Profiles: Bread Loaf Summer Session Reports from On-Site Campus Directors

Bread Loaf/Santa Fe

from on-site director Cheryl Glenn

Traveling through Bread Loaf/Santa Fe 2013 was like taking a train through breathtaking territory, wishing all the time that the engineer would slow down so that the scenery could be distinguished as more than a beautiful blur. But such is not the case looking back on our summer together, a view that brings each day into clear and meaningful focus. Within a compressed five-and-a-half-week schedule, we studied Shakespeare; 19th-century American, indigenous, and world literatures; the essay; the body; rhetorical power; and poetry. Students and faculty alike read, studied, discussed, wrote, tutored, hiked, danced, and traveled. Interspersed with trips to Bandelier, Ojo Caliente, Picacho Peak, Tent Rocks, Atalya, and down the Rio Chama by raft, students regularly delivered academic essays and oral presentations; met with the ever-growing cohort of Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN) folks; and worked together at the Writing Rodeo.

Within our first few weeks, students regularly met for Dawn Patrol; Ohio State’s Cindy and Dickie Selfe led well-attended workshops on digital literacy; Michael Katz lectured on the “Tolstoy Family Story Contest”; Acoma elder Simon Ortiz presented a bilingual reading of his work; Laguna elder Lee Marmon gave a slide show of his photography; and students inaugurated the Sunday night Blue Sky readings. The visit of associate director Django Paris was celebrated with a standing-room-only audience, 19 student scholarships, and two faculty awards. “Lakota Cowboy” and University of South Dakota professor Richie Meyers and University of South Carolina professor Susie Long presented separate yet richly overlapping talks on culturally specific and sensitive education. And BLTN celebrated its 20th anniversary with a homecoming event attended by many Bread Loaf alums, including Navajo vice president Rex Lee Jim MA ’01, his assistant Dwight Largie MA ’12, Diana Jaramillo, ’97–98 (Pojaque), Juanita Lavadie ’96–98 (Taos), and Laura Jagles MA ’04 (Tesuque).

On the last day, as students, faculty, family, and friends packed up their cars and drove away, St. John’s campus folded itself up, the clouds evaporated, and the sun simply disappeared—knowing they would need a year to replenish in preparation for Bread Loaf/Santa Fe 2014.

 

Bread Loaf/Asheville

from on-site director Stephen Donadio

Over the course of this final summer of Bread Loaf/Asheville, in addition to regu­lar hikes and Sunday evening Glass House Readings by students, we had memorable presentations by a number of visitors. Val Kinloch came for a two-day visit that included meetings with faculty and stu­dents, as well as a lecture on “A Pedagogy of Possibility in Teaching and Learning,” which impressed many in the audience as nothing less than “inspirational.” Rick Chess, a distinguished poet and a member of the UNCA faculty, offered weekly cre­ative writing workshops that were highly successful, as enthusiastic participants confirmed. There were readings by four respected writers working in the Asheville vicinity: novelist Tommy Hays, poets Sebastian Matthews and Holly Iglesias, and writer and performance artist Allan Wolf.

Bread Loaf associate director Django Paris visited for several days and addressed the school at a lunch reception. Anne Ponder, chancellor of UNCA, once again graciously invited us all to a reception at her home, an impressive place filled with some fine examples of the arts and crafts of the region. We had the pleasure of a solo concert by Laura Boosinger, an accomplished local musician of the Southern Appalachian tradition. At graduation Michael Cadden, the faculty speaker chosen by this year’s seniors, gave the assembled group of faculty, students, and families an exceptionally lively, engaging,

and thought-provoking address. The designated hooder was longtime Asheville faculty member Beverly Moss, who was also responsible for organizing the Writing Center and training everyone who worked in it (at Bread Loaf/Vermont, as well as in Asheville). The graduating seniors made a collective financial gift to the Ken Macrorie Writing Centers at Bread Loaf and made a point of expressing their deep gratitude for the consistent thoughtfulness, generosity, and good humor of the office assistants this summer, Jim Miller MA ’04 and Marjorie Cooper MA ’09.

 

Bread Loaf/Oxford

from on-site director Emma Smith

Bread Loaf at Oxford 2013: a busy and sunny summer full of research, unpasteurised cheeses, and Shakespeare plays. Students enjoyed conversations with Royal Shakespeare Company actor Greg Hicks, Iraqi poet Adnan Al-Sayegh, and theater historian Professor Tiffany Stern. They visited the Bodleian libraries’ historic collections to research topics from Spenser to Joyce, via the stage history of The Tempest and St. Augustine and many stops in between. And they developed an academic community that sponsored our first-ever graduate conference.

A panel of U.K. high school teachers shared experiences via the BLTN, and Professor Katie Kent led an urgent discussion about pedagogy and sexuality. Arguments over ekphrasis, screenings of Bollywood cinema, field trips examining the doctrinal clues in church architecture, and classes in handpress printing extended academic enquiry far beyond the seminar room. Readings in Deep Hall shared work by Bread Loaf students and their literary heroes. We coined a new verb: “to hightable”—meaning continuously to top up a wine glass—and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of Lincoln College with its lofty library, paneled dining hall, and quadrangle lawns, where our mascot, Lord Squab the pigeon, held court.

But the main focus of the summer was what Oxford really majors in: the pleasure—and yes, sometimes frustration—of academic research, stretching understanding, encountering new or recalcitrant material, and developing new understandings.

Congratulations to the graduating class, and warm thanks to the Bread Loaf/Oxford faculty, to our indefatigable assistants Mike Mayo MA ’08 and Charles Byrne MA ’04, and to all the students who made this summer such a success.

 

Bread Loaf/Vermont

from director Emily Bartels

Natasha Trethewey, Bill McKibben, Martin Espada, Jason Irizarry, Castle Freeman, Andrea Lunsford, Claudia Johnson, and Bread Loaf alumnae Maria Fahey ’99–02 and Marcella Pixley MLitt ’00: these are among the speakers who contributed richly to what was an extremely lively and intellectually stimulating summer at Bread Loaf/Vermont.

Theater was on everyone’s mind, as the production of Our Town became the capstone of Alan MacVey’s extraordinary run as the director of the Bread Loaf theater program (though Alan will continue to be a member of the Bread Loaf faculty). Two members of our Acting Ensemble, Jonathan Fried (with Cindy Rosenthal playing alongside him) and John Shuman, added to the celebration of theater by producing their own one-man shows.

Workshops on everything (well, many things) from “fictions of conversion” to the digital novel to the iPad; a panel on “Teaching Across the Arts”; a reading of Calvino’s stories; and a showing of The Shining—as well as yet another set of intriguing classes—got everyone talking, as did dynamic open meetings of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network and the Students of Color group.

Students inaugurated new events, including a Frost reading group and a community reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets. And, thanks to the creative leadership of Simon Brown MA ’13 and John Oliver MA ’13, Volume 1 of the Bread Loaf Journal: Student Writings from the School of English came into being, with remarkable creative and critical contributions from Bread Loaf students from all campuses. Even though at graduation “the Scottish play” was mentioned three times in the theater by its other name, all the roads stayed in place as thunderstorms threatened.

Which is to say to everyone who was part of the Bread Loaf community in Vermont this summer: job well done.