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Partnering for a Good Read

"Butch" and Will Staub review the story Staub wrote about Butch.

“Butch,” a fifth-grader at Penn Yan Elementary School, didn’t like reading.

But thanks to a three-week partner project where Keuka College students met one-on-one with schoolchildren to craft a personal story from the child’s perspective, it wasn’t long before he changed his mind. So says Butch’s new buddy and personal “author,” Keuka freshman Will Staub.

“Butch told me the first day he didn’t like reading, then the next week he showed me this book he’d read,” Staub described. In truth, it was more like Butch raced to Staub’s side, book in hand, thrusting it into view and leaning forward in eager anticipation for the response.

Amanda Markessinis reads "Riley" the story she wrote for her.

Watching the interaction – and others like it across 17 such pairs of college and elementary students – were Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka, and fifth-grade teacher Terry Test, herself a 1973 Keuka graduate. The two teamed together, with support from elementary principal Edward Foote, to enable the collegiate “authors” to craft a three-page story from the perspective of each child selected from the joint classroom Test shares with team teacher Rebecca Morse.

The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?,” was the final assignment for Joiner’s Literature in the Wider World course, a new introductory English course in Keuka’s general education curriculum. The course was designed to highlight the focus the English program is placing on literature as the doorway to culture, society, community and more.  Over the course of three weeks, each college student spent time getting to know his or her child, and ultimately, learning more about Penn Yan through the child’s eyes or imagination.

The fifth-graders all chose character names for themselves and wore name tags to each session, where partners paired up, using whatever chairs, tables, floor space, gym mats, or window ledges were available to continue their conversations.

“Look at the dynamics of this,” Test said, gesturing around the room at the pairs. “The ‘I’m too cool to do this’ vibe just shattered in the first second, and my students are real, being true to themselves. The energy is here on all sides. I’m so impressed at Dr. Joiner’s scaffolding of this.”

To say the children were thrilled would be an understatement. Some brought sketches, notebooks, origami, and more to share with their college author during the second and third sessions. A handful of boys could be seen half out of their seats, leaning forward to dialogue with their authors, while other children were seated more casually, body positions mimicking the college students taking detailed notes.

Tissania Cohall works with "Maddie."

Watching from a few steps away each week, Test and Joiner were almost as excited as their students at the energy generated during the interactions, and the impact it had on student learning.  By the end of the first week’s session, when alerting everyone in the room that only two minutes were left on the clock, Joiner said she could tell the project was en route to success.

“Every student – big and little – turned around and went ‘awww’ in disappointment,” Joiner said. “Some of my students who are not as vocal in class totally engaged with the children. It was just a cool thing.”

Test said the impact on her fifth-graders was almost immediate. (more…)

Joiner Tasked for Digital Faulkner Project

The imaginary county in Mississippi that William Faulkner fashioned to serve as the foundation for his fiction will come to vivid, online life in a new digital humanities project involving some two dozen Faulkner scholars from around the country – including Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College.

“Dr. Joiner’s participation in this important and prestigious digital humanities project promises to raise Keuka’s profile significantly in the field of digital scholarship,” said Doug Richards, professor of English and chair of the Division  of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Over the next three to five years, Faulkner scholars will collaborate to translate the characters, timelines, dialogue and events of his short stories and novels into interactive online maps that help readers visualize and glean new insights into Faulkner’s works. According to Joiner, Faulkner himself drew a map of Yoknapatawpha indicating locations and events portrayed in his stories.

“He considered it his little postage stamp of native soil of which he was sole owner and proprietor. Thus, this project is  attempting to digitalize his fiction and expand on his mapping,” Joiner explained.

Stephen Railton, professor of English at the University of Virginia, is directing the project and invited Joiner to come aboard in late August. This fall Joiner will team with Taylor Hagood, associate professor of English at Florida Atlantic University, to map a short story “The Unvanquished” (later revised and known as “Riposte in Tertio”), first published in The Saturday Evening Post as part of a 1934 series. Joiner and Hagood are facing a year-end deadline to finish digital mapping of the short story and then, Joiner will be assigned to a team mapping one of Faulkner’s 15 novels.

william faulkner, digital yoknapatawpha, humanities project, neh grant

William Faulkner illustration Courtesy Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

The project, which received a nearly $60,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), builds upon a 2011 Yoknapatawpha map prototype created by the University of Virginia Library’s Digital Media Lab. The NEH grant was one of 23 awarded through its start-up program to promote progress in the digital humanities. Back in 1957-58, Faulkner held the university’s first writer-in-residence post, so the current online archive includes nearly 30 hours of audio recordings of public readings or remarks he gave, according to a news article from the Virginia website.

According to the website, the project centers on the 15 novels and 48 stories Faulkner wrote between 1926 and 1960 and set in Yoknapatawpha. The prototype models a way to enter every character, location and event from separate works into a robust database that  then maps that data into an atlas of interactive visual resources, according to the demands of each particular story. Ultimately, the entire body of Yoknapatawpha fiction would be linked together in new, cumulative maps enabling scholars or students to study, for example, all black inhabitants and the roles they play in Faulkner’s works, or his representations of violence, religion, or family, the site indicates. (more…)

State Takes Center Stage in Lit Class

Students who enrolled in Assistant Professor of English Jennie Joiner’s Traditions of Literature course this spring expected to delve into a collection of works set in New York state.

What they didn’t expect was an Empire State history lesson.

The running joke in class is that maps are now a regular part of Joiner’s routine, as students traverse a literary route from east to west across the state, exploring different regions of New York in works that include Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, the Erie Canal Reader, 1790-1950, and Walter Edmonds’ Rome Haul.

Joiner acknowledged that her dependence on maps has been to emphasize that New York was the only state with geography sufficient for construction of the Erie Canal, and with the canal, linked the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, bringing commerce and other boons of civilization further west.

“You think the biggest thing that happened to the state was New York City, or you’d think New York City was the heart of the state, but it’s not. The Erie Canal was. I’m not from here so it’s interesting to know,” said junior Annie Smith, a New Jersey native. “I never heard of the Erie Canal, so to see how much went on during the Erie Canal [era] and now in the 21st century … We wouldn’t have Auburn, Geneva, and all those places if it wasn’t for the canal. It played a major part in what’s 20 miles north of us and east or west.”

Sophomore Marie Cozzi calls Long Island home, and said she never realized how much history was prevalent in Upstate and Western New York.

Marie Cozzi pores over historic images of Niagara Falls in a book Joiner passed around the classroom.

“Reading through the stuff, it’s cool to see how the history is [represented] in the novels. I never thought there would be a history of Upstate New York in the books. One thing leads to the next. They all relate to the other.” (more…)

Beyond 9 – 5

Carol Sackett and two of her paintings, "Still Waters," left and "Sunrise," right.

By day, Penn Yan resident Carol Sackett manages the circulation desk at Lightner Library, a post she has held for 32 years. But through March 7, visitors to Keuka College can glimpse a different side of her, as seen in three oil paintings gracing the walls of Lightner Gallery.

Sackett’s paintings are on display alongside numerous other works from members of Keuka’s faculty and staff, whose job titles may not necessarily disclose the individuals as creative “artists-in-residence.”

Beyond 9 to 5: The Hidden Talents of Keuka’s Faculty and Staff runs through March 7 in Lightner Gallery,located in Lightner Library. It features  a range of artistic mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, glass work, digital art, and film.  More than 20 faculty and staff members submitted work for the show, including President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.

During a special artists’ reception – open to the public – Thursday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 – 6 p.m., the exhibit will also feature select culinary art from four members of the faculty and staff. The exhibit remains open daily during library hours, available online at: http://lightner.keuka.edu

Hand-painted glass by Doreen Hovey

(more…)

Lit Classes with a Different View

Kelsey Harmer presents her final project. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College, is putting a new twist on some classic short stories, sonnets, plays and prose.

Joiner introduced a new course this fall, Literature in the Wider World, which serves as the new introduction to the major. It seeks to expand student horizons on books, reading, writing and all-things English and to grasp the role literature plays in everyday life.

Professor of English Doug Richards, chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, visited Joiner’s class and shared a real-life example of how English can play a role in careers beyond writing and teaching. According to Richards, a graduate of Keuka’s organizational communication program was on a sales call “that was going nowhere” but  took a positive turn when the prospective client referenced the medieval poem, Beowulf. The Keuka graduate was able to build on the allusion in conversation, earn the client’s respect, and make the sale.

Megan Hall listens to Dr. Doug Richards share stories of English in real-life settings.

“You will know the stories of your culture and can engage in intelligent conversation and you’ll get further along,” advised Richards. “Keep working on building links and connections.”

And that is what the students did in Joiner’s class. They studied some classics, among them Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, and short stories, such as Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. However, more than simple context and content were discussed. In addition to reading the traditional works, students also investigated digital and other media formats, and even theatrical and cinematic formats, in the case of Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles, and Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby.

Joiner discusses digital vs. traditional formats with students. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

While digital technology has had a significant impact on the written word, students debate more than just print-versus-e-book preferences. One challenge Joiner gave students is to consider literature as hypertext, the embedded digital links to prior electronic postings. In the final assignment, for example, the autobiographical “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” a popular treatise against slavery, students reviewed the Biblical story of Daniel in the lions’ den. They then analyzed a portion of the work where Douglass describes his newfound freedom as escaping the hungry mouth of the lions.

While on its own, the reference makes literal sense, Joiner said, “it’s a hypertext without links and we have to be aware there’s a link, so how do we fill that in? We can read [literally] without understanding the allusion but what if we do? All of a sudden it takes on this whole new meaning and how does it help [Douglass] make [his] argument? His audience would have understood that [allusion] and we, today, may not.”

Douglass’s “Narrative” contains several other Biblical and secular allusions, which students further analyzed in their final class project, where they could choose their own creative medium to demonstrate the knowledge gleaned in their studies. While some students presented digital essays using literal hyperlinks and hypertext, others chose creative mediums – digital and traditional – to share what they learned.

Part of Jackson's Prezi display on Frederick Douglass

For example, freshman Brianna Jackson of Syracuse used a multi-dimensionsal software known as Prezi, which some have compared to PowerPoint on steroids, to present a 3-D, visual display of quotes, images, colors and more. Two students, sophomore Jake Banas and junior Justin Hess wrote fictional stories, with Banas “writing a story about writing my paper,” while Hess reverted to the classic detective-reporter serial, turning the research into clues to decipher the mystery.

Meanwhile, sophomore Tyler Hixson of Shortsville created a Facebook persona for Douglass, posting photos available in the public domain, as well as links to facts and figures relative to Douglass, then “friending” the real Facebook accounts of fellow students in the class. He also created a Twitter account using the handle FreddyDouglass17.

Tyler Hixson displays a Facebook profile for Frederick Douglass. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Joiner asked students to compare and contrast pros and cons of each format or medium.

While sophomore Judy Ludwig of Rochester merged the traditional term paper with hypertext, she  “came to the conclusion that you needed both – neither the hypertext nor the traditional paper did everything you needed it to do,” explained Joiner.

Similarly, Jackson’s Prezi slideshow was visually appealing, “but in terms of something that can stand on its own, this won’t work – we need you to fill in the blanks,” Joiner described.

Employees Honored at Community Day

Forty-nine faculty and staff members were recognized for their service and dedication to Keuka College at Community Day Aug. 20.

Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, second from right, poses with five-year service award recipients.

Five-year service awards were presented to: Eva Moberg-Sarver, director of student activities/associate director of New Student Orientation; Doreen Hovey, executive assistant to the vice president for academic affairs; Jonathan Accardi, director of campus recreation; Christopher Leahy, associate professor of history; Andrew Robak, assistant professor of chemistry; Patricia Mattingly, assistant professor of nursing; Jennifer Mealy, assistant professor of social work; Kimberly Fenton, interlibrary loan librarian; Joshua Ficks, manager of TeamWorks!; Judy Gilmartin, administrative programmer; John Locke, director of instructional design and multidisciplinary studies; Kathleen Snow, academic skills counselor; Marjorie Multer, administrative assistant, admissions; Julie Burns-Percy, assistant professor of social work, Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP); Jessica Noveck, student services representative; Chevanne DeVaney, director of multicultural affairs; Teri Spoor, IKON site manager; Craig Gelder, manager, Follett Bookstore; Terry Reape, dining services; Korey Goodman, dining services; Steven Riekofski, maintenance; and Sue Morse, housekeeping.

Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, second from right, poses with 10-year service award recipients.

Ten-year service awards were presented to Tim Sellers, associate vice president for academic affairs; Vicki Smith, chair and professor of occupational therapy; Tom Tremer, chair and professor of criminology/criminal justice; Anna Decker, secretary, education graduate studies and administrative assistant, Lightner Library; Sharon Tyler, associate professor and librarian; and Susan DeLyser, human resource manager.

Fifteen-year service awards were presented to Jean Wannall, professor of occupational therapy; Anne Weed, vice president of academic affairs; Brad Turner, technical support technician; Kathy Waye, executive director of alumni and family relations; and Kasey Klingensmith, professor of biology.

A 20-year service award was presented to Jeff Bray, assistant director of athletics and head athletic trainer.

Twenty-five year service awards were presented to Doug Richards, chair and professor of English; and Sherry Fox, accounts payable.

College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Professor of Biology Joan Magnusen.

Tom Carroll, professor of chemistry and physics (left) with College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.

Thirty-year service awards were presented to Tom Carroll, professor of chemistry and physics; and Joan Magnusen, professor of biology.

Merit awards were presented to: Laura Alfieris, assistant director of admissions; Carroll; Rachel E. Dewey, communications specialist; Kathleen Hastings, assistant director of admissions counseling; Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English; Kelly Lickert, head coach, women’s lacrosse; Eugene Mont, resident director, Ball Hall and retention counselor; Tim White, resident director, Blyley and Harrington Halls and retention counselor; and Penny Webber, office manager for Academic Success at Keuka (ASK).

College President Díaz-Herrera (center) with Tracy McFarland (left) and Christen Accardi.

Two Presidential Awards for Sustained Outstanding Achievement were presented to Christen Accardi, marketing manager, ASAP; and Tracy McFarland, associate vice president for student development.

Experiential Learners of the Year Named

At Keuka College, experiential learning is a core focus and the 140-hour annual Field Period internship is one of the primary arenas where hands-on learning comes into play.

Each year, one freshman and one upperclassman earns Experiential Learner of the Year honors for demonstrating initiative, development of a broad and varied portfolio of work, and personal reflection on the skills learned during the Field Period experience.

Marquart, seated, and Torres.

The six nominees for 2012 were nominated by academic advisers, created a portfolio of work in essays, photographs and other media, and were honored at a luncheon April 27. During the May 5 Honors Convocation ceremony, the winners were named: freshman Lelia Torres of Stockton and sophomore Sarah Marquart of Auburn.

Torres’s first-time Field Period experience was quite a coup, as she was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP). (more…)

English Professor Wins Professional Development Award

Just because you’ve got a Ph.D. doesn’t mean you stop learning.

That’s the perspective of Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English, and winner of the 2010-11 Excellence in Academic Achievement award, given by the College’s Office of Academic Affairs. The award recognizes Keuka faculty members who have demonstrated to their colleagues an exceptional commitment to advance the knowledge base of their academic or professional field.

Within the realm of literature, Joiner’s interest includes depictions of masculinity, with a focus on the writings of William Faulkner. Her doctorate, from the University of Kansas, focused on the subject of marriage and masculinity in Faulkner’s fiction.  Here at Keuka, Joiner created a senior seminar course last spring focusing on the fiction of Faulkner and Toni Morrison. The course followed the presentation of her paper, “William Faulkner’s Hearth and Toni Morrison’s Oven: The Slow Burn of Masculinity in Go Down, Moses and Paradise,” in October 2010 at a scholarly conference on Faulkner and Morrison held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Not only was the class well-received by students, but a longer version of Joiner’s paper was solicited by an editor of the Faulkner Journal and published in August of this year. Another paper of hers, “Constructing Black Sons: Faulkner’s ‘Barn Burning’ and O’Connor’s ‘The Artificial Nigger,” was solicited by the Flannery O’Connor Review last year and published in the 2010 volume. She is already at work on a new manuscript that examines Faulkner’s sexual geographies, or the relationship between place, cultural institutions and sexuality.

“I don’t think students always recognize we have our own research agendas as well. Part of being a faculty member is continuing to be a student and continuing my own education. It doesn’t stop with a Ph.D.,” she said. “What you learn with a Ph.D. is how to keep doing your own research.” (more…)

In Search of the Modern Man

In today’s world, men are struggling to find their role and identify the “script” they’re supposed to follow in regards to manhood, says Jennie Joiner. In short, there’s a crisis of confusion, and it’s time to talk about it.

“If we’ve redefined feminism, we need to redefine [masculinity],” says Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College. “We’re in an interesting space culturally where no one wants to step up and do that – it makes everyone uncomfortable.”

In a recent talk Joiner presented on “Lifting the Fig Leaf to Reveal Hidden Masculinities,” she explored contemporary notions of masculinity in the figurative cowboy as depicted in the novel True Grit and its two film versions. The cowboy – a specifically American icon – has always embodied the conflicting issues seen in manhood, she said.

As a mythic figure sporting the “costume bling” of chaps, boots, spurs, hat and Winchester rifle, the cowboy exhibits freedom from societal rules, structure, and family connections, while risking a reputation as a hard-drinking, gambling hell-raiser who can “blow the lights out of town,” she said. His pledge of allegiance to a ranching outfit and his commitment only to bring the cows home gives him the romantic aura of a knight on a quest, and keeps him freely roaming in a “neutral” space where he can create an identity, Joiner said.
(more…)

Where Have All the Cowboys – er, men- Gone?

If Newton’s third law of physics states that every action requires an opposite and equal reaction, then Jennie Joiner would like to see that applied to emerging trends in the state of manhood.

“If we’ve redefined feminism, we need to redefine [masculinity],” says Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka. “We’re in an interesting space culturally, where no one wants to step up and do that – it makes everyone uncomfortable.”

As such, a Thursday talk Joiner will present, “Lifting the Fig Leaf to Reveal Hidden Masculinities,” will explore contemporary notions of masculinity in the figurative cowboy as depicted in the novel True Grit and its two film versions. Joiner’s talk will also include a scene from the recent Keuka production of Rabbit by Nina Raine and a discussion of the themes of that play. Her presentation starts at 4:15 p.m. in Hegeman 109.

The cowboy – a specifically American icon – has always embodied the conflicting issues seen in manhood, she said. However, there’s a difference between the 1968 cowboy depicted by John Wayne and the 2010 cowboy depicted by Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers recent Western remake, Joiner said, one that speaks to an apparent reluctance on the part of men these days to embrace a fully defined role.

(more…)