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MnWE News Early Summer Issue
May-June 2023

In this issue:  

    4.  Equity/Diversity Literary Resources
(in each issue)
    5.  Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters (in each issue)
    6.  About MnWE (in each issue)
      If you are new to our listserv, welcome! We never share your address, and you always may unsubscribe at the bottom of any email. Click here if you wish to view this or previous issues in your browser. MnWE News goes to over 2000 English and Writing faculty in Minnesota and nearby parts of bordering states. Our next conference is in Spring 2024 at Normandale College with almost all events available simultaneously in person and on Zoom.
      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 (Change “at” to “@.” We suggest you give us a permanent email.
      The MnWE Listserv and the MinnState English Discipline Listserv are the same, with MnWE as the moderator. If you would like to send an announcement to English colleagues, please email it to the editor, as above, marked as an announcement for the listserv. You may send relevant announcements whether you are a member of MinnState or of another school or system.

      MnWE’s fourteenth annual two-day conference at St. Cloud State saw 114 registrants gather to talk about a wide variety of subjects on pedagogy and equity. The first morning, an ice storm closed the campus; the second day, snowstorms were a problem. However, all of our events went forward thanks to our hybrid nature: those who could not drive to St. Cloud were able to join us by Zoom. Our low-cost registration fees and the generosity of site host SCSU English allowed us to offer a full-service conference to a large number of people and still break even. We had presenters from many universities and colleges within Minnesota and from surrounding states, all in a great conference building. Next spring, join us at Normandale College in the southwest Twin Cities area for MnWE 2024!
Questions? Email us.

1. What did the Sat. Plenary say? COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AS NECESSITY by Carla-Elaine Johnson

      The MnWE Conference offers two plenaries each year. Saturday’s Plenary was “Community Engagement as Necessity: Is the School a Part of Community or is Community a Part of the School?” The speakers were Dr. Taiyon J. Coleman, St. Catherine University; Ryuto Hashimoto, Minnesota State University, Mankato;  and Dr. Carla-Elaine Johnson, Saint Paul College. The three speakers explored the necessity of community engagement.

      Taiyon Coleman started with a consideration of successful programs such as the PBS Independent Lens documentary Precious Studies (2012; link below), which details the success of Tucson High Schools Mexican American Studies program integrating identity and community in the classroom. Dr. Coleman uses the clip in her classes to encourage students to think about their identity, the role of education, what it means to be successful, and how education is connected to citizenship.

      Coleman acknowledges a strong need for texts that reflect the students in our classes. She views community in how her students show up, their intersectionality, and in assignments that might reflect the students and their experiences. Coleman expands on this by a reframing of the question: look at what students are reading that is not being acknowledged, rather than criticizing what students are not reading.  She notes Dr. Melissa Harris-Perrys Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, which discusses the ways in which, when we build structure and pedagogy, students cant see themselves; then we are forcing them to bend themselves. Coleman notes how connecting access and freedom as tied to education creates a sense of otherness” as opposed to community.

      Coleman concluded with examples of educators like Brooklyn Democracy Academys Principal Dez-Ann Romain, who succeeded with students over 16 who failed in a traditional high school environment. (See below.) In the end, the challenge as teachers is to remember how community plays a role in what and how we are teaching. 

      Ryuto Hashimoto began by detailing the course Human Relations in a Multicultural Society” offered at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and its connection with service learning. Hashimoto noted the challenge due to Mankatos primarily homogenous campus population, with many of the 80% white students considering themselves a cultureless people.  The course builds community through an initial Cultural Autobiography assignment: students reflect upon six of their social identities through researching a self-chosen identity, conducting a literature review, interviewing elders to identify their ethnic history, and seeing a reflection of themselves. Later in the semester, students engage in a service-learning project, widen their perspective by using a diversity association map, and complete a research report and reflection letter.
      The experience allows students who start the term feeling cultureless to finish with the realization that they do have a culture. Hashimoto concluded by addressing the question of how educators can encourage students through writing activities to understand themselves and the community.

      Carla-Elaine Johnson explored how including the college in community can increase enrollment rates and stabilize them. On the surface, a good foundation starts with a quality education. Saint Paul College is in the city’s Rondo neighborhood, a formerly prosperous Black area until it was disrupted with the construction of Interstate 94. The college is stronger by including this community and giving back to the community.

      Institutions, says Johnson, are in partnership with their surrounding community, even if it is not clearly visible. How the neighborhood is viewed is how the college is viewed. Colleges are not silos, but providers of services that help with trauma and healing. The larger question is what gifts does the community offer? Using service learning and bringing in community speakers who can provide learning opportunities strengthen the college as a whole. Johnson concluded with considerations for the audience including exploring how institutions identify themselves, and the importance of remembering how and why we are educators.

      The remainder of the plenary included a lively audience-and-speakers discourse of many ideas regarding the connections with community and the reality of diminishing resources; and observing what can be done to create visibility for students in the classroom, as educators cannot affect what is going on outside of the classroom. An important part of the discussion also was the overall emphasis of creating community in the classroom itself. 
PBS’ Precious Studies
Brooklyn Democracy Academy
Resources for Mankato’s “Human Relations in a Multicultural Society”
Brief History of the Rondo Neighborhood


      One of my students fell in love with the humanities. Yet she now is finishing her bachelor’s in a medical field, which she describes as a necessary career move. However, she still dreams of doing something in the humanities: grad school or maybe a side gig someday. And that, perhaps, is exactly what we need to encourage in our English courses: asking people what, after you are making money, will you do for a lifetime of literary love?

      Lately, the Modern Language Association has been encouraging graduate programs to recommend to their students that those soon to gain a degree consider English and writing as a springboard to nonacademic careers. For example, according to a January Star Tribune, Minnesota “has 3.7 job openings for every unemployed person, double the U.S. rate” (Kumar, “State faces...”). As a result, most of our English students eventually will find employment, building to middle-class pay. However, their careers most likely will be in nonacademic fields. So, just what is an English major/grad student to do?
      One piece of good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that, in their lifetime, men and women hold, respectively, 12.6 and 12.3 jobs (“Number of Jobs Held,” An online consensus of full-career changes in life is about three to seven. Dare one think that some of those switches of profession might involve teaching or research in English?

      It is possible, with a little thought, to help students consider a different future in English. Perhaps it can be a second, third, or fourth profession: their later “joy career.” It could be, someday, a side gig of part-time teaching or volunteer work in literary endeavors. K-12 teachers are needed everywhere. Even just the question “What will you teach your children about literature/the humanities?” may set a student on the path of an English concentration or minor. And, as always, there is tremendous value in the critical thinking and imaginative creation that knowing literature, writing, and the humanities fosters.

      Because of the surplus of jobs and lack of enough applicants, students who are starting careers right now may have more room for innovation during the next decade and beyond. A faculty member can plant a seed for growth that may blossom in surprising outcomes. In so doing, we may help English, writing, and the humanities survive and even thrive in new and previously unimagined ways.
MLA Listings of English/Humanities/Languages Jobs
"10 High-Paying Jobs for English Majors (Coursera)"
"21 Great Jobs for English Majors" (w/salaries;
"Careers after an English Major" (Stanford)  

3. Book Review: PANDORA’S BOX REVISITED—WILD THINGS BY LYNETTE REINI-GRANDELL. 336 pp., Minnesota Historical Society Press. Reviewed by Deborah Kellogg

     It looks so innocent sitting on a shelf or lying beguilingly on a table, but pick up a book and you can be sucked into another reality and someone else’s world. Yet being transported into another existence can make you rediscover and remember so many things about your own life: some things perhaps you never thought about at all or maybe would rather not examine too closely. Innocent wishes, broken dreams, anger, loneliness, hanging on when you want to give up and finally, catching the last thing to fly out of Pandora’s box—Hope—all of these things can be found in Lynette Reini-Grandell’s painfully honest and ultimately beautiful new memoir Wild Things: A Trans-Glam-Punk-Rock Love Story.

     Her story touched me in so many ways because I, too, had a trans spouse, but where my marriage failed, Lynette has been able, often through sheer strength of will and a love that wouldn’t give up, to reach a place of stability and acceptance with her spouse. From her story you realize love isn’t enough, but without it, there’s no reason to keep fighting.
     Different from an autobiography, a memoir captures and arranges certain memories to tell a story, in this case the story of Lynette’s singular and often lonely journey in her relationship with her trans spouse Venus de Mars. Their story begins in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1973 when she’s 17 and meets Steve Grandell for the first time. The story moves ahead into specific time periods and places as scattered as Duluth, Minneapolis and New York as she recounts their long, often rocky path as Venus tries to understand and express who she really is, and Lynette’s running alongside, trying to keep up with the changes and new realities of her life with the person she chose and loves.

     The writing style is spare, unadorned and to the point, clearly expressing both the bones of their outward life as well as the questions, turmoil, anger and loneliness she often experienced during those years. Winding like a soft refrain through the whole book is her love of jazz and horses, two things that comforted and sustained her through many of the difficult times in their lives. Her story is also illustrated with many pictures over the years that in their black-and-white simplicity perfectly pair with the style and the story.
     Venus is the lynchpin around which their story revolves, but the story is an examination of the life of a trans-person’s spouse and the inner topography of their thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams. Lynette makes herself so vulnerable, and in doing so, connects us to our own deepest humanity. It’s an honest, sometimes painful and raw but ultimately triumphant story of how one remarkable woman has been able to make and hold together (sometimes with guitar strings and duct tape) a grueling but inspiring life with her trans-glam-punk-rock amazing spouse. It’s a story of love that didn’t give up.

     Is Wild Things suitable for teaching? Grandell is well acquainted with Minnesota higher education. She has held tenure-line positions in English at Rochester and Normandale Colleges and is a past president of Minnesota Council of Teachers of English. Her book will inspire awe among students who find the glam-punk-rock connection, pictures, and love story especially interesting; and heated discussion, possibly anger and disdain, from others. Assigning several chapters could set the stage for interesting reading responses about the power and uses of nonfiction narrative.
      Certainly, her story is a beautiful, realistic take on living with, loving, and being a trans person. Just from these alone, a teacher with trans students can learn much.
Minnesota Historical Society Press—Publisher’s description and author information --About the author, this, and other books

4.  Diversity Books: What might you or your students enjoy reading and researching?


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
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"
"In Defense of Graphic Novels"
"100 Fav. Comics/Graphic Novels"

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


5. Free Teaching/Learning E-Newsletters
(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 more about the e-newsletter and 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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6. About MnWE: Previous Issues, Joining, Who We Are, Writing a Book Review, Grad
    Credit, Unsubscribing
 (in each issue)

More Online-Teaching Resources: See
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Forwarding/Joining: Please forward this email to other interested faculty and administrators. Your newer full-time and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate majors, writing center tutors, and English and writing administrators may not receive it. 
      If you are not on the listserv and would like to join it, simply send your request and email address to jeweLØØ1 at umn dot edu. 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 of over 2000, and an annual, two-day, spring conference attended by 100-200 faculty. Our main coordinating committee, which meets about ten 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, tutors, publishers, authors, and others in the Upper Midwest and beyond. 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. Over 2000 faculty, graduate students, tutors, and related administrators receive our emails, and forwards go to additional colleagues and students. Those on our listserv receive this newsletter six times per year, along with additional conference announcements and occasional helpful information. Our listserv members come from state universities, public and private two-year colleges, private colleges and universities, high schools, 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.
Conference: At our annual, two-day conferences, our daily panel of plenary speakers highlight pedagogical concerns and are scholars and writers of national excellence from local and regional schools and professional organizations. In our twenty or more breakouts in three time periods each day, discussants come from universities, colleges, high schools from the Upper Midwest, the U.S., and sometimes from other countries.
Book Reviews: Write a book review for us! We publish one in most issues. A typical (though not required) pattern for a 400-600 w. review is a strong introduction (creative, interrogative, anecdotal, controversial, or ?); one section each describing the story, its arguments/implications, and your evaluations; and a brief, interesting conclusion. Also helpful (but not required) are statements of awards, links to related sites for the book, and its possible use for teaching.
Graduate Credit: Anyone may earn one graduate credit from Southwest Minnesota State University for attending a MnWE Conference day and writing a related research paper (up to three such credits may be earned). For questions about this course–“Eng 656: MnWE Practicum”–please contact lisa dot lucas at smsu dot edu or see

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Questions: We invite you to email the editor or a coordinator on the MnWE Committee listed below. You also are always invited to attend any of our ten or more MnWE Committee meetings per year. To join the listserv, email Richard at jeweL001 (zero zero one) at If you’d like to join the committee for our online Zoom meetings or simply attend a few meetings to observe, please ask Richard to add you to the Committee list for dates and times of meetings. In addition, you always are invited to offer suggestions to MnWE, or to volunteer your leadership for forming a breakout 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. Articles written by others are credited, and those articles are copyrighted. 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   
Pronouns: He, him, they, them (
Why it matters)

Minnesota Writing & English

Abi Duly, H.S. Faculty Advisor, New London-Spicer Schools
Julie Daniels, Program Editor, Century College
Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill, SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State Univ.
Judith Dorn, 2023 Site Coordinator, Saint Cloud State University
Gene Gazelka, Web Docs Coordinator, North Hennepin Community Coll.
Ed Hahn, Web and Registration Coordinator, North Hennepin Coll.
Ryuto Hashimoto, Undergr. Connection Coord., Mn. State U.-Mankato
Danielle Hinrichs, Program/Conf. Coordinator, Metropolitan State Univ.
Richard Jewell, Co-founder & Gen. Coord., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)
Yanmei Jiang, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Century College
Carla-Elaine Johnson, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Saint Paul College
Eric Mein, 2024 Site Host Coordinator, Normandale College
Gordon Pueschner, Secretary & Conf. Floor Manager, Century College
Jonathan Reeves, Century College
Donald Ross, Co-founder, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Emeritus)
Larry Sklaney, Conference & Cost Center Coordinator, Century College

MnWE Journal Coeditors:
    David Beard, University of Minnesota-Duluth,
dbeard at
    Yanmei Jiang, Century College
    John Schlueter, Saint Paul College

danielle.hinrichs at - (651) 999-5960

jeweL001 at (zero zero one) - (612) 870-7024

larry.sklaney at - (612) 735-4954

MnWE .org
Minnesota Writing & English
A Consortium of Colleges & Universities

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Format updated 5 Oct. 2022