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Moon Madness: A Rare Full Moon Will Appear This Friday The 13th

In a rare crossover of superstitious circumstances, September 2019’s full moon will happen to coincide with the most dreaded date on every calendar: Friday the 13th.

As to why Friday is perceived as an unlucky day, we have influences from ancient times. According to Christian beliefs, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. However, a possible literary source for the unluckiest day of the week may have to do with Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, in which the characters mention their aversion to traveling on a Friday.

Michael Delahoyde.

In the essay “The Plan of the Canterbury Tales” by Dr. Michael Delahoyde, clinical professor of English at Washington State University, he noted the interest scholars have shown in the dating of fictional events.

The idea of “moon madness” also has been a reoccurring theme over the ages. One of the most common superstitions pertaining to the full moon actually involves its appearance on a Friday; in many European traditions, sleeping beneath a full moon on this day of the week is one way to transform into a werewolf.

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Mysterious Universe


‘BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement’ screenings in Vancouver and Pullman

Two Washington State University Vancouver professors have chronicled one of America’s preeminent artistic and cultural movements in a new film and will screen it on two campuses this month.

“BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement” introduces viewers to more than a dozen writers, artists, musicians and community organizers who were instrumental in the campaign centered on black pride and aesthetic. People like poet Eugene Redmond, musician Mwata Bowden, and Dr. Safisha Madhubuti, who founded four African-centered schools and went on to teach at Northwestern University before retiring in 2018.

Pavithra Narayanan.
Thabiti Lewis.

“BAM!” is the brainchild of Thabiti Lewis, WSU associate professor of English, who met many of the important figures in the movement in his 20s while working for Third World Press in Chicago – founded in 1967 as a platform for black literature.

“They were committed to making a positive impact in their community,” Lewis said of the movement’s leaders. “The Civil Rights struggle reached its apex during the Black Arts Movement and people in Chicago were concerned with the community’s needs in terms of resources and creating art that impacted the souls, minds and spirits of those around them.”

Lewis began working on “BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement” while writing a book on the same subject. He enlisted help with the film from English department colleague Pavithra Narayanan.

It will be screened at WSU Vancouver at 3:45 p.m. Sept. 10 in room 110 of Dengerink Administration Building and on the Pullman campus at 5 p.m. Sept. 11 in room 5062 of the Fine Arts Building. Q&A sessions with the filmmakers are scheduled to follow both screenings.

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WSU Insider

Ask Dr. Universe: Why do people have different accents? Why do we have them and need them?

Whether you say hello, ‘ello, hey ya’ll, toe-may-toe or toe-ma-toe, we all have a kind of accent that often comes from where we live or who lives around us.

Nancy Bell.

That’s what I found out from my friend Nancy Bell, a Washington State University professor of linguistics and English as a second language who is really curious about the way language works. She told me more about why we have accents and why we need them.

There are a lot of different accents. You might have friends who speak English but have a Scottish, Irish, Australian, or French accent.

Even in the U.S., there are many accents from the east to the west to the mid-west to the south. In those regions, people also speak many types of English such as Chicano English, African American English, or Indian English.

A lot of times when you see a difference in the way people talk, there is also some kind of physical barrier between them. This might be something like a mountain, a river, or the Atlantic Ocean that separates you and me. When groups of people are isolated from each other, they develop unique ways of speaking, including accents and whole new languages.

We also have social barriers, Bell said. We sometimes see differences in the way people talk when groups are segregated from each other. These social barriers still persist today.

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Dr. Universe

Peter Chilson awarded Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowship

Peter Chilson.

Professor of English Peter Chilson is one of five Idaho writers recently awarded an Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowship.

The ICA announcement states, “The awards, given every two years, recognize outstanding writers, honoring work deemed to exhibit the highest artistic merit during peer review. Applicants were reviewed anonymously in a highly competitive process by panelists from out of state and were judged solely on the basis of existing work and professional history.”

Chilson lives in Moscow, Idaho and has taught writing and literature at WSU for two decades. He is working on a new literary nonfiction book project about the history of immigration in one American town.

He has written three books on Africa, including We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches from the Lost Country of Mali. His most recent book is the travel writing guide, Writing Abroad: A Guide for Writers (co‑authored with Joanne Mulcahy).

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WSU Insider

Textbook learning issues, literally

Two Washington State University faculty members have been awarded a $50,000 grant to research textbooks in Spanish-language classes, and how those may help or hinder student learners.

Nancy Bell.

The College of Education’s Anne Marie Guerrettaz, assistant professor of language, literacy, and technology, and Nancy Bell, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, and a colleague from Denison University will receive the grant from the Spencer Foundation, which helps fund education research.

The research is already yielding interesting results.

“I have discovered over the past year that 90 percent of English-speaking American kids that study a foreign language don’t actually learn it,” Guerrettaz said. “That number sort of surprised me, but it also didn’t.”

The primary resources most classrooms have are the teacher and the textbook. While Guerrettaz acknowledges the huge – and primary – role that teachers play in the classroom, her research deals with only the textbook.

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WSU Insider