will robert barshop

Email at wrbarshop@crimson.ua.edu

Month: December, 2012

Brown Bag Lecture

Yesterday at the Ferguson Center Forum, author Kellie Wells read her short story, “Ever After,” which was published in this year’s issue of The Fairy Tale Review. Wells is a professor of English at the University, has won the Flannery O’Connor award for her short fiction, and published her second novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial, through FC2 this October.

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Wells describes “Ever After” as a “retelling and corruption of the story of Adam and Eve.” It’s written from the perspective of Eve, and full of dense symbolism, comparing the sky to “tabernacles made of the stretched hide of blue goats.” Wells also made some major changes to the story as it is told in the Bible. Instead of Adam naming the animals, Eve renames them after him. A snapping turtle tempts Eve instead of a serpent. Eve has a very atypical relationship with her children, Cain and Abel. After about 35 minutes, Wells finished

During the Q&A portion of the lecture, Wells explained that while the objections to the gender roles in Genesis are well documented (“they made women responsible for sin, blahh[sic]!”) she still wanted to submit her own creative interpretation of the ancient story. She said she was mainly interested in the idea of being the first person to experience time as we know it.

The lecture was a part of the Brown Bag Lecture Series, presented by the Women’s Resource Center.

Wells’ novels are available through the University of Alabama Press. The UA Press supports the works of several professors and alumni of the University.

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Speak-Off

On Tuesday, 13 November the University’s COM123 (Public Speaking) classes held this semester’s Speak-Off, a competition between students testing their ability to deliver a speech to an audience. I was one of the six contestants to make it to the final round.

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The rules were simple: deliver an informative speech on the topic of your choosing. Each lab section chose one of their own to compete in a preliminary round, and the TA’s judged which six would deliver their speeches in Morgan auditorium the next week. Promised extra credit in the class for attending the event, many COM123 students filled the seats in the audience.

The freedom to choose any topic we could imagine created a colorful variety of speeches. While I spent my time talking about how Spelling Bees have been portrayed in pop culture, another speaker, Haas Byrd, discussed this year’s NFL referee lockout.

One girl, Leah Juliano, took the stage to walk us through the life of Etta James, singing bits of the artist’s songs along the way. Christina Zabala took us behind the scenes of the hit sitcom, FRIENDS.

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Left: Juliano, Right: Zabala

The judges, three members of the College of Communication faculty, tallied their scores while a member of the forensics team performed a dramatic but comedic piece of prose. A few minutes later they announced that I was the winner.

While the challenge to go out on a stage in front of hundreds of my peers and simply talk was more than a little nerve-wracking (moments before I went on I actually fell down a flight of stairs backstage), I was ecstatic to be honored as the best speaker in the competition.