Walking around the campus bookstore I’m surrounded by Alice in Wonderland paraphernalia and the Twilight Saga in its entirety. It’s not until I reach the back of the first floor book section that I stumbled across a smaller section labeled “Faculty Books.” It was a great find—I had never realized how many of our JMU faculty published books—and not only text books, but collections of poetry, short stories, and biographies also. Even more exciting was how many of these books were written by our women faculty.
The first cover that caught my eye was a collection of poetry entitled, “The Night Path,” written by Laurie Kutchins. A more recent title by Dr. Kutchins, “Slope of the Child Everlasting,” published in 2007 is also available. Dr. Kutchins teaches Creative Writing courses at James Madison and co-directs the Creative Writing Program. This particular collection of poems, one of her many published works, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. Dr. Kutchins also teaches courses about women poets and about art as medicine.
The second shelf of the “Faculty Authors” section contains a number of works all by one author, Dr. Joanne V. Gabbin. Dr. Gabbin is the founder and advisor of the Furious Flower Poetry Center. She has organized several conferences for the center, including the Furious Flower Poetry Summit, which begins on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 6:30. Professor Gabbin teaches a number of courses all focusing on poetry, specifically African American and women’s poetry. Gabbin’s titles offered in the bookstore include, “I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum,” “Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers,” “The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry,” “Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present,” and “Mourning Katrina,” which Gabbin edited.
Dr. Karyn Z. Sproles, who taught at James Madison University up until 2007, was also featured in this section. Her book, “Desiring Women: The Partnership of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West” sits close by Gabbin’s collection. White at JMU, Sproles was involved in the English department as well as the Women’s Studies department and is now a Professor of English and the Director of Faculty Development and Center for Academic Creativity at the University of Southern Indiana.
Last but not least is Laura Lewis’ book: “Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft and Caste in Colonial Mexico,” published in 2003. Dr. Lewis is a Professor of Anthropology at JMU. She is also the coordinator of the Latin American Studies program.
No wonder James Madison women are so successful! The women showcased here take a prominent space on the campus bookshelf, among an excellent collection of scholarship and creative works. They are an inspiration to all JMU women, especially those interested in writing and publishing themselves!