We have been lucky enough to welcome so many new people into the department this year that we have to split up our introductions over two newsletters! Look for another round of intros in the Spring issue.
Professor Ralph Grunewald—Literary Studies
We recently met up with Prof. Grunewald for a cup of coffee and a friendly chat. Coming to English from the Comparative Literature department, his scholarship studies the differing uses of narrative between the German and American legal systems. Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:
On how the study of literature and narrative support the study of the law
According to Prof. Grunewald, “what you need for the law you learn in literature classes” because “if you don’t love words, the law is not for you.” Skills like close reading, textual analysis, and argumentative writing are essential for representing facts in a narrative form; “something is evidence based on the story behind it.”
On his favorite fictional criminals
This proved to be a difficult question! After much contemplation, Prof. Grunewald gave us a two part answer: his favorite fictional criminal from television is Breaking Bad‘s anti-hero Walter White, and from literature, it is Gastmann, the antagonist of Friedrich Dürenmatt’s novel The Judge & His Hangman.
On how he personalizes his teaching at a large university
Even in large lecture courses, there can be “no education without individualization” for Prof. Grunewald. To make big classrooms feel smaller, he asks students to wear nametags, and establishes accessible expectations for discussion. He also believes that it’s important to encourage the students to see him as a person, so he begins the semester by sharing a few personal details about himself.
Chris Logterman—Undergraduate Advisor
Before coming to the Department of English, Chris was the Assistant Director of the College of Letters & Science’s Advising Services Office.
What do you enjoy about working with UW-Madison English students?
I enjoy getting to know the students and learning their personalities and how that appears in the courses they select. I have created a list of books to read from their recommendations. I have also enjoyed hearing about the works being created in the Creative Writing workshops.
If could be one character from a book, who would it be and why?
I would actually choose Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series. When I was growing up on a dairy farm in Northwest Wisconsin, it was horrible doing chores, so I would pretend I was her to make the chores go a little faster.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Madison?
Hmmmm, that’s a difficult one to answer. I enjoy trying the food carts on Library Mall. The Sunroom Café and the Mediterranean Café are both favorites. The pressed pesto sandwich and fries is my comfort food at the Library Café.
Professor Porter Shreve—Director of Creative Writing
This year, the Creative Writing program has a new director—Professor Porter Shreve. Originally from Washington, D.C., Prof. Shreve has studied and taught all over the country, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to the Universities of Oregon and San Francisco. He is the author of four acclaimed novels that explore the “irrepressible urge to control others, often by making promises they can’t keep or creating mythologies that will inevitably be exposed as such.”
In the fall, Prof. Shreve sat down for an interview with the College of Letters & Science, which you can read here.