Texas Tech University

Department Spotlight

Posted January 24, 2020

Book History Club: Student Organization Spotlight

Book History Club makes quills

The Book History Club is a group of individuals who, as the name suggests, are interested in the history of books. Their passion stems not only from literature of the past but also the process by which books were created before the advent of printing and mass production. For example, the club dedicated a meeting to the creation of tools, like quills, and the use of antique equipment, such as the printing presses.

As Vice President Kaytee Jackson said, “You can go to a dozen places around town to paint an imitation Van Gogh, but how many can you go to make your own quill from a feather, or use an eighteenth century printing press, or marble your own paper? For lovers of books, we have a little slice of space to access the things we find cool and interesting when it comes to literature. My favorite aspect is the community of people and the way we're able to really explore things that the average reader wouldn't get to otherwise.”

The club aims to connect the rather laborious process of creating books with how precious literature of the past was and still is today. In 19th and 18th century, when someone picked up a book, they were often holding something that was carefully crafted for the purpose of being read. That craft is captured in some of the club's activities. For example, club members gathered to make quills. Jackson recounts how writing with a quill “takes me back to the very human, very instinctual roots of writing.” The Book History Club hopes to instill that feeling in their members and promote appreciation for the ease with which people can access literature today.

If this sparks your interest, get involved with Book History Club today!


Posted January 17, 2020

TTU Alumni Awarded Prestigious NEA Fellowships for Nonfiction

Toni Jensen and Sarah Viren

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its 2020 Creative Writing (Prose) Fellowship recipients. Two Texas Tech University English Department alumni, Toni Jensen (left) and Sarah Viren (right), are among the thirty-six grant recipients. Each fellowship is $25,000 and is meant to allow recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. The NEA received nearly 1,700 eligible applications, which were reviewed anonymously by a panel who graded for artistic excellence of writing samples. These works varied from works of fiction and creative nonfiction, such as memoirs and personal essays. Both Jensen and Viren's nonfiction pieces were selected for their artistry, creativity, and dedication to expanding the literary landscape.

Toni Jensen is the author of Carry, a memoir-in-essays about gun violence, forthcoming from Ballantine. More information about her essays and stories are available on Jensen's website.

Sarah Viren's book Mine was named one of LitHub's Favorite Books of 2018 and earned the River Teeth Book Prize, along with several awards. Additional information about Viren's writings and translations is accessible on Viren's website.

The English Department is very proud of our exceptional alumni, Toni Jensen and Sarah Viren. Congratulations!