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Of Wolves and Mercenaries

Dr. Steven Isaac has just published an article in the summer edition of the Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale 59:2 in France.  The article, “Le Loup et le Mercenaire: une métaphore d’exclusion au XIIe siècle,” looks at how medieval chroniclers, because they did not have the actual term “mercenary” (in its modern sense) available to them, turned to other descriptions, especially that of the ravenous wolf, to describe the twelfth century’s hired warriors.  Among the evidence treated is the earliest mention we have of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  Plus some werewolves.  And supposed armies of wolves who attacked in military formations.

Christopher Swanson sings in Filipino opera

Dr. Christopher Swanson will sing a leading role in a the opera Noli me tángere by Filipino composer Felipe de Leon (1912-1992).  Performances will be September 30, October 1, 2, 13, 14, 15 & 16 at the Henrico Theater. Noli me tangere (1957), the first Filipino opera, is a dramatization of the important nationalist novel of the same name by Jose Rizal  (1861-1896). It will be performed in Tagalog.

Faulkner’s Bitterroot published

Steven Faulkner’s new memoir, Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss, has been published by Beaufort Books of New York City. It is available in bookstores and on Amazon.

From the Bitterroot press release:


On the occasion of the 100th-year anniversary of the National Parks Service, author Steven Faulkner releases a memoir of his unforgettable experience on the Lewis and Clark Trail.



 Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss (Beaufort Books, July 2016. New York, NY)

narrates the adventures of Steven Faulkner and his eighteen-year-old son, Alex, on the Lewis and Clark Trail, an audacious journey across the United States that brought father and son from the High Plains, over the hazardous Rockies, to the homeland of the Native American tribe, the Nez Perce.

Using letters of the 19th-century explorer De Smet and the records of Nez Perce warrior, White Thunder, Steven and Alex re-experience part of the journey that Lewis and Clark made in the early 1800’s through the vast Wild West landscape.

In this father-son story, author Steven Faulkner provides an in-depth understanding of the often-unexplored Wild Northwest, reporting the hard times and risks of his journey, as well as meaningful chance encounters with residents who share their own stories.

The passion and knowledge that Steven Faulkner has for history and for travel makes this book a must-read for all Wild West history-lovers.



Steven Faulkner grew up in the Sudan and Ethiopia in Africa, and later in Arkansas and Kansas. After dropping out of college, he married, had children, and worked a variety of jobs: driving dump trucks and concrete mixers, carpet cleaning, roofing, newspaper and doughnut delivery, and spent fourteen years as a carpenter.

Invited Keynotes from Sean Ruday and Jennie Miskec

Zagreb1Jennie Miskec has been selected to deliver the keynote lecture in Zagreb in October at the opening of an international conference,  “A Century of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s Croatian Tales of Long Ago.” Stemming from her work during recent summer courses offered in Croatia (with David Hardin), Dr. Miskec’s presentation is titled “Croatian Children’s Culture Abroad.”  Meanwhile, Sean Ruday was invited by Pittsburgh Public Schools this month to present the keynote address and lead breakout workshops for a language arts professional development session during the opening meeting of the school division’s faculty this year. 


Bjoern Ludwar on “With Good Reason”


The NPR radio show With Good Reason features Bjoern Ludwar this month, talking about how fingerprint symmetry could potentially predict the risk for Type 2 diabetes. In Farmville the show is broadcast on WMLU 91.3 FM Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m., but it is also available online at http://withgoodreasonradio.org/episode/digital-doctors/?t=00:17:13.

Michael Lund wins the Col. Darron L. Wright Award

L__(16)_lund_rdax_159x106Professor Emeritus Michael Lund has been selected as second place finalist in the Col. Darron L. Wright Award for his short story, “Left-Hearted,” which was published by Line of Advance in February, 2016.  The writing contest is funded by a generous donation from the Blake and Bailey Foundation to honor the memory of Colonel Darron L. Wright, “a thoughtful, reflective artist, eager to tell the truth about his men with compassion and a commander’s eye.”  Dr. Lund will donate his prize money to Home and Abroad, Longwood’s writing program for military, veterans, and family members hosted by the Department of English and Modern Languages.

Sean Ruday is Routledge EOE’s Author of the Month for June

RudaySean Ruday, author of the newly published  The Narrative Writing Toolkit, has been selected as the Routledge Eye On Education Author of the Month for June.  The publisher’s interview with Sean, which includes an overview of his other titles (and a shout-out to his mom), may be found here.

Pam McDermott Takes Students to Carnegie Hall

Pam McDermott will travel with eight singers to Carnegie Hall to perform on Sunday, June 5 at 2:00 p.m. Singers were selected by the Music Faculty and have been fundraising for a year to participate in this opportunity. Additional funding was provided by the SGA, the Music Department, and the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to work done during class, students rehearsed during Senior Week to learn the music for this performance.

Singers are: Katie Fountain, Madelyn Magnotti, Chandler Baldree, Lauren Peters, Kate Hundley, Angela Nigrelli, Laura Millon, and Jordan Russnow.

Rhonda Brock-Servais on With Good Reason

With Good ReasonThe May 21, 2016 broadcast of With Good Reason featured Rhonda Brock-Servais’s discussion of the rise of gothic and horror books for children.  The broadcast, called “Monsters in the Classroom,” included several conversations about recent developments in primary and secondary education.  With Good Reason is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Steve Faulkner earns starred review from Kirkus Reviews

BitterrootKirkus Reviews, one of the premier American book review magazines, has awarded a starred review to Steve Faulkner’s forthcoming memoir Bitterroot.

From KR: A well-recounted father-and-son journey in the Missouri River country.

That land is definitively Lewis and Clark territory, and that duo figures prominently, though mostly in the mountainous region of the title, a place that Faulkner (Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts, 2007)—a Kansas flatlander by way of Virginia—knows well. More, it was the haunt of Pierre Jean De Smet, a Jesuit priest who in 1840 and 1841 traveled the Oregon Trail and in the bargain helped “popularize that arduous journey west.” De Smet makes a good tutelary spirit for the journey, a wise intermediary among the worlds of Europe and Native America, a binary that still exists out on the land. Mixing in accounts by a Nez Perce warrior named White Thunder, Faulkner ventures a “three-legged understanding of the northern half of what was then called the Far West.” To make life interesting, he and his 18-year-old son Alex traveled by a variety of conveyances, including canoes, bicycles, and their own two feet, meeting all sorts of people, from wary sheriffs to itinerant Indians to truckers and scholars. Alex’s presence complicates the narrative, but in good ways, for the father-son business between them is emphatically less fraught than what readers encounter in the kindred spirit of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s a pleasure to find the drama in hailstorms and the bawls of grizzly bears instead. Faulkner tells an unadorned, unaffected story, with an occasional tendency to overquote from historical sources more than balanced by his strong descriptions of people and places—e.g., “We are on a high bluff of whitish-grey, speckled limestone, much of it silted over with a thin soil and fringed in blowing prairie grasses.” Among the many high points are a sympathetic reimagining of Little Big Horn and a hell-for-leather bicycle ride down an impossibly steep mountain, “down and down, swerving, leaning, braking, vast treescapes of fir and spruce greeting us at every turn.

A fine travelogue worthy of shelving next to Jonathan Raban and William Least Heat-Moon.