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Bread Loaf School of English Commencements in Vermont, England, and New Mexico

August 10, 2015

RIPTON, Vt. – Middlebury’s 17th President Laurie Patton presided over her first Commencement at the 96th session of the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English on August 8.

After President Patton, faculty, and graduates processed into the Burgess Meredith Little Theater, Director Emily Bartels welcomed guests and predicted that the 42 graduates of the Class of 2015 will “read and write the world in adventurous and ground-breaking ways,” carrying the legacy of Bread Loaf with them.

Bartels then introduced the senior class co-presidents, Andrew McDonald and Anna Steim, who presented the class gift, a donation to the Bread Loaf general scholarship fund. The co-presidents selected Tyler Curtain, associate professor of English and comparative literature at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-director of the Center for Philosophy of Biology at Duke University, to present the master’s hoods. Curtain taught at Bread Loaf beginning in 2011, when many of the graduates began their studies, asking questions that “boggled and bent” the minds of his students. In January, Curtain assumed the role of associate director of the Bread Loaf School of English.

Commencement Slide Show

The graduates chose Bread Loaf faculty member Dare Clubb, associate professor of playwriting, dramatic literature, and theory at University of Iowa and co-head of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, to deliver the Commencement Address. Clubb, who has taught at Bread Loaf every summer since 1989, earned an Obie Award in 1999. His students describe his playwriting courses at Bread Loaf as life-changing.

In his address Clubb poetically described the unconsciousness as language, and language as that which makes possible shared understanding, experience, and consciousness. He wondered, as these graduates prepared to leave the Bread Loaf mountain campus, what words they would choose to carry into the theater of the world.

In her introduction of Middlebury’s new president, Emily Bartels remarked that Patton, a poet and scholar of literature and language, was “already one of us.” As Patton took the podium, she agreed with Bartels’ observation and added that it was now up to her to earn that honor. She expressed her hope that, in achieving their Bread Loaf degrees, the graduates had been replenished by their studies. The Middlebury degrees, she noted, represent both pedigree and possibility. President Patton then conferred 40 Master of Arts degrees, 2 Master of Letters degrees, and an honorary Doctor of Letters to long-time Bread Loaf faculty member Andrea Lunsford.

Lunsford, the Louise Hewlett Nixon professor of English emerita at Stanford University and the founder and former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, also established the Ken Macrorie Writing Centers at Bread Loaf. The author, co-author, or editor of over 20 books on teaching, writing, and rhetoric, she has shaped the way writing is conceived and the way the teaching of writing is structured.  

Earlier that same evening at Bread Loaf’s Oxford campus in England, 16 students received their master’s degrees in a ceremony at Lincoln College’s Chapel. On July 25, 14 students received their Master of Arts and one the Master of Letters at Bread Loaf’s New Mexico campus, for a total of 73 masters awarded during the 2015 session across the School of English’s three locations.

Established in 1920, the Bread Loaf School of English is one of Middlebury’s summer residential graduate programs, offering courses in literature and the related fields of literacy and pedagogy, creative writing, and theater arts. Students, mostly K-12 English or language arts teachers, come from across the United States and beyond for one or more summers of intensive continuing education. Students may also elect to pursue an MA or MLitt. degree in English. Faculty members come from eminent universities in the U.S. and U.K. to teach and learn with the student body at sites in New Mexico, England, and Vermont.

– Reported by Dana Olsen with photography by Todd Balfour

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