BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Mark Powell, associate professor of creative writing in Appalachian’s Department of English, has been named a grant recipient of the Fulbright Scholar Program. Through the program, he will teach a course on contemporary U.S. literature at Ovidius University of Constanta, in Romania, in spring 2020, as well as conduct research for his seventh novel, tentatively titled “Black Sea.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled to receive a Fulbright,” said Powell, who also received a Fulbright award in 2014 to teach in Slovakia. “I came back from Slovakia a more flexible and resourceful teacher, and with a draft of what became my fifth novel, ‘Small Treasons.’ I trust the same will prove true with Romania.”
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The program provides participants — chosen for their academic merit as well as leadership potential — the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. To date, approximately 370,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program since its inception.
Powell said his seventh novel “looks at the area (Constanta, Romania) as a flashpoint between the interests of Western nations, NATO, etc., and Russia.” Although a publisher for the work is yet to be determined, he said he hopes to return in summer 2020 with a complete first draft.
In his planned Fulbright course, titled Reading America: U.S. Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries, students will read works by such authors as Claudia Rankine, Don DeLillo, Suzan Lori-Parks and Dave Eggers. The goal of the course, Powell said, is for students “to not only trace and interrogate various historical and social movements, but to examine the question of what it means to ‘be American’ in a world where ‘being American’ is often divisive.”
“Beginning in the mid-1970s with the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and concluding with the U.S. presidential election of 2016, we will approach America through its literature, examining the social and geopolitical trends that are currently shaping the nation, and the world,” he explained.
“If, as Ezra Pound wrote, literature is ‘news that stays news,’” Powell continued, “perhaps there is no better way to make sense of the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries than through its stories, novels, plays and poetry.”
Powell holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts from The Citadel.
He joined the English department faculty at Appalachian in 2016 and is director of the university’s Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series, which brings renowned writers to Appalachian’s campus each year.
Powell’s “Blood Kin” won the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, and his novel “The Sheltering” was a bronze medalist for both the Independent Publishers Award and the Florida Book Awards. Additionally, he has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ conferences and the Collegeville Center for Ecumenical Research.
He is the author of six novels, with his latest, “Firebird,” forthcoming from Haywire Books in 2020.
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About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.