Editors’ note: We asked some English Department faculty members to share one, or some, of their summer adventures — academic or otherwise. Here’s Part 1 (of 2), answering the age-old essay prompt: “How did you spend your summer vacation?”
There are two things my 4-year-old miniature Schnauzer Dates does well. One is barking at ill-intentioned people — you know, mail carrier, pizza delivery guy, random person passing by with a stroller. The other thing is jumping on people she trusts — me, the husband, neighbor down the street. In fact, when we first got her as a puppy, I was worried that she didn’t know how to walk. She insisted on jumping alongside me as I tried to walk her. Having been assured that she was in fact fine, I looked into what I could do with her that allows her to jump. That’s how I discovered the dog sports of agility. Even if you don’t know what that is, you’ve probably seen it somewhere. It is a sport where a team of human handler and dog go through an obstacle course consisting of jumps, tunnels, and various contact equipment. The dog learns to follow the handler’s body and verbal cues while zipping through the course at high speed, navigating the obstacles in a specified order. We started agility training when Dates was a year and half, and we were hooked. We compete at local American Kennel Club (AKC) trials and have been slowly getting better and working up in competition levels. For us hobby competitors, one AKC title is coveted: the Master Agility Champion Title. It really is a tricky one to earn, requiring hundreds of speed points as well as a considerable number of perfect runs with zero mistakes. We had been working toward it for a year, and this summer, we finally got it! It is especially precious since both Dates and I are considered novice contestants new to the sport. Couldn’t be happier with my little girl!
— Han Yu, Professor
What I did with my summer (vacation): The daily routine: gardened before it got too hot, wrote before my brain got cold, ate lunch, worked out, read novels. Weather permitting: SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) and swim at Lake Wabaunsee. The big stuff: moved into my new office; attended a great conference in Greeley, Colorado; camped with Margaret in the Rockies; competed in the Sunflower State Games; celebrated twenty-one years of marriage. Best book: Semiosis by Sue Burke. Best concert: Modest Mouse at the Starlight Theatre. Best movie: Leave No Trace.
— Christina Hauck, Associate Professor
Greg Eiselein and I are busily promoting the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (including our blog at https://lw150.wordpress.com/), but I had the pleasure this summer of serving as mentor to Savannah Winkler (BA ’19) while she conducted research and wrote an essay about allusions to the Black Panthers in recent children’s and young adult literature. Her essay, “Anchor, Compass, and Sail: The Black Panther Party in African-American Children’s/Adolescent Fiction,” is fantastic, and I am delighted that she will be presenting portions of it at upcoming conferences. While she was working on this project, we took a field trip to the Brown vs. Board of Education site in Topeka, which neither of us had previously visited.
— Anne Phillips, Professor and Associate Department Head