Wade Martin - May 2020
I am so sorry to have to inform you of MFA graduate and Lecturer Wade Martin’s passing.
Wade graduated with his B.A. in English from University of Texas--Dallas in 2008 and with his M.F.A. in Poetry from Texas State University in 2019. Speaking of Wade as a student, Professor Kathleen Peirce writes, “I knew Wade as a bright, passionate, vocal student. In my Experimental Forms Workshop, he was wonderfully innovative, applying his deep understanding of traditional forms as foundation to his projects, one of which was his unforgettable ‘cento,’ where a series of scents were captured and arranged in a sequence of corked test tubes that also contained lines of his poem. He was always thinking, always open to talk about his thoughts. Our community will miss him.”
Wade was also an extraordinary writing teacher. Professor Nancy Wilson notes that even as a new Teaching Assistant, he already understood the importance of respecting the wisdom his students bring to the classroom and kindly pushing them to keep growing as thinkers and writers. Wade clearly held to this philosophy after becoming a Lecturer in Fall 2019; his current students have been reaching out to the department with words of sympathy and appreciation:
Mr. Martin was an incredible human being--respectful and always caring about his students. From the bottom of my heart I want to say, “I appreciate you, and thank you for making a positive impact in my life.” When I asked him for permission to finish my math final then to start his afterwards, he replied, "Yes, that's fine. If I were taking a Math Final, I'd want all the time I could get as well. Good luck!" Overall, let's be thankful and appreciate one another before it is too late. ~Kathia
I can’t even begin to start with how much of an impact Mr. Martin had on my semester. He was the sole reason I had faith in registering back at Texas State in the fall. I came in this spring semester on academic probation and was given the opportunity to retake the classes that I had failed (English). It’s because of him that I got my act together and buckled down on my work. The way he was so relaxed, yet so involved with his students is something that I think all professors can learn from. He was always willing to help with any situation or challenge that I brought him regarding the course. The class I had once failed just a semester ago, I now have an A in, and I give credit to him for being such an amazing professor, leader, and also friend. This is truly shocking. Please send my deepest condolences to his family. ~Kyler
Wade also recognized the importance of service to the department and the community. MFA graduate student Mindy Adams writes,
A few weeks before Christmas in 2017 Wade showed up at the Farmers’ Market with his trumpet. He had been staring at it all morning, thinking it had been too long since he had picked it up. Why brood on it? He found the market and played Christmas carols to the passersby for hours on one of the dreariest mornings of the year. This kind of spirit that turns an idea into action, turns a private longing into public gift, is rare in the world and needed. Wade showed up at market often after that, reading poems on the tailgate of my husband’s truck, singing the praises of whatever new collection he had found, organizing or promoting a reading: he could not help but share the joy of poetry. He was an inspiration to myself and others in this regard; contagious love for the things most worth loving is the work of good culture. We will miss him dearly.
Of course, losing Wade means we also lose a wonderful poet. Wade was selected by the MFA faculty to receive a fellowship from Texas State University English Department to participate in the Roundtop Poetry Festival, and his poem “Kerouac to Burroughs” was published in the 2015 Poetry at Roundtop Anthology. Other poems have appeared in Sagebrush Review, San Pedro River Review, Silver Birch Press, Bird’s Thumb, and Halibun Today, among others, with his poem “Susquehanna” published in Illya’s Honey being nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Professor Steve Wilson writes of Wade, “Always a committed student and writer of poetry, he was also a calming presence, offering his perspectives thoughtfully, allowing for other points of view, and respecting his fellow poets. He'll be missed -- by his colleagues and his professors.”
If you wish to contribute to Wade's digital memory book on the department's webpage, email Nancy Wilson, email@example.com.
Ms. Amanda Meyer, 1985-2020
April 6th, 2020
From Dr. Victoria Smith, Chair of the English Department:
Amanda Meyer, English Department Lecturer, passed away on April 6, 2020. A supremely kind and generous person, Amanda will be missed by everyone who knew her.
In 2007, Amanda received her B.A. in English with a minor in French from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, she graduated with her M.A. in Literature from Texas State University. Her thesis “Exploring the Nature of Reality in Science Fiction through the use of Taoism and Advaita Vedenta” was directed by Dr. Suparno Banerjee. Amanda won Outstanding Graduate Student in English in 2013.
As an M.A. in Literature student, Amanda honed her teaching skills as a tutor in the Writing Center and as a graduate Instructional Assistant. She also proved indispensable as the Graduate Assistant to Graduate Advisor Dr. Paul Cohen.
In Fall 2013, Amanda began her career as a lecturer in the English Department, teaching College Writing I and II. She grew to become one of the English Department’s most loved writing instructors, always looking for ways to improve her courses in order to meet the changing needs of her students. Jon Marc Smith writes,
“Anyone can have talent or natural ability, but Amanda had something much more admirable: the dedication to make herself into a pro. She didn’t like being in even mild conflict with students, but she realized that their learning was more important than her comfort. She honed the rhetorical redirection—a kind of judo—that’s essential for teachers to have. She worked so hard at improving her skills because she wanted her students to think and write well and see the world clearly. That’s why becoming a better teacher was important to her.”
Amanda also performed crucial service to the university. From its creation in 2014 to 2019, Amanda served as the English Department’s representative on the Nontenure Line Faculty Committee. In Summer 2019, she was also a participant in the “Space, Narrative, and Pedagogy” seminar.
Amanda’s mother has written the following to be shared with you:
“I love and appreciate all of you who have been her friend, or surrogate auntie-uncle, or co-worker. Thank you so much for the love and support you gave her. The support of her friends always meant so much to her and helped her feel joy in life. You will never know how much you were appreciated by her, but I know, because she told me many stories about all of you....so I love you also for being a source of joy & happiness in her life.”
Dr. Edgar Laird, 1937 - 2019
June 19th, 2019
From Dr. Dan Lochman, Chair of the Department of English:
I am saddened to report that Dr. Edgar Laird died this morning at his home after several days of care there and after a long illness. In his last days, he enjoyed the company of his wife Judith, son Brennus, and other members of his family. He will be missed not only by family but also by faculty in English and across campus, as well as by thousands of retired faculty and former students. A memorial service is scheduled for 3 pm, June 28, at Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos.
Edgar was associated with Texas State University for more than sixty years, over half of its existence. He attended Southwest Texas State College in San Marcos as an undergraduate, earning a BA in English and History in 1960. As a graduate student, he completed an MA in English here in 1961. He then attended Rutgers University for his PhD, completing it in 1966. He returned to San Marcos the same year to teach Chaucer to undergraduate and graduate students. He went on to teach here for forty-eight years, completing phased retirement in 2014. Even after retiring, Edgar asked to teach a single class of first-year writing each semester until 2018, just so he could stay in the classroom: he and his students enjoyed the experience.
At Texas State Edgar taught more than twenty-two different graduate and undergraduate courses. His careful preparation and concern for individual students as a teacher and thesis advisor shaped the intellectual lives of thousands, including the students in Mathematics, History, German and Philosophy on whose thesis committees he served.
He was the world’s leading expert on texts on the astrolabe, the medieval navigational tool, in the Middle Ages. His edition and translation of Pelerin de Prusse’s Practique de Astralabe filled a gap in the scholarship in this area. As one reviewer of the volume commented, “[W]e can now read Pelerin’s text with confidence and convenience. A definite advance has been made.” Dr. Laird’s writings include nearly thirty book chapters and articles, many linking medieval writings by authors such as Boethius, Grosseteste, Christine de Pizan, and Chaucer with scientific and mathematical knowledge. He received national recognition also while attending two NEH Summer Institute Fellowships.
Edgar served the institution of Texas State with distinction. As University Ombudsman, he mediated faculty issues related to grievances and conflicting interests. He served on many important University committees, including the Tenure and Promotion Appeals Committee, the Executive Committee, and the University Teacher Education Council. His various administrative roles include serving as English Department Curriculum Supervisor and Chair of the English Department Teacher Preparation Committee.
During his long, distinguished career, Edgar epitomized the best of our alumni and the best of professors at Texas State University. He will be remembered as humane, collegial, a mediator and facilitator, a model for colleagues and students alike of a student-oriented intellectual devoted to teaching, and a thorough and profound thinker in his research. Edgar lived the words he often taught and repeated, taken from a description in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales about another scholar, the Clerk of Oxford: “gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.”
Mrs. Laird has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to the Department of English, where they will be used to support a deserving student.
Dr. Lydia Blanchard, 2019
May 18th, 2019
From Dr. Dan Lochman, Chair of the Department of English:
Dr. Lydia Blanchard died on May 17, following a years-long illness.
Many faculty currently teaching in the English Department knew and/or were hired by Lydia during her 12 years as Chair of the department in the 1990s. She completed a MS and BS in Journalism at Northwestern University in the late 50s, and then in the early 1960s pursued non-degree studies at Syracuse University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Utah. In 1971 she received a MA and in 1973 a PhD in literary studies, both from the American University. In 1997 she attended a Management Development Program at Harvard.
Lydia was an accomplished scholar of American literature, with a focus on the works of D. H. Lawrence, their presentation of female characters, and their relation to sexual politics and feminist theory. She co-edited and introduced a special issue of *The D. H. Lawrence Review* (Summer 1988) and with former faculty members June Hankins and Mimi Tangum wrote the introduction to and edited *Writing Is Thinking—Writing Across the Disciplines at Southwest Texas State University: A Resource Guidebook for Faculty.* She published 9 chapters in books and 10 refereed journal articles, in addition to essays and reviews.
Dr. Blanchard was also at the forefront of grant-writing at a crucial time of growth for the Department of English. In 1997-1998, she was project director for a NEH Institute for High School Teachers ($129,450), and in 1990 project co-director for a NEH Special Initiative Challenge Grant Award to Endow a Distinguished Teaching Professorship ($100,000), an endowment that is the foundation of the current NEH Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. Also in 1990, she was the principal writer for a Meadows Foundation grant ($125,000) to establish the Center for the Study of the Southwest, receiving a $46,000 supplement for the same in 1990-1991. She was project director for a Ford Foundation award to broaden cultural and intellectual diversity on campus ($76,880), for a NEH award ($34,750) to sponsor the conference "The Spirit of Place," and for a Seawell Elam Foundation grant ($10,000) for mentoring junior faculty.
In 1990-1991, she served as acting director of the Center for the Study of the Southwest; she was Director of Planning for the School of Liberal Arts from 1988-1990 and 1991-1993. She chaired the Department of English from 1993 to 2005, having previously directed the Center for Multicultural and Gender Studies from 1986-1990 and 1991-1993. From 1993 to 2005. As department Chair, she inaugurated many changes in the undergraduate and graduate curricula, helped develop the MA in Technical Communication, and achieved growth in other graduate and undergraduate programs. During those years, she also served on many university committees, including as a member and co-chair of the President’s Council for Women in Higher Education, and a member of a Presidential Task Force on Academic Honesty, a SACS steering committee, an Enrollment Management Advisory Committee, a Grants Administration Policy Committee, the Advisory Committee for the Renovation of Flowers Hall, Women’s Studies Council, and many others. In 2005, she received a Special Presidential Assignment to work with Jerome Supple.
Professionally, among many other accomplishments, she was President of the D. H. Lawrence Society of North America (1992-1994), and she served on the editorial board of The D. H. Lawrence Review (1984-1986, 1986-1993). She was a panelist at 4 conferences overseeing NEH projects and a reviewer for the Division of Research Programs. In 1991 she served as co-convener for the Evaluation and Dissemination session for NEH project directors.
Lydia retired in 2007 and was subsequently awarded the title Distinguished Professor of English Emerita in recognition of her many accomplishments.
Dr. John Hill, 1929-2019
Born in Winfield, Kansas in 1929, John earned a BS in journalism in 1951 and a MA in 1956. He earned both degrees at the University of Kansas, with his studies interrupted for two years because of his service in the Army during the Korean War. At the University of Kansas, he met Lucy, and they married in 1955.
In 1960, he completed a PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Already in 1959, he had taken a position as instructor at Ohio University. In 1962, he was hired as an associate professor at Illinois State University, where he earned the rank of professor in 1977, the same year he and his family moved to San Marcos and then-Southwest Texas State University. At Illinois State, John had served three years as assistant head of the English department and two years as director of graduate studies. From 1975 to 1977, he was Executive Director of the Academic Affairs Conference of Midwestern Universities. After moving to San Marcos, he served as Dean of the Graduate School from 1977 to 1982.
After 1982, John taught in the Department of English until he retired in 2008. In addition to teaching first-year writing and surveys of literature, he taught undergraduate courses on creative writing and a wide range of American writers, including Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Clemens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Steinbeck. He offered graduate seminars on creative writing, T. S. Eliot, Stevens, Frost, Bellow, Updike, and others. He published a book that was a checklist of the works of Frank Norris, and he published critical studies of Norris, Poe, Bellow, Emily Brontë, Updike, Hemingway, and others. He directed grant programs from the Rockefeller Foundation for training women and minorities to take university administrative posts; from Standard Oil for developing cooperative education; from the US Office of Education, for developing graduate programs, and from NSF for overseeing financial accountability of grant programs.
At Texas State, John contributed service to the university both as Graduate Dean and as a member of our department. He served on the “Steeples of Excellence Committee,” the Teacher Education Council, Public Service Council, Internal Development Council, the Organized Research Committee, Graduate Council, and he participated in many other service activities, including announcing scholarships at the department’s annual Awards Day.
On behalf of colleagues and friends in the department of English, I express our condolences to his sons Rob and Ros and their families. John will be missed.