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Volume 21, Issue 2

From (Under) The Chair’s Desk

Collective concern over the choice of our new university president has continued to dominate my last couple of weeks, with discussion in Faculty Senate, CLAS Faculty Assembly, and a forum of the AAUP, not to mention an open lunchtime discussion by English faculty. Probably the best response from faculty to date has been the stream of editorial opinions explaining the problems with the process and articulating the value of the university to the state and the public at large. One handy place for keeping track of the news coverage and opinion pieces is the conspectus on issues in higher education maintained by Alvin Snider as the English Department Graduate Twitter feed and available here.

In this barrage of publicity, you may have missed one piece of news that provides some interesting comparative data on the University of Iowa. The new federal scorecard seems to be the final result of Washington’s attempt to make the costs and benefits of a university education easier to assess for students and their families who are not experts in higher education. Using standardized data, the feds calculate the average annual cost for a student at the UI (net price, presumably combining tuition and living costs but also factoring in aid) to be $14,379, slightly below the national average of $16,789. (Cornell College at Mount Vernon comes out at $18,783, Cornell University at Ithaca at $26,484). UI graduation rates after six years are reported at 70%, much better than the national average of 44% (and just better than Cornell College at 69%, but not as good as Cornell U at 93%), while our retention after the first year is 86%, again ahead of the national average of 67%. The data on earnings is interesting. The median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school, stands at $48,700 for the UI, above the national average of $34,343 (and above Cornell College’s $41,900, but below Cornell U’s $70,900). There’s other information in the scorecard, too, including Socio-Economic Diversity: at UI 19% of students have a family income less than $40K and receive an income-based federal Pell Grant to help pay for college (that number is 34% at Cornell College, 16% at Cornell U). To see more of the scorecard, click here.

The College Scorecard gives some hints as to why the UI is a popular destination, as is demonstrated in this year’s enrollment numbers. We have an official total enrollment of 32,150 students, with a first-year class of 5,241, which is 575 more than came in 2014. Admissions tells us the incoming class is better than ever, with an average high school GPA of 3.66 (compared with 3.63 last year). Among first-year students, 47% (or 2,458) are Iowa residents, 41% (2,170) residents of other U.S. states, and 12% (614) are international students. Admissions also characterizes it as the most diverse incoming class ever with nearly 21%—1,082 students—identifying as African-American, American Indian, native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Asian, Latino, or two or more races (compared with 19% last year and 12.6% in 2010).

Although the university count is now official, the breakdown by department has not yet been published by the Registrar’s Office and so I’ll hold off on reporting the numbers of English majors until that is released. It is possible now to see the student credit hours offered by the English Department; at 9,703 SCH, this looks broadly comparable to last year (down slightly, but mostly reflecting recategorizing the admin home of one large course). English continues to be an attractive option for students, and not without reason! Our appealing curriculum for next academic year is currently being shaped up by the curriculum committee under the direction of Doris Witt. Curriculum for Spring 2016 will become visible on ISIS on October 12, with early registration beginning on November 9. 

Even as the brouhaha over the president continues, the University of Iowa remains an attractive destination for students, with the English Department one of the jewels in its crown. 

Faculty Matters

Congratulations to Peter Nazareth, whose e-book, Elvis: Rewriting the World through Multicultural Movies was recently released as a Kindle Edition. As a taster, here’s the opening: “When all the publicity about my class “Elvis as Anthology” began in 1992, I faced a lot of jeering and prejudice. A radio interviewer from Chicago asked me, on air, whether my class was going to be in pharmaceuticals or cookery. I said it was going to be in literature: I was going to analyze the work as I did novels. There were three targets: (1) Elvis, as working class; (2) Iowans, as hicks; (3) Me, as foreigner. I discovered that when they do not understand, most Americans, including professional critics, mock and put down from a position of superiority.”

Graduate Matters

Last spring and summer saw the completion of eighteen (eighteen!) Ph.D.s in English, which is certainly a record for recent years. Bravo to all involved! These new graduates are listed below, along with information about their initial job destination where we know it. If you have additional or corrected information, please contact the DGS, Alvin Snider ( or Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp (

Cassandra Bausman, “A Noted Departure: Feminist Revision and Metafiction as Critical and Creative Strategy in a Tradition of Fantasy Literature” (Brooks Landon, dir.) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor, Trine University, Angola, IN.

Shuhita Bhattacharjee, “The ‘Crisis’ Cornucopia: Anxieties of Religion and ‘Secularism’ in Victorian Fiction of Colony and Gender, 1880-1900” (Lori Branch, dir.) has accepted an Assistant Professorship (TT) in the Department of English, the Presidency University, Kolkata, India.

Blake Bronson-Bartlett, “Whitman’s Inscriptions: Poetics in the Nineteenth-Century American City” (Ed Folsom, dir.) is continuing as a visiting lecturer at Dortmund Teaching Exchange Program, Dortmund, Germany.

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

Dorothy Giannakouros, “Narrating ‘That Other World of Light and Rainbows’: The Aesthetic and Ethical Challenges of Representing Childhood in Post-Colonial Sub-Saharan African Film and Literature” (Marie Kruger, dir.) has accepted a position as a full-time Lecturer in the Rhetoric Department, University of Iowa.

Robert Gillespie, “Shades of an Urban Frontier: Historical Resonances in the Cities of Black and Anglophone SF” (Brooks Landon, dir.), has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa, in addition to a visiting position at Augustana College, IL.

Jacob Horn, "Tracking the Great Detective: An Exploration of the Possibility and Value of Contemporary Sherlock Holmes Narratives" (Corey Creekmur, dir.) has accepted a position as the Assistant Professor in Residence at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, CT.

Jessica Lawson, “The Subject of Bodies: Feminism, Literature and the Push Beyond Dualism” (Naomi Greyser and David Wittenberg, co-dirs.) is continuing her education at University of Colorado – Boulder.

Elizabeth Lundberg, “Reading Ruptures: Empathy, Gender, and the Literature of Bodily Permeability” (Brooks Landon and Naomi Greyser, co-dir.), has accepted a position as academic advisor at the University of Iowa. 

Sonja Mayrhofer, “The Body (Un)Balanced: Humoral Theory and Late Medieval Literature” (Claire Sponsler, dir.), has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa.

Benjamin Miele, “God’s Spies”: Reading, Revelation, and the Poetics of Surveillance in Early Modern England” (Adam Hooks, dir.), has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa.

Jennifer McGovern, “The Captive Press: Captivity Narratives, Print Networks, and Regional Prospects, 1838-1895” (Kathleen Diffley, dir.) has accepted a position as a Lecturer, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.

Joshua Miner, “Indian Agencies: Native Poetics of Resistance in a Bureaucratic Landscape” (Linda Bolton, dir.) has accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position at University of Kansas.

Timothy Robbins, “Turn and Live with Animals’: Walt Whitman and the Making of the American Sociological Imagination, 1870-1940” (Ed Folsom, dir.) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor (TT) in English at Graceland University, Lamoni, IA.

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.) is working as a Writer for Corporate and Foundation Giving, at The Field Museum, Chicago, IL.

Michael Sarabia,The Extinction of Fiction: Boundary Breaking and The Acknowledgment of Character in Medieval Literature” (Jon Wilcox and Garrett Stewart, dir.) has accepted a legal clerkship position under Judge Moses on the Montana Bench, Billings, MT, where he will also be teaching as an adjunct at Montana State University, Billings.

Rebecca Roma Stoll,The Aesthetic Pleasures of Pain, 1688-1805(Lori Branch, dir.) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa.

Andrew Williams, “Tolerable Faiths: Religious Toleration, Secularism and the Eighteen-Century British Novel” (Lori Branch, dir.), has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Iowa.

In addition to the latest Ph.D. graduates, the information below lists recent job news about graduates of the last few years. Once again, do let us know if you spot errors or have more recent information. 

Katherine Bishop (2013, Harry Stecopoulos, dir.) has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in English at Miyazaki International College, Island of Kyushu, Japan.

Tom Blake (2014, Kathy Lavezzo, dir.) accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position in the Department of English at Austin College, Sherman, TX. 

Judith Coleman (2012, Miriam Gilbert, dir.) accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position at Delta State University, MS.

Bryan Mangano (2012, Eric Gidal, dir.) accepted an Assistant Professor position at Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA.

Joseph Rodriguez (2012, Claire Sponsler, dir.) accepted a full-time permanent instructor position in the Department of English at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas City, MO. 

Lindsey Row-Heyveld (2011, Claire Sponsler, dir.) accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position at Luther College, Decorah, IA.

Chris Vinsonhaler (2013, Jon Wilcox, dir.) has accepted an Assistant Professor (TT) position in English at CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY.

Undergraduate Matters

Kate Torno reports:

So far Lena Hill and I have met with the Living Learning Community twice and are preparing for the following events:

First, we have scheduled a group attendance of the Roast of Iowa City on Sunday, October 4th where Loren Glass will host on our behalf. This is at the Trumpet Blossom and R.A.s will walk students to the event.

We also invited the LLC to attend the English @ Work session on Tuesday, October 13th, 12:30 p.m. when alum and author Alison Reeger-Cook will be skyping in to tell us about her career journey so far.

Lastly, we have an open writing session as kick-off to Novel Writing Month scheduled Sunday, October 25th at 3 p.m in Petersen Hall. Kerry Howley will give some inspiring opening remarks and then we believe the English Society will help host the rest of the writing session.

Upcoming Matters

You@UI, Oct. 3, 9:45 am-1:00 pm Gerber Lounge (304 EPB)

Mini alum reunion coffee and video interview session, October 10,8:30 am, 209 Becker Communications Building

Run for the Schools together as a group if enough students interested, October 18, 8:00 am (please email Kate to sign up)

Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism: Stanley Plumly, Oct. 23, TBA