9 Objects: The Office of Amy Woodbury Tease

Photo of Amy Woodbury Tease setting at her office desk in the NU English Dept.
Norwich University Office of Communications

February 3, 2016

A specialist in modern British literature with a PhD from Tufts, Assistant Professor of English Amy Woodbury Tease has a soft spot for junk television and a fascination with surveillance culture. This year her courses include two new classes, “Art in the Age of Surveillance” and “Paranoid States,” which examine contemporary surveillance society, conspiracy, terrorism, and anarchy through the lens of art. Required reading/watching ranges from Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent to the Brazilian TV series 3%. Woodbury Tease also directs the Undergraduate Research Program at Norwich and is currently writing a book about surveillance society and culture. She shares the backstory of nine items found in her Webb Hall office:

Virginia Woolf pillow1. Assorted Virginia Woolf-abalia. Woodbury Tease wrote her undergraduate senior thesis on the 20th-century English author, sparking years of Woolf-themed gifts from friends and family. Today, her collection includes a finger puppet/magnet, a poster, assorted dolls, and a “creepy” pillow.

2. Nerd-Affirming Thermos. Swag from the 2014 Norwich University Undergraduate Research Symposium. Tease launched the symposium, known today as “From Students to Scholars,” to inspire early-career students to undertake ambitious, independent research with faculty mentors. “Undergraduate research is important to every student. But specifically students at Norwich, I think, because they are such active learners.”

Photo of Muriel Spark novel and framed picture of Amy Woodbury Tease and student Hannah Bell with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy3. Muriel Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means. A gift from recent graduate and standout research mentee Hannah Bell ’16, who was the first Norwich student to present findings at the annual Posters on the Hill conference in Washington, D.C. “[Hannah] put it in the mail with a little note that said, ‘I was at a used bookstore unwinding, and I saw this book. It was the first book that I read in your class, and I couldn’t resist sending it.’”

Photo of Mark Rothko print with two children's drawings below4. Mark Rothko Print. A holdover from Woodbury Tease’s days as a graduate student. “It just brings light into the room. Underneath it, I have paintings that my son, who is now 3, did that I thought were Rothkoesque.”

Photo of tiny French mailbox5. Tiny Post Box Replica. Purchased at a vintage store, it’s a nod to French philosopher Jacques Derrida, author of The Postcard, among other works. “He does a lot with language and the ways in which language kind of circles around itself and there is no kind of outside to language. Some people find his work maddening, other people [like me] find it incredibly engrossing.”

Photo of cards and postcards tucked into fabric and ribbon holder6. Note cards. “I love sending cards to friends.” During finals, Woodbury Tease will steal a moment or two to write friends, family, and “sometimes colleagues who I think need a dose of humor.”

7. Squashy Armchair. In the morning, Woodbury Tease likes to relax with a cup of coffee and re-read text that she’ll discuss with students later that day. “That chair is really old, from an apartment I had in Queens before I got my PhD. It’s colorful, so it brings a little bit of brightness into the office.”

Photo of two children's books, "She Loved Baseball" and "Alice in Wonderland"8. Children’s books. Before starting her PhD program, Woodbury Tease spent three years working in New York as an editorial assistant in the children’s book division of Harper Collins. “I was actually really lucky, because my editor traveled a lot. So she gave me more responsibility.” A highlight was working with artists and seeing their original work.

9. Vintage Telephone, Circa 1930. The working phone was a gift from a grad school friend on the eve of Woodbury Tease’s English PhD defense. Her dissertation explored technology, technical snafus, Modernism, and machines. “I had several chapters that dealt with the telephone and phone calls,” she laughs. “So for a while I was known as ‘the call girl.’”

Photo of Amy Woodbury Tease standing at office door

 

Text and photographs by Sean Markey

Norwich Writers Series to Host Iraq War Vet, Memoirist Kayla Williams

Norwich University Office of Communications

Updated April 13, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University Writers Series continues with Iraq War veteran and memoirist, Kayla Williams, author of “Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love & Recovery in the Aftermath of War” (2014) and “Love My Rifle More than You: Young & Female in the U.S. Army” (2006). Williams will read on Tuesday, April 21, at 4 p.m. in the Chaplin Hall Gallery.

Williams has appeared in numerous media interviews including this radio piece on PRI’s The World from February 2014, and including an appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show during a segment dealing with claim backlog at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Williams enlisted in the U.S. Army as an interpreter in 2000. She served as a sergeant and Arabic linguist in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for five years. During that time, she spent a year deployed in Iraq and Kuwait during the buildup to and ultimate invasion of Iraq in 2003. Williams served at the forefront of troops’ interaction with Iraqis while navigating the challenges of being part of the 15 percent female minority enlisted in the Army.

“Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army” is a memoir about Williams’ experiences negotiating the changing demands on today’s military. “Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War” details Williams’ marriage to Brian McGough, who was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq. The book explores the effects of traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

Williams is a 2013 White House Woman Veteran Champion of Change, Truman National Security Project Fellow, and member of the Army Education Advisory Committee, and a former member of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. She currently lives near Washington, D.C., with her husband.

The Norwich Writers Series event is presented by the university’s Center for Peace and War, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of English & Communications. All events in this series are free and open to the public. Williams’ memoir will be on sale at the event. A book signing will follow the reading.

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About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

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