Department Notepad


College of Saint Benedict

 Jeanette Blonigen Clancy (CSB 1965): has been supervising student teachers for St. Cloud State University since January of 2000. "I am enjoying a teacher candidate in English and Communication Arts in the Fall of 2011 because the candidate is as passionate about good writing as I am (read about my book and blog at Yesterday I was amused as she nagged her students (with humor and many examples) about unnecessary verbiage. I shared my indignation at blundering editors producing ghastly sentences in published writings of mine."

College of Saint Benedict

 Barbara Higgins (CSB 1984): is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as a hospitalist at Beloit Memorial Hospital.  Because of her major in English and her work in the humanities and bioethics, she was awarded the first Albert W. Sullivan Medical Foundation Scholarship at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She worked as resident at New England Medical Center (Tufts University) and the University of Wisconsin.  In 2006, she was awarded an outstanding community preceptor prize for her work with medical students at the University of Illinois Medical School's residency program in program in Rockford. She is married to Shawn Gillen (SJU 1984) and has two children.

College of Saint Benedict

 Emily Krump (CSB 2006): When I was eleven years old I boldly proclaimed to my parents that I wanted to be a book editor when I grew up. I didn't know anything about editing or publishing, but I loved books and that was enough. After many years, an English major from CSB/SJU, two summer internships and more than five years editing a wide range of books at a major publishing house, I have the distinct pleasure get to tell people that I have my dream job and live in the biggest (and in my opinion best) city in the world. My years at CSB/SJU and the English classes that I took helped to inform and expand my knowledge of literature that is vital in my day-to-day.

College of Saint Benedict

 Kate Winzenburg Salvner (CSB 2005): has been working as a curriculum and books editor at an educational publishing company since graduation. In the past six years, she's managed and edited a variety of texts, including a British Literature anthology/basal text; a Grammar and Composition program for Grades 6-12; test prep programs for state tests in English Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies; and, most recently, digital math textbooks for Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry. In 2010 she received her Master's in Education, Curriculum and Instruction (Children's Literature) from The Pennsylvania State University. She recently joined the Board of Directors for Everybody Wins! Iowa, a literacy and mentoring program. In her spare time she tutors ACT/SAT prep, reading, and math and dreams of one day transitioning to a job in educational research.

Saint Johns University

 Shawn Gillen (SJU 1984): is a professor of English at Beloit College.  He teaches course on Irish and American Literature, creative writing, and journalism. After graduating from St. John's, Shawn worked as a music critic and journalist for newspapers in the Twin Cities and completed his masters and doctorate in English at the University of Minnesota. He has published fiction, nonfiction and scholarly essays on literature and popular culture in a variety of journals, encyclopedias, and books and won a teaching award at Beloit for his work with technology in the classroom.  Through Beloit's international education program, Shawn has taught and worked in variety capacities with programs in Budapest, Glasgow, Istanbul, and Northern Ireland. He is married to Barbara Higgins (CSB 1984) and has two children.

Saint Johns University

Ben Karls (nee Rösch), (SJU 1998): Since leaving SJU, I have been teaching English literature and composition, most recently at Osseo Senior High School and at Century College in White Bear Lake.  Presently, I teach AP English Literature to seniors, creative writing, yearbook publication, and college composition.  When not pursuing English-related activities, I assistant chef at The Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis and have been involved in various local choirs, including Kantorei.  I recently got married to Kent Karls - twice - in a religious ceremony and in a legal ceremony in Iowa.  We are raising two dogs and adopting an infant.  I continue to live as Sister Nancy Hynes inspired... with purpose, honesty, and humility.

Department Faculty

 Matt Callahan (Instructor of English): This fall I am teaching the second installment of the new and improved (I hope) English 211: Natural Expressions that I debuted a year ago. It is going well and I enjoy the variety of student backgrounds and interests I encounter in this class. We do a series of nature-related essays and then cap off the semester with an original short story, which is what we are working on at the moment. This semester, I have been struck by the fact that one person's definition of Nature can have very little to do with another person's definition of this well-known, frequently encountered term. Almost nothing, in fact, and this realization will certainly affect how I approach the teaching of this course next time around. Meanwhile, in FYS, George Saunders is nearly finished _____________(insert one or all -- delighting, offending, frustrating, challenging) my students with his collection of short stories In Persuasion Nation. Outside of the classroom, the bulk of my discretionary time continues to be dedicated to a creative nonfiction project centering on a sensational story from my family's history .Beyond the wordwork, I am still adjusting to a house without children. It is clean and quiet. Very very quiet.

 Betsy Johnson-Miller (Instructor of English and Communication): This fall, my creative writing class and I spoke about Stephen King's idea of telepathy--getting the reader there mentally even though they may be physically or temporally some place completely different. The students embraced this concept in their writing, and I have in mine as well. What this means is that I have started to write as deeply as I can about the places where I find myself--the trails in the Arboretum, the wetlands behind my house--in the hopes that I can bring the reader to these places, too.  I have been working on essays on topics like dragons and monogamy, fields and evil, as well as several children's stories--one about a woman, a harmonica, and a tornado. In the spring I might start working on a book of essays about people who have felt the presence and absence of God.

Mara Faulkner (Professor of English): For many years, Karen Erickson (French professor and founder of the Collegeville Consort) and I have been part of a very small poetry writing group. Thanks to this group, I've written many more poems than I would have on my own. In some ways, the pleasure of writing poetry is its own reward. But as I tell my students, most kinds of writing are acts of communication as well as acts of creativity. That's certainly true of poetry. So, this year, Karen and I have promised each other and our poems that we'll send them out to journals and contests and let them try their luck in the big world.
 Our most recent foray is into a world neither of us knows much about. In 2013, New Rivers Press (Minnesota State University, Moorhead) plans to publish a multi-media anthology of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. It will be called Songs of the Rolling Earth: A Sonic Anthology. Writers are to submit their work in two forms-a regular print file and an MP3 file, with a reading of the poem and any background sounds the poet wants to add. With the expert help of Adam Konczewski, Karen recorded "Walking at Night," filled with mysterious night sounds. I submitted a poem about the infamous "Magdalene Laundries," where supposedly wayward Irish girls were hidden away. As background for my reading, Karen sings snatches of a Gaelic folk tune while skylarks sing in the distance.
 Though this multi-media anthology is a contemporary form, it takes us back to poetry's early days, when bards wandered the countryside and read or sang poetry in exchange for a meal.  In Ireland, they carried fiddles and tin whistles, and surely the birds and crickets sang in the distance. I don't know if our poems will be published, but I loved the chance to do something new that is also very old.

Cindy Malone (Professor of English): This semester I've been teaching 311: Writing Essays, a course I love; an all-women section of FYS, a new and wonderful experience; and English 120, a brand-new course in black comedy.  I've also been directing Amy Vander Heiden's Honors thesis, a unit plan and critical essay on teaching Pride and Prejudice in a high-school classroom.  S. Mara Faulkner and Rachel Malchow-Lloyd (Education Department), the other readers on the committee, have brought great insight and deep knowledge of pedagogy to the project.  All of us are delighted that Amy will have the opportunity to teach the novel next semester during her student-teaching placement at Apollo High School in St. Cloud.  One of our first book-arts minors, Nikki Werner, has been working with me on an ILP focusing on the history, current practice, and future of letterpress printing.

The sabbatical in Spring, 2011, gave me an opportunity to develop new writing and book-arts projects.  One of my sabbatical essays appeared in the summer issue of Hospital Drive; another will appear in the next issue of Post Road.  Thanks to the organizers of our Thursday Forum series, I presented the book-arts project to an audience of colleagues and students in November.  I'll be giving a similar presentation at the College Book Arts Association conference in San Francisco in January.  The conference promises to be a vibrant and inspiring event, and all of us in the CSB/SJU posse headed for the conference smile at the prospect of San Francisco in January.

Luke Mancuso

 Luke Mancuso (Associate Professor of English):  Joy and Passion.  Daily doses of joy and passion in both film heavens:  English/Communication 286:  Introduction to Film and English/Communication 386:  Advanced Studies in Film.  OMG. 2G2BT.  We have sat in the dark of hallowed Quad 360, and watched the flickering projections of pivotal scenes from such films as A Serious Man, Tree of Life, Lost in Translation, Taxi Driver, Babel, Black Dahlia, Goodfellas, The Life Aquatic, No Country for Old Men, 12 Monkeys.  Heaven goes on and on.  Life on earth happens in the short intervals in between film classes.   In film labs, we have marveled at the unspooling spectacles of five my favorite films:  Brokeback Mountain (my reading of the film is "Brokeback Mountain and The History of the Future of the Normal," here:; Bonnie and Clyde , Chinatown , The Graduate, and The Last Picture Show.  Oh yeah, we added to the lab roster a current film, Beginners, which dazzled the students with its whimsical intimacy and suturing magic:  

Continuing to tinker with two cinema essays:  an analysis of Gus Van Sant's film Milk, called "Zizek Giving and Receiving:  A Gus Van Sant Milk Moustache,"  based on Zizek's notion of the "universal exception" and the failure of the "Big Other" ( ), in order to argue that the film narrates a universal position that all of us are the excluded subject: You and me = Harvey Milk.  And an analysis of the best film of 2010, The Kids Are All Right,  called "Show Me":  Making Feminine Fantasy Visible in The Kids Are All Right ( ), concerning Jacques Lacan's notorious challenge to Freud,  that "there is no such thing as a sexual relationship."  Wait until you hear about that. You won't believe it. TTYL.

The most enjoyable minutes on earth are the 5-6 pages of Zizek I read each day, like Holy Writ (I said like Holy Writ, NOT Holy Writ).  Currently dipping into The Zizek Reader , and the essays "There is No Such Thing as a Sexual Relationship" as well as "The Hair of the Dog That Bit You."  Zizek's magnum opus Less Than Zero is coming out in the Spring of 2012, and weighs in at a whopping 1,100 printed pages. Better than lifting weights:  exercise rooms are too boring, since you can tone up and feed your thoughts with Zizek.  Here's a Zizek podcast with Cornel West on Tavis Smiley ( and Zizek on video at a sold-out Sydney Opera House addressing "Let Us Be Realists and Demand the Impossible" (  2MJ&P.

In 2011, the best favor I have received is the chance to serve as the  Guesthouse Porter at the Abbey Guesthouse, welcoming dozens of travel-weary strangers, eager regular visitors, and impressive dignitaries to our local campus:  I have met global clusters from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, Australia; spiritual seekers, an Alaskan salmon fisherman, a National Book Award finalist, poets, a woman Episcopal priest from Talullah, LA; University Presidents, CEOs, voluble professors, a small battalion of priests and religious, and dozens of engaging alums.  Indeed,  the axis of SJU has tilted toward the east of the Abbey Church, as I wander over there under the galactic canopy every night:  Hospitality matters: . The door is open.  Come to stay with us.  ATB.

 Ozzie Mayers (Professor of English):  In my upper-division linguistics' course, I introduced a new project this semester: students were assigned to perform definitions of words for an on-line site,   The function of this site is "show" definitions rather than to provide them in written form.  My hope was to give my students a way to enjoy language in a fresh way; the responses from them were overwhelmingly positive.  To see the entries, click on:  Be sure to click on "see all" to view all 8 entries.  You could also go to and enter the words.

Jane Opitz

Jane Opitz (Director of CSB/SJU Writing Centers): Last summer, I was honored to participate in Benedictine Heritage Study Tour.  The twelve participants (a mix of staff, administrators, and faculty from both campuses) spent two weeks in community studying and touring the historical sites of Italy and Bavaria that are important to the development of the Benedictine tradition here on our campuses.  What an opportunity!   The highlights for me were two: Subiaco--where Benedict lived as a hermit before founding his first monastery-was a soul-touching place that I did not want to leave so soon;  Eichstatt-- the cloistered monastery that founded our CSB Benedictine community-felt like "home," comfortable and joyous, but with a depth we could not reach in so short a visit.  All of us, I think, returned with a deeper understanding of what community means and with a greater ability to reflect the spiritual underpinnings of these places in the work we do here.  Anyone interested in photos can visit the website of the Benedictine institute of SJU: .    
On the home front, the Writing Centers have had their busiest fall term ever:  755 writers (and counting) for about 2000 appointments.  The tutors are doing fabulous work!  See who they are by clicking on "friendly tutors" under the pencil on our website: .   

Mike Opitz (Professor of English): The past year has been a very productive time for me.  I have spent time each day last summer and  this semester reading Walter Benjamin's major work, The Arcades Project.  This has been a great experience, and has become a major influence on my production of music and also on my teaching.  When the musicians who call themselves The Karma Refugees (Tom Daddesio, Kathleen Regan Downes, Norb Jost, Caitlin Brutger, Anna Wigtil and anyone else who wants to play with us) gathered at my home studio last summer for our annual recording session, the first song we recorded was "Suitcases (for Walter Benjamin)"-my account of Benjamin's tragic flight from the Nazis and his ultimate suicide.  The whole recording session focused on the songs I have written about Benjamin's life and work.  There are more of these songs coming soon to my song writing webpage.  Also, reading the massive Arcades Project has taught me that my teaching is more informed by what Benjamin calls "montage practice" than by principles of linear or authoritarian thought.   On November 17, I presented an illustrated lecture on this work at a Thursday Forum-where I was joined by Kathleen (vocals), Ann Rogosheske (violin, ukulele) and Hans Gunness (guitar).  This lecture appears in this issue of The English Web.  I am excited to begin my sabbatical (spring, 2012) and expect to continue the work I have described here.  

Finn's Quilt

 Bev Radaich (English Department Administrative Assistant):  I finished the quilt that I mentioned in my last Notepad entry (pictured on the left) for our newest grandchild, Finn who was born in May 2012.  He is a very happy little boy whose smiles fill me with joy.   I continue to read mysteries and have added books on caring for aging parents.  In part to learn better how to care for my mother and also to better plan for my future.  A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross is thought provoking and a good practical guide.  I'm in the midst of Christmas sewing and planning.  Many celebrations this year - with immediate family and extended family along with helping serve at our oldest son's community dinner in Minneapolis.  Waiting for snow and wishing the cold wind would not blow.  Happy Holidays to all!

 Steven W. Thomas (Professor of English): This past summer and fall, I researched, wrote about, and taught early American literature from a trans-Atlantic perspective. At the end of the semester in December I gave a Thursday Forum presentation at St. John's University on what it means to teach literature from that perspective, and earlier, back in May, I presented a paper entitled "The Poetics of Cash Crops and the New Economic Criticism" at the American Literature Association conference in Boston. I was also asked by the journal Early American Literature to write a brief review of early Americanist activity at that conference and the state of the field in general, which is expected to be published in the first issue of 2012. This fall, students in my class "Pirates, Puritans, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World" explored many of the subjects that I research and write about, including authors such as Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Defoe, Adam Smith, and Olaudah Equiano and topics such as literature's complex relationship to eighteenth-century commodity culture and, of course, pirates. Pictured left are some students and myself (I'm in the middle), all wearing a "Po-Co Pirates" T-shirt that they made for the class. Other news is that my student Brittany Werner gave a public presentation to faculty from different departments about her independent research on the teaching of "professional writing in business and civil society" and the design of a wiki-text book that we hope will be of some use to the whole department.

On a more personal note, this summer I did a couple of triathlons, and this fall I began trying out some new activities that I've never done before: amateur boxing and salsa dancing. But the one thing far more important than any other thing that happened this year, I was married to Maya Tessema on October 14th. Shortly thereafter I composed some abstract reflections on the institution of marriage for my Theory Teacher's Blog [here].

 Christina Shouse Tourino (Associate Professor of English): The top of my son's quilt is complete.  My next step is to construct the back and binding, make the "quilt sandwich," and then quilt it.  New deadline: July 14, 2012.  Highlights from our Capstone students: an original (as far as we can tell) argument about spectacle and modernity in Absalom, Absalom!, and some wonderful work on written discourses about jazz by black musicians.  I've also really enjoyed my Tragedy, Passion, and Sacrifice class, and I've learned a lot from them about music, political science, economics, and history.  Next semester I'm looking forward to picking up 311 again after a long break.  I'm also co-authoring a conference paper about Colombian soap operas with my husband, Corey.