Spring 2016: The Local and the Global in the Middle Ages

idols 2We are delighted to announce that the 37th annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum will take place on April 15 and 16, 2016 at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. This year’s keynote speaker is Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on intellectual history and philosophy, ranging from neo-Platonism and science in the twelfth century to national identity and religious conflict in the fifteenth. Akbari’s books include Seeing Through the Veil (on optics and allegory), her important and influential study on images of Islam and Muslims in medieval Europe (Idols in the East), and a book on Marco Polo. She is currently at work on Small Change: Metaphor and Metamorphosis in Chaucer and Christine de Pizan.

We welcome abstracts (one page or less) or panel proposals on all medieval and Renaissance topics from all fields and on the reception of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Students, faculty, and independent scholars are welcome. Undergraduate sessions are welcome but require faculty sponsorship. Please indicate your status (undergraduate, graduate, or faculty), affiliation (if relevant), and full contact information (address and e-mail address), on your proposal.

Please submit abstracts, audio/visual needs, and full contact information to Dr. Meriem Pagès, Director. For more information please e-mail mpages@keene.edu.

Abstract deadline: Friday January 15, 2016
Presenters and early registration: March 15, 2016

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Alumni Profile: Andrew DiCristina

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Director, editor, cinematographer, and artist–these are the words that Andrew DiCristina uses to describe his work. Andrew’s dual-major in English (Writing) and Film (Production)–and his training in critical thinking and seeing the world from different cultural perspectives–provided the liberal arts education that helped launch his career. 

ABOUT-MEWithin a month of graduating from Keene State College Andrew (BA English and Film Studies 2014) moved to Alaska and began work as a photojournalist. As a photojournalist based in Alaska, Andrew is able to do something new and different each day: he has ridden in the Iditarod champion’s dogsled, explored a coal mine in subzero temperatures, strapped himself inside an open plane to film a paratrooper exercise, and live-broadcasted a visit from the President of the United States, Barack Obama. His work is an adventure that, in Andrew’s words, “keeps things interesting for a kid from Massachusetts.”

In 2015, Andrew shot and cut a three-part series on the Seavey family. Dallas Seavey and his father are both multi-time Iditarod champions, and Dallas’ grandfather organized and raced in the first Iditarod. Andrew’s series is available on You Tube: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and his personal edit of the interviews and footage is available on Vimeo at Trailblazers. Andrew’s story is also featured in the October 2015 edition of KSC’s Newsline Magazine

Winter Sunday in Steward, Alaska, photo

Winter Sunday in Steward, Alaska, photo Andrew DiCristina

Interested in learning more about Andrew’s creative work? There are many routes to travel: check out his Web Site, Blog, and Vimeo Site, follow him on Twitter, or browse his Flickr Archive of photographs.

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Alumni Interview with Writer Sonya Cheney

This September, the English Department’s Kirsti Sandy talked to Sonya Cheney (BA English Writing 2013) about her life in the zine world. Zine is an abbreviation of fanzine, or magazine, is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images.


Sonya publishes Whatsername and Wonderlust, among other zines, and, on the side, raises chickens, an ornery cat, an energetic dog, and a baby hedgehog named Neville Hogbottom. She lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts in a house she is currently renovating with her fiancée, Dan Garant (BS Computer Science 2013).

KS: I remember zines from the 1990s and was so happy to hear that they are still thriving. Tell us a little bit about what got you into zines: When I was in middle school, Green Day’s American Idiot came out, and at some point within the first dozen (million) times I listened to the album, I started wondering who did the female vocals on the song “Letterbomb.” Checking the liner notes lead me to googling Kathleen Hanna. I still consider this to be in the baby days of Google and Wikipedia, whether or not it actually was, so I remember it being somewhat difficult to get straight answers then compared to now, but I did manage to get them with plenty of digging. Cut to me learning about riot grrl and zines, and considering I’ve always wanted to be a writer in some way or another but have almost zero patience for the traditional approach, it only made sense for me to fall head over heels for the concept of punk rock self-publishing. You could say it was all downhill from there—and I’m okay with that.

What are some of your current projects? I have pages and pages of ideas in this hot pink notebook that I snagged for $1 at Target last summer, and I’m always arguing with myself over what to work on in the moment. I have something like eleven ideas for one-shot zines, in addition to my two recurring ones, a per(sonal) zine called Whatsername (because after eleven years, I’m still in love with American Idiot) and a literary zine called Wonderlust. Whatsername is actually only in its first issue, as I kind of “rebooted” my perzine series with a new title because my old one just didn’t reflect who I am now. Sometime at the end of September/beginning of October, the fourth issue of Wonderlust is scheduled to come out, just in time for the Boston Zine Fest, which I’ll be tabling at with my distro, Nine Lives. On top of all that, I’ve been putting together my first poetry/prose chapbook and tossing around the idea of a zine podcast. Most days, I’m overwhelmed with ideas, but those are the ones I’m trying to focus most of my energy on at the moment.


What zines are you a fan of? My absolute favorite right now is my pal Jessie’s perzine, Reckless Chants. It’s this fabulous combination of punk and heartfelt and just generally amazing in my opinion. You can tell she’s been doing this for a long time, and it’s inspirational. I also love Telegram, by Maranda Elizabeth, which chronicles their life and experience with chronic pain/illness, witchery, and identity (See my review of the anthology for the Equinox a couple of years back). Some other quick favorites include Cometbus and Everyday Pants. In general, I prefer perzines because they’re so, well, personal. It’s a lot like how I love memoirs—I enjoy getting to glimpse the lives of other people and learn how they’ve gotten from point a to point b.

What would you recommend to a student who wants to create a zine? You can’t go wrong with Google as a basic resource because, unsurprisingly, you can find answers to just about any question you would have about zines. If you want something a little more tangible, though, I always suggest Stolen Sharpie Revolution as my favorite reference (I have three copies, so…). It has information ranging from rules on postage to zine distros to making your own paper. For such a small book, it’s got a lot of excellent information. And if you really want to jump right into things, zine fests are a great resource for workshops (so many workshops!!!), browsing the myriad zine styles out there, and connecting with others who might be creating certain works that pique your interest. It’s kind of amazing how accessible zines are now compared to when I first started, but it’s something that I find really exciting.


Distro: a distributor or distributed version, especially of Linux software or of webzines.

Perzine: sub-genre of zines, coined by contracting “personal” and “zine.” They provide a medium for zinesters to write about their own personal experiences, opinions and observations.

Riot grrl: Riot grrrl is an underground feminist hardcore punk movement that originally started in the early 1990s.

Zine: an abbreviation of fanzine, or magazine is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier.



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2015 Medieval and Renaissance Forum

On Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, Keene State College will host the 36th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum. The two-day academic conference includes faculty panels with undergraduate presentations. Associate professor of English, Meriem Pages, is the director of the forum, which has been held at Plymouth State University for the past 35 years. Read a News Story on the Forum published on April 15.

Presentations by KSC faculty and students:

Spiritual Motherhood and Monastic Familia: Defining the Boundaries between Blood Kin and Monastic Familia in the Early to Central Middle Ages, Susan W. Wade, Keene State College–Friday April 24 at 9:30 AM

Imperfect Men:  Masculinity and Otherness in Early Modern Drama, Brinda Charry, Keene State College–Friday April 24 at 11:00

Peter, Piety and the Plague: Royal Intercession in 14th-Century Cyprus, Stephen Lucey, Keene State College –Friday April 24 at 2:25 PM

Love versus God: The Religion of Love in Medieval Literature, Gabriella Raccio, Keene State College –Saturday April 25 at 10:35 AM

The Need for Sympathetic Characters: An Analysis of Film Adaptations of Beowulf and The Romance of Tristan, Bethany Cooper, Keene State College–Saturday April 25 at 10:35 AM

Gender Fluidity in Medieval London: Considering Transvestite Prostitute Eleanor John as a Lesbian-Like Woman, Samantha Charland, Keene State College–Saturday April 25 at 3:00 PM

“Her Mood Will Needs Be Pitied”: Agency, Madness, The Pathetic, and Ophelia, Emily Cackowski, Keene State College–Saturday April 25 at 3:00 PM

For information about registering for the Medieval and Renaissance Forum, please contact Meriem Pages at mpages@keene.edu

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2015 Janet Grayson Lecture

This year the annual Janet Grayson Lecture Grayson will be the Keynote Address at the Medieval and Renaissance Forum.

Coppélia Kahn will be presenting at 4:30 PM on Saturday April 25 in the Mountain View Room on    “The Making of Shakespeares: Commemoration, Cultural Memory, and the Bard”, which examines the practice of commemorating Shakespeare’s birthday–supposedly April 23.  In this lecture, Kahn deals with theories about how events and iconic figures enter into historical memory and how Shakespeare in particular has become such a figure. Kahn is the author of Man’s Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (1981) and Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women (1997). She has published articles on Shakespeare’s plays and poems, and on gender theory, Freud, Jacobean drama, and questions of race and nation in 20th century constructions of Shakespeare. She is co-editor of Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays (1980); Shakespeare’s Rough Magic: Essays in Honor of C.L. Barber (1985); Making A Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism (1985); and Changing Subjects: The Making of Feminist Literary Criticism (1993). Her current research concerns the creation of Shakespeare as a cultural icon in the 19th and early 20th centuries in discourses of race and empire. In 2009, she was president of the Shakespeare Association of America.

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Spring 2015 Student Scholarship

A Symposium on Undergraduate Research in Romantic Studies
Thursday, May 7, 3.30 to 5.30 in the Thorne Sagendorph Conference Room

This symposium on Romanticism features students in William Stroup’s ENG 495 Romanticism sequence: English majors Natalie Barnett, Bridget Goodwin, Joshua Snell, John White, and returning student Dr. Arthur Simington. For questions, please contact Professor William Stroup at wstroup@keene.edu

Writing Portfolio Class Reading
Wednesday, April 29 at 4 pm in the Thorne-Sagendorph Conference Room

The members of Jeff Friedman’s Writing Portfolio class—Nick Castine, Becca Falk, Jordan Lemerise, Jill Furcillo, Kelly Decerbo, Ryan Dooley and Collins Utterman—will be reading their fabulous stories, essays, poems. Please come to the reading and bring your students, your friends, your relatives, your children and your pets…Everyone is welcome. The reading is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you at the reading. For questions, please contact Professor Jeff * Friedman at jfriedman@keene.edu


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2014 Grayson Lecture: “Shakespeare’s Brainy Girls: Seeing Beyond the Hysterical”

Students Gabriella Raccio and Bethany Cooper, Grayson speaker Caroline Bicks, and professor Kirsti Sandy and Brinda Charry with professor Janet Grayson

Students Gabriella Raccio and Bethany Cooper, Grayson speaker Caroline Bicks, and professors Kirsti Sandy and Brinda Charry with professor Janet Grayson


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Dr. Caroline Bicks in the Mountain View Room

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Keene is Reading 2013-14: Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree

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Emily Robbins Sharpe introducing Andrew Solomon

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Andrew Solomon in the Mabel Brown Room

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Co-Directors of the Keene is Reading Program, Emily Robbins Sharpe and William Stroup with Andrew Solomon and Students

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The Eder Creative Writing Scholarship for 2014-2015

The Eder Creative Writing Scholarship for 2014-2015 has been awarded to Keene State Junior Rebecca Costanzo.

Rebecca Costanzo is a junior Film Studies major with a concentration in film production and a minor in writing.  She came to Keene as a (terrified!) freshman from Bethel, Connecticut but is now glad that she chose Keene State. She has been a member of Phi Sigma Sigma since the spring of her freshman year and is happy to be part of a group of such amazing young women. When she is not with Phi Sig, she spends her time watching films and writing. Her plans for after graduation including working in the film industry as a screenwriter or script supervisor so that she can combine her two passions:  film and writing.  “I feel incredibly blessed to be receiving this award,” says Rebecca. “I cannot express my gratitude enough.”

Rebecca will be reading three of her poems at this month’s Meet New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate, Alice Fogel event on March 26, 2014. The event begins at 4:00 and will be held in the Mountain View Room of the Keene State College Student Center.

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Spring 2014 Events

Meet New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate: Alice Fogel
March 26, 2014 at 4 PM in the Mountain View Room

Alice Fogel will be reading from her poetry. There will be a book signing following the reading.

Keene is Reading Program: Andrew Solomon
March 5th at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room

The 2013-14 Keene is Reading program welcomes Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (2012). Solomon tells the stories of families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender.

The Janet Grayson Lecture in Literary Studies: Caroline Bicks, “Shakespeare’s Brainy Girls: Seeing Beyond the Hysterical”
April 24th at 4 PM in the Mountain View Room 

Caroline Bicks’ talk will explore early modern ideas about female puberty and the cognitive development of adolescent girls. Ophelia’s privileged ability to see and remember Denmark’s past; Juliet’s theatrical skills; Miranda’s “beating mind” — all suggest productive mental abilities that go beyond the hysterical female who has dominated critical and artistic views of Shakespeare and the feminine. Bicks is Associate Professor of English at Boston College and the author of Midwiving Subjects in Shakespeare’s England and co-editor, with Jennifer Summit, of  The History of British Women’s Writing, volume 2. Her non-academic writing has appeared in the “Modern Love” column of the New York Times, on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, NPR’s “All Thing’s Considered,” and in the book and show Afterbirth: Stories You Won’t Read in a Parenting Magazine. Her award-winning blog, Everyday Shakespeare: Where Bard Meets Life, inspired her humorous cocktail book, Shakespeare, Not Stirred (co-written with Michelle Ephraim, and forthcoming from Perigee in 2015).

All events are free and open to the public.

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