Very Special People

On my journey into learning I have met some truly wonderful people–(in alphabetical order) Professor Hugh Craig; Edward Fenton; Dr Keri Glastonbury; Associate Professor Marguerite Johnson; Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillan; Associate Professor Jo May;  Helen Moffatt; Professor Pam Nilan; Associate Professor Alistair Rolls; Dr Monica Soeting; Professor Julie Taddeo; Dr Marie-Laure Vualle-Barcan; Associate Professor Caroline Webb. For me, these are significant others who, whether they are aware of it or not,  have inspired me and have in some way changed my life for the better as I continue on my search for knowledge, and strive to gain a deeper understanding of myself and others and the world around me.

Blog, HughYou have already met Professor Hugh Craig in some of my previous posts. Shy by nature, Professor Hugh Craig is also a humble man despite his many accomplishments. Well known locally, nationally and internationally, Hugh  has convened at numerous conferences, refereed journal articles and other works, and is a respected author. He has written books and book chapters, and has co-authored a number of  other books and written academic articles, and much more besides. As well, Hugh works tirelessly to promote the Humanities and his research, and enjoys taking part in activities outside of university hours. For one example, on April 1 this year, 2016, Hugh presented at the annual Newcastle Writers Festival, which was held over the weekend at the beginning of April. For more about this, see the link, all sessions by Hugh Craig What’s Special About Shakespeare?

Over the years I have known him Hugh has worn many Hats—to name some,  Visiting Scholar, Research Visitor, Visiting Professor, and Visiting Lecturer—in both Australian and overseas universities. Professor of English at the University of Newcastle, in past years he has variously been Head, Department of English; Head, School of Language and Media; Head, School of Humanities and Social Science; Dean of Arts; Director, Humanities Research Institute; Director, Centre for Literacy and Linguistic Computing; and has held a few other positions as well.  He is a valued member of at least two editorial boards, and holds major positions in the University, and is discipline expert assessor to the Australian Research Council. But no matter how big the Hat Hugh has worn or still wears, at all times I found him to be an exemplary supervisor and an engaging mentor.

A kind and gentle man and teacher, Hugh is competent, supportive, reliable, reachable, approachable, hardworking, and sage. He is a committed teacher whose aim is directed at broadening his students’ knowledge, enlightening their minds, and widening their horizons. In his teaching, he sets a high standard, and at all times he is courteous, positive, and professional. Hugh’s attitude is unfailingly positive, his manner always unassuming and pleasant, and he has real empathy with others. These are qualities that enable him to quickly establish rapport with his students and cope with issues in a thoughtful and considerate manner. Hugh encourages critical reflection, and instigates and thoroughly enjoys philosophical and theoretical discussion. His teaching approach and his attitude towards work is inspiring and enabling. He readily passes on his skills as a researcher and a scholar and demonstrates sensitivity by treating his students with respect and as thinkers.

Hugh is a discerning mentor and has the uncanny ability to maintain a caring attitude and an interested objectivity. He has always been happy to check and edit my submissions to conferences and publishers, and make helpful suggestions, and has imparted valuable writing and research skills that have stood me in good stead.  Through his fine teaching Hugh has provided me with new skills, enabling me to achieve that which I would never have thought possible, and made opportunities that otherwise would not have existed for me; for example, with his prompting I applied for and gained speaking places at various international conferences. Hugh has stimulated and fostered in me the ability for ongoing contemplative reflection and a thirst for knowledge, and in so doing has broadened my world. By example and by demonstration, and through his positive critical analysis of my work, Hugh Craig has shown me how to construct an argument, formulate my ideas in carefully chosen words, and produce an effective paper. His teaching approach has furthered my academic and reasoning skills, fostered my abilities to organise research, and encouraged me in the process of independent learning.

Even though I am an elderly person and retired from the workforce as such, Hugh has treated me no differently to those who have a full working life ahead of them, and has shown me that age is not a barrier to learning and achievement and inward growth.  In our meetings he invites my responses and input, and indicates that he values my thoughts by asking my opinion on issues related to my work. He is reassuring about my ability to achieve my goals, and is complimentary of my strengths. Through demonstrating that he has belief in my abilities he has given me confidence in myself, taught me that learning goes on regardless of age, and revealed that there is great satisfaction and fulfilment to be had from working in the field of Humanities. Hugh is an erudite teacher who models knowledge acquisition and knowledge development, and in so doing shows that learning is a two-way process that is ongoing. For one example, after returning from a sabbatical at Vancouver University, Canada, he informed me that my research on the writer Catherine Cookson had given him insights, and assisted him in his writing of a research paper while he was on leave. I am honoured and pleased that the skills which Hugh Craig has taught me have been of some assistance to his own research writing.

For the entire time he was my principal supervisor, and now as a my mentor, Hugh has maintained a keen interest in my academic progression, and in my development as a writer.  He is ever watchful for opportunities to advance my research papers and writing for recognition. On my behalf, and to this end, he collaborates with other academic staff for potential openings. For one example, while I was working towards my MPhil, Hugh encouraged me to research further into writers whose works were little, if at all, known in academia. At his prompting, I contacted Professor Julie Taddeo in America, and with whom I had had previous contact while researching the author Catherine Cookson, and as a result I gained a contract for a book chapter based on my research.  I have a great deal to thank Hugh Craig for, and I am really proud of the fact that he was my principal supervisor for my MPhil, then for my PhD, and is now my mentor.

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Blog KeriMeet Dr Keri Glastonbury, senior lecturer in Creative Writing, in the School of Humanities and Social Science, at the University of Newcastle, Australia. As co-supervisor for my MPhil, Keri supervised the creative component of my dissertation. Along with Associative Professor Jo May, Keri was also co-supervisor for the creative component for my PhD dissertation. For these higher research degrees, Hugh was my principal supervisor, and supervised my exegetical work, and over saw my dissertation as a whole.

A very positive and sunny person, Keri is an outstanding writer and poet in her own right, and she knows her stuff. Keri Glastonbury has taught me  a great deal about life writing, and also about other genres, types, and forms of creative and creative nonfiction writing, all of which has opened a magical world, a new world, for me, and brought me countless hours of enjoyment.  Keri’s teaching approach and her attitude towards work is inspiring and enabling. At all times I have found Keri to be reassuring about my ability to achieve my goals and complimentary of my strengths, and has revealed in me the deep satisfaction and fun to be had in creative writing. Keri has always encouraged me in my attempts and continues to follow my academic progression with interest, and is always ready to pass on information that could assist me in my progress. Of her own volition, and while I was doing my PhD, of her own free will, Keri went beyond the bounds of her duties as a supervisor, and in her own time taught me how to write personal essays, one example of which was published in December 2012, in the Inaugural edition of the European Journal of Life Writing.

Parnell, Jo. “The Houses That Cried.” European Journal of Life Writing.Vol.1. 5 Dec. 2012. C22-C38.   E-journal. 1-8. Web.  http://ejlw.eu/ http://ejlw.eu/issue/view/4

I have much to thank Keri for: Keri has shown me how to form images, how to structure my creative writing effectively, how to write strongly, how to be “writerly” and philosophical in my creative writing, and many other techniques besides; and in so doing has provided me with the skills to write and produce creative and creative nonfiction literature. Through her guidance and teaching skills and encouragement, Keri has opened for me a new world of literary landscapes, and encouraged belief in myself as a writer.

Like Hugh, Keri is very hard working, and takes her role as a teacher very seriously. She has research interests in the emerging writers’ community, and in contemporary poetics and life-writing. Not only does Keri model learning in her professional life as an academic at the university, she also uses her own time, outside of work hours, to promote learning and creative writing in the wider community–for example, she was a director of Critical Animals (creative research symposium) as part of TINA (This Is Not Art) in 2006 and 2007, and has also been part of the program for the Newcastle Writers Festival for the last 3 years’ and, as well, she has organised master-classes with visiting writers for the university’s RHD students in creative writing (this year, 2016, with Charlotte Wood, and last year, 2015, with Marion Halligan). In an email to me about this, Keri explained, “I see these events as crucial to our students engaging with the broader community of writing and publishing.”

Dr Keri Glastonbury, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Science (English and Writing), teaches creative writing at the University of Newcastle. Keri completed a Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney in 2004 (where she previously taught cultural studies and writing). Keri has won a number of prizes and prestigious awards for her poetry. She is a widely published Australian poet and has received numerous grants from the Australia Council, including the BR Whiting Residency (Rome). In 2009 she had an Asialink Literature Residency in India. Keri has also received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Supervision Excellence for the Faculty of Education and Arts in 2011. Keri has supervised numerous RHD (Research High Degree) candidates, both on the MPhil level, and the PhD level. You can view her university profile by clicking on the following link:

https://www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/keri-glastonbury#career

In an email to me, Keri said: “I have had 3 books of poetry: Hygienic Lily (1999), Super-regional (2001) and grit salute (2012) and I am currently working on a manuscript of Newcastle sonnets, built around my engagement with social media.

“My claim to fame as an academic I think is supervision and I’m proud to have supervised 15 completions (including 2 of yours [Jo Parnell’s] and with many more on the boil!).”

In another of her emails, Keri revealed to me that of all her published essays, the essay entitled ‘Lost Wagga Wagga’, is perhaps the one she is most proud of : the link to the essay ‘Lost Wagga Wagga’, by Keri Glastonbury, is:

http://www.nla.gov.au/ojs/index.php/jasal/article/viewFile/3236/4077

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Bog Julie Meet Associate Research Professor Julie Anne Taddeo, History Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Washington, USA.

Middle Atlantic Conference on British Studies (MACBS)Secretary: Starting August 2007–

Professor Julie Taddeo teaches British Social History and British Culture in the University of Maryland, in America, and travels over to England to guest lecture at various universities there. As well, Julie is a conference presenter, and an author, and has written numerous articles, and authored and co-authored, and edited many books. Julie is sunny and friendly, positive, a fine and strong editor, and a good advisor and teacher and mentor, and is absolutely delightful to work with. Over the years, we have emailed backwards and forwards, about work and life, and have become good friends.

I first met Julie (via email) when I researching the English author Catherine Cookson as a part of MPhil dissertation on the topic of the damaging childhood in literature. I chose Catherine Cookson because I saw that until then, Cookson had never been considered for a published study as a writer in an academic light. While researching, I hunted for other professional writers who might have published or written on Catherine Cookson as a writer, and discovered that the biographer Kathleen Jones had written Cookson’s biography, and even more pertinent to my work, that Professor Julie Taddeo was in the process of producing an edited collated edition for Ashgate, on Catherine Cookson as a serious author worthy of a place in academia. At Hugh Craig’s prompting, I contacted Julie Taddeo in America, and sent her an essay on Catherine Cookson based on my MPhil work. As a result, I gained a contract for a book chapter based on my research. The title of that Ashgate publication, the very first academic textbook in the world on the author Catherine Cookson, is:

Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction, and History. Ed. Julie Taddeo. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2012.

This book has been reviewed by the Journal of British Studies <http://journals.cambridge.org/JBR&gt; and received excellent reports.

Journal of British Studies / Volume 53 / Issue 03 / July 2014, pp 823 – 824DOI: 10.1017/jbr.2014.95, Published online: 26 August 201

How to cite this article: Ginger Frost (2014). Journal of British Studies, 53, pp 823-824 doi:10.1017/jbr.2014.95

I feel proud and honoured and humbled that my essay, “Translating and Conveying the Damaging Childhood in Our Kate”, forms Chapter 5, in the middle section of the book: Jo Parnell, “Translating and Conveying the Damaging Childhood in Our Kate. In Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction, and History. Ed. Julie Taddeo. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2012. 85-102

Julie is a wonderful person and a good friend, and an obliging teacher and mentor. I have always  found her very willing to assist in guiding me in my attempts towards publishing books. To this end, she shares information,  freely offers advise when I ask, provides me with models and examples and answers my questions about the publishing processes and the steps involved. I am greatly honoured that she takes an interest in, and follows, my professional development. But in all the years that Julie and I had been emailing each other, we had never met in person.  Then, in 2015, I was fortunate to gain a speaking place to present my paper, “The [Dialogic] Nature of Literary Docu-memoir,” in the IABA (International Auto/Biography Association) International IABA European Chapter Conference–the CeHa/IABA European Chapter conference 2015: IABA World 4th European Conference, “Dialogical Dimensions in Narrating Lives and Life Writing.” 27, 28, 29 May 2015. Centro De Estudos De Historia Do Atlántico, Funchal, Madeira. Plane tickets do not come cheaply, so Bob and I decided to take a stop over on route, and spend a couple of weeks in Iaba 2015 European trip 954England. I wrote to Julie in one of my emails that I would be in London at the beginning and the end of our trip through England. Julie wrote back to say that she would also be in England during that time as she had accepted an invitation to guest lecture at a university in the north of England. Strangely, our paths were to cross in London, and Julie and I arranged to meet. To actually meet each other face to face at long last, was exciting, and wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting.

Amongst other things, Julie and I chat about our interests and our research. Julie freely admits to being a television “junkie” and says she loves to watch Australian shows  (in one of her emails, Julie said, “I just sent off an article on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries– I love that series– tried to write about how the series engages with the feminist/gender politics of the Twenties”,) as well as British television shows. Like me, though, Julie sees the Downton Abbey series as a “copy” of the better series, Upstairs Downstairs. One of Julie’s other interests is in helping to create a healthier environment: as a part of this activity, and at the urging of her community, she has led a campaign against the overuse of pesticides, and in especial, the common practice of spraying lawns, and the use of dangerous lawn pesticides. This project reached the community level, then wider community levels, and then the county level, and is now heading towards the State level.

With Julie’s permission, which I gained before writing this blog, I take the liberty of revealing some of what she has said in her emails. Julie’s PhD dissertation was on Lytton Strachey. In one email, Julie said about her PhD, and about her interest in the author of the North of England, Catherine Cookson:

“When I did my thesis on Lytton Strachey in the early 1990s my adviser told me I’d never get a job because the topic of homosexuality was too taboo in academia. Now it’s all anyone writes about! but it did hurt me at the time on the job market. I was drawn to him because I loved his humor as a biographer and his troubled relationship with the Victorians interested me. He’s had such a lasting impact on how we’ve demonized demonized the Victorians– I needed to understand him. Since then I’ve moved more into the area of popular culture: I fell in love with Cookson: her novels, her own life story which she used to her advantage as a novelist.”

About her work, and how it all begun, partly through a childhood addiction to television,   Julie writes:

“I’ve also been a TV junki, esp. British TV, since childhoode– and that’s how I have managed to turn a guilty pleasure into an academic endeavor. What I enjoy about doing edited collections (4 to date) is that I get to cross over into other fields– media studies/lit/film/etc, and the people are wonderful. Historians don’t always have such a sense of humor as, say, a TV scholar. And while my colleagues think it’s very respectable to study Italian cinema, they seem to look down their noses at someone who writes about British TV, even though it’s a huge export for the British and transmits their values and images of Britishness around the world! My latest collection involves 21st century British period drama and representations of masculinity in what is traditionally considered a “women’s” genre. I’ve also given guest lectures on Downton Abbey, which while not a great show, has had enormous international success, and can in fact tell us how we mythologize the Edwardians.”

About her lawn campaign, and the need to look after the environment, and in the interests of health and justice, Julie says:

“I started my campaign against lawn pesticides about 5 years ago. It wasn’t the issue I thought I’d become so active about– I assumed it would be abortion or another feminist cause (I’ve been a feminist since my childhood), but I realized that this issue is about social justice– the need to protect our kids, ourselves from an industry that deliberately peddles poisons now implicated in so much illness. When I moved to Takoma Park, a very progressive community close to Wash, DC, I was shocked that even here the suburban obsession with a green, weed free lawn had taken over. I could control (to some degree) what I fed my child, but I couldn’t control what was put on the parks and school grounds she played on – or my neighbors’ yards whose pesticides drifted onto ours.

“This has been, for me personally, an invigorating campaign– I discovered a side of myself I didn’t know existed. It’s easy to be shy and retreat to my books in academia, but not as an activist– it requires working with politicians and rallying citizens to action, and standing up to bullies who use intimidation and ridicule (“emotional mothers”).

“Working with a neighbor, we spent 2 years in Takoma Park, and the City Council passed the Safe Grow Act in 2013– it restricts the use of lawn pesticides for cosmetic purposes. We then formed a larger coalition (mostly moms, of course– not sure why dads are never that involved– and yes, we all have jobs, too). The County campaign was a huge deal and received national attention. Montgomery County has 1 million people, unlike my town which has 16,000– but we were an awesome group of activists and a similar law passed in October, despite very heated opposition from the pesticide industry. It won’t take effect though until 2018. The opposition has threatened lawsuits against the county– so we will see how it plays out. Right now we are working with the County officials to help implement the law and educate the public.

“Believe it or not, one of our biggest obstacles has been the Parks people, who rely heavily on pesticides. A scary thought– tell our kids to play outside and then we douse them with poisons– these are pesticides used solely to get rid of clover and dandelion!”

Julie is a very productive writer. Listed below, are some of her publications.



Publications:

  • most recent article: *“Sex and the Lady Detective: Re-imagining the Golden Age in /Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,”/*/ Journal of Popular Television /in Volume 4, Number 1, 1 January 2016, pp. 49-67

Edited collections:

  • */Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction, and History /*(Ashgate, 2012/).* */Sole editor of a scholarly collection of essays on the late 20^th century British novelist and memoirist. Also wrote one of the book’s essays and Introduction.
  • */Upstairs and Downstairs: British Costume Drama Television from the Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey TV/*, co-edited with James Leggott (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Co-wrote Introduction and my chapter on “Rape in the /Poldark/ Narrative.
  • */Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology/* (Scarecrow Press 2012). Co-editor with Cynthia Miller; also co-wrote Introduction, and wrote one of the book’s essays, “Corsets of Steel: Steampunk’s Re-imagining of Victorian Gender.” **
  • *Book is recipient of 2013 **Peter C. Rollins Book Award for Popular Culture Studies.
  • */The Tube Has Spoken:/** /Reality TV and History/ (co-editor, Ken Dvorak), *University Press of Kentucky, 2009; co-wrote Introduction and Chapter, “A Storybook Every Day: Fiction and History in the Channel 4/PBS House Series.”

Monograph:

*/Lytton Strachey and the Search for Modern Sexual Identity/* (Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, 2002).

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