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Volume 21, Issue 6

From (Under) The Chair’s Desk

It is a pleasure to introduce the year’s Reading Matters devoted to graduate matters. Thanks as ever to Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp, the tireless supporter for graduate students and graduate programs in the department, to Bluford Adams for his work as Director of Graduate Studies and to John D’Agata, Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, as well as to all the faculty and staff who support our graduate programs. This year, we are continuing the tradition of a social event to celebrate graduate student achievement in collaboration with AGSE. The Grand Gala: the Graduate Student Achievement Party will take place on Wednesday, April 27, 5-7 p.m. at Atlas World Grill, 127 Iowa Avenue.  I look forward to seeing many of you there.


From the Director of Grad Studies

As my first semester as DGS heads down the home stretch, I am greeted almost daily with news of yet more accomplishments by our PhD students. This month alone has seen, among other triumphs, an outstanding CCC conference, a record number of teaching awards, and a plethora of successful comps and dissertation defenses. I literally can’t keep track of everything our students are accomplishing. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp keeps an eagle eye on our students’ achievements and everything else in our PhD program. Thanks to her for guiding me through this semester. Thanks also to Cherie for providing the lists of student accomplishments in this Reading Matters. It is truly an impressive record of publications, awards, fellowships, and so much else. I am extremely proud of our students!

I would also like to thank all the students who shared their ideas for ways we can make our PhD program even better. I am especially grateful to the thirty-nine students who took time to respond to the AGSE survey about the program. I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the AGSE officers, Matthew Blackwell, Kelly Budruweit, Harrison Dietzman, Marija Reiff, and Rachel Walerstein, who created the survey, compiled the results, and met with Cherie, Jon, and me to discuss ways of adjusting our systems to respond to student concerns. We have already made some small adjustments and you should see some larger ones in the coming year. In the meantime, I welcome all your suggestions and ideas about our program. Let’s keep the dialogue going!

Finally, let me congratulate 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.

Bluford Adams
Director of Graduate Studies


MFA Graduates

Rachel Z. Arndt, “Because Uncertainty Arises” (John D’Agata, dir.)

Andrew Bratcher, “We Were Country Music” (John D’Agata, dir.)

Magda Davis, “Kissing Fidel” (Kerry Howley, dir.)

Keanan Faruq, “Bred in the Bone” (Inara Verzemnieks, dir.)

Chloe Livaudais, “Happy Girl” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Spenser Mestel, “Goblet Squats” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Molly Coon, “This is Not a Woman” (Jeff Porter, dir.)

Jenna Sauers, “There is a Devil Inside Me” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)


MFA Publications, Presentations, and Awards

Magda Davis read at the Miami International Book Fair in November of 2015 from “Ashes Over Havana” selected for inclusion in Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 10. She also read at Miami’s largest indie bookseller, Books & Books.


Bedell Scholars
Molly Coon
Anya Ventura
Ethan Madore
Spenser Mestel
Lucy Schiller
Brittany Borghi
Micah Fields
Bekah Grim
Robert Peck
Emily Mester

Hamilton Fellows
Anya Ventura
Ethan Madore

Boeing Fellows
Max Rubin
Elena Carter
Annie Sand

Carl Klaus Teaching Award
Drew Bratcher

2016-2017 Provost Fellowship
Chloe Livaudais

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
Anne Sand

Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio “Memory and Knowledge” Award
Frances Cannon

Roxanne Mueller Award
Lucy Schiller

Stanley Awards for International Research
Lucy Schiller

Edwin Piper Award
Francis Cannon

Prairie Lights Nonfiction Award
Emily Mester

Carl Klaus Nonfiction Prize

Emily Mester

Vilhauer Writer-in-Residence
Annie Sand
Elena Carter

Prairie Lights Nonfiction Award
Emily Mester

2015-2016 Iowa Arts Fellows
Magda Montiel Davis
Lucy Schiller
Micah Fields
Anya Ventura

Third Annual Herodotus Research and Travel Award
Fall 2015
Rachel Arndt
Rachel Cruz
Rebecca Grim
Annie Sand
Jenna Sauers

Spring 2016
Brittany Borghi
Micah Fields
Spenser Mestel
Dina Peone
Lucy Schiller

Writers-in-Residence Awards
Frances Cannon
Anya Ventura
Landon Bates
Brittany Borghi


2016 Incoming MFA Students

Jamie Alliotts
BA, Columbia University, 2004; MA, Dartmouth College, 2016

Matilda Bathurst
BA, University of Cambridge, 2011

Mary Katherine Brake
BA, Tulane University of Louisiana, 2013

Daniel Cronin
BA, University of Chicago, 2015

Julie Kedzie
BA, Indiana University, 2003

Nicolas Medina Mora Perez
BA, Yale University, 2013

Aracely Mondragon
BA, Stanford University, 2013

Alexander Pines
BA, Columbia University, 2016

Emmett Rensin
BA, University of Chicago, 2012

Adina Talve-Goodman
BA, Washington University of Saint Louis, 2009


PhD Qualifications

Fall 2015
Alexander Ashland
Enrico Bruno
John DeGregorio
Ian Faith
Haley Larson
Kathryn Polizzi
Makayla Steiner

Spring 2016
Christopher Dolle


PhD Comps Completed

Jacob Bender
Brett DeFries
Jomil Ebro
Samuel Fitzpatrick
Corey Hickner-Johnson
Jennifer Janechek
Marija Reiff
Spenser Santos
Angela Toscano
Stephanie Tsank
Katherine (Katie) Wetzel
Anna Williams


MA Graduates with Portfolio

Douglas Foster


Fellowships and Departmental Awards 2016

Presidential Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Jennifer Janechek

Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Laura Kuhlman
Jillian Linster
Annmarie Steffes

Marcus Bach Graduate Fellowship
Miriam Janechek

Prairie Lights/Sherman Paul Dissertation Research Scholarship
Samuel Fitzpatrick

Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio “Get Digital with your Dissertation” Award
Gemma Goodale-Sussen

T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Fellowship
Brett DeFries
Jillian Linster

Freda Dixon Malone Dissertation Research Scholarship
Jillian Linster

Valerie Lagorio Dissertation Research Scholarship
Vincent Rotkiewicz

English Department Best Essay Prize
Jennifer Janechek

Frederick P.W. McDowell
Annmarie Steffes

Stanley Awards for International Research
Annemarie Pearson

Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctorate Fellow
Angela Toscano

Obermann Graduate Fellow
Heidi Renée Aijala

Graduate College Post Comp Research Award
Jacob Bender
Brett DeFries
Gemma Goodale-Sussen
Angela Toscano
Stephanie Tsank
Kaitlin Williams

Graduate College Summer Fellowship
Gemma Goodale-Sussen
Brent Krammes
Sarah Livesay
Katherine (Katie) Wetzel

Dickens Universe Department Tuition Scholarship
Heidi Renée Aijala
Katherine Nesbit

Futures of American Studies Travel Award
Stephanie Tsank


Department and College Teaching Awards

W.R. Irwin Teaching Award
Chelsea Burk
Justin Cosner

2016 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
Heidi Renée Aijala
Gemma Goodale-Sussen

Katherine (Kate) Nesbit
Marija Reiff

Doug Trank Memorial Teaching Award (Rhetoric)
Heidi Renée Aijala


PhD Graduates

Lacey Askeland, “Tapping Wires and Touching Nerves: Telegraphy and Embodiment of Antebellum Narratives” (Kathleen Diffley, dir.)

Raquel Baker, “Undoing Whiteness: Postcolonial Identity and the Unfinished Project of Decolonization” (Peter Nazareth, dir.)

Sean De Vega,” Translation and Transgression in William Morris’s The Aeneids of Vergil (1875)” (Florence Boos, dir.)

Nicholas Kelly, “The Freedom of Information Hacked: Console Cowboys, Computer Wizards, and Personal Freedom in the Digital Age” (Brooks Landon, dir.)

Zachary King, “Comic Book Realism: Sincerity, Ethics, and the Superhero in Contemporary American Literature” (Brooks Landon, dir.)

Christine Norquest, “‘The endless roar in which we live’: The Figure of Noise in Nineteenth Century U.S. Literature” (Harry Stecopoulos, dir.)

Gemmicka Piper, “Black Intimacy in the Popular Imagination: Re-examining African American Women’s Literature from 1965-2000” (Michael Hill and Miriam Thaggert, co-dirs.)


Upcoming Summer Graduates

Jacquelynn (Jackie) Kleist, “Persuasion and Resistance: How Migrant Women Use Life Writing” (Claire Fox, dir.)

Sarah Livesay, “Literature as Countermemorial: Challenging Histories, Creating Memories, and Reckoning with Absences in Contemporary American Literature“(Stephen Voyce, dir.)

Jennifer Loman, “Shame, Christian Hospitality, and the American Writer” (Phillip Round and Kristy Nabhan-Warren, co-dirs.)

Jennifer Shook, “”Unending Trails: Oklahoma-as-Indian-Territory in Performance, Print, and Digital Archives” (Matthew Brown, dir.)


MA and PhD Publications, Presentations, and Awards

Heidi Renée Aijala published a guest editorial in The Press Citizen about the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. In addition, Heidi Renée presented alongside Corey Hickner-Johnson, Anna Williams, Kate Nesbit, Kelly Budruweit, and Rachel Walerstein at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference. Their presentation, moderated by Naomi Greyser, was titled “Graduate Killjoys: A Roundtable on the Precarity of Graduate Life.” Furthermore, Heidi Renée performed the role of Pulcheria in the dramatic reading of Michael Field’s Attila, My Attila at the Midwest Victorian Studies Association Conference. Additionally, she co-led a workshop on digital teaching portfolios with Kate Nesbit and Megan Knight as well as created and moderated the WriteOn(line) Program for the Rhetoric Writing Center.

Alexander (Alex) Ashland has published several articles, such as “Toward a More Perfect Union: Whitman, Ekphrasis, and the Daguerreotype,” in Ekphrasis in American Poetry: The Colonial Period to the 21st Century, Cambridge Scholars Press, October 2015. Additionally, Alex has published “Flux Year Box 2,” Fluxus Collection, University of Iowa, 2016, and “Night Unfolding Ever into Night,” ZO Magazine, 2015. Alex has also given the following presentations: “Postwar Appendage: Paratext and Reconstruction in Herman Melville’s Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War,” American Studies Association, Denver, CO, Nov. 17-20, 2016.

“Aestheticizing the Archive: Documentary Poetics in Charles Reznikoff’s Holocaust,” American Literature Association, The Holocaust in Contemporary American Jewish Literature organized by the Society for American Jewish Literature,” San Francisco, CA, May 26-29, 2016, “Off the Grid: Hurston’s Racial Geography in Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Craft Critique Culture (CCC) Conference, University of Iowa, April 8-9, 2016, “DH Salon: Whitman’s Letters—The Collaboration of the Walt Whitman Archive Correspondence Team,” Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, Presented in collaboration with Ed Folsom, Stephanie Blalock, Stefan Schoeberlein, and Ryan Furlong, February 12, 2016, “Exhibiting Correspondence: Gallery Space and the Postal Relay System,” The Avant-Garde as Media Cultures, “Actor Networks, (Un-)Intelligible Objects,” University of Iowa, December 8, 2015. Finally, Alex was the Project Lead for Mapping Whitman: The Civil Way Correspondence.

Jacob Bender received co-author credit on: “Franco-Chinese Dialogical Interaction via a Web Collaboration Project: Code-Switching to Extend Written Language Communication.” Handbook of Research on Foreign Language Education in the Digital Age. Co-authored with Ya Rao (Paul Valery University, France), Lisa Winstead (California State University, Fullerton), and Congcong Wang, (University of Northern Iowa).

Kelly Budruweit will have a chapter titled "Robert Coover, Hypertext, and the Technomodern Pedagogy of Fairy Tales" in the After the Program Era anthology edited by Loren Glass, which is scheduled to be published in Fall 2016. Kelly has also won 1st Place in the "Humanities" category at the Jakobsen Memorial Graduate Conference for the paper titled "Transnational Feminist Representations of Wartime Rape: De-Gendering Vulnerability in Isabel Coixet's The Secret Life of Words."

Nicholas (Nick) Cooley was awarded a fellowship at Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, DE.

Justin Cosner published a book review: “Transhistorical Symmetries: 'Science, Gender, and History: The Fantastic in Mary Shelley and Margaret Atwood' by Suparna Banerjee” in the Journal Science Fiction Studies v. 43, and presented a paper: “Self-Evident: Individualism and Ethics in Heinlein's Fiction” at the 37thAnnual International Conference for Fantastic and the Arts.

John DeGregorio co-authored the introduction to a Special Issue of New American Notes Online entitled "The Aesthetics of Trash" which can be read here. He also served as a guest editor for the special issue.

Harrison Dietzman published an article in Anamnesis Jounral title, “The Secular Body: Anthropocentric Knowledge in the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert”.

Corey Hickner-Johnson along with Kelly Budruweit, Kate Nesbit, Anna Williams, Heidi Renée Aijala, and Rachel Walerstein, presented a roundtable discussion on the precarity of graduate education at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in November. Corey also won a travel grant and registration from the association. In addition, Corey presented at the University of Minnesota's Fashion, Sex, and Power conference in September, the Doing the Body in the 21st Century Conference in April, and also contributed her public scholarship on the importance of teaching to the Press Citizen.

Jennifer Janechek published an article in Dickens Studies Annual titled "'This curious association of objects': Dickens's Treatment of Chair-Transported Characters in Dombey and Son and Bleak House". She has also published an entry on Mary Barton in Nineteenth-Century Disability: Cultures & Contexts. Jennifer has forthcoming book reviews in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies and the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

Haley Larson presented a paper on image data fracture and Dunchamp’s I’inframince at Harvard’s Film and Visual Studies Conference.

Katherine (Kate) Nesbit published a peer-reviewed article, "'Taste in Noises: Registering, Evaluating, and Creating Sound and Story in Jane Austen's Persuasion," in the December 2015 issue of Studies in the Novel. Kate also has a peer-reviewed article, "Melodrama's Wordless Elocution: The Vestigial Voice in the Orchestration and Pantomime of Thomas Holcroft'sA Tale of Mystery," forthcoming in European Romantic Review. Kate presented on gesture and kinesthetic strategies in writing center tutoring at the Midwest Writing Center Conference. She also presented alongside Corey Hickner-Johnson, Anna Williams, Heidi Renée Aijala, Kelly Budruweit, and Rachel Walerstein at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference. Their roundtable, moderated by Naomi Greyser, was titled “Graduate Killjoys: A Roundtable on the Precarity of Graduate Life.” Kate also played the role of Honoria in the production of Michael Field's Attila, My Attila!, directed by Annmarie Steffes and performed at the Midwest Victorian Studies Association Conference. Finally, Kate co-led a presentation on digital teaching portfolios with Heidi Renée Aijala and Megan Knight.

Marija Reiff had a peer-reviewed publication, “‘The Fanny Price Wars’: Jane Austen’s Enlightenment Feminist and Mary Wollstonecraft.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 45.03 (April 2016): 275-290. Marija has a forthcoming book chapter, “The Creative Calling” in After the Program Era. Ed. Loren Glass. U of Iowa Press. Estimated Fall 2016. Marija will also have a forthcoming peer-reviewed publication, ‘“Condemned to Be Free’: Lucy Snowe and Existential Angst in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.” Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies. (Accepted with revisions). She also presented at the Jakobsen Conference and received a first place paper in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. 

Spenser Santos received a fellowship sponsored by Medium Aevum to participate in a manuscript transcription and translation workshop this May.

Jennifer Shook is finishing her third year as Co-Direction of Imagining America’s PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Education) network, and her first year as a graduate student representative on PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America. She has also accepted the Mellon Digital Bridges in Humanistic Inquiry Postdoctoral Fellowship at Grinnell College.

Angela Toscano has been asked to contribute a chapter on the Gothic for the Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction.

Stephanie Tsank presented parts of her dissertation research on food and realism in Willa Cather's My Ántonia at this year's Jakobsen Conference and Craft Critique Culture. She also delivered a paper on strategies for working with reluctant Writing for Academic Success students at the Midwest Writing Center Association Conference earlier this year. 

Katherine (Katie) Wetzel published article, “Moving, Exchanging, and Producing Places: Creating Utopia through Vampire Land Ethics in Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories.” Journal of Dracula Studies. 17.1 (2015): 31 – 59.  Katie also published a book review of Exploring Victorian Travel Literature: Disease, Race and Climate, by Jessica Howell. Victorian Network. 6.2 (Winter 2015): 142-146.


Positive Impact Matters

Congratulations and thanks to Heidi Renée Aijala, Lydia Mauntz-Breese, and Katherine (Kate) Nesbit for organizing the very successful 2016 Craft Critique Conference this year.

Thank you to the 2015-2016 AGSE representatives--Marija Reiff, Harrison Deitzman, Rachel Walerstein, Kelly Budruweit, and Matthew Blackwell--for their excellent leadership, successful book sales, careful attention to graduate student needs, and hard work on the graduate student survey. 


2016 Incoming PhD Students

Caroline Cheung
BA, University of Rochester, 2015
Language and Literary Studies

Ivo Ivanoff
BA, Ohio State University, 2015
Victorian Literature

Braden Krien
BA, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2014
Ecocriticism and 20th Century American

Alexander (Lexi) Millard
BA, Indiana University, 2014
Race and Gender Theory Literature

Victoria Scott
BA, Duke University, 2014
Gender and Sexuality

E. Mariah Spencer
BA, University of Iowa, 2004; MA, Teaching, Drake University, 2010; MA, Humanities and Social Thought, New York University, 2016
Book History and Early Modern Prose

Engram Wilkinson
BA, Tulane University of Louisiana, 2013
Critical Theory and 19th Century British Literature


2016 Incoming MA Students

Kelly Binning
BA, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2016
20th Century British Literature

Jonathan James
BA, University of Kansas, 2015
Postcolonial Studies

Maheen Rasheed
BA, English, Lahore University of Management Sciences, 2014
Postcolonial Literature


Alumni Matters

Douglas Dowland (PhD 2010) is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio Northern University, where he also serves as the coordinator of the interdisciplinary minor in Medical Humanities. His book, American Affects: Nonfictions of the United States since 1945, is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press. His scholarship on literature and affect has appeared in LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, the Journal of Modern Literature, and Steinbeck Review. He has presented at the Modern Language Association Conference, the American Literature Association Conference, and the Midwest Modern Language Association Conference.

Benjamin Miele (PhD 2015) has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor of English position at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas.


Upcoming Matters

Click here to visit the News and Events on the English Department website for more details.

The Grand Gala: the Graduate Student Achievement Party, April 26, 5:00-7:00 pm, Atlas,127 Iowa Ave

Celebration of Undergraduate Achievement, Friday, Apr. 28, 3:30-5:00 pm, Old Capitol Senate Chamber: