UMFK English Professors present work at Arts and Humanities Conference

January 28, 2005
NR05023

UMFK English faculty members Geraldine Cannon Becker, instructor of English and Joseph E. Becker, assistant professor of English presented works to participants at the third annual Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities held in Honolulu, Hawaii January 13-16, 2005.

The conference provided an opportunity for academics and professionals from various arts and humanities related fields from all over the world to come together and learn from each other. An additional goal of the conference is to provide a place for academics and professionals with cross-disciplinary interests related to arts and humanities to meet and interact with members inside and outside their own particular disciplines.

Cannon Becker presented information on various creative classroom exercises and focused on collaborative poetry as a learning tool that can really help get people on the same page. She shared examples of collaborative work and discussed possibilities for connecting with students in a variety of classrooms across the curriculum through free verse and collaborative writing exercises.

Those attending her interdisciplinary presentation participated in a collaborative writing challenge and discussed their ideas on a broad topic. A sheet of paper was passed around the room with "Aloha Time, in Waikiki" at the top. Each attendee wrote at least one corresponding line, phrase, or group of words. This group effort was discussed in detail when everyone had participated.

Several attendees mentioned eagerness to try similar collaborative exercises with their own students. Interestingly, the name "Waikiki" means "the gathering place," and it was a perfect place for such a gathering of ideas.

Another fun activity they discussed is having students exchange at least two lines of poetry word groups or phrases they are comfortable parting with, and then having each student take those lines and build a poem with them. This is a freeing exercise, because the writers can explore words that are put together in ways that they, otherwise, might not have ever been.

Upon request, Cannon Becker read several of her own poems that came into being through such classroom exercises.

Joseph Becker presented a paper entitled, "William Blake and the Reintegration of the Feminine" that examined a work by English poet and artist, William Blake (1757-1820), who created his own unique mythological system and featured it in his poetic endeavors.

Becker's paper was cross-disciplinary in nature, incorporating research from both traditional literary sources, as well as utilizing the theories of Swiss psychologist, Carl G. Jung (1875-1961). Becker demonstrated that Blake's efforts to create mental stability through his writing and art mirror Jung's beliefs that engaging in creative expression is a method of stabilizing conflicting aspects of the human mind.

In Blake's case, professional conflicts with a wealthy patron and marital difficulties with his wife lead him to write and illustrate a long poem, Milton, in which the title character comes to terms with his beliefs and his relationship with his female companion. After writing the poem, Blake became reconciled with his wife and turned his artistic interests in new directions.

Becker concluded his paper by showing that Blake's poems and Jung's theories provide a practical framework for gaining a deeper understanding of human nature.

Cannon Becker earned a bachelor of arts in English/education (teaching certification) from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina and a master of fine arts in creative writing-poetry from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She has taught writing courses online for Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, composition, creative writing, and literature courses at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville; at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg, Virginia; and at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

She has been the recipient of the John Ciardi Award, the Kenneth Patchen Award, and the Raymond L. Barnes Award for Excellence in Poetry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Her poetry has appeared in journals such as, Nebo, Riverwind, and the Pedestal Magazine online. Selected poems will appear in an electronic publication produced by Expanding Human Consciousness, which will be available in February 2005 on ebrary.com, and Amazon.com.

In December 2004 she read a few poems at Artistree Art Gallery, Fort Kent, and she will be presenting poetry at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey in April 2005.

Becker earned a bachelor of arts and a masters of art in English literature from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina and a master of arts and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

He has taught composition and literature courses at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; at Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, Arkansas; at Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, Virginia; and at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

He has also taught online literature courses for Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. He published biographical articles on several authors in The Dictionary of Literary Biography: The Twentieth Century 1914-2000 and contributed an article, "Gnostic Dualism and the Blakean Vision" for a forthcoming electronic publication by the scholarly group, Expanding Human Consciousness, which will be available on ebrary.com and Amazon.com in February 2005.

He is currently preparing a paper on English author, J.R.R. Tolkien, which he will present at the University of Vermont in April 2005.