Interview by English students published with help of former Martha Newell Visiting Scholar

Interview by English students published with help of former Martha Newell Visiting Scholar

Two English students with concentrations in creative writing have published an interview with the help of their mentor Dr. Michael Lackey, a professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who was Georgia College’s Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar in 2020.

The interview was published in “Auto/Biography Studies,” a leading journal for biofiction. Lackey’s two students, Ariel Ebaugh and Kimberly Norwood, did a public interview with author Joanna Scott on her book, “Careers for Women,” and its section on Lee K. Jaffe, visionary of the World Trade Center’s two towers.

“I tried to stay as uninvolved with the publishing process as possible, so they could experience first-hand what it's like to get their work into print. I am so proud of them,” Lackey said.

As the Martha Daniel Newell professor in spring 2020, Lackey taught a course on Social Justice Biofiction. This form of writing uses fiction to embellish or fill in what’s unknown about an actual historical figure. It’s been recognized for more than 200 years but became more popular in the past 30. In the last decade, a surge in biofiction made has made it a dominant literary form.

Early on, Lackey gave a lecture for Georgia College professors and students on biofiction. But the most important part of his residency, he said, was working with students and teaching them to conduct public interviews with prominent biographical novelists.

In spring 2020, Lackey applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete a book that would include Ebaugh and Norwood's interview. The grant didn’t go through, so Lackey pitched the project to Auto/Biography Studies. The students’ interview of Scott is in the latest version.

“Based on their interview, I would say their grasp of Scott’s work and of the genre of biofiction is impressive—that is, if they were graduate students,” Lackey said. “But they are only undergraduates, which is why I would characterize their achievement as spectacular.”

During her visit, Scott met with Georgia College creative writing students to give advice about grants and fellowships, conducting research and getting published. Scott also had dinner with students and faculty the night she arrived, and she dined with Ebaugh and Norwood just before their public interview at a campus event called, “Feminist Biofiction.”

“All this contact with Georgia College students and faculty was meaningful and valuable,” Lackey said. “Because of their informed engagement with biofiction and their interactions with a prominent author, my students were asking high-level questions about literature, language, history, social justice and influential people.”

“But, more importantly,” he said, “they were thinking in sophisticated ways about the role literature can and does play in making sense of the past and the present, in offering strategies for securing more individual agency and political autonomy for readers and in shaping a healthier and more socially-just body politic.”

Another public interview by Georgia College students Diondra Franklin and Abigail Giordano will be published soon in Auto/Biography Studies, as well. Franklin and Giordano conducted an interview through emails during the pandemic with Lance Olsen, author of “Nietzsche’s Kisses.” Lackey said “Olsen was amazingly generous in his lengthy, detailed and insightful responses.”

Not only did his stint at Georgia College provide an avenue for students to get published—but it recently helped land Lackey his university’s highest teaching award. These are examples of the possibilities the Newell Visiting Scholar programs affords, said Dr. Eric Tenbus, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Costas Spirou, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, echoed that sentiment, saying “The Newell Visiting Scholar is an incredible opportunity for the Georgia College community, faculty and students, to engage with external scholars and develop/pursue intellectually rewarding experiences.”

In a 2020 interview for the Georgia College’s Connection magazine, Lackey said, “I am immensely grateful to Martha Daniel Newell for making it possible for me to teach and learn from such smart and motivated students, like the ones I met during my semester on this campus.”


Updated: 2021-07-07
Cindy Odonnell
(478) 445-8668
College of Arts & Sciences