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Volume 22, Issue 3

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, along with Joelle Petersen and Hannah Rounds, to Bluford Adams for his work as Director of Graduate Studies, and to Bonnie Sunstein, 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 26, 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 we head down the home stretch of another academic year, I am taking some time to reflect on everything our PhD students have accomplished.  It’s an impressive list for sure! This month alone has seen, among other successes, an outstanding CCC conference, a basketful 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 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 volunteered their time and energy to enhancing our program and contributing to its success in so many ways.  I am grateful to those who served as mentors to our first-years and to the students who have already volunteered to mentor the new students joining us this fall.  For organizing our mentors program—and much, much else—I owe a debt of gratitude to our 2016-17 AGSE representatives—Ian Faith, Laura Hayes,  Lydia Maunz-Breese, Kate Nesbit, and Anna Williams.  They did a great job this year keeping us organized and informed with events that included two well-attended and informative panels on the comps and prospectus process.  Thanks to Paul Schmitt for developing the WordPress website for sharing information and advice about the program.  Congratulations and thanks to Faith Avery, Enrico Bruno, Laura Hayes, and Meredith Stable for organizing the very successful 2017 Craft Critique Conference.  And thanks to everybody else who shared their ideas about how we can make our PhD program even better.  Please keep those suggestions coming! 

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

Landon Bates, “Baby Echoes,” (Kerry Howley, dir.)

Frances Cannon, “Shapeshifters: an Inheritance,” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Elena Carter, “The Forgotten Panthers and Other Essays,” (Patricia Foster, dir.)

Rachel Cruz, “Notes of an Apprentice,” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Ethan Madore, “Of Tracks,” (Inara Verzemnieks, dir.)

Max Rubin, “On Brand,” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)

Anne Sand, “Remember the Forester,” (Inara Verzemnieks, dir.)

Castagna Ventura, “The Vanishing Point,” (Kerry Howley, dir.)


MFA Publications, Presentations, and Awards

AMA-Sheth Foundation Fellows
Elena Carter
Dina Peone
Max Rubin
Anne Sand

Buckley Fellows
Elena Carter
Robert Peck
Dina Peone
Kathryn Prout

Hamilton Fellows
Emmett Rensin
Lucy Schiller

Fourth Annual Herodotus Research and Travel Award

Fall 2016
Matilda Bathurst
Elena Carter
Daniel Cronin
Emmett Rensin
Lucy Schiller

Spring 2017
Brittany Borghi
Micah Fields
Julie Kedzie
Aracely Mondragon
Castagna Ventura

Iowa Arts Fellow 2017-2018
Julia Conrad
Cassandra Jensen
Virginia Marshall

Carl Klaus Teaching Award
Landon Bates

Lloyd-Jones Graduate Fellows
Brittany Borghi
Ethan Madore
Emily Mester
Anne Sand

NWP Essay Review Prize
Max Rubin

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
Brittany Borghi
Ethan Madore
Dina Peone

Prairie Lights Nonfiction Award

Provost’s Fellow, 2017-2018
Ethan Madore

Writers in Residence (Fall 2016)
Taney Kurth
Kathryn Prout

Writers in Residence (Spring 2017)
Dina Peone
Lucy Schiller

NWP Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor, 2017-2018
Castagna Ventura


2017 Incoming MFA Students

Brittany Bettendorf
BA, Northwestern University, 2007
Neurobiology and English
MD, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2011

Julia Conrad
BA, Wesleyan University, 2014
English and Italian

Louisa (Lulu) Dewey
BS, University of California-Berkeley, 2016
Society and Environment

Michele Gutierrez
BA, University of California-Los Angeles, 2003
International Development Studies and Asian American Studies

Cassandra Jensen
BA, Smith College, 2011
MA, Syracuse University, 2014
Documentary Film and History

Bryn Lovitt
BA, University of Iowa, 2013
English (Adv. Creative Writing Certificate)

Julia Lucas
BA, North Carolina State University, 2007

Virginia Marshall
BA, Harvard University, 2015

Brittany Means
BA, Ball State University, 2015
English and Creative Writing

Darius Stewart
BA, University of Tennessee Knoxville, 2004
MA, University of Texas-Austin, 2007

Tiffany Tucker
BA, Roosevelt University, 2016
English (Minor: Media Studies Writing)

PhD Qualifications

Fall 2016
Benjamin Batzer
Ryan Furlong

Laura Hayes
Paul Schmitt
Caitlin Simmons
Meredith Stabel
Konrad Swartz
Bambi Whitaker

PhD Comprehensive Exam Completed

Heidi Renee Aijala
Faith Avery

Matthew Blackwell
Kelly Budruweit
Jaclyn Carver*
Danielle Kennedy
Benjamin Kirbach*
Haley Larson
Katherine Nesbit
Annemarie Pearson
Stefan Schoeberlein*

*May 2016

Upcoming Spring Comprehensive Exam

Alexander Ashland
Christopher Dolle

Ian Faith
Akia Jackson
Lydia Maunz-Breese
Rachel Walerstein

MA Graduates with Portfolio

John DeGregorio

Fellowships and Departmental Awards 2017

Presidential Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Kelly Budruweit
Marija Reiff

Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
Jacob Bender
Brett DeFries

Iowa Recruitment Fellowship
Reid Dempsey

CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship
Samuel Fitzpatrick

Prairie Lights/Sherman Paul Dissertation Research Scholarship
Corey Hickner-Johnson

Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio “Get Digital with your Dissertation” Award
Alexander Ashland
Katherine Wetzel

English Department Best Essay Prize
Stefan Schoeberlein

Dietz Poetry Essay Prize
Stefan Schoeberlein

Graduate College Post Comp Research Award
Heidi Renée Aijala
Jaclyn Carver
Corey Hickner-Johnson
Katherine Nesbit
Anna Williams

Futures of American Studies Institute Summer Fellowship
Rachel Walerstein

University of Virginia’s Rare Book School Summer Fellowship
E Mariah Spencer

Graduate College Summer Fellowship
Heidi Renée Aijala
Corey Hickner-Johnson
Miriam Janechek
Benjamin Kirbach
Katherine Nesbit

Dickens Universe Department Tuition Scholarship
Lydia Maunz-Breese
Annemarie Pearson

Jakobsen Conference 1st Place Winners
Heidi Renée Aijala, Gender, Women’s, Sexuality Studies
Katherine Nesbit, Humanities

Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Award 2016
Jennifer Janechek

Department and College Teaching Awards

2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
Enrico Bruno
Justin Cosner
Corey Hickner-Johnson
Makayla Steiner
Anna Williams

W.R. Irwin Teaching Award
Katherine Nesbit
Stephanie Tsank

PhD Graduates

Jillian Linster, “Books, Bodies, and the ‘Great labor’ of Helkiah Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia,” (Adam Hooks, dir.)

Annmarie Steffes, “Between Page and Stage: Victorian and Edwardian Women Playwrights and the Literary Drama, 1860-1910,” (Florence Boos, dir.)

Upcoming Summer Graduates

Jacob Bender, “Latin Labyrinths, Celtic Knots: The Modernisms of the Dead in Irish and Latin American Literature,” (Claire Fox, dir.)

Nicholas Borchert, “Nameless Wonders and Dumb Despair: Rhetorics of Silence in Mid-Nineteenth-Century U.S. Poetry and Culture,” (Ed Folsom, dir.)

Nicolas Cooley, “‘Extensions of Ourselves’: Hand Tools and the Construction of Nature in Nineteenth-Century American Literature,” (Laura Rigal and Bluford Adams, co-dir.)

Justin Cosner, “Make-Believe: Uncertainty, Faith, and Alterity in Nineteenth Century Supernatural Short Stories,” (Lori Branch, dir.)

Jennifer Janechek, “‘A Machine to Hear for Them’: Telephony, Modernism, and the Mother Tongue,” (Garrett Stewart, dir.)

Laura Kuhlman, “The Beat Goes On: Women Writers of the Beat Generation,” (Loren Glass, dir.)

Brent Krammes, “What Kind of Gallery Is a Book?: Representation in U.S. Print Culture, 1880-1940,” (Lena Hill, dir.)

MA and PhD Publications, Presentations, and Awards

Heidi Renée Aijala served as a Senior Obermann Fellow for the Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy, as a Program Associate for GEL, and as the Junior Editor for the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. Furthermore, she won first place in the Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies category at the Jakobsen Conference for her paper, “Ellen Johnston and the Precarity of Representation.” In addition, she was awarded “Best Submission” for the 2017 Pedagogy Idea Exchange and has received the Graduate College Summer Fellowship Award and the Graduate College Post-Comps Award.

Alexander Ashland recently published: “Off the Grid: Zora Neale Hurston’s Racial Geography in Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, 2017.  He presented a paper, “Animating Whitman’s Correspondence: Pedagogy and Practice,” American Literature Association (ALA), Boston, MA, 2017, and he was recently awarded the University of Iowa Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio Summer Fellowship.

Jacob Bender passed his Prospectus defense last May 2016, and in the summer he co-authored a paper with Lydia Maunz-Breese entitled, "Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, the Wiindigoo, and Star Trek: The Next Generation,” that was accepted by American Indian Quarterly for publication in Spring 2018.  His short story, "The Adjunct in the Latter Days", was published in the SLCC Community Anthology, January 2017.  He was awarded the Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Award for Fall 2016 and the Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship for Spring 2017. In February 2017, he presented a paper, “‘For you galaxies will flame and the sun will burn’: Carlos Fuentes’s La muerte de Artemio Cruz and Samuel Beckett's Malone Dies" for the Sixth Biannual conference of the Society for Irish Latin American Studies, held at Colegio Universitario de San Gerónimo in Havana, Cuba.

Nicolas Borchert recently hired as English Teacher at Liberty High School in North Liberty, IA.

Justin Cosner co-edited, as chair of the Textbook Committee, a new anthology for the University of Iowa, General Education Literature course. He also served as a Program Associate for new GEL instructors. Justin presented his paper “‘I Wisht I Wuz a Tree’: Nature and the Supernatural in Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman" at the 2017 MLA annual convention. He was also a panelist and presented his paper, “Epic Fails: ‘Swapper,’ Participatory Ethics, and the Video Game Anti-Epic,” at the 2017 International Conference for the Fantastic and the Arts. These presentations were made possible by his having received the "Sally and Ken Mason Travel Grant" for research and presentation. Justin will be teaching English classes during the 2017-2018 year with a Visiting Assistant Professorship after defending his dissertation on May 10th!

Harrison Dietzman has an article titled, ‘“Moulder[ing] into nothingness among the rocks’: Sharpshooters in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War,” which is forthcoming in Configurations issue 25.4. (Fall 2017). 

Ian Faith sat for Comprehensive Exams in addition to serving as an AGSE officer, Vice President of the Graduate Student Senate, Chair of the Jakobsen Conference Committee, and the Fine Arts and Humanities Delegate on Graduate and Professional Student Government. He proposed and wrote content for a Guide to Graduate Student Life, which will be added to the University Website in August. In addition, Ian published a book review, a peer-reviewed article, and a forthcoming book chapter.

Samuel Fitzpatrick was honored to be the recipient of the CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship. The fellowship will help in the completion of his dissertation, "Descent Into the 'Easy Rawlins Mysteries Series': Walter Mosley and the Return of the Black Detective."

Laura Hayes presented a paper at the department's Craft, Critique, Culture conference that was nominated for special recognition in the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. Additionally, she worked on the William Morris Archive with Caitlin Simmons, Kyle Barton, and Florence Boos, in collaboration with the Studio, to build a map of William Morris's 1890 novel News from Nowhere that will be hosted on the archive's site. In teaching, she has been selected to be a PDP co-leader in the Rhetoric Department for Fall 2017. And finally, in addition to her work with AGSE and CCC, Laura worked as a reviewer for the GPSG grants committee for the 2016/2017 year.

Corey Hickner-Johnson published an article on Hmong Embroidery and digital archives in the Journal of International Women's Studies and a book review in the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. She presented at MMLA and the Jakobsen Conference.  Corey was awarded a Post-Comprehensive Exam Fellowship, The Jane A. Weiss Memorial Dissertation Scholarship, The Prairie Lights Scholarship, and an Outstanding Teaching Award. Corey was an Obermann Fellow and organized the Iowa City Women's March.

Jennifer Janechek had the following article published: “The Horror of the Primal Sound: Proto-telephony and Imperialism in ‘Heart of Darkness’.” The Conradian 41.2 (2016): 8–27. Also, the following books reviews published: Review of Rebecca Sanchez’s Deafening Modernism: Embodied Language and Visual Poetics in American Literature. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies 5.3 (2016) and “Disabled Masculinities in Domestic Realist Fiction.” Review of Karen Bourrier’s The Measure of Manliness: Disability and Masculinity in the Mid-Victorian Novel. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies 12.2 (Summer 2016).

Danielle Kennedy was selected to be an Obermann Fellow and participated in the Obermann Center's Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. She also became a co-coordinator in the Writing Center, and some of her teaching materials were solicited by the Center for Teaching to be used as an example in a workshop on student participation.

Jillian Linster has an article forthcoming (Dec '17) in the journal Early Theatre.

Katherine Nesbit presented papers at five conferences this academic year:  Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS), Midwest Victorian Studies Association (MVSA), the University of Iowa's "Hawkeye Shakespeare" conference, the English department's Craft Critique Culture Conference, and the Graduate College's Jakobsen Conference. Kate's paper, "The Phonograph Trick: Sound Forms and Transformations in Conan Doyle's Detective Fiction" won the Jakobsen Conference's first place in the Humanities. Kate's paper on elocution and melodrama was published in the August 2016 issue of European Romantic Review. Through her role as Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Humanities, Kate led a Center for Teaching workshop, "Serious Fun: Teaching with Play," as well as designed and hosted the Gen Ed Lit department's "Pedagogy Idea Swap."

Marija Reiff gave a conference presentation at the North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Phoenix, AZ, and she also participated in their pre-conference graduate student workshop.  She had several publications: a chapter "The Creative Calling" was published in the book After the Program Era (which was edited by Loren Glass), an article "Condemned to Be Free: Lucy Snowe and Existential Angst in Charlotte Brontë's Villette" is slated to be published in an upcoming edition of The Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, and she wrote an entry on the playwright Elizabeth Robins for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Number 381: Writers on Women’s Rights and United States Suffrage.  Marija was  awarded a Presidential Ballard and Seashore award for 2017-18 as well as a Marcus Bach fellowship, though she declined the latter as it is incompatible with the former.  Most importantly, she gave birth to her daughter, Solveig (pronounced "Sole-vay").

Caitlin Simmons passed her qualifying exams in the fall, and was recently selected as a co-leader for the Professional Development Program in Rhetoric. She presented two papers this year, one for the Western Literature Association in Bozeman, Montana, called “‘Something of a Non-Person’: Jim Loney’s Static Victimry in James Welch’s The Death of Jim Loney” and the other a paper entitled “The Sea as Respite: Challenging Dispossession in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” at the Craft Critique and Culture Conference in Iowa City, Iowa. Both concern the ability to overcome dispossession through mobility.

E Mariah Spencer was selected for a presentation at the 2017 Rice Symposium on "Redrawing Forms: Energy, Media, Science, and Life." The presentation will be based on the paper she wrote for Professor Landon's Pulps class this semester titled, "Remediating Genre: Cavendish, SF, Slipstream, and the Pulps."  Mariah was also selected for the Newberry Graduate Research Methods Workshop.

Meredith Stabel attended the 2017 CCC Conference and presented a paper entitled, "'Land of Laughter': Fashioning an Alternative Theology of Motherhood in Angelina Weld Grimké's Rachel." Commissioned in 1916 by the NAACP to serve as anti-lynching propaganda, Grimké's play features a protagonist who renounces the Madonna of white Christianity as a role model for black American women, due to the horrors of lynching. Stabel’s paper focuses on the protagonist's rewriting of Christian theology via a new myth of the "Land of Laughter," her use of laughter as a mode of subversion and creativity, and Grimké's refusal to duplicate the Biblical icon of Rachel weeping over her children.

Mara Steele is pleased to have procured for her Rhetoric classroom an hour long Skype chat with the world-famous Carnegie Institute professor, climate scientist, and public intellectual Ken Caldeira, as a supplement to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction in which he is profiled. She also persuasively nominated a local student guest speaker, Dawson Davenport of Iowa's Meskwaki Nation, for the UI Diversity Catalyst Award and wept with joy when he won this prestigious honor and accepted it on behalf of his community as well as the 2016 struggle at Standing Rock, ND.

Stephanie Tsank organized and chaired a panel at MLA titled "Contemporary Immigrant Food Narratives: Culture, Capital, and Genre."

Rachel Walerstein has a case study on Elliot Rodger forthcoming in the edited collection, Misogyny in American Culture: Causes, Trends, and Solutions. She also has a book review of Queer: A Graphic History forthcoming in Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture. Lastly, she will be attending the Futures of American Studies Institute this summer.

Anna Williams will have a peer-reviewed article published in the Fall 2017 issue of Victorian Poetry, titled “‘The Dramatic Poet and the Unpoetic Multitudes’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Allegorized Theatrical Commentary in Book IV of Aurora Leigh,” a version of which she presented at MMLA in Fall 2016.  She received a Post-Comprehensive Research Award from the Graduate College in Spring 2017, as well as two teaching awards: the Doug Trank Memorial Teaching Award from the Rhetoric Department in Spring 2016 and the Outstanding TA Award from the Council on Teaching in Spring 2017.  This year she has also served as a Production Assistant for Iowa Public Radio, recently producing and co-hosting Lit City, a ten-episode podcast published digitally on the local and national public radio websites.


Positive Impact Matters

Congratulations and thanks to Faith Avery, Enrico Bruno, Laura Hayes, and Meredith Stable for organizing the very successful 2017 Craft Critique Conference this year.

Thank you to the 2016-2017 AGSE representatives— Ian Faith, Laura Hayes,  Lydia Maunz-Breese, Kate Nesbit, and Anna Williams for their excellent leadership, successful book sales, careful attention to graduate student needs, and hard work on the graduate student survey. 

Thank you to Paul Schmitt for creating a WordPress Blog, “University of Iowa English Grad Student Resources.”

2017 Incoming PhD Students

Kassie Baron
BS, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2012
Philosophy and Political Science
MS, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2014

Reid Dempsey
BA, University of Arizona, 2016
English, German Studies, and Linguistics

Bryanne Estes
BA, University of Iowa, 2014
English (Minor: Spanish)

Evan Hall
BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009
English and Journalism

Jeremy Lowenthal
BA, University of California-Davis, 2013
Political Science (Minor: English)
MA, University of Chicago, 2015

Margaret Mahan
BA, Saint Michael’s College, 2010
MA, Florida State University, 2017
English Literature

Maddison McGann
BA, University of South Florida, 2013
MA, University of Chicago, 2015

Brandon (James) O’Neil
BA, Principia College, 2016
English and Education

Bronwyn Stewart
BA, California State University-Northridge, 2016
English Literature


Alumni Matters

Raquel Baker (PhD 2015) has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Postcolonial and Transnational Literature, California State University Channel Island

Jeff Doty's book, Shakespeare, Popularity, and the Public Sphere, debuted in January with Cambridge University Press. It began in Iowa 2008 under Huston Diehl's supervision. Since graduating, Doty has taught for seven years at West Texas A&M and started a new position at the University of North Texas this year.

Sunghyun Jang, who received his PhD in English in 2013, was recently hired in a tenure-track position at Korea University. Dr. Jang’s dissertation, entitled “The Arbitrary Power of Language: Locke, Romantic Writers, and the Standardizers of English,” was completed under the supervision of Judith Pascoe. Since completing his PhD work, Dr. Jang has been employed as a lecturer at Seoul National University and at Yonsei University. In his first semester as an Assistant Professor at Korea University, Dr. Jang is teaching an undergraduate class on 19th-century British Poetry and a graduate class on Victorian Poetry

NWP MFA alum Nicholas Medina Mora, with writer's workshop alum Rebecca Zweig, speak out and are featured in the Press Citizen and New York Times for their views on collective bargaining.

University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program alum Jennifer Percy has won the 2017 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. Percy’s winning feature article, “I Have No Choice But to Keep Looking,” was published by the New York Times Magazine in August. The article follows two men in Japan searching for their loved ones long after the country’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Gemmicka Piper (PhD 2015) accepted an Academic Resident Librarian position at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Joshua Wright, who graduated with a UI English degree in 2016, has been accepted into the English PhD program at the University of Notre Dame with a generous 5-year funding package and a guaranteed 6th year post-doc fellowship. At Notre Dame, Joshua will continue to pursue his interest in the British Romantic period. Joshua’s English honors thesis focused on the creation narratives that came to swirl around the Villa Diodati, where Mary Shelley was first inspired to write Frankenstein.


Nonfiction Writing Program Matters

As reported by CLAS, "The University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP) has received a $500,000 donation from the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation through the University of Iowa Foundation to support the program’s efforts in training and educating the country’s most promising young writers. It is the largest gift to date that the program has received." More about this generous endowment can be read here.


Upcoming Matters

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:

Celebration of Patricia Foster on the occasion of her retirement, Thursday, May 4th, 3:30-5:30, Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB

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