the 11th annual Feminists Reading Feminists event hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the Humanities Department. Help us pay homage to the contributions of diverse feminist scholars and activists who have inspired us and continue to shape our evolving world.

The event will be held at 4 p.m. tomorrow (March 31) via ZOOM. We encourage you to sign up through our Google form ahead of time (or submit a video/picture through the Google form if you cannot attend) and at our virtual event via ZOOM, be prepared to share a chosen passage from your favorite text, your favorite video/audio clip, or simply participate by listening and engaging with those sharing.

Your selection should take five minutes or less to read or view. Prose, poetry and media are welcome. There will be time at the end for those who did not sign up ahead of time to participate in an open reading, ALL are welcome. Please join us virtually to engage in meaningful dialogue and celebrating the women’s history month – near and far – as a community. If you’re part of the dialogue, you’re part of the solution.


Dana Van Kooy at Yale University

Dana Van Kooy, associate professor and director of the English program (HU), was a 2018-19 fellow at the Lewis Walpole library at Yale University in May-June. While there, she gave two presentations about her research for her book project, Atlantic Configurations and the Aesthetics of Disappearance. One presentation was given at the Lewis Walpole library and another at the Yale Center for British Art.

Her essay, “Speculative Tragedy and Spatial Play: Scaling Byron’s Sardanapalus,” was published in Studies in Romanticism (Spring 2019). This essay explores how Byron reformulated the conventions of tragedy during the Romantic period, creating an alternative—speculative and utopian—framework that provided audiences with more expansive rubrics of heroism, history, and empire.


Van Kooy Selected to Receive Fulbright Award

Dana Van KooyDana Van Kooy (HU) has been selected to receive the 2019-20 Fulbright National Library of Scotland Award. She will spend six months at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh researching topics relevant to her current book project, “Atlantic Configurations of Modernity and the Aesthetics of Disappearance.”

Van Kooy will also contribute to the library’s public lecture program, and reach out to several universities in Scotland to facilitate conversations about her research.


New work from Dana Van Kooy

Dana Van Kooy‘s (HU) review essay, “Re-printing, Re-citing, and Re-circulating Romanticisms and the Question of Commitment” has been published in European Romantic Review, Vol. 30, Issue 1. Dr. Van Kooy also recently attended the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Study (ASECS) in Denver, Colorado where she presented her paper, “The Plantation as Modern Configuration, Infrastructure, and Literary Form,” on the panel, “Ghost Acres: Climates and Ecologies of the Georgic.”


Savage Vision: Of Maroons, Black Men, and Violence

Paul Youngquist, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, will deliver the talk, “Savage Vision: Of Maroons, Black Men and Violence” from 4:30 – 6 p.m. Thursday (April 4) in ChemSci 102.

This talk will focus on how Maroons were depicted by white colonial settlers in Jamaica in the aftermath of the Second Maroon War (1795-96) and connect these portraits to how young black men are represented in the news media today.

This talk is sponsored by the English program in the Humanities department.


Stephanie Carpenter Publishes Book Review

Stephanie CarpenterStephanie Carpenter has published an omnibus book review in the Fall 2018 issue of The Missouri Review. Her piece, “The End of the World as We Know It: Four Novels of Climate Change,” considers new novels by Louise Erdrich, Jenni Fagan, Paul Kingsnorth and James Bradley. Carpenter will again teach Literature and the Environment (HU 3508) in Fall 2020.


Award-winning Fiction Writer Diane Cook to Read Tuesday

Diane CookAward-winning fiction writer Diane Cook will give a reading from her work from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 6) in ME-EM 112.

Cook is the author of the story collection Man V. Nature, and was formerly a producer for the public radio show This American Life. Man V. Nature was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, Believer Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

Cook’s stories have appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Granta and elsewhere and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Cook is the recipient of a 2016 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Michigan native, she has served as a National Park volunteer on Isle Royale.

The reading is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow, with books available for purchase at the door.

This event is sponsored by the English Program, Department of Humanities and the Visiting Professor Lecturer/Scholar Series (VPLSS), which is funded by a grant to the Provost’s Office from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.