Department Notepad


Susan Schoenbauer Thurin '63

After graduating from CSB in 1963 I went into the Peace Corps and served in Liberia for two years. After that I got my M.A. in English from Indiana University and eventually did my Ph.D. at UW-Milwaukee. I taught high school English in Milwaukee for a year, in a boys' (ages 7-13) prep school in England and ended the University of Wisconsin-Stout for thirty-five years finishing up my career there at chair of the Department of English and Philosophy. During my UW-Stout career I had exchanges and sabbaticals that allowed me to universities in Beijing, China and Gothenburg, Sweden. Over the years I taught a variety of courses, but my favorites were always those that allowed me to teach the old classics and English Second Language. My first experience in the latter was at CSB when I tutored a Japanese student as part of my work study program. That contributed to my lifelong interest in other cultures, work and travel abroad--my husband was from Sweden, so he was part of the pattern too. I was able to use my cultural interest in my academic writing, especially in my books Victorian Travelers and the Opening of China 1842-1907 and The Far East, an edition of travel writing. All those earlier articles and papers about Victorian novels are moldering away, of course. In retirement I edited a collection of essays about retirement called Retiring Minds.
After my husband died in 2005, I found a fantastic retirement hobby: I bought the local bookstore which had been started by an older version of myself, a former university teacher and widow. The bookstore is doing pretty well in spite of the digital revolution. It may be just a matter of time before paper books go the way of the blackboard, but not just yet. In the meantime, this old English teacher has learned how to run a small business, including building and maintains a website and serving on the Main Street Board of Directors. There could be a book in that if there were time to write it.

Jeanne Cavanagh '88

After graduation in 1988, I moved to San Diego, CA and have taught secondary English. I have had the pleasure of working with international students at Palomar College and The American Language Institute at San Diego State University too. I completed my M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Alliant University in San Diego and currently am pursuing a doctorate in Teacher Leadership through Walden University. I currently teach high school English Language Learners (ELL) and regular 10th grade English at Westview High School in San Diego, CA. I keep in contact with my Bennie friends and see them twice a year when visiting Minnesota! I have two children, Ben and Nicolas, who are in a dual-language program learning Spanish in Encinitas, CA at Capri Elementary. I love the diversity of students in San Diego and think my experience at CSB/SJU prepared me for my life as a teacher.

Megan Fillipi '06

After teaching in China and South Korea for three years after graduation, I worked at Anoka-Ramsey Community College before moving to Seattle to pursue my M.Ed. in Student Development Administration. Since making the transition to higher education and student affairs, I have held positions in academic advising and international student services, and I currently work at Seattle University as an academic advisor. Outside of work and graduate school, I enjoy escaping the city and exploring all the nearby hikes and beauty Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Department Faculty

Bev Radaich

As always life goes on and has been busy. Celebrating lives ended, living, quilting, traveling, working, etc. In early July and early September we celebrated the lives of my mother, Marvel, and her sister, Doris, (my second mother). They lived long (89 & 94 years respectively) and productive lives and were loved by many. While we are sorry to lose them, their lives had become increasingly limited and fraught with illness, so that they weren't enjoying their time among us. My cousins and I as well as our families are experiencing firsts this year, i.e., first Thanksgiving without Mom. It will be different. She was my rock.
Traveling was a trip to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia with nine family members for ten days - Split, Trogir, Korčula, and Dubrovnik. The picture shows our group in Trogir. Why Croatia? In addition to the fact that it is a beautiful country, my husband's family is 100% Croatian and had talked about visiting the "homeland" for years. This was the year. We're planning to visit again in three years with a couple of new travelers added to the group.
On the quilting front I haven't managed to bind the quilt I mentioned last spring. It will be bound soon, however, as it is part of an exhibition at CSB this spring, "The Quilt: The Art of our Community," from February 25-April 1, 2013. I've seen all the entries and it will be a fabulous exhibit and showcase the talent of quilters from around the area. Even though this quilt is still unbound, I've spent wonderful hours with my sewing machine, i.e., quilts for Christmas for some members of my family.
May you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Mike Opitz (Professor of English)

The last year has been a very productive one for me. I have been working for some time to develop a website called Mike Opitz' Song Connection. This work has been made possible only through the expertise of Media Services Associate, Adam Konczewski. Working with Adam has allowed me to see the possibilities of creating an on-line, multi-media place to share the work I have been doing for the past 12 years. This project has continued to be a living one. A loosely organized "coalition of willing" musicians calling themselves The Karma Refugees continue to write, record and produce new music. The site features the work of current and former students as well. But also, I have discovered a wealth of material made in other years by The One Drop-a reggae band that many of The Karma Refugees played in around campus during the 1990's. On my sabbatical of last spring, I finally realized that I have always been searching for a medium that can combine the serious thought of critical theory, the powerful creative impact of poetic music and memoir-like prose. I call these pieces "Montage" drawn from Walter Benjamin's term for post-modern expression-"montage practice." I have given several "illustrated lectures" in the past-talks illustrated by musical performance. I now see that the website can be a vehicle for this kind of material, and it is exciting to be doing this work. The most recent Montages include the song "Summer and a Dream"-inspired by Hawaiian slack-key guitar and the soon to be posted "Midnight in Triana"-a song that alludes to flamenco music and Benda Bilili, a band of Congolese polio victims. These are the two songs we wrote and recorded last summer. This work will continue to be updated since I use it as a supplement in all my classes. I would love to hear from anyone who ventures into Mike Opitz' Song Connection.

One final point I want to make is that this work is necessarily collaborative. Current Karma Refugees include: Dr. Thomas C. Daddesio (bass and production), Associate Professor of Modern Languages at Slippery Rock (PA) University, Kathleen (Regan) Downs (vocals and vocal arrangements), former vocalist for The One Drop, Caitlin Brutger (keyboards and photographs) CSB graduate in art and music, and Matt Gaffey (guitar)-our most recent addition. The site will be updated regularly with new "montage" pieces.

Cindy Malone (Professor of English):

The Literary Arts Institute has brought Nick Flynn, Geoff Dyer, and Deborah Baker to CSB/SJU this semester, and all have enriched my FYS and English 311 classes. Electronic media offer wonderful new possibilities to watch and hear readings from across the globe; writers who visit our classes and share meals with us offer another kind of memorable interaction. I'm looking forward to the spring-semester visits of Diane Ackerman, Marie Howe, and Avivah Zornberg.

Meanwhile between the close of this semester and the beginning of the next, I'll be wielding my craft knife and my glue stick, finishing a small edition of handmade Tristram Shandy books. Just after the spring semester ends, I'll join a dozen others on the Benedictine Heritage Tour to Italy and Germany. I'm eager to go, but I'm also grateful that I have time to prepare and time to practice walking; I somehow managed to break both my left ankle and my right foot this fall. My brother sent me a pair of trekking poles, so I'm determined to get through the winter unscathed.

Luke Mancuso (Associate Professor of English):

I am gazing at horizontal cascades of blowing snow and blizzard-like blindness, facing the Avon Hills from my 3rd Quad office window right now. It's a frigid visual frame, as well as a seasonal reminder of the weeks of the fall term skidding to a sudden stop this next week. The giddy momentum of two 286 Film Heavens, not to mention a 243 Theory Heaven course, has a short reprise this week with a screening of that zero-level rebel masterpiece, The Graduate (1967) in our final film lab; as well as final presentations on From Here to Eternity (1953), a film that has uncanny resonances to my own family of origin (you can read about it when my memoirs come out); and There Will Be Blood (2007), Paul Anderson's counter-cinematic masterwork that exposes the failure of the paternal function in the symbolic order. Speaking of Lacan, as one is often obliged to do, I just received the first film heaven analysis paper, and it's an acrobatic gem, which deftly weaves Lacan and Marx, titled, "Godard Introduces Lacan to Marx: Surplus Desire and Surplus Production in Contempt." There is a rumor that some mortals resent their work, but some of us lucky mortals get to ride on from glory to glory. Joy and Passion. See More. YOLO.

In addition to the two tinkerings on earlier essays, "Got Milk?: Zizek Giving and Receiving in Gus Van Sant's Milk," and "Show It To Me: Making Feminine Desire Visible in The Kids Are All Right," I now have (yet) another writerly obsession, Steve McQueen's two feature films, Hunger (2009) and Shame (2011), two exquisite tone poems about the one of the core secrets of the masculine body: the desire to dematerialize the male body through an abrupt intrusion of the Real. Respectively, my two essays-in-progress are called, "A Proper Hiding": The Indelible Residues of the Masculine Body in Hunger," a reading of the role of Lacanian fantasy and desire in Michael Fassbender's wasting flesh; and "The Punctured Narcissist: Censorship, Passion, and Attachment in Steve McQueen's Shame,." a Zizekian reading of the sterile eroticism of virtual intimacy in the film. Like I said, YOLO.

My first Zizek Reading Group gathered every two weeks this Fall 2012 term to interrogate Enjoy Your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out in an energetic call-and-response method, and this next Spring 2013 term we will tackle Zizek's first book, The Sublime Object of Ideology. Dan Savage is right: It gets better.

I am launching my first English gateway course this Spring 2013 term, called "Hooray for Hollywood: The First 100 years of Hollywood Cinema," which promises to be a pedagogical blast. See you on the other side of 2013: Toto, I have a feeling that we won't be in Kansas anymore.

Note: the above entry was not balderdash.



 Matthew Harkins (Associate Professor of English):

This summer I completed an essay on the politics of age in King Lear, and I'm looking forward to starting a new essay project on ideas of the life cycle and pastoral in As You Like It. This will be my sabbatical project for spring 2013, though I have unfinished business with The Winter's Tale and with any luck (or with a lot of luck) I hope to revisit that play as well. The perfect coda to the sabbatical semester will be joining my family and a group of intrepid students on a May Term excursion to Venice this summer.

Chris Bolin (Instructor of English):

This semester I piloted, with the help of some amazing students, a new version of ENGL 211. This experiential-learning, creative-writing course allowed CSB/SJU students to teach creative-writing classes, to 4th and 5th graders, at Discovery Elementary School. Additionally, I worked with CSB students, Kit Chambers and Kate Murnane, to create (and sustain) community-based, creative-writing classes for area kids. Kit and Kate became the English Department's first AmeriCorps members and helped recruit and train their peers to lead sessions at the St. Cloud Public Library and for Discovery Elementary School's after-school program. Trying to build on the experiential-learning momentum, created by these other initiatives, I worked with CSB student Hannah Christensen to pilot a program offering creative-writing sessions to clinical populations. To my delight, this fall, Hannah began guiding creative-writing sessions in the CentraCare dialysis unit. Currently, I am working toward offering this opportunity to other pre-health science majors, in coming years. By all accounts, all of these initiatives have been quite successful and stand to grow in future semesters. I am grateful for the dedication to service, and to the literary arts, that exists on our campuses.

On another note, I learned this semester, that my book, The Tally, will be published in the fall of 2013, by the University of Iowa Press.

Matt Callahan (Instructor of English):

My schedule this fall included a section of English 211 Writing Well. One of the highlights for me was assigning the text Our Neck of the Woods which included an essay from a former student Tony Capechi. I hope the experience of reading that essay gave my current students a glimpse into a kind of writing life beyond their time at CSBSJU. I am also teaching two sections of FYS again this year. The new wrinkle in that class was reading Annie Proulx's short story collection Close Range. Interestingly, one section enjoyed her work quite a bit while the other section may be holding a book burning ceremony even as I write this. Personally, I am struggling with a short essay describing a bike trip I did last May in Croatia. Writing about the experience - getting the right words on the page, at least so far - has been much more difficult than the experience itself (and there were several significant climbs). But if I had to limit myself to a single word, it would be "GO!"