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When You Study What You Love…

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Dr. Antonia  LewandowskiSometimes, as teachers, we look first to the academic for new or more information for our classroom. We forget that most of us, first and foremost, love our subject! Dr. Antonia Lewandowski (Communications, Seminole) reminds us of the value of studying what we love and bringing an appreciation of our subject into the classroom.

Supported by a CETL grant from SPC, Dr. Lewandowski attended the 12th Annual Writers in Paradise Conference at Eckerd College from January 20-26, 1213. How does it feel when a teacher takes on the role of student and learner? “Not unfamiliar at all,” says Lewandowski, who submitted her short story, “because writers need to know what readers think.”

This well-regarded national conference right here in St. Petersburg drew over 100 participants from every part of the country and also from Canada. Over the course of a week, workshops in nonfiction, novel, short story, poetry, and young adult fiction ran simultaneously.

Professor Lewandowski attended the workshop led by novelist Stewart O’Nan. Preliminary to acceptance, each participant submitted a short story in order to qualify. “I’ve never written fiction before,” explained Lewandowski, “because I’ve concentrated on research writing and, secondarily, on poetry. This story was an experiment, a stretch for me.”

Along with detailed critiques of each writer’s story in the workshop, participants attended afternoon lectures by thriller writer Dennis Lehane, and novelists Andre Dubus III, and Michael Koryta among others. Evening readings by bestselling writers such as Ann Pachett, best-selling author of Bel Canto; Daniel Woodrell, whose novel Winter’s Bone was adapted as a feature film; and Peter Meinke, St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate, were events open to the public.

“It was fun to mix with all kinds of writers,” commented Lewandowski. “I definitely got a sense of how students feel when their work is critiqued. We project our own experiences into writing, and yet we have to step aside and see the work objectively.” She added, “That’s what I tell my students. In the end, because our writing belongs to our readers, we must communicate strongly and truthfully.”

Thank you, Dr. Lewandowski, for this timely reminder! As we relax into the summer months, be sure and take some time for those projects we don’t always get to – the unfinished manuscript, the incomplete song, the places you’ve always wanted to visit. Then share! SPC’s publications are open to faculty as well:

  • The META Journal – an interdisciplinary publication that displays critical or creative accomplishments
  • The Sandbox – looking for news reports, art critiques, book reviews, comics, humor, and, especially, great ideas we haven’t even thought of yet!
  • The CETL blog – if faculty is doing it, we’re interested! Tell what you’re learning, what you’re studying, what new techniques you’ve uncovered, what clever solution you’re looking for! Send submissions to Kathy Bryson via Outlook.

Don’t Forget! Writing with Integrity at Poynter Institute – May 29th & 30th – is shaping up to be a revolutionary new look at the age-old problem of cut & paste! Instead of punishing students, what can teachers do to clarify expectations? With radical changes proposed by the state legislature, how are you going to ensure good communication with your students?

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