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Eric Rabkin wins Golden Apple Award

Posted: 2/24/2006

English prof takes bite of Golden Apple

Students shower veteran lecturer with congratulations, balloons

Kelly Fraser
Posted: 2/24/06
Michigan Daily

For the second year in a row, one of the University's top English professors took home the prestigious Golden Apple teaching award.

Even after 30 years of teaching at the University and receiving other various awards, Prof. Eric Rabkin was shocked to learn that he was selected to win the 16th annual Golden Apple award, which designates professors who "teach every lecture as if it were their last."

Rabkin had tears in his eyes during his course on science fiction yesterday as he accepted a large bundle of balloons from LSA sophomore Lauren Schiff, a committee member of Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, the group that selects the recipient.

On his way back to his office after the lecture, Rabkin took every precaution not to pop the balloons that accompanied the award. He said the balloons would serve as evidence for his wife.

"I have to get these balloons home in one piece so I can prove to Betty that it really happened," he said.

Rabkin now joins a distinguished list of student-nominated University professors selected for their passionate lecture styles, including two fellow English professors - Ralph Williams in 1992 and John Rubadeau last year.

Students in Rabkin's class applauded and cheered as he accepted the award.

"He loves what he does, and that's infectious," said LSA sophomore Samantha Force, a former Daily Arts writer.

Rabkin said he was surprised to win the award because he thought that as the age gap between himself and his students grew, winning became less of a possibility.

"Of course it's an enormous honor," Rabkin said. "It's the students you teach for, not your colleagues, so it's an incredible honor. But to be candid, I had gotten to the point of thinking 'it's just not going to happen.' "

English department chair Sidonie Smith said it is Rabkin's treatment of his students, both in research and the classroom, which helps to engage them in learning.

"I think that Eric is motivated by a profound respect for students as inquirers and scholars," she said.

As part of the award, Rabkin will deliver his "ideal last lecture" on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium. Rabkin plans to keep the topic of the lecture secret until then.

He said that although his first focus when teaching a course is the specific material, he also works to give students universal tools for learning.

"It would be wrong to say that I design my courses so that people will become better at constructing ideas and communicating them, because that's not the first thing I'm thinking of - but I'm always thinking of that," he said.

In his courses, Rabkin draws the line between homework and "real work" to engage his students in collaborative projects.

His efforts include a research project on the evolution of literary genres with economics Prof. Carl Simon.

Past Recipients
2005: John Rubadeau (English Department)
2004: Matt Lassiter (Department of History)
2003: Thomas Gest (Medical School)
2002: Elliot Soloway (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, School of Information, School of Education)
2001: Burton V. Barnes (School of Natural Resources & Environment)
2000: Kathleen Nolta (Department of Chemistry)
1999: Brenda Gunderson (Statistics Department)
1998: Jim Adams (Department of Economics)
1997: Eric Mann (Department of Biology)
1996: Carol Boyd (School of Nursing, Women's Studies)

© Copyright 2006 Michigan Daily

Please join us in congratulating Eric Rabkin who has been chosen to receive the prestigious Golden Apple Award – an award given annually to honor outstanding teachers who "teach every lecture as if it were their last." Eric will be delivering his "ideal last lecture" on April 5th at 7:30 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium.

The Living Writers Show Archives: 24/7 streaming & podcasts

Posted: 2/16/2006
The Living Writers Show archives are now available for 24/7 streaming from the WCBN website and as podcasts on iTunes. Both options can be accessed at: http://www.wcbn.org/livingwriters/

A special thank you to to Jason Adam Voss for handling the technical end of things so that we can make this archive available.

The Living Writers Show airs every Wednesday from 4:30-5:15 p.m. (EST) on WCBN-FM, 88.3. The show may also be streamed during show-time at www.wcbn.org.

The archive includes (in alphabetical order):

Suad Amiry--architect and former Palestinian Minister of Culture--reads from her memoir, "Sharon and My Mother-in-law," and talks about the day-to-day of living in the occupied West Bank. (original broadcast 12/21/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Neil Bartlett reads from "Who Was that Man?: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde"
and discusses guidebooks, gay culture, and his life and work as an artist in London. (original broadcast 9/28/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate, reads from his 8th book of poems, "The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems," and talks about death, dogs, diction and other weighty matters. (original broadcast 10/19/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Lan Samantha Chang--novelist, teacher, and director of The Iowa Writers Workshop--reads from her collection of stories, "Hunger," and talks about memory, contemporary mythmaking, and "writing what you know." (original broadcast 12/14/05, engineer Jason Adam Voss)

Kwame Dawes--poet, playwright, novelist, and director of the Calabash International Literary Festival and the South Carolina Poetry Initiative--reads from "Midland," and "Wisteria," and talks about the aesthetics of Bob Marley, the power of art, growing up in Ghana and Jamaica and living and writing in South Carolina. (original broadcast 2/22/06, engineer Jason Adam Voss)

Andrew Delbanco--social critic and Columbia University professor of humanities and American studies--reads from "Melville: His World and Work"
and talks about the ways in which Melville, who set the standard for the great American novel with "Moby Dick," captured the imaginative, social, and political concerns of his day, and why after a century and a half, his work continues to capture ours. (original broadcast 11/9/05, engineer Chaz

Nicholas Delbanco--novelist, essayist, teacher, and chair of the Hopwood Awards committee--reads from his most recent novel, "The Vagabonds," and talks about crafting a writing life, the responsibility of mentorship, and the Avery Hopwood awards and legacy at the University of Michigan. (original broadcast 2/8/06, engineer Chaz Berret)

Jonathan Franzen--novelist, essayist, and frequent New Yorker contributor-- reads from his work and talks about taste, complacency, the "so what"
question, and birds. (original broadcast 11/30/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Alice Fulton--poet, essayist, and teacher--reads from her new book of selected poems "Cascade Experiment" and talks about the processes of circling back, beginning anew, and experimentation. (original broadcast 1/25/06, engineer Chaz Berret)

Laurence Goldstein reads from his 4th book of poems, "A Room in California,"
and discusses his work as poet, scholar, teacher, and long-time editor of "The Michigan Quarterly Review." (original broadcast 9/21/05, engineer Chaz

Lorna Goodison--poet, painter, prose writer, and teacher--reads from her work, and talks about struggle and resistance, patience and fortitude, and about writing from and across cultural heritage. (original broadcast 1/11/06, engineer Chaz Berret)

Patricia Hampl reads her poetry and non-fiction and talks about disappearing worlds, the power and weaknesses of first person writing, and the shifting nature of memory. (original broadcast 10/5/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Melanie Lynne Hauser reads from her novel "Confessions of Supermom" and talks about an incredible Swiffer accident, chick lit, and soccer mom stereotypes. (original broadcast 9/7/05, engineer Chaz Berret) <

Roy Jacobstein, poet, physician, and international development consultant reads poems from "Ripe" and talks about political poetry, writing from outside academia, and wearing multiple hats.(original broadcast 10/26/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

John McCain--US senator and best selling author--reads from "Character is Destiny," and talks about character, inspiration, and responsibility.
(original broadcast 12/7/06, engineer Chaz Berret)

Ray McDaniel reads from his forthcoming second book of poems, "Saltwater Empire," and talks about Dixie-fried poetry, predicting the future, and redemption. (original broadcast 11/2/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Sean Norton reads from his first book of poems, "Bad with Faces" and talks about journey, renunciation, and style. (original broadcast 10/12/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Patrick O'Keeffe reads from his collection of linked novellas, "The Hill Road," and talks about Ireland, change, loss, and finding his subject.
(original broadcast 9/14/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

Eileen Pollack--novelist, creative non-fiction writer, journalist, and teacher--reads from the forthcoming collection of stories, "In the Mouth"
and talks about truth and lies, literary vogue, and the business of writing (and learning to write). (original broadcast 11/23/05, engineer Alex Belhaj)

Jim Shepard--novelist, teacher, and "patron saint of the mal-adapted"--reads from his novel "Project X" and talks about adolescent boys, growing up, and being a writer-parent. (original broadcast 12/28/06, engineer Chaz Berret)

Richard Tillinghast--poet, critic, teacher, performer, and "Leonard Wiggins"
in a James Atlas novel--reads from his work, and covers the usual bases:
Southerners to Puritans, social movements to poetry. (original broadcast 11/16/05, engineer Chaz Berret)

For more recordings you can also check out the multimedia section on our website: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/english/media/


U-M public domain works now online and searchable through Google Print

Posted: 11/30/2005
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan and Google, Inc. today announced that the first large collection of the University’s public domain books is now available online through Google Print (http://print.google.com/).

The Google Print Library project is an ambitious effort to digitize and index millions of books from the world’s foremost libraries, including almost 7 million volumes from the University of Michigan library. The digitization project will provide scholars and the general public with an unprecedented ability to search for and locate books from the University’s vast collection. Today’s offering encompasses a wide array of topics including colonial era travel guides, civil war documentation, government reports, and classic literature.

"Today, we welcome the world to our library," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "As educators we are inspired by the possibility of sharing these important works with people around the globe. Think of the doors it will open for students; geographical distance will no longer hamper research. Anyone with an Internet connection can search the text of and read the compelling narratives, historical accounts and classic works offered today, and in doing so access a world of ideas, knowledge and discovery."

Examples of the public domain works available today from U-M include:

Histories and travel accounts from the first 50 years of the republic and also some of the very first literature from those who called and thought of themselves as Americans. Examples include "The Private Correspondence of Benjamin Franklin" from 1818; 10 volumes of "The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution"; and "The Emigrant’s Guide" from 1829, addressing "the taxpayers of England" and containing "information necessary to persons who are about to emigrate."

U.S. Civil War regimental histories from New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

"One of the reasons we are so committed to digitizing these works is that as a university library our core mission includes the preservation of knowledge," said James Hilton, associate provost and interim University librarian. "The digitization project not only allows broad access today, but also preserves our library’s collections for future generations."

"This is just the beginning," said John Wilkin, associate University librarian. "We look forward to even more works being available on-line. The pace of Google’s work is unprecedented."

Because public domain books are not under copyright, the full text is available through Google Print. Public domain books can be read in their entirety online and the full text of every book is searchable.

These are only a few of the many works available. In addition U-M, Google has partnered with Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford universities and the New York Public Library. For more information and to see images, please visit Google Print:

Sad News

Posted: 11/28/2005
It is with great sadness that we announce that Henk Van Woerden, our Visiting Dutch Writer, died November 16th. Our condolences go out to his family for this sudden and tragic loss.

Buzz Alexander wins U.S. honors

Posted: 11/28/2005
English professor wins U.S. honors
U-M's Buzz Alexander started creative arts project in prisons

Ann Arbor News
News Staff Reporter

A University of Michigan professor who developed a program that brings arts workshops into prisons has been named one of four Professors of the Year by two national education-related organizations.

Buzz Alexander, a professor in the English department, was selected for the honor by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Alexander accepted his award Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The organizations named four professors, one each from a community college, baccalaureate college, master's university or college and doctorate and research university, for the award. The award includes a $5,000 prize for each professor.

In 1990, Alexander started the Prison Creative Arts Project at U-M. The project conducts theater and poetry workshops in Michigan prisons, juvenile facilities and at some high schools. At U-M, Alexander teaches a course called Literature and Social Change, in which students work in the prison art workshops. The program also sponsors annual exhibitions of prisoners' art.

The program has conducted workshops in 20 Michigan prisons, Alexander said.

The fact that the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world motivated him to found the program, Alexander said.

"I believe in social justice,'' he said. "When something like this happens, (I) want to be there.''

Alexander himself continues to work in prisons along with his students.

"It's just a very, very rich place to work because people are ready to learn,'' Alexander said.

Emily Harris, one of Alexander's former students, is one of three people who nominated him for the award. The U-M provost office made the official nomination.

"For me, he was the first educator that I had who really trusted me to make up my own mind about what I believe,'' Harris said.

Rae Goldsmith, vice president for communication and marketing at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, said Alexander's ability to get students involved in the prison arts program was part of the reason he got the award.

"It is the innovative approach he uses to engage students,'' Goldsmith said.

John Mulcahy can be reached at jmulcahy@annarbornews.com or (734) 994-6858.


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