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ASU’s English Department welcomes its alumni home

October 31, 2008

From art exhibits documenting history to honoring literary giants in costume, the Arizona State University Department of English is bound with spirit this Homecoming. The “Come Home to English” celebration will take place Nov. 10 and Nov. 12-15 on the ASU Tempe campus.

The annual Homecoming festivity showcases the artistic talent and spirit of the department with an art gallery, book debut and alumni picnic. This year’s ASU Homecoming will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 200, the ballot initiative that renamed Arizona State College into Arizona State University. All events are free and open to the public.

“Comprised of highly accomplished researchers, faculty members and active community members, the department searches always for new ways to approach thought, expression and to experience language and culture,” says Professor Neal Lester, English chair in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Art and Archives Gallery will feature visual arts in a variety of media created by students, faculty members, staff and alumni on Nov. 10 and from Nov. 12-14 in the Language and Literature Building, Room 316. The exhibit will include photographs and memorabilia from the department’s past.

A “Meet the Artists” reception is set for at 3:15 p.m. Nov. 10 in the gallery. It is hosted by Bradley Ryner and Heather Maring, assistant professors of English at ASU.

Returning alumni include Bill Konigsberg, who received a master of fine arts degree in 2005. Konigsberg will debut his first novel “Out of Pocket” at a reading and book signing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the College of Design North Auditorium, Room 060. His book explores a young man’s struggle with coming out in the spotlight of high school sports.

Alumni and faculty members will take part in “(A) Wake for Milton” celebrating the life of John Milton, a 17th century English poet best known for his epic poem “Paradise Lost.” The event will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Memorial Union Gold Room and is co-sponsored by the English Club and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

A panel discussion on the works of Milton opens the event and includes William Gentrup, assistant director of the medieval and renaissance center; Jesse Swan, professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa; Gary Hatch, associate professor of English at Brigham Young University; moderator Robert Bjork, professor of English and director of the medieval and renaissance center; and guest of honor John X. Evans, professor emeritus of English.

The “wake” will follow with a eulogy by David Hawkes, ASU professor of English, and readings from Milton’s work by students.

The Distinguished Lecture in Medieval Studies will be presented by Alastair Minnis, professor of English at Yale University. His lecture “Medieval Edens: Sex, Death, and Power in Paradise” will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Memorial Union Pima Room. Co-sponsored by the department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture.

The weeklong celebration is highlighted by the annual Friday night social event, this year themed “Midnight in the Garden.” It will include a silent auction, drawing for gift baskets, music and dancing, literary character costume contest, and readings by winners of the Randel and Susan McCraw Helms Homecoming Writing Contest. The party will take place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Nov. 14 at the ASU University Club.

Capping the festivities is the Homecoming block party and picnic Nov. 15 at the Virginia G. Piper Writers House. Activities include alumni readings, a giant crossword puzzle created by Regents’ Professor of English Alberto Ríos, and story time for children ages 3-8 led by English professor Alleen Nilsen and ASU students.

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