Faculty Research Symposium Highlights Professor Karin Lin-Greenburg

On the afternoon of Monday, October 28th, Siena’s School of Liberal Arts hosted its annual Faculty Research Symposium. The event serves as a celebration of faculty members’ accomplishments post their return from sabbatical. Sharing one of her stories, “Housekeeping”, from a collection of short stories she recently completed, titled “Lost or Damaged”, was Associate Professor of English, Karin Lin-Greenburg

Before sharing her work with the audience, Professor Lin-Greenburg provided background on how her surroundings have influenced her writing. She explained that, in her recent collection, all of the short stories take place in the Capital Region as she has lived here since she began teaching at Siena in 2012. “One of the things that has been great for me with my job at Siena is that is has allowed me to settle down in one place and to use that place as the setting for my stories” she expressed.

Besides geographically, the stories in her collection are connected through “acts of unkindness”, as Professor Lin-Greenburg put it, and focus often on conflicts between women. “In the stories, I try to show the motivations for the characters’ actions” she stated in discussing how she hopes listeners can perceive problematic characters as sometimes sympathetic or rounded. The stories in the collection combine lost or damaged characters (hence the title) with a sense of humor to better understand the heavy topics.

I won’t give any spoilers, but once Professor Lin-Greenburg began reading “Housekeeping”, it was clear to see that the main character was a perfect example of the noted “problematic-yet-sympathetic” character. The story focuses on two sisters living in upstate New York whose modest lives get turned upside down after the suicide of a celebrity in their small town. The younger sister is extremely bright but tends to also be pessimistic and critical of her legal guardian/ older sister. The older sister continuously sacrifices her own wants and needs to meet those of her little sister.

Professor Lin-Greenburg decided to share “Housekeeping” to read not only because it was the first story she wrote while on sabbatical, but also because it was recently accepted by The Southern Review. The literary journal has been a favorite of Professor Lin-Greenburg’s for over a decade and after hearing many “no”’s from them in the past, she was excited to finally hear a “yes”.

Once Professor Lin-Greenburg had finished reading “Housekeeping”, she was met with the applause of the audience. After attendees had their apple cider and cider donuts (perfect for the story’s upstate NY setting) on their way out, the Faculty Research Symposium came to an end. If you are interested in other upcoming SOLA events, be sure to check out this week’s Greyfriar Living Literature Series featuring fiction author Jaimee Wriston Colbert. Visit our Facebook page, @sienalibarts, for more info!

Greyfriar Living Literature Series Shines Light on Wonder of Creative Writing

Morning everyone!

I hope you’re all staying warm out there, hopefully the warm weather will return soon! Having just returned from spring break, there are several events through the School of Liberal Arts coming up within the next few weeks and I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend the English Department’s Greyfriar Living Literature Series reading yesterday, which featured novelist Pamela Erens.  Ms.Erens is a highly accomplished author, with several short stories under her belt and three published novels, all of which have become incredibly successful.  The Understory, The Virgins, and Eleven Hours have all won major awards and most recently, Eleven Hours has been placed onto the “Best Books of 2016.” During the reading, Ms. Erens read a large excerpt from Eleven Hours, which take place during one woman’s entire labor process and how she copes with the incredible, yet terrifying prospect of childbirth.  As someone with a passion for writing and literature, it was fascinating to have the chance to hear Ms. Erens read her own work out loud and to see what her thought process was behind the characters and the overall idea of childbirth.



The audience was able to engage in a Q&A session after the initial reading and I was curious about what her greatest challenge is as a writer and novelist. She said that to be a novelist requires a lot of risk taking and that the business can be very uncertain at times.  If someone is working on a piece of writing for a year and a half, but then is forced to abandon the project because the ideas stop coming, then it seems as though all that time was wasted. Eleven Hours took Ms. Erens three years to write and she began the novel a multitude of times, trying to figure out the best direction to set the characters and plot it.  This, however, is incredibly normal for anyone who has ever tried to write a longer creative writing piece.  Great ideas come with thought and they come with practice and they come with mistakes.  No one ever completed a novel perfectly on the first try and this is something that I have tried to keep in mind throughout my years of writing.  I am constantly watching different authors, whether they are my favorite authors or whether they be guest speakers in some of my classes because they have gone past these obstacles to become incredibly successful.

Ms. Erens is going to be on campus again today to give a craft talk and writing activity in the Boland Room (Father Benjamin Kuhn House) at 4:10pm. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend, you do NOT have to be studying English or Writing and just remember to bring a notebook and something to write with!

Julia Lowney (Student Intern)