Why I Teach: Jeffry Casey, Theater Professor

Photo: Jeffry Casey and theater Norwich student actors pose on the construction site of the future Pegasus Player theater.
Norwich University Office of Communications

December 4, 2017

Assistant Professor of Theater Jeffry Casey (third from left) is a playwright and director who joined the Norwich faculty in July. Teaching classes on theater, literature, writing and public speaking, he describes himself as the “Swiss army knife” of the English department. Casey directed student actors in the November 2017 Pegasus Players production of two Harold Pinter plays, “Party Time” and “The New World.” We recently asked Casey—seen here on the site of the new $24M Mack Hall construction project with students Sachi de la Cruz ’21, Nick Veldy ’21, and Nathan Ures ’21—what inspired his career.

Why I Teach:

“When I was in Kindergarten, I kept talking in class. One of the teachers tried to humiliate me by making me teach the class. It was this massively malicious sort of way of humiliating me to get me to stop talking. I think at that point, I spent the rest of my time in school, all two decades or however long it was, thinking about, Could I do this? … Could I do this better? was always my question.

I grew up in rural West Texas, where I endured lots of bad teaching. Whenever I would get angry at that, I always thought, How could this be better? How could this be improved? Long before I ever got a chance to teach, I was thinking about pedagogy. I mean we stick people in these classes for whatever it is, eight hours a day for twelve years, and we have been doing it the same way for how long? I always wanted to imagine just any sort of different way of doing it that would make it more exciting, because I was generally so bored.

By the time I got to college, I just loved the discussions. We were talking about all this stuff. You can see all my books. I’ve got philosophy, literature, theater, poetry, sociology. I just loved sitting down and talking about all of this stuff. It is something I actually can’t live without is that talking.

Hearing what students have to say is an important component of that. Every night during play rehearsals, a student would bring up something that I didn’t realize about the text. I think the nature of being good a teacher is just being a student with the students and discovering the text anew every time. Part of why I don’t really lecture is because I want [my students] to say things to me. Because I’m sick of my own voice. I’m sick of my own thoughts. I’m with them all the time.”

Photograph by Sean Markey

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 Commencement | The Graduates: Hannah Bell ’16

Photo: Hannah Bell speaks to an unidentified cadet in a Norwich classroom

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Hannah Bell ’16

Hometown: Newberg, OR
Double Major: International Studies + Spanish
Minor: English
Student Path: Civilian
Activities:

  • Rugby Team Senior Captain
  • Four-time Women’s Rugby Div. I National Champion
  • Three-time Women’s Rugby All-American
  • Academic Achievement Center Peer Tutor
  • Undergraduate Research Ambassador

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What Norwich Taught Me

I am driven person in part because I like to be in control….a lot of life is out of my hands and … I need to be at peace with that. Norwich taught me to time-manage and problem-solve efficiently through leadership opportunities like captaining the rugby team.[/content_band]

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On Academics:

The research I conducted the summer after my sophomore year was my first scholarly experience. I learned so much about process during this time. I also put together a really polished product, which is one of my accomplishments I am most proud of. I was selected to present this research … analyzing prominent, Western women novelists of the 20th century at the selective Posters on the Hill event [in Washington, D.C.]. I spoke with congressmen and their staff about my research and the importance of undergraduate research, which was an amazing experience.

Also, presenting my senior thesis for International Studies was a very proud moment. I discussed immigration policy and border security in Spain, which was a timely topic considering our own political rhetoric and the refugee crisis.[/content_band]

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On Athletics:

The second national championship I won in a Norwich jersey in North Carolina … It was incredible to come from behind in the final and defend out title. We came back from a 12-point [deficit]—winning in the final two minutes. Our team that year was made up of such exceptional players and people and that tournament was so much fun.[/content_band]

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Future Plans:

I will be heading to San Antonio to attend induction for the Teach For America San Antonio Corps. For two years I will be teaching in an under-served elementary school in San Antonio. I grew up in a household committed to social justice. My father is a Presbyterian pastor, and I always planned on … nonprofit work. I have been inspired by many great educators throughout my career and have had so much fun learning. I want to be able to help other kids fall in love with learning like I did. Ten to twenty years from now, I want to be a state prosecutor or a family doctor. I plan on taking the next two years to figure out which path to take.[/content_band]

Two Vermont Book Award Finalists to Kick Off Norwich University Writers Series

Vermont Author Jessica Hendry Neslon
Norwich University Office of Communications

October 1, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University’s 2015-16 Writers Series will bring acclaimed memoirist Jessica Hendry Nelson and short story writer Gary Lee Miller to campus for a double bill reading on Monday, Oct. 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Kreitzberg Library’s Multipurpose Room.

Nelson and Miller were both finalists for the inaugural Vermont Book Award. The event is free and open to the public.

Born in Philadelphia, Burlington resident Jessica Hendry Nelson is a professor at Burlington College and Champlain College. Her nonfiction essays appear in The Best American Essays, The Threepenny Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Her debut collection of essays, “If Only You People Could Follow Directions,” explores experiences and themes surrounding her dysfunctional family, including her drug-addicted father, alcoholic mother, and a younger brother tormented by drug-addiction and jail time.

Writing in the Boston Globe, book reviewer Judy Bolton-Fasman described Nelson’s essays as “fresh and startling.”

Vermont short story writer Gary Lee MillerAlso reading at Norwich will be Montpelier-resident Gary Lee Miller, a Pushcart Prize-nominated short story writer and the creative director of Writers for Recovery, a writers’ workshop, which helps people overcome addiction.

Miller’s short story collection, “Museum of the Americas,” is also a finalist for the Vermont Book Award. His fiction appears in national literary magazines, including The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Florida Review, and Washington Square.

Miller has co-produced two documentary films and been nominated for a New England Emmy Award for documentary scriptwriting at WGBH/PBS Boston. He has been named a finalist in the James Jones Novel Fellowship Contest.

The Norwich University Writers Series is produced by the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English & Communications. All events in the series are free and open to the public.

Books by Nelson and Miller will be on sale at the 2015-16 Writers Series event on October 12, and a book signing will follow the reading.

For more information, please visit the Writers Series website: writers.norwich.edu.

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

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.

Media Contact:
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
Office Tel: (802) 485-2886
Mobile: (802) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu

Focus on Research: Norwich University Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 18, 2015

Each year, Norwich University undergraduates vie for prestigious Summer Research Fellowships to explore diverse topics across the arts, sciences and professional fields. Developed by the university’s Office of Academic Research, the competitive, six- and ten-week fellowships are funded by university endowments dedicated to supporting student academic investigation. Working in labs, libraries and fields sites on campus and around the globe this summer, 28 fellows discovered the challenges and rewards of independent research. Read the stories of six recent fellows and some of the faculty mentors who support them.

Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows

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Maggie Cross ‘16
Electrical Engineering

A Glove That Helps Teach Sign Language
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Christopher Eddy ‘17
Geology

Deciphering a Tectonic Creation Story
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Abigail Seaberg ‘16
History

19th Century Painter William Brenton Boggs
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Jesse Abruzzi ‘16
English

Religious Tolerance in Stratford-upon-Avon
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Macial Porto ‘16
Biology

Leptin Receptors in the Avian Hypothalamus
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Keith Stipe ‘16
Architecture

Rammed Earth Buildings of the Desert Southwest
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Faculty Highlights

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Amy Woodbury Tease, PhD
Assistant Professor of English & Program Director, Undergraduate Research Program

5 Questions: Surveillance, Media Culture & Student Scholarship
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Megan Doczi, PhD
Neuroscientist & Assistant Professor of Biology

5 Questions: Neuroscience, Research & Lifelong Learning
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5 Questions For … Surveillance and Media Culture Scholar Amy Woodbury Tease

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 18, 2015

Assistant Professor of English Amy Woodbury Tease began teaching at Norwich in 2011 after completing her PhD at Tufts. It was during her first year at Norwich that she joined the Council on Undergraduate Research, a faculty body dedicated to fostering undergraduate student research. She now serves as Program Director for the university’s Undergraduate Research Program. A modernist specializing in post-1950 British literature and film, Woodbury Tease focuses her own scholarship on surveillance and media culture. Among other projects, this fall she is co-teaching an honors course with Criminal Justice professor and terrorism expert Travis Morris called, “The Other Side of Innovation.”

Woodbury Tease sat down in her office in Webb Hall to discuss her research interests and why she is such a passionate supporter of independent student scholarship.

What questions do you explore in your research?

I’m really interested the ways in which the ubiquity of technology forces us into this space where we feel really comfortable with our devices. We feel as if they are part of us. But my theoretical perspective is this concept of difficulty. So the ways in which when technical difficulty happens, that’s when we become aware that our positions in the world are not as secure, not as comfortable. That they’re constructed. We are media subjects. Even if we think we’re off the grid. You’re still part of this culture where globally someone is able to see you, right? You can be found or traced in some way. Especially now and in ways we’re unaware of.

So I guess one of the questions is, what does it mean to be a media subject? What are our responsibilities as consumers of media? Things that we watch for entertainment have real world implications. Even if we’re watching a reality television show, there are things about it. What are we actually participating in? What stereotypes are being enacted on those programs? What are we OK with? What are we not OK with? How do we in some ways abandon our ethics and our morals to the screen? That’s one set of questions.

What’s another?

In what ways can surveillance help us? In what ways do these technologies add to our communication? I’m quick to say, and others are quick to say, the screen culture is harming us in more ways than it’s helping us. But in what ways does it allow us to communicate better and talk to people from across world and read text that we wouldn’t otherwise get to read? To share our work with people that wouldn’t necessarily get access to it? So thinking about what I call the possibilities and pitfalls of the media in our digital age.

Do you have a Facebook page?

Yes.

Do you post actively?

I do, but it’s very selective. That’s the other thing. To recognize also that our Facebook selves are constructed. A lot of [my students] are like, huh? A lot of them have grown up into this world. What does it mean for them, too? Because in some ways, there is a generation gap that I’m going to have to deal with. They’re born into this world. Whereas, I’ve become accustomed to it. A lot of things I’ve resisted. With Facebook, I’m one of the few people where I’ve been grandfathered into this space where people can’t actually find me. So I was very paranoid about it when I first started teaching at the college level to allow anyone to see anything. Now I feel more open about it. I don’t post anything that I wouldn’t talk to my students about.

Shifting gears, why is undergraduate student research important?

I think it’s the most important aspect of their education. That they move from being a student in a classroom who is consuming information to being a producer of information. From my freshman students up, I tell them this is where you find your voice. This is where you ask your questions. I’m not going to give you a topic to write about. I’m going to give you a theme or a general sense of a direction, and you need to find what you want. You need to find the thing that inspires you, which is hard. Sometimes you have to sit with them and say, Ok, talk to me a little bit about the things that interest you in class. And you don’t always get what you’re looking for. But I think if students don’t feel like they have the agency or the ability to ask a question that you’re not asking, they’re not really getting the same level of experience.

I can tell them to think what I think. But then in the end, what do they get out of that? They get my particular thesis, which they’re going to get anyway. That’s not to say I don’t have an agenda in my classes. I do. But in the end what I hope is that they will be able to take whatever foundation I’ve given them and think about how they might apply it to something they’re interested in.

And of course those who go out into the field and get to do stuff and get their hands dirty, I think that’s great too.

Interviewed condensed and edited for length and clarity.

 

Undergraduate Research Highlights From the College of Liberal Arts

By Isabel Weinger Nielsen | College of Liberal Arts

December 5, 2014

Students in the College of Liberal Arts, working with faculty mentors, have been involved in many exciting projects at Norwich University. Some recent highlights:

Psychology major Ali Shahidy ’17 is the first student from Afghanistan to attend Norwich University. His summer research project, under the mentorship of Criminal Justice Professor Travis Morris, was titled “How is Jihad Marketed in Kabul, Afghanistan?” Shahidy was able to develop six typologies through which Jihadi information is disseminated, and concluded that Jihadi information circulates in Kabul on a regular basis, in multiple manners, and on a large scale. However, the study could not conclude that all texts are propaganda with a specific purpose to influence and encourage people to join a Jihadi movement; some texts or speeches on Jihad are ideological concepts that are taught as part of the religious studies, and therefore they can’t be defined as propaganda. Shahidy said, “I valued the opportunity to conduct one-on-one in-depth academic works with a faculty mentor who is an expert on the subject matter. The research project is a process through which I have learned tremendously about academic research from my mentor.” Shahidy will be staffing the Undergraduate Research information table as one of its new Ambassadors.

Wren and Gwynn’s London

Shaili Patel ’16 is a double-major in architectural studies and history who was mentored by Professor Emily Gray. Patel traveled to London this past summer on an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to conduct research in the British Library. She studied two architects who conceptually redesigned the city of London: Christopher Wren in the late seventeenth century, and John Gwynn in the late eighteenth. Patel’s paper has been accepted for presentation at the Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society) undergraduate research conference in November at Roger Williams University. Patel said “working on the project was an adventure; it was a story coming to life. I spent most of my time in the British Library looking at old maps. While I walked around the city, these maps became reality, and I could imagine how London looked and felt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The project was a limitless expansion of imagination and creativity. “

Nile Journal

Frank Carissimo, a double major in history and studies in war & peace with a minor in political science, will graduate in December 2014. Mentored by History Professor Rowly Brucken, Carissimo will present a paper based on his summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at the Phi Alpha Theta conference. His paper, “War and Hardship on the Nile: The Journal of Frederick Charles Miller,” is based on a journal of Charles Miller that was donated by a Norwich alumnus to the University’s Archives and Special Collections. In 1885, Miller documented an expedition to rescue British Governor-General Charles George “Chinese” Gordon from the city of Khartoum, a subject which had never been studied by historians. Frank said, “The Miller journal of 1885, one of a collection of four, was fascinating to research, as each day brought more unstudied pages [to light]. The research was extremely rewarding as it was the first project I’ve completed thus far in which no other person or source-other than the 1885 Miller journal-could answer my questions.”

Post-WWII Japan

International studies major Jake Freeman ’17 was mentored by Dean Andrea Talentino. His summer research project, “From Destruction to Stability,” examined the methods and circumstances that led to the successful rebuilding of Japan after WWII through the national investment of social and economic resources by the United States for the purpose of developing a mutually beneficial relationship of security and economic interests.

Freeman’s study showed that economic policies promoting the middle class, combined with social institutions that continue to reinforce the outcomes of those policies, along with a mutual security interest make a successful mission. Freeman said, “The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and working closely with Dr. Talentino opened my eyes to research being a professional way to discover things no one else has and, that each person’s research is a small jigsaw piece to a [complete] picture of understanding.”

About Undergraduate Research

Norwich students have a wealth of options when it comes to learning. One of the most exciting developments in this area is the Undergraduate Research Program, which provides funding to students for summer research projects, original research, or creative work projects done during the academic year, as well as opportunities to present papers at professional meetings.

Each October, a Faculty Scholarship Celebration is held on campus featuring displays of faculty/student joint summer research fellowship projects. In December, an Undergraduate Research Symposium generates conversation about research methods across disciplines and gets students thinking about independent research. The symposium provides a collaborative forum for students to develop their research ideas and introduces them to a range of funding opportunities. In May, a Student Scholarship Celebration allows students the opportunity to display their research abstracts from the previous summer or academic year, and recipients of upcoming summer grants are acknowledged.

A recently created Ambassadors Program enlists Undergraduate Research fellows from the previous year to promote the program by visiting classes, attending department meetings, displaying their research posters in the Wise Campus Center, and providing information to future student researchers.

English Professor Amy Woodbury Tease and Criminal Justice Professor Travis Morris are the COLA representatives to the Undergraduate Research Committee.

Read more about Norwich Undergraduate Research.