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MnWE News Late Fall Issue
November-December 2021
Next Conference: Zoom and Minn. Humanities Center, St. Paul, Th.-Fr., Apr. 7-8, 2022

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In this issue:





5.  Equity Literary Resources (in each issue)

6.  Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters (in each issue)

7.  About MnWE (in each issue)

        If you are new to our listserv, welcome! We never share your address, and you may always unsubscribe at the bottom of any email.

        If you are new to our listserv, welcome! We never share your address, and you may always unsubscribe at the bottom of any email. Click here if you wish to view this or previous issues in your browser.
        If you are a long-term member of this listserv, thank you for your continuing participation. If you did not receive this newsletter directly and want to see it six times per year, join us by sending a request to the editor at 
jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu (L zero zero one). We suggest you give us a permanent email address. Also email if you’d like to join our Zoom committee meetings five to seven Fridays per year.

       MLA is sponsoring a student writing contest with guidelines for what it considers top sample college composition papers. It is looking for five essays to use as student sample papers. You might encourage a few of your best students to submit to win prizes and publication.
        Even better, you might want to compare the student guidelines to yours. What could you add?

Contest: Each student may submit one paper of 2000-3000 words (not counting the Works Cited list) by Jan. 18, 2022, for evaluation by MLA’s editorial team and final selections of five papers by a committee of faculty members. For format requirements, see the website below. Students must be 18 or older and enrolled in a high school or accredited two- or four-year college or university during the 2021-22 academic year.
The criteria for selection are especially useful if you are looking for a national standard for good college writing. MLA requires that submissions “should move beyond the traditional five-paragraph-essay format and include the following elements:

  • A title
  • A clear and original argument (thesis statement)
  • Ample evidence that supports and further develops the argument
  • An awareness of the audience for the paper
  • Direct prose
  • An accurate explanation of what others have said about the topic and a serious consideration of opposing views
  • Judicious use of quotation and paraphrase
  • Paragraphs with clear topic sentences
  • Clear transitions between paragraphs
  • An introduction that presents and contextualizes the argument
  • An ending that fits the paper’s conclusions into a larger perspective and answers the question, Why does this matter?
  • A works-cited list and in-text citations styled according to the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook

   “[S]ubmissions [with] the[se] elements are more likely to be accepted:

  • A wide range of source formats (books, journal articles, webs,...videos, etc.)
  • Tables or illustrations with explanatory captions
  • Subheads
  • A mix of run-in and block quotations
  • Endnotes

        “[A]uthors should follow MLA style and 
format as best they can and aim for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.”
MLA Student Paper Contest 
Contest questions:
The Source's Contest-Edition Webpage
2. Analysis: PMLA–DO WE FACE “THE END OF ENGLISH”?      

        In PMLA, is Jesse Alemán, Professor of American Literary Studies and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, predicting “The End of English”? In the 136.3 (2021) issue, Alemán begins by quoting W.E.B. Du Bois’ comment regarding the second Pan African conference: “It’s better to be Right than White.” Alemán notes that the University of Chicago English faculty, in “their decision to focus their graduate admissions in the 2020-21 cycle on Black studies,” reveals to the nation how “literary studies in English departments is white studies.”

        He adds that the calls in recent decades to retain/return to classic Western studies in English actually have been a “khaki code for white supremacy.” He says the Chicago English faculty’s move demonstrates that “English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness.”
        As some might say in Minnesota and surrounding states, especially in rural areas, those are fightin’ words. They are problematic especially at a time, now, when K-12 colleagues are dealing with angry parents’ misunderstanding and mislabeling of “critical-race theory teaching” in their children’s classrooms.
        Meanwhile, in post-secondary teaching, should we plunge on with, or worry or feel guilty about, using classic literary studies? First, Alemán does not want us to blindly continue forward. Second, worry or guilt is not productive (unless it creates change).

        Third, many of our college and university English and Writing colleagues for years have been introducing literature and other texts that go far above and beyond the Western Canon. In that regard, we already are following Alemán’s recommendations for us to “come to the position that our long-standing investments in the literary and cultural values of the standard English curriculum must go the same way as the Confederate and conquistador statues [that are] falling....” As he says, and as a majority of us in post-secondary English and Writing tend to think at times, “ irrelevant if it’s not confronting the questions of race [and] transformative justice....”
        Finally, however, Alemán points out that it is not enough for our universities and colleges simply to make statements about racial solidarity with movements for change. Alemán tells us that “the complicated legacies of race, slavery, coloniality, and displacement demand from us that our discipline be more...relevant to the conditions under which we live...for the students who continue to believe literature can make a difference” [emphasis added].
        Alemán says we need to shift away from traditional categories of literary history, our use of anthologies that deny racial identities and differences, and our traditional understandings of “literary merit.” Otherwise, he says, “the discipline has reached its end.”
        Every decade, another article in a major publication predicts, cataclysmically, an “End of English.” It really is happening. But it is incremental: we are the proverbial frog in the slowly heating water pot. In recent decades, bit by bit, the study of literature in colleges and universities has withered: fewer literature requirements, students, majors, degrees granted, faculty positions, and administrative supports. Many Minnesota literature departments, perhaps even a majority, have fought this tendency by gradually making our courses more attractive while still leaving room for “the classics.” 
        However, Alemán’s point hangs in the air, relevant but not always fully answered. He implies that instead of simply adding new courses and new voices, we need to change our paradigm, our holistic view. He calls us to reexamine, personally and departmentally, precisely what good literature is–for all cultures–and how we can make it more relevant to real student interests. In that way, he suggests, English literature will not die, but thrive.
"End of English" in PMLA (First page only. Additional access only by individual or institutional subscription. Ask your library.)
        A recent NEA article, “School Suspensions Do More Harm than Good,” says a new study “finds more severe suspensions have greater negative effects on learning outcomes, attendance, and future behavior [but] educators have better solutions.... Most educators believe that every student...has the right to learn in a supportive environment—one that respects their humanity, upholds their dignity, and responds fairly to mistakes and missteps. However, zero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies contradict these beliefs and instead push kids out of the classroom at record rates.”

        Harmful exclusionary discipline is changing at many pre-K-12 schools in the wake of George Floyd. College and university faculty may think they rarely need to worry about such rules. However, what should you do with a student who breaks unspoken or spoken expectations for being collegiate?

        I spoke recently with one faculty member who remembers how a student we’ll call “Kenji” came to her classroom a week late, looking like Mr. Cool. He lounged in back wearing a hoodie and wraparound sunglasses–a student of a different color, culture, and economic class. He had no books or supplies, and he wouldn’t interact with others in group work. She was ready to ignore Mr. Cool or let him slowly flunk.

        Instead, she decided to find out what was happening in his life. Working with him after class, she gradually discovered his story.

        His sunglasses and hood were not rebellion or disrespect. Rather, they masked his profound discomfort. She found a sensitive young man living in his car on the streets, studying when he could, with no idea how he could navigate college. He began completing some of his homework, personal essays that revealed a life she could barely imagine. A couple months later, he disappeared. But she was glad she had listened: maybe it helped him. Moreover, his story may have helped her understanding even more. 

        How many of us profile students incorrectly? In large classes, of course, it is hard to know each person.

        However, the ones who seem most resistant often are those who most need help. For this reason alone, asking students obviously different from you about their story can help you break through to them. It doesn’t always work. But when it does, you may help them achieve rather than fall into an inevitable trap of failure. Whether for a lifetime or a few weeks, it humanizes them. They will pass this on to others also in danger of failure.

        Even the smallest of comments to many students can make a lifetime difference, words like “You’re a great writer,” “You definitely can get a high grade if you work hard,” or “You really should go to graduate school.” They’ll be thankful, and they will tell others, “That teacher cared about me and helped me become what I am today.”

--- article


    Doubleday, 2017, 352 pp.  Review by Steve Wiley
        David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI recounts the notorious murders of dozens of the oil-rich Osage Indians in the early 1920s in Oklahoma. Killers is the third nonfiction book by Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker.
        The words and deeds of actual people drive the very accessible narrative. Underlying historical and cultural forces draw us into deep, tragic territory as Osage tribal members become the richest per capita group of people in the world, and several white community members steal that wealth by scheming and killing. The book also charts the first big case of the FBI. The interweaving of these twin historical narratives may appeal to students normally holding opposing political beliefs.
        The first part of the history develops mainly around Mollie Kyle, a full-blooded Osage Tribe member, who happily married Ernest Burkhardt, a white man. The unsolved deaths of two sisters and her mother over three years make her fearful. Soon a “Reign of Terror” claims over 24 Osage lives. They protest white rapacity and hire investigators, to no avail.
        In the second part, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover focuses his ambition and the Bureau's resources on solving the murders and ending the Terror. His steadfast agent in charge, lawman Tom White, assembles a top-notch team. They eliminate false leads, manufactured facts, and double agents. Evidence identifies brothers Bryan and Ernest Burkhardt (Mollie’s husband); their uncle, William Hale, a wealthy rancher connected with characters ranging from outlaws to government officials; and several more.
        Legal wrangling produces only a few convictions by late 1929: Hale, Ernest Burkhardt, and three accomplices. The rest of the book carries us into the present. Mollie divorces Ernest, who planned the house bombing that killed her sister; remarries; and regains her independence. Hoover grows increasingly authoritarian over the decades. Tom White lives a long, honorable life as a warden. Meanwhile, the Terror ends and the oil boom plays out.
        The rest of Killers carries us into the present. In 1931 Mollie divorces Ernest, remarries, and regains legal control over her life. She dies in 1937. Hoover grows increasingly authoritarian over the decades and subverts Bureau procedure for political ends, dying in 1972; Tom White lives a long, honorable life as a warden. Meanwhile, the oil boom plays out and the Terror ends. The lives of the Osage more or less stabilize.
        The causes of the murders are complex. Osage traditions valued communal reciprocity over private property and consensus over hierarchical command; that worked well until Osage territory was overrun by whites, whose greed and racism drove widespread lawlessness. Beginning in 1886, “Allotment” put a veneer of legality on shrinking remaining Indian territories. It assigned restricted acreage on already marginal treaty land, freeing thousands of square miles for sale to whites. Osage allotment (1906) set aside subsurface mineral rights as unimportant, but headright law guaranteed them royalties from a sudden, spectacular oil boom. They got rich fast.
        But Allotment also made it easy to declare Indians incompetent: hence the appointment of white guardians, all local. Opportunities for crime were rife.
        The Osage today live with a recent $380 million oil settlement; a few thousand dollars each, yearly, for headrights; and casino proceeds. But their daily lives are burdened by intergenerational trauma, central to the lore of many much individual families. In Killers’ emotional climax, Grann interviews Margie Burkhardt–Mollie and Ernest’s granddaughter. She tells Grann how her own father "had to live knowing his father [Ernest] had tried to kill him." This is her individual terror of inherited trauma, but ours, too. How, Killers implies, should we deal with the systemic brutalities of which we are all heirs?
        The documented murder total reaches a terrifying 60, but there were “hundreds and hundreds” of cases, according to an agent who left Osage County before Tom White arrived. Hale's was only one of several death squads.
        Grann's energetic writing, his use of very real people, and many black and white photos make reading Killers a gripping experience. Voted a Best Book by many newspapers and enthusiastically praised, Killers challenges us all to confront, as did the FBI, how white greed and racism have distorted America's past and present. As William Faulkner says, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”
New York Times Review
Osage Nation Citizens' Reactions to Martin Scorsese Movie

5. Equity Literary Resources
              This is a new feature as of 2021, repeated in each issue. What diversity books might you or your students read? Suggestions are welcome. Email Richard at Jewell dot net.      


50 Top Asian American Literary Books
Time's 25 Asian-Am. Celebrate
MN Hum. Center’s BIPOC Resources

Wikipedia Asian-Amer. Lit., Writer List
2000+ Books on Asian American Lit
Graphic: 85 AAPI Novels  Angel's 60+



44 Best Black Books–
30 Top Black Literary Books
MN Black Children's Bks.–Strive Publ.
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

Wikipedia African-Amer. Lit., Writer List
41 Black Fiction Classics–B & N
700+ Black Books–
Black Graphic Novels and Comics


Indigenous/Native American:

50 Native American Bestseller Books
32 Native American Authors
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaNative-Amer. Lit., Writer List
Minn. Hist. Society Native-Amer. Books
Indigenous Graphic Literature



Latinx Writers’ 14 Recommended Bks.
10 Latinx
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaLatinx LiteratureWriter List
2000+ Latinx Books–
Latinx Graphic Novels



25 Best Classics
40+ LGBTQIA Gay Fiction & Lit Bks.
50 Bestsellers

Wikipedia: LGBTQ General, Writer List
1000+ in Multiple Genres
LGBTQ Graphic Lit: Bestsellers  800+

Graphic Novels and Diversity

NCTE: "Diversity in Graphic Novels"
NCTE: "In Defense of Graphic Novels"
NPR: "100 Fav. Comics/Graphic Novels"

Social Justice Graphic Novels (All Ages)
Best Graphic Novels of All Time
Top 10 Literary Graphic Novels


Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters
(listed in each issue)

      Do you want to be more in touch with colleagues nationally, or seek ideas from other networks? Connect by subscribing to one of these free email newsletters. You may start or stop a subscription at any time. Go to each link below to find out more about the e-newsletter and find instructions for subscribing. (You won’t be subscribed by clicking on the links below.)

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The Source: Updates, MLA Style Center. Weekly pedagogy and readings updates:

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          Always available online, the Style Center’s "Works Cited: A Quick Guide"

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Tomorrow’s Professor, Stanford University. Twice-weekly reprint of a pedagogy article:
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6. About MnWE: Old Issues, Joining, Who We Are, Grad Credit, Unsubscribing
(repeated each issue)

More Online-Teaching Resources: See
Our Newsletters: For new and old issues,
visit MnWE News.
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      If you are not on the listserv and would like to join it, simply send your request and email address to richard at jewell dot net. We always enjoy signing up new list members.

Who are we? “MnWE” is “Minnesota Writing and English,” an all-volunteer organization started in 2007. MnWE has a coordinating committee, a listserv, and an annual, two-day spring conference attended by 100-200 faculty. Our coordinating committee, which meets about six times per year, is composed entirely of unpaid college, university, high school, and other professional English/Writing volunteers. 

      All activities are by and for college, university, and college-in-the-high-schools English and Writing faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and related academic and literary scholars, writers, tutors, and others in the Upper Midwest.  Our purpose is to bring together these communities in Minnesota and in nearby states and provinces.

Where are we? Please visit us online at Our geographical center is Minneapolis-St. Paul. About 2700 faculty, graduate students, tutors, and related administrators see our emails. Those on our listserv receive this newsletter six times per year, along with additional conference announcements and helpful forwards. Our listserv members come from state universities, public and private two-year colleges, private colleges and universities, high schools, publishing companies, and the public universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and other schools and locations in the United States, Canada, and overseas countries.
Conference: At our annual two-day conferences, our speakers highlight pedagogical concerns and are scholars and writers of national excellence from both local and national locations. Some of our presenters come from states or countries far beyond our own geographical area. The majority of our attendees and presenters are from universities and private four-year colleges; a significant minority are in two-year colleges, high schools, and other groups.
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Questions: We invite you to email the editor or any coordinator on the MnWE Committee listed below. You also are always invited to attend any of our five to seven MnWE Committee meetings per year: to join the listserv, email jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu (L zero zero one). If you’d like to attend a meeting, or join the committee for in-person meetings, Zoom attendance, or email comments from a distance, please ask Richard. In addition, you always are invited to offer suggestions to MnWE, or to volunteer your leadership for a session at the annual conference. 

Copyright: This newsletter is written primarily by MnWE News editor Richard Jewell without copyright so that anyone may quote, paraphrase, or forward any or all parts freely, unless otherwise noted. We do ask that you give credit to the MnWE News and/or; and when you use material that has been quoted or paraphrased in this newsletter from another source, please be sure to give proper credit to the original source. 

Richard Jewell, Editor

MnWE News   
Minnesota Writing and English
David Beard, UMD Advisor, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Heidi Burns, Web & Docs Coordinator, Minn. State Univ.-Mankato
Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill, SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State Univ.
Casey DeMarais, 2022 Site Coordinator, Minn. Humanities Center
Edward Hahn, Registration Coordinator, North Hennepin College
Ryuto Hashimoto, International Co-Leader, Minn. State Univ.-Mankato
Danielle Hinrichs, Program Coordinator, Metropolitan State University
Richard Jewell, Gen. Coord. and News Ed., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)
Yanmei Jiang, Equity Co-Leader, Century College
Linda O’Malley, Volunteer Coordinator, Metropolitan State University
Kerrie Patterson, Treasurer, Hennepin Technical College
Gordon Pueschner, Registration Desk Co-Coordinator, Century College
Beata Pueschner, Registration Desk Co-Coordinator, N. Hennepin Coll.
Jana Rieck, Communications Coordinator, Champlin Park High School
Donald Ross, Co-Founder and UMN Advisor, University of Minnesota
Kako Shintani, International Co-Leader, University of Leeds
Larry Sklaney, Conference & Cost Center Coordinator, Century College
Mary Taris, Equity Co-Leader, Strive Community Publishing
MnWE Journal Editorial Board: David Beard, Ryuto Hashimoto,
     Yanmei Jiang, and Mary Taris

richard at jewell dot net - (612) 870-7024
larry dot sklaney at century dot edu - (651) 747-4006
danielle dot hinrichs at metrostate dot edu - (651) 999-5960                 
MnWE .org
Minnesota Writing & English
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Format updated 13 May 2021