From (the Edge of) the Chair’s Seat
Well, we’ve made it to the end of the semester, which also brings me to the end of my term as chair of the department. It has been an illuminating, challenging, never-dull four-and-a-half years on the edge of the chair’s seat. Most of all, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with all of you—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—who make this the very best department on campus. I would like to thank each and every one of you, and especially those who have served in key positions over the past year: Loren Glass, Director of Graduate Studies; Cheryl Herr, Associate Chair for Faculty; and Doris Witt, Director of Undergraduate Studies. I am grateful for the deft directing skills of Eric Gidal (English Honors Program), Robin Hemley (Nonfiction Writing Program), Brooks Landon (General Education in Literature Program), and Robyn Schiff (Undergraduate Creative Writing Track). I hope that not just Loren, Cheryl, Doris, Eric, Robin, Brooks, and Robyn, but the many others of you who have generously shouldered major committee assignments, acted as past associate chairs, served on the Executive Committee, or offered sage advice at one time or another, know how indispensable your expert help has been. Nothing, of course, would get done if it weren’t for the skillful efforts of our talented staff; Natalie Brown, Elizabeth Curl, Justin Denman, Megan Gioielli, Erin Hackathorn, Lynne Nugent, Barb Pooley, Cherie Rieskamp, Gayle Sand, and Linda Stahle have made it a pleasure to be in the main office each and every day. Finally, the upper administration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate College, the Provost’s Office and beyond, have provided crucial support for the department on countless occasions. It truly has been a team effort.
This spring sees other large changes in the department, with the retirements of Professors Miriam Gilbert, Robin Hemley, and Dee Morris. They have had major and lasting impacts on the department and their work here will resonate for years to come. We salute their long and productive careers and wish them the best of success in their future ventures.
I’ll stay on as summer chair through early August, then will pack up my books for a return to the fourth floor and civilian life. The department will then, luckily, be in the exceptionally capable hands of Jon Wilcox, who will be returning to 306 EPB for a three-year term as chair, keeping us up to date with periodic reports in this column about the view from (under) the chair’s desk.
As you’ll see below, this, the semester’s last issue of Reading Matters, is dedicated to the accomplishments of the department’s PhD, MA, and MFA students. Heartiest congratulations to them and to their achievements!
From Across the Hall, Director of Graduate Studies
Dear English Department graduate students, colleagues, and staff,
It is a pleasure to dedicate this final issue of Reading Matters to chronicling the impressive graduate student achievements and awards of this past academic year. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with so many talented and motivated students. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp and Natalie Brown, who have assembled this impressive list.
As this academic year comes to a close, it is fitting to look ahead to next year by welcoming the incoming cohorts of NWP, PhD, and MA students; their names and profiles appear toward the end of this issue. Welcome to the department, class of 2013-2014--we look forward to meeting you in August!
Have a wonderful summer, everyone!
Zaina Arafat, “Leap” (Robin Hemley, dir.)
Mieke Eerkens, “My Parents’ Wars: A Story of Inheritance” (Robin Hemley, dir.)
Laurel Fantauzzo, “The First Impulse: Notes on Love, Film, and Death in the Philippines” (Robin Hemley, dir.)
Ariel Lewiton, “The Book of Love and Struggle” (Patricia Foster, dir.)
José Orduña, “Small Reveries” (Jeff Porter, dir.)
Clinton Peters, “Assisted Migrations: On the Salvation and Danger in Moving the World's Species” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)
Matt Siegel, “Share the Blame” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)
Deborah Taffa, “Against a Divided Land: A Memoir in Personal Essays” (John D’Agata, dir.)
Inara Verzemnieks, “The Other Side of the Sun” (John D’Agata, dir.)
MFA Publications, Presentations and Awards
Maggie Milstein (MFA ’14), Lisa Gray Giurato (MFA ’14), and Gemma de Choisy (MFA ’15) started an academic journal called The Essay Review. The purpose of The Essay Review is to recognize the poetic, academic, social, and existential achievements of the nonfiction essay. It is the only journal in existence that is solely dedicated to literary criticism of the nonfiction essay. This issue's contributors feature: David Shields, Ned Stuckey-French, and David Lazar, among other. A free PDF of the issue is available for download on TheEssayReview.org. There will also be high-quality hard copies available. They are now accepting submissions for the Fall 2013 issue, and would love to read submissions from students and faculty in the Department of English. Please send your submissions to: email@example.com.
Mieke Eerkens (MFA ’13) was a Pushcart Prize nominee for her essay “Contract,” which appeared in Creative Nonfiction magazine. She was also published in the Norton Anthology Fakes, won third place in the 2013 Jakobsen Conference Creative Division, and has been selected as a James Merrill Residency Fellow for 2013. At the NonfictioNow Conference in Melbourne, Australia, she presented on two panels: one on International Research and one on Immigrant and Expat Writers.
Laurel Fantauzzo (MFA ’13) published “Under My Invisible Umbrella” in the March 2013 issue of The Manila Review. She also published the essays "When to Shout in Church" and "To Filipino Parents Tempted to Change Their Gay Children," addressing two Philippine religious controversies for GMA News Online. She presented her new online anthology project, PhilippinesNonfiction.com, at the 2013 Jakobsen Conference, with the support of the Obermann Institute.
Inara Verzemnieks (MFA ’13), was one of six 2012 winners of the prestigious Rona Jaffe Writers’ Awards. The award was created by celebrated novelist Rona Jaffe to identify and support women writers of unusual talent and promise in the early stages of their writing careers.
Ariel Lewiton (MFA ’13) published an essay called "Bottom Line" on VICE.com in January, an essay called "The Poetics of Football" on The Paris Review Daily in February, and an essay called "Conversations with Bros in the Sauna" in Wag's Revue in March. She was also a fellow at VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts) in January.
Deborah Taffa (MFA ’13) wrote a film documentary script that received a call back from the Sundance Film Institutes Native Lab, and she will be reading at the AIWorkshop in Helsinki, Finland in mid-May.
Amy Bernhard (MFA ’14) has an essay entitled “Tag” forthcoming in this spring's issue of Ninth Letter.
Catina Bacote (MFA ’14) was a presenter on the panel How Collaboration Changes Practice at The Bedell Nonfiction Conference in Melbourne, Australia. She was also a co-presenter on the panel Writers Transforming Moral and Ethical Concerns into Art with fellow NWP students Lawrence Ypil and Laurel Fantauzzo and NWP alum Lina M. Ferreira. The "Exploring Divisions" conference was sponsored by the University of Iowa World Languages Graduate Organization.
Blair Braverman (MFA ’14) has essays forthcoming in The Best Women's Travel Writing Vol. 9 and Appalachia. She has been selected, as one of two artists who use the humanities to engage in environmental issues, to read at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's annual Conservation Catalysts meeting in Cambridge, MA.
Helen Rubinstein (MFA ’15) had an essay titled "Leaving Kishinev" selected for Best Women's Travel Writing Vol. 9, a story titled "Essy, stepping into the water" listed as Notable Nonrequired Reading in the 2012 edition of the Best American series, and a story called "Two Sisters" published in The Collagist.
Joshua Wheeler (MFA ’15) was a Pushcart Prize nominee for his essay “Your Sad Heart Foams at the Stern,” which appeared in the online literary quarterly Wag’s Revue.
Lawrence Ypil (MFA ’15) participated in "Home is a Fable," a poetry/nonfiction reading in Cebu, Philippines.
Matt Owens (MFA '15) published "Rain Over Memphis" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Crazyhorse, "Thirteenth Street and Failing" in the 2012 winter issue of Redivider, and "Deciduous" in the winter issue of Blood Lotus.
Rachel G. White (MFA ’15) published two poems, "Jetsam" and "Honorable Mention," in the spring issue of The Midwest Quarterly, where another poem, "Cutting Hogs," will run in the forthcoming fall issue. Her poem, "At Home with Possum" appears in To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices.
MFA Job and Further Education Congratulations
Clinton Peters (MFA ’13) has accepted a five-year teaching fellowship at the University of North Texas to study a PhD in English-Creative Writing.
Deborah Taffa (MFA ’13) has accepted a job at Webster University in Webster Groves, MO. She will be teaching Creative Writing (Nonfiction) to undergrads as an adjunct professor. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize this spring.
Inara Verzemnieks (MFA ’13) has accepted a position as a 2013-2014 Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa. She will teach nonfiction courses to undergraduate English majors in the Creative Writing Track.
2013 Incoming MFA Students
MA Graduates with Portfolio
Fellowships and Departmental Awards
Marcus Bach Graduate Fellowship
Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Prairie Lights/Sherman Paul Dissertation Research Scholarship
Freda Dixon Malone Dissertation Research Scholarship
Valerie Lagorio Dissertation Research Scholarship
Edwin Ford Piper Memorial Scholarship
Dickens Universe Department Tuition Scholarship
Frederick F. Seely Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship
Huston Diehl Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship
English Department Best Essay Prize
Elizabeth Dietz Poetry Essay Prize
Graduate Summer Fellowship
PhD Timely Completion Award
Department and College Teaching Awards
John C. Gerber Teaching Award
W.R. Irwin Teaching Award
2013 Outstanding University Teaching Assistant Award
Craig Carey, “Inventing Authors: Marks, Media, and Materiality in the Age of Edison” (Kathleen Diffley dir.)
Judith Coleman, “Holy Vessels, Tyrants, Fools, and Blind Men: Performing Antinomianism and Transgressive Agency in English Drama, 1450-1671” (Miriam Gilbert, dir.)
Eric Conrad, “The Walt Whitman Brand: Leaves of Grass and Literary Promotion, 1855-1892”(Ed Folsom, dir.)
Andrew Crooke, “In Praise of Peasants: Ways of Seeing the Rural Poor in the Work of James Agree, Walker Evans, John Berger, and Jean Mohr”, (Ed Folsom, dir.)
Kerry Doyle, “Agnostos Dei: Staging Catholicism and the Anti-Sectarian Aesthetic in Early Stuart England”, (Miriam Gilbert, dir.)
Nicole Gainyard, “Trouble in Paradise: Rupture of the Pastoral Plantation Myth in American Literature: 1850-1900” (Kathleen Diffley, dir.)
Sarah Fay, “The American Tradition of the Literary Interview 1840-1956: A Cultural History” (Loren Glass, dir.)
Adele Holoch, “Postcolonial Play: Humor and Play in Postcolonial Literature” (Priya Kumar, dir.)
Sunghyun Jang, “The Arbitrary Power of Language: Locke, Romantic Writers, and the Standardizers of English" (Judith Pascoe, dir.)
Bryan Mangano, “Amiable Fictions: Virtual Friendship and the English Novel, 1740-1770” (Eric Gidal, dir.)
Christine Mazurkewycz, “Chronic Forms and ‘Lunatic Chores’: An Unreliable Survey of Time in the Eighteenth-Century Literary Text” (Judith Pascoe, dir.)
Robert McLoone, “The Enchanted Plantation: Publishing, Speculation, and the Credit Economy in Virginia, 1688-1754” (Matthew Brown and Laura Rigal, co-dir.)
Wanda Raiford, “The Fantastical Historic and Representations of Enslaved People’s Violence” (Brooks Landon, dir.)
Tracy Stuhr, “Re-Sounding Natures: Voicing the Non-Human in Medieval English Poetry” (Claire Sponsler, dir.)
N. Christine Vinsonhaler, “The Prophetic Beowulf” (Jonathan Wilcox, dir.)
PhD Job Congratulations
Shuhita Bhattacharjee (Lori Branch, dir.) has accepted an Assistant Professorship in the Department of English by the Presidency University, Kolkata, India.
Craig Carey (Kathleen Diffley, dir.) has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position with Southern Mississippi University.
Kerry Doyle (Miriam Gilbert, dir.) has accepted a position as Visitng Assistant Professor in English at the University of Iowa.
Sarah Fay (Loren Glass, dir.) has accepted a position as Adjunct Professor at DePaul University.
Robert Fernandez (Adelaide Morris, dir.) has accepted a five-year position as Assistant Professor and Distinguished Paul W. Reynolds and Clarice Kingston Reynolds Endowed Chair in Poetry at the University of Nebraska Kearney.
Bryan Mangano (Eric Gidal, dir.) has accepted a position as Visitng Assistant Professor in English at the University of Iowa.
Wanda Raiford (Brooks Landon, dir.) has accepted a lecturer position with Florida International University.
MA and PhD Publications, Presentations and Awards
Cassandra Bausman was named the recipient of the Graduate Student Award for her essay “Convention Un-done: UnLunDun’s Unchosen Heroine and Narrative (Re) Vision” at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA).
Shuhita Bhattacharjee was awarded the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research by the University of Iowa for dissertation research in London. She also received the Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship by the University of Chicago for academic archival research. Shuhita has been accepted into a summer seminar on ‘Christianity, the Unity of Knowledge, and the Secularized Academy’ organized by the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago.
Katherine Bishop presented papers at the Cruelty Conference at USC and the American Literature in the World Conference at Yale. Her article "Illustrating Mark Twain: Daniel Carter Beard and his Influences," was published in the Mark Twain Annual and an article, "The Anti-Imperialist American Literary Animal: Envisioning Empathy," published in Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.
Uncanny Homecomings: Becoming Unsettled in Religion, Narrative and Art. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, Jan. 2013. [Edited with an introduction and an essay, “Dwelling Beyond Poetry: The Uncanny Houses of Hawthorne and Poe”] “Dwelling Theologically” in Theological Reflection and the Integrity of Life: Theology, Human Flourishing and Freedom, ed. David Jasper and Dale. Wright. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, May 2013 “The Flip Side of Justice: The Two-Faced Spirit of The Dark Knight.” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, April 2013.
“Occupation as Opposition: Bartleby and the Spatialization of Power.” Modern Language Association. Boston, MA. January, 2013. Arranged by the Melville Society: Hester Blum, Samuel Otter.
“Narrative Theology Beyond the Bible.” National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Chicago, IL. November, 2012.
“Teaching Theology through Poetry: Dickinson, Tillich and Absolute Faith.” National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Chicago, IL. November, 2012.
“The Unconscious Foundations of Atheistic Communities.” International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture. Copenhagen, DE. October 2012.
“The Work of Utopia as a Hope for Atheist Communities.” 8th Annual Religion, Literature and the Arts Conference at the University of Iowa. Iowa City, IA. August, 2012.
2013 Sandra H. Barkan Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award First Place award for Creative Works at the 2013 Jakobsen Graduate Conference for creative non-fiction essay "Owed to a Dead Cat".
Managing Editor for the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies (Space Issue) Organizer for the 2012 Religion, Literature and the Arts Conference.
Jomil Ebro presented a paper titled ”Doors That Look Like Mountains: Towards a Poetics of Place in the Poetry of Simon J. Ortiz” at the Borderlands and Indigeneity in Conversation Conference at Columbia University.
Robert Fernandez's second collection of poems, Pink Reef, was released in April by Canarium Books.
Kelly Franklin’s poem “Untitled (Autumn 2012)” will be displayed in Iowa City's 2013 POETRY IN PUBLIC project.
Elizabeth Lundberg presented a paper titled “The Future Belongs to Crowds: Nanotechnology and the Evolution of Human Perception” at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.
Johanna Tomlinson presented "Customs of Education from Sarah Fielding to Mary Martha Sherwood: Re-writing Reading in The Governess" at the British Women writers conference. Article forthcoming Fall 2013 in Children's Literature Association Quarterly titled "‘as natural as oak growing’: Child Voices, Agency, and Empire in Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill."
Stephanie Tsank has been asked to present her paper “‘Passing’ through Places: Movement, Travel, and the ‘Passing’ Narrative in Faulkner’s Light in August and Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars” at the 2013 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference in July, 2013.
“Re-envisioning the Faust Legend: Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus and Richard Burton and Nevill Coghill’s Doctor Faustus.” Literature/Film Quarterly 41.1 (2013): 67–76.
2013 Incoming PhD Students
Kathleen Anderson (Ph.D. 1996) and Susan Jones. Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift. US: Penguin, 2013.
Wilson Diehl (MFA 2002) published an essay, "Why I'm Not Going to Eat My Placenta," in the April/May 2013 issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine. She’ll have an essay featured in the “Modern Love” column of The New York Times on April 28th.
Stephanie Elizondo Griest (MFA 2012) has been nominated for a 2013 Hillman Prize for her investigative essay, "Refinery Row." She was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in May, and in July she will start her appointment as Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Will Jennings (MFA 1997) will publish his essay, "Moving In A Time Of War," in an upcoming issue of The Southern Humanities Review.
Kristin (Brandser) Kalsem (PhD 2001) has published a book titled In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature, with Ohio University Press.
Mary Helen Kennerly (MFA 2012) has a forthcoming essay in Creative Nonfiction magazine’s May issue.
Tom Montgomery Fate (MFA 1987) has published a nature memoir, Cabin Fever (Beacon Press), which was released in paperback in 2012.
Kerry Reilly (MFA 2003) has had an essay accepted at The Gettysburg Review; it should appear within the year.
Rebecca Sheir (MFA 2006) continues to host and produce "Metro Connection," the award-winning public-radio news magazine on WAMU 88.5. She is also a company member of dog & pony dc, where she has been writing and performing with the 12-member ensemble.
Rachel Yoder (MFA 2011) won The Missouri Review Editors' Prize in Fiction.
Publications, Presentations and other Faculty Matters
Linda Bolton, Lori Branch, Corey Creekmur, Patricia Foster, Cheryl Herr, Robyn Schiff, and Tom Simmons have been awarded Career Development Awards for 2013-14.
Barbara Eckstein was one of the featured guests who joined in a WorldCanvass program on “Remaking the Body: Identity and Body Modification” Friday, May 3, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol. WorldCanvass is International Programs’ monthly TV/radio show. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.
The Office of the VP for Research and Economic Development has announced that Mary Lou Emery's book-project, Empire at Home: Arts of the Interior and the Bungalow Modern, and Jeff Porter's book-project Anatomy of Degression have been awarded 2013-14 Arts and Humanities Initiative Awards.
Eric Gidal's "Eighteenth Century and Nineteenth Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium" and Mary Lou Emery's "Circulating Cultures" have been selected as 2013-14 Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Working Groups.
Blaine Greteman has been awarded a 2013-14 Digital Studio for the Public Humanities award to work on a digital visualization of early modern print and epistolary networks. Unable to resist, he's calling it "Shakeosphere: The Early Modern Social Network." The ultimate goal is to build an online version and an iPad app that allow users to see the connections between a given text and its printers, publishers, writers, and readers across space and time. Users will also be able to upload their own images and information to enrich our understanding of the social world of early modern Europe.
On May 10 Adam Hooks will be giving an invited talk at the Columbia University Shakespeare Seminar called “Shakespeare for Sale,” which is also the title of the special issue of PQ he is editing, which will be appearing soon.
Mark Isham has been recognized by the Graduating Class of 2013, and President Mason, Provost Butler, Vice President Tom Rocklin, and the College of Engineering of the University of Iowa as making a positive difference in student lives—nominated by students for the third year in a row. Mark will also travel with Faculty Engagement Corps (May 22-24, 2013), sponsored by the Office of the Provost of the University of Iowa, to Spencer, Okoboji, Esterville, Lester, Orange City, Le Mars, Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff, and Storm Lake Iowa to meet with community health officials, wind energy and biology researchers, livestock farmers, community college and college administrators and teachers, high school administrators and teachers, Native American youth organizations, public library officials and librarians, business professionals, factory workers, and ordinary citizens. Mark Isham is a member of the Planning Committee for the 2013 tour. Mark will give an all-day Seminar in Workplace Writing on July 25 at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The seminar includes topics like basic writing tools, writing for different audiences, choosing the best medium, note-taking, conveying a difficult message, choosing an appropriate style, and strong sentences as a basic tool for engineers and marketing and human resources professionals. Mark uses cartooning to introduce basic writing concepts.
Brooks Landon has been awarded the 2013 Honors Thesis Mentor Award from the University Honors Program, in recognition of his many years of work with honors students, as a thesis adviser, second reader, and overseer of the Honors sections of the General Education in Literature program. Congratulations, Brooks!
Emeritus Professor, Kim Merker, who had a long association with University of Iowa Center for the Book and who directed The Windhover Press, died on April 27, 2013. His obituary can be found here.
Phil Round has won a 2013-14 Guggenheim Fellowship, one of 175 chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. Claire Sponsler has been awarded a 2013-14 National Humanities Center fellowship, one of approximately 30 selected from 500 applications. Congratulations, Phil and Claire!
Robyn Schiff’s poem, “Gate”, was in the April 22 issue of The New Yorker.
Harry Stecopoulos has been named editor of The Iowa Review.