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Volume 20, Issue 8, Apr 29, 2015

From (Under) The Chair’s Desk

It is a pleasure to introduce the year’s Reading Matters that is devoted to graduate matters, particularly in a year that is seeing such a wealth of graduations and of graduate achievements. Thanks as ever to Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp, the tireless supporter for graduate students and graduate programs in the department, to Alvin Snider as Director of Graduate Studies and to John D’Agata as Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, as well as to all the faculty and staff who support our graduate programs. This year, we will be reinstating a social event to celebrate graduate student achievement with the English Department’s Graduate Student Achievement Party, happening at the Clinton Street Social Club, on Thursday, April 30, 2015, 5-7 p.m. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

From the Director of Graduate Studies

The year's graduate issue of Reading Matters is devoted to listing student achievements and graduate awards won over the last several months. Thanks go, as always, to Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp, who tracks the data and compiled this list. My rookie year as DGS went smoothly only because of her dedication and expert coaching.

There are times when the work we do gives so much pleasure that we're left feeling incredibly lucky. The thirty pages of eloquent prose that drift up effortlessly onto our laptops, the classes of normally restive undergraduates who laugh at all our jokes, the deftly parried questions at conferences -- experiences such as these leave us feeling deeply gratified. Then there are occasions when the world seems more resistant to our talents, say, when endlessly revising an essay for implacable readers, or knocking on hotel room doors at MLA. The fact is that the work we do is often difficult, and demands creativity, skill, and infinite patience. This is especially true at a time of dwindling budgets at state universities, when legislators view faculty at public institutions as little better than welfare cheats, and when the value of research in the humanities and social sciences has become an open question. All the more reason, then, to applaud the important and accomplished work of students in the department, the various awards they have won for teaching and scholarship, and the fine dissertations they have completed. We take real pleasure and pride in celebrating their achievements.

For those of you who are graduating, we extend our very best wishes for the future and anticipate, with pleasure, reporting news of you in these pages and on the departmental website. In the same spirit, we look forward to welcoming the new PhD, NWP, and MA students whose names appear in this issue.

Alvin Snider
Director of Graduate Studies

MFA Graduates

Erick Brucker, “My Mother’s Boyfriends” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Gemma de Choisy, “Faith & Practice” (John D’Agata, dir.)

Nazli Inal, “I Don't Love You” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Chansi Long, “The Sound that Haunts” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Lucy Morris, “Amerikanka“ (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Matthew Owens, “Same Kind of Stranger” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Helen Rubinstein, “Invisible & Benign” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Bernice Santiago, “Wind and Rain” (John D’Agata, dir.)

Beatrice Smigasiewicz, “TBA” (Jeff Porter, dir.)

Josh Wheeler, “Acid West” (John D’Agata, dir.)

Rachel White, “Tales from the Tick Belt: Strange Encounters of the Midwest Kind” (Jeff Porter, dir.)

Lawrence Ypil, “Re/Collect“ (Jeff Porter, dir.)

MFA Publications, Presentations, and Awards

Congratulations to Magda Davis whose essay, “Ashes Over Havana,” was selected for inclusion in Best Women’s Travel Writing: True Stories From Around the World. She was invited to read “Ashes” at Books & Books, Miami’s largest indie bookseller in March. She will also give a reading at Miami International Book Fair in November and at Havana’s International Book Fair, Jan-Feb 2016. She is currently working on a project with the BBC regarding the events depicted in her MFA thesis, Kissing Fidel. The film is scheduled to be aired on April 21, 2015.


Carl Klaus Teaching Award
Erick Brucker

Carl Klaus Nonfiction Prize
Anya Ventura

Boeing Fellows
Max Rubin
Annie Sand
Landon Bates

Vilhauer Writer-in-Residence
Gemma de Choisy

Second annual Herodotus Research & Travel Awards
Fall 2014
Frances Cannon
Gemma De Choisy
Jenna Sauers
Castagna Ventura
Lawrence Ypil

Spring 2015
Elena Carter
Ethan Madore
Max Rubin
Helen Rubinstein
Anne Sand


MFA Job and Further Education Congratulations

Erick Brucker (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.) has accepted a one year visiting instructor position with the Magid Center, University of Iowa.

Gemma de Choisy (John D’Agata, dir.) has been hired by the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing as a visiting instructor for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Helen Rubinstein has been named the 2015 Provost Visiting Writing at the University of Iowa and will be teaching two creative writing courses next year in the Department of English.

Beatrice Smigasiewicz (Jeff Porter, dir.) has received a Fulbright Fellowship to Poland for 2015-2016.

Josh Wheeler (John D’Agata, dir.) has accepted a tenure track position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He has also sold his first book, Acid West, to Farrar Straus and Giroux. The book is the basis for his graduate thesis.

2015 Incoming MFA Students

Synne Borgen
BA, International Studies, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, 2008; BA, Fashion Journalism, University of the Arts London, 2010; The New School, Liberal Studies, MA, 2015

Brittany Borghi
BA, Journalism: Broadcast News, University of Maryland-College Park, 2010

Dylan Cooley
BA, English, Iowa State University, 2015

Micah Fields
BA, English, University of Montana, 2014

Taney Kurth
BA, English, University of Iowa, 2014

Emily Mester
BA, English, Grinnell College, 2014

Robert Peck
BA, History, Yale University, 2015

Dina Peone
BA, Liberal Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, 2015

Kathryn Prout
BA, English, Kalamazoo College, 2009

Lucy Schiller
BA, History, Grinnell College, 2010


PhD Qualifications

Fall 2014
Heidi Aijala
Faith Avery
Kelly Budruweit
Corey Hickner-Johnson
Akia Jackson
Lydia Maunz
Katherine Nesbit
Marija Reiff
Stefan Schoeberlein
Anna Williams

Spring 2015
Jacob Bender
Matthew Blackwell
Harrison Dietzman
Rachel Walerstein


PhD Comps Completed

Kyle Barton
Nicholas Borchert
Chelsea Burk
Nicholas Cooley  
Gemma Goodale-Sussen
Miriam Janechek
Laura Kohlman
Jillian Linster
Jennifer Loman
Lauren Rosales  


MA Graduates with Portfolio

Justin Blackwood
Michael Shaffer


Fellowships and Departmental Awards 2015

Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Nicholas Kelly
Jennifer Loman

Marcus Bach Graduate Fellowship
Jennifer Loman

ACT Scholars Award
Gemmicka Piper

Prairie Lights/Sherman Paul Dissertation Research Scholarship
Sarah Walker Livesay

Frederick F. Seely Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship
Sarah Walker Livesay

Edwin Piper
Gemmicka Piper

Freda Dixon Malone Dissertation Research Scholarship
Michelle Taylor

English Department Best Essay Prize
Timothy Robbins

Elizabeth Dietz Poetry Essay Prize
Stefan Schoeberlein

Obermann Graduate Fellow
Katherine Wetzel
Stefan Schoeberlein

Graduate College Post Comp Summer Research Award
Erica Damman (interdisciplinary PhD student)
Gemma Goodale-Sussen
Miriam Janechek
Lisa Kammensjo
Brent Krammes
Laura Kuhlman
Jillian Linster
Sarah Livesay
Annmarie Steffes

Dickens Universe Department Tuition Scholarship
Marija Reiff
Katherine Wetzel

Futures of American Studies Travel Award
Jennifer Loman


Department and College Teaching Awards

John C. Gerber Teaching Award
Annmarie Steffes

W.R. Irwin Teaching Award
Jomil Ebro
Stephanie Grossnickle-Batterton

2015 Outstanding University Teaching Assistant Award
Jennifer Janechek
Helen Rubinstein
Katlyn Williams


PhD Graduates

Cassandra Bausman, “A Noted Departure: Feminist Revision and Metafiction as Critical and Creative Strategy in a Tradition of Fantasy Literature” (Brooks Landon, dir.)

Blake Bronson-Bartlett, “Whitman’s Inscriptions: Poetics in the Nineteenth-Century American City” (Ed Folsom, dir.)

Robert Gillespie, “Shades of an Urban Frontier: Historical Resonances in the Cities of Black and Anglophone SF” (Brooks Landon, dir.)

Elizabeth Lundberg, “Reading Ruptures: Empathy, Gender, and the Literature of Bodily Permeability” (Naomi Greyser and Brooks Landon, co-dirs.)

Sonja Mayrhofer, “The Body (Un)Balanced: Humoral Theory and Late Medieval Literature” (Claire Sponsler, dir.)

Benjamin Miele, “God’s Spies”: Reading, Revelation, and the Poetics of Surveillance in Early Modern England” (Adam Hooks, dir.)

Jennifer McGovern, “The Captive Press: Captivity Narratives, Print Networks, and Regional Prospects, 1838-1895” (Kathleen Diffley, dir.)

Eve Rosenbaum, “Bringing Daylight with Them: American Writers and Civil War Washington” (Kathleen Diffley, dir.)

Elizabeth Sanders, “Enchanting Belief: Religion and Secularism in the Victorian Supernatural Novel” (Lori Branch, dir.)

Michael Sarabia, “The Extinction of Fiction: Boundary Breaking and The Acknowledgment of Character in Medieval Literature” (Garrett Stewart and Jonathan Wilcox, co-dirs.)

Rebecca Roma Stoll, “The Aesthetic Pleasures of Pain, 1688-1805” (Lori Branch, dir.)

Andrew Williams, “Tolerable Faiths: Religious Toleration, Secularism and the Eighteen-Century British Novel” (Lori Branch, dir.)

Upcoming Summer Graduates

Shuhita Bhattacharjee, “The ‘Crisis’ Cornucopia: Anxieties of Religion and ‘Secularism’ in Victorian Fiction of Colony and Gender, 1880-1900" (Lori Branch, dir.)

Christopher Burgess, “Passionate Eloquence: Rhetoric and Emotion in Medieval English Poetry” (Jonathan Wilcox, dir.)

Dorothy Giannakouros, TBA (Marie Kruger, dir.)

Jessica Lawson, “The Subject of Bodies: Feminism, Literature and the Push Beyond Dualism” (Naomi Greyser and David Wittenberg, co-dirs.)

Joshua Miner, “Indian Agencies: Native Poetics of Resistance in a Bureaucratic Landscape” (Linda Bolton, dir.)

Timothy Robbins, “Turn and Live with Animals’: Walt Whitman and the Making of the American Sociological Imagination, 1870-1940” (Ed Folsom, dir.)


PhD Job Congratulations

Shuhita Bhattacharjee (Lori Branch, dir.) is an Assistant Professor (TT), Presidency University, Kolkata, India

Blake Bronson-Bartlett (Ed Folsom, dir.) is continuing in a postdoc teaching major at the University of Dortmund, Germany

Elizabeth Lundberg (Brooks Landon and Naomi Greyser, co-dirs.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Iowa

Sonja Mayrhofer (Claire Sponsler, dir.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa

Benjamin Miele (Adam Hooks, dir.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa

Joshua Miner (Linda Bolton, dir.) has accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position in the Department of Film and Media Studies at University of Kansas.

Timothy Robbins (Ed Folsom, dir.) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor (TT) position in English at Graceland University, Independence, MO.

Rebecca Roma Stoll, (Lori Branch, dir.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa

Michael Sarabia (Garrett Stewart and Jonathan Wilcox, co-dirs.) has accepted a judicial clerkship with Judge Moses on the Montana District Court at Billings, MT.

Andrew Williams (Lori Branch, dir.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa


MA and PhD Publications, Presentations, and Awards

Jacob Bender. In March 2015, an essay he wrote, “This Is Not A Photograph’: Nephi Anderson’s Dorian as a Sort of LDS Sons and Lovers; Or, A Portrait of the Mormon Solipsist as a Young Man,” was published in a critical edition of Dorian by Nephi Anderson that was produced by Peculiar Pages Press. Also, in May 2014, a short fiction “Day of the Dead in English” was published by West Trade Review for their Spring 2014 edition.

Ian Faith has a forthcoming book review of J.R.R. Tolkien: the Forest and the City to appear in the Journal for the Fantastical in the Arts. He also presented at the Midwestern Modern Language Association’s 56th Annual Convention in November 2014.

Gemma Goodale-Sussen created, organized, fundraised, advertised, and presented at the Incarcerated In Iowa Symposium. The symposium is an interdisciplinary event connecting publicly engaged scholars doing work in Iowa prisons with interested community members, Department of Corrections Staff, and prison communities. She helped coordinate the saving of the Iowa State Penitentiary Archive, a collection of documents, artifacts, and photographs dating back to 1839. The archive has been adopted by Special Collections due to a cross-departmental effort to preserve these important markers of Iowa’s carceral history. Gemma taught an elective course, American Lives: Prison Literature, which made use of the Iowa State Penitentiary Archive. She created and coordinated “A Conversation with Jimmy Santiago Baca,” an event that brought world-renowned poet into Oakdale Prison in Coralville, IA on Friday, April 17.

Corey Hickner-Johnson published a piece of peer-reviewed digital scholarship on recovering women's stories for The Society for The Study of American Women Writers on United States Studies Online, a book review on Lisa Tetrault's monograph The Myth of Seneca Falls (2014) in Modern Language Studies, 2 works of public scholarship on feminism in Feministing and The Press Citizen, and a essay on women's athletics in the College of Saint Benedict Alumni Magazine. She is also presenting a paper on Sandra Cisneros, The Program Era, and Cruel Optimism at NeMLA on May 1.

Jennifer Janechek will have a peer-reviewed article published in next few months: “This curious association of objects’: Dickens’s Treatment of Chair-Tansported Characters in Dombey and Son and Bleak House.” Dickens Studies Annual 46 (2015) and published two peer-reviewed webtexts: Little Dorrit.” Nineteenth-Century Disability: Cultures and Contexts (November 2014) and The Ear Phonautograph.” Nineteenth’Century Disability: Cultures and Contexts (January 2014). She's also published reviews for Disability, Inc.: The Exploitation of Difference by the Prison-Industrial Complex, and Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada.

Haley Larson was a finalist in the Drunken Boat Book Contest, with her poetry manuscript, A Skin, Tendered. A selection was published in Haley also had four poems published in eccolinguistics in September (“The Peripheral Body,” “Slake,” “Complexion,” and “Notice”), and a collaborative film she made with Timothy David Orme (MFA Film and Video Production) was featured on the Continental Review.

Ben Miele is the winner of the Graduate College’s first ever 3-Minute Thesis Competition. Ben was tied for first place and won the people's choice award.

Katherine Nesbit has a forthcoming article in European Romantic Review titled, "Melodrama’s Wordless Elocution: The Vestigial Voice in the Orchestration and Pantomime of Thomas Holcroft’s A Tale of Mystery."

Kathryn Polizzi accepted to review a book for the Journal of the Fantastic Arts. The review is still being proofread and is pending approval. Applied for and accepted to write two articles for The SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics and Society on “Catholic Relief Services” and “Religious Communities” which are also in the editing process. She also presented at the Jakobsen Conference in March 2015, and her paper came in 2nd place in the English Literature category.

Marija Reiff published a peer-reviewed paper in the winter 2014 edition of the Coleridge Bulletin. The paper was entitled “Napoleon’s Historic and Aesthetic Threat: Commanding Genius and Shakespearean Allusion in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Zapolya.”

Spenser Santos published four translations on Asymptote Journal’s online translation blog, including his translation of The Seafarer.

Jennifer Shook completed the Graduate Certificate at the Center for the Book; served a second year as Co-Director of the PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Engagement) fellows network with Imagining America; joined the editorial board of Imagining America's journal PUBLIC; performed with Eulenspiegal Puppets and in the First Kiss interdisciplinary collaboration fest at Mission Creek.

Rachel Walerstein received a conditional acceptance at the journal Mosaic and successfully presented abroad at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) International Workshop.

Katherine Wetzel directed an undergraduate research presentation at the Examined Life Conference and she published a book review of Animaciex: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, by Mel Y. Chen. Graduate Journal of Social Science. 11.1 (2015). Web.


Positive Impact Matters

Congratulations and thanks to Annmarie Pearson and Angela Toscano for organizing the very successful 2015 Craft Critique Conference this year.  

Kathryn Polizzi is very proud to have finally gone through with all the leg work necessary to volunteer with Bib Brothers Big Sisters this year, and was just matched with a Little Brother in February.

Spenser Santos organized two very successful AGSE book sales this year.


2015 Incoming PhD Students

Neala Arnold
BA, Elementary Education, University of Iowa, 2003; MLS, Library and Information Science, University of Iowa, 2006
18th and 19th Century British Literature

Benjamin Batzer
BA, English, Truman State University, 2013; MA, English, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, Truman State University, 2015
Southern Fiction; writing as healing

Ryan Furlong
BA, English and History, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2014
American Literature (Pre-1900)

Laura Hayes
BA, English, Western Washington University, 2011; Certificate, Publishing, University of Denver, 2011; MA, English, Boston College, 2015
19th Century British

Paul Schmitt
BA, English, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, 2015
20th Century Literature

Caitlin Simmons
BA, Psychology and English, University of California-Santa Barbara, 2008 and 2009; MA, English, San Diego State University, 2014
Romantic British Literature

Meredith Stabel
BA, English, Duke University Trinity College, 2015
American Literature

Mara Steele
BA, English, Western Washington University, 2011; MA, English Studies, Western Washington University, 2013
19th/20th Century British and American

Konrad Swartz
BA, English & Writing Studies, Eastern Mennonite University, 2013
Religion, Secularism, & Ethics

Bambi Whitaker
BS.Ed in English Education, Missouri State University, 2011; MA, English, Missouri State University, 2014; MA in Writing, Rhetoric/Comp Track, Missouri State University, 2015
Modernist Studies

Alumni Matters

Catina Bacote (MFA ’14) has accepted tenure track position at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

Katherine Bishop (PhD '14) has accepted a renewable 2 year Assistant Professor position at Miyazaki International College, Island of Kyushu, Japan

Tom Blake (PhD ’14) has accepted an Assistant Professor position at Austin College, Sherman, TX.

Kerry Howley (MFA ’11) has accepted an NWP Assistant Professor position with the University of Iowa

Joseph Rodriguez (PhD ’12) has accepted a permanent full-time position as Assistant Professor at Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, KS

Inara Verzemnieks (MFA ’13) has accepted an NWP Assistant Professor position with the University of Iowa

Upcoming Matters

Faculty Meeting: Outcomes assessment. Apr 30 at 3:30pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Midwest Victorian Studies Association Conference, May 1-3, University of Iowa

Faculty Colloquium with Matt Brown, "Small Data." May 5 at 3:30pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Undergraduate Honors Celebrations. May 8 at 3:30pm. Senate Chamber, Old Capitol Museum.