Volume 23, Issue 5
From Planet English
With pleasure and pride, I introduce the annual issue of Reading Matters dedicated to graduate student achievements in the English MA/PhD and MFA degree programs. As you see, from their academic milestones to numerous prizes, awards, and publications, the students in our graduate programs are an extremely talented, creative, and productive group of scholars and instructors. This issue follows a boisterous graduate awards celebration held on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at Saint Burch Tavern, organized by the Association of Graduate Students in English. Special thanks to Graduate Academic Coordinator Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp for her work to make the event a success and for ensuring that graduate studies run smoothly every day. As the current AGSE leaders introduced the newly elected board at the celebration, so, too, would I like to recognize the steadfast leadership of Bluford Adams, who is stepping down from the Director of Graduate Studies position after three years of service, and welcome Kathy Lavezzo, who will begin a term as DGS in the fall. Sprinkled among the many graduate accomplishments below are also notes recognizing faculty mentors who are celebrating their own career milestones. Lena Hill and Michael Hill have accepted positions at Washington and Lee University beginning next year, and Kevin Kopelson will be retiring this semester. Congratulations, Lena, Michael, and Kevin, and thank you for your contributions to graduate studies!
From the Director of Graduate Studies
As we near the end of another busy year, it’s a pleasure to reflect on the accomplishments of our graduate students. The following list of awards, fellowships, publications, and presentations leaves no doubt that they have been doing us all extremely proud. Way to go folks! It seems like every day brings news of yet another accolade. Thank goodness we’ve got Cherie to help us keep track of it all—and to keep us all on track!
Let me take this opportunity to thank all the students who generously devoted their time and energy to help us improve our program and keep it running smoothly. Thanks to our wonderful team of AGSE representatives: Caitlin Simmons, Torie Burns, Haley Larson, Konrad Swartz, and Enrico Bruno. We are tremendously grateful for all that you do, from setting up mentors for first-year students to arranging informational panels on comps and prospectuses to arranging visits for prospective students to keeping the DGS informed about student concerns. It certainly has been a pleasure working with you! Thanks also to all of the students who made other important contributions, including those who served as mentors to incoming students and met with visiting prospective students. Thanks and kudos to the organizers of this year’s fantastic CCC conference: Meredith Stabel, Paul Schmitt, and Laura Hayes. I am also very grateful to Anna Williams and Kate Nesbit for all of their valuable suggestions for improving our placement services. I am particularly excited about their plans for a placement workshop this summer—what a promising innovation! Thanks a million to Enrico for redesigning and reformatting the graduate handbook. It looks great!
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. Please keep in touch! We want to hear from you! In the same spirit, we look forward to welcoming the new PhD and NWP students whose names appear in this issue.
Director of Graduate Studies
Brittany Borghi, “A Small Boring Blank Tableau,” (John D’Agata, dir.)
Dylan Cooley, “This Ruined and Ridiculous Something,” (Jeff Porter, dir.)
Micah Fields, “Which is Harris County,” (John D’Agata, dir.)
Rebekah Grim, “Rig to Flip,” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)
Taney Kurth, “Divine Respawn: Life as an RPB,” (Bonnie Sunstein, dir.)
Emily Mester, “American Bulk,” (Kerry Howley, dir.)
Robert Peck, “IRL,” (Kerry Howley, dir.)
Dina Peone, “Burned to the Bone,” (Inara Verzemnieks, dir.)
Kathryn Prout, “Spirits: A Family Tradition,” (Inara Verzemnieks, dir.)
Lucy Schiller, “The Wild Fields,” (John D’Agata, dir.)
MFA Publications, Presentations, and Awards
Buckley Teaching Fellows
Fifth Annual Herodotus Research and Travel Award
Iowa Arts Fellows 2018-2019
Carl Klaus Teaching Award
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
Prairie Lights Prize for Nonfiction
Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer, 2018-2019
Roxanne Mueller Award
Nicolas Medina Mora
2018 Incoming MFA Students
BA, Amherst College, 2013
Philosophy, Film, and Media Studies
BA, Washington University of Saint Louis, 2013
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
BA, University of Chicago, 2017
BA, Otterbein University, 2016
English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
BA, Brown University, 2016
English, Nonfiction Writing Track
BA, Oregon State University, 2014
BA, New York University, 2013
BA, Brown University, 2016
History and Italian Studies
BA, Western Kentucky University, 2016
English Creative Writing
BA, Yale University, 2011
E Mariah Spencer
PhD Comprehensive Examination Completed
Upcoming Spring Comprehensive Exam
MA Graduate with Portfolio
Kelly Binning, (Corey Creekmur, dir.)
Fellowships and Departmental Awards 2018
Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship
CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship
NEH Next Generation PhD Grant
Humanities Without Walls Workshop
Marcus Bach Fellowship
Graduate Research Excellence Award in the Arts and Humanities
Prairie Lights/Sherman Paul Dissertation Research Scholarship
Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio “Get Digital with your Dissertation” Award
English Department Best Essay Prize
Graduate College Post Comp Research Award
The Cather Project – Woodress Grant
Edwin Ford Piper Memorial Scholarship
Frederick P.W. McDowell Dissertation Scholarships
Freda Dixon Malone Dissertation Scholarship
Heidi Renee Aijala
Folger Institute Course – December 2017
E Mariah Spencer
Graduate College Summer Fellowship
Heidi Renee Aijala
Lydia Maunz Breese
Dickens Universe Department Tuition Scholarship
Obermann Graduate Senior Fellow Award 2018
William T. Buice III Scholarship/ Rare Book School
E Mariah Spencer
Hugh Vollrath Ross Scholarship – Summer 2017
E Mariah Spencer
Midwest Victorian Studies Association/Mary Burgan Prize
Department and College Teaching Awards
W.R. Irwin Teaching Award
2018 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
E Mariah Spencer
Nellene Benhardus, “British Literary Decadence and Religion,” (Florence Boos, dir.)
Samuel Fitzpatrick, “Descent into the Easy Rawlins Mysteries Series: Walter Mosley and the Return of the Black Detective,” (Michael Hill, dir.)
Lauren Rosales, “Dismissed Outright: Creating a Space for Contemporary Genre Fiction Within Neo-Victorian Studies,” (Florence Boos, dir.)
Marija Reiff, “The Syncretic Stage: Religion and Popular Drama During the fin de siècle,” (Lori Branch, dir.)
Michelle Taylor, “From Sentiment to Sagacity to Subjectivity: Dogs and Genre in Nineteenth-Century British Literature,” (Teresa Mangum, dir.)
Kelly Binning, (Corey Creekmur, dir.)
Upcoming Summer Graduates
Kelly Budruweit, “Believing in Books: Twenty-First Century Fantasy and the Re-Enchantment of Literary Value,” (Claire Fox and Brooks Landon, co-dir.)
Brett DeFries, “Physical Affection: Philosophies of Lovability in Early Modern Manuscript Poetry,” (Blaine Greteman, dir.)
Angela Toscano, “Resemblances: The Re-Use of Romances in Three Eighteenth-Century Novels,” (Eric Gidal, dir.)
Stephanie Tsank, “Eating the American Dream, Food, Ethnicity, and Assimilation in American Literary Realism, 1892-1910,” (Harry Stecopoulos and Doris Witt, co-dir.)
MA and PhD Publications, Presentations, and Awards
Heidi Renée Aijala was awarded the English Department’s Freda Dixon Malone Fellowship as well as the Graduate College’s Summer Fellowship. In addition, Heidi Renée received the Promising Practices and Innovation Award from Yelm Community Schools. Furthermore, her article, “Loom(ing) Tragedy: Precarity, Sympathy, and Poetic Exchange in Ellen Johnston’s Autobiography, Poems, and Songs” will appear in the April publication of The Victorian.
Next month, Kelly Budruweit will defend her dissertation, “Believing in Books: Twenty-First Century Fantasy and the Re-Enchantment of Literary Value.” She is in the process of final edits on an article, “Women’s Religions in ‘The Mists of Avalon’: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Postsecular Fantasy,” which will be forthcoming in Religion and Literature. This year, she presented at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts, and she gave an Alumni Lecture at Western Illinois University. Next year, she will be a Visiting Assistant Professor at Iowa.
Torie Burns presented her paper, “‘What did he note but strongly he desir’d?’: Reading Shakespeare’s ‘The Rape of Lucrece’ as a Pornographic Possession” at the University of Iowa’s 2018 Craft Critique Culture Conference and her paper, “More Than a Meal: Confronting the (Dis)Embodied Self in M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me,” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 2018 4W Summit on Women, Gender, and Well-being.
This summer ELH will publish Brett Defries's "Whatsoever' Being: Signatures, Lovability, and Donne's Manuscript Encomia."
Samuel Fitzpatrick successfully defended his PhD thesis, “Descent into the Easy Rawlins Mysteries Series: Walter Mosley and the Return of the Black Detective,” on Tuesday, April 17. His dissertation analyzes six novels published by acclaimed detective fiction author Walter Mosley between the years 1990-1997: Devil in a Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, A Little Yellow Dog, and Gone Fishin’. These essential narratives in Mosley’s series, which is ongoing, chronicle the gradual development of a Black World War II veteran into a seasoned private detective between the years 1948-1963. Collectively, these works introduce a radically new type of Black detective to the reading public.
Throughout the year, Laura Hayes has worked as a researcher on a team currently in the process of building a digitized Globe Theater for first-person walk through. The experience, much like a video game, is designed for public access and pedagogical use. Additionally, while teaching and comping fall semester, Laura worked as a PDP co-leader and was nominated for an Outstanding Teaching Award in the Department of Rhetoric. Looking ahead, Laura will present a paper at the Midwestern Victorian Studies Association in St. Louis entitled “‘The Mere Pleasure of Toil’: Moving Bodies in Muscular Christian Novels,” and she will spend five weeks studying at the Thomas Hardy Archive in Dorset, England, this summer on the Stanley Award for International Research.
Corey Hickner-Johnson published a book review in the Feminist Teacher, organized a panel (with Haley Larson, Faith Avery, Chelsea Burk, and Sarah Johnson, who is at UC Boulder) and was accepted to an individual panel for the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference. She had a piece of creative work published in Feminist Studies and presented a part of her dissertation on Dorothy Allison, trauma, and disability at the 4W Women’s Summit. She also won the Ballard Seashore Fellowship. Her greatest accomplishment, however, was giving birth to her daughter, Baby Zadie Marie Johnson (9lbs. 7oz.) on October 6.
Danielle Kennedy was recently awarded a Graduate College Summer Fellowship and also presented a paper, “LGBT Issues in the Writing Center: Common Issues and an Analysis of Best Practices,” at the Midwest Writing Centers Association annual conference. In non-academic news, she served as the principal clarinetist in the University Band.
This year Brady Krien worked on developing his teaching by serving as the Humanities Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Center for Teaching and through a Teaching-as-Research grant that he received from the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) for his project on implementing the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment in the first-year composition classroom. Brady also earned the Public Digital Humanities certificate through the School of Library and Information Science and received a Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio Summer Fellowship. Additionally, Brady was recognized with an Outstanding Teaching Assistant award and with the Rhetoric Department’s Doug Trank Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.
Haley Larson presented a paper, “‘The route is often associative’: Poetry, Print, and Media Slips in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen,” at the Popular Culture Association National Conference. Additionally, her paper “Limning the Infrathin: Image Fracture and Mediating Texts” won first place in the humanities category at the Jakobsen Conference. Haley received the Frederick P. W. McDowell Dissertation Scholarship, Grad College Post-Comprehensive Research Award, Grad College Summer Fellowship, and Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Also, a short film she co-wrote with Timothy David Orme was selected to screen at several festivals, including Big Muddy Film Festival (IL), Athens ANIMFEST (Greece), and the British International Amateur Film Festival, among others.
Kate Nesbit was honored to receive the CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship and the Huntington Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, both supporting the completion of her dissertation on listening to reading aloud and the novel in nineteenth-century Britain. Kate’s article on mesmerism and spiritualism in EBB’s Aurora Leigh was accepted at Victorian Poetry and will be published this fall. Her paper on Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley and Victorian Shakespeare will appear in this year’s issue of IJCS, and her European Romantic Review article on elocution and Thomas Holcroft’s melodrama earned the department’s Best Essay Prize.
Marija Reiff finished her dissertation this year with the help of a Presidential Ballard/Seashore fellowship. Beyond writing, she also spent time at the theatre, directing productions of Sweet Charity and Peter Pan. She also went on the job market and became a finalist for the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellowship. She has accepted a position as an assistant professor of 19th-century English Literature at the American University of Sharjah, where she will begin teaching in the fall.
Katie (Wetzel) Ostdiek’s article accepted for publication: “Domestic Trauma and Imperial Pessimism: The Crisis at Home in Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, forthcoming in thematic issue, fall 2018. Katie recently accepted an Instructional Designer position at Bellevue University, Bellevue, NE.
Paul Schmitt co-presented “Modelling Participatory Design in Digital Humanities Pedagogy and Research” with Digital Bridges “Museum Without Walls” project members Dr. Joyce Tsai, Hannah Skates-Kettler, and Matthew Butler at the Digital Media and Learning Conference at UC Irvine on October 6. Paul also was a recipient of an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for his work in the Department of Rhetoric.
Margaret Sheppard joined Amy Chen and Adam Hooks in presenting “Gaming Printed History: Creating an Open Educational Resource," for MLA 2018 (recorded later due to weather). Their portion of the panel "Partnerships beyond the Stacks: Collaborations between Scholars and Librarians in Research and Teaching," details the development of Mark, a game that teaches early modern visual culture through decks of printers’ marks. In March, Margaret was a visiting artist at Ringling College of Art + Design, where she gave a series of papermaking workshops and an artist’s talk. Her works and ephemera from Peace Paper Project’s living archive at Yale were exhibited at Ringling this February-March. Margaret currently has work exhibited in Paper/Print: American Hand Papermaking, 1960s to Today, which is on view at the International Print Center New York through June 14.
Caitlin Simmons passed her Comprehensive Exam in December, 2017. Her article “‘Lost in the world and in my blood’: The Dispossession and Grievability of Olaudah Equiano” is under review at American Quarterly. She presented papers on The Death of Jim Loney and House Made of Dawn at the Jakobsen Conference and CCC. Caitlin also received a Summer Fellowship and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in Rhetoric.
This year, Stephanie Tsank received the Woodress Scholar Research Grant, which will allow her to spend a month this upcoming summer in the Willa Cather archives at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln to pursue her food studies research. A version of Stephanie’s dissertation chapter on Willa Cather, realism, and domestic science will appear in a special issue of American Studies in the fall. In early May, Stephanie will defend her dissertation, “Eating the American Dream: Food, Ethnicity, and Assimilation in American Literary Realism, 1893-1918.”
During the 2017-2018 school year, Rachel Walerstein defended her prospectus and began work on her dissertation. Rachel presented during the Fall semester at the Midwest Modern Language Association conference, where she was generously awarded a Graduate Student Travel Scholarship. She also presented on work related to her dissertation this Spring at the American Men’s Studies Association conference and the Craft, Critique, Culture conference hosted by the diligent graduate students in the Department of English at the University of Iowa. She has three articles forthcoming: the first titled, “‘It just don’t do’ (what you think it does): The Periperformative Possibilites of Julie Harris’s Face” will be published in a special issue of the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. The second article, “A Queer and Pleasant Stranger, Or: ‘You Can Look At My Butt,’” will be published in the Australian journal Writing from Below. The third (to be retitled), “An Enduring Figure,” is forthcoming in GLQ’s 25th Anniversary issue. Rachel has been awarded the Marcus Bach Fellowship by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Iowa for the Fall 2018 semester, as well as a Graduate College Summer Fellowship for Summer 2018. She is thankful for the support of her committee, colleagues, friends, and most of all her partner, Carley, over this past year.
Anna Williams successfully passed her Prospectus Exam on May 4, 2017. Since then she has received a Next Gen PhD Summer Internship, a GPSG Research Grant, and a Graduate College Summer Fellowship to support work on her dissertation.
2018 Incoming PhD Students
BA, College of Saint Benedict, 2004
English and Theater
MA, University of Saint Thomas, 2006 and 2018
Teacher Preparation-Secondary and English
Oiao Yang (Jamie) Chen
BA, National Taiwan University, 2017
Foreign Languages and Literatures
BA, University of Leon, Spain, 2015
Modern Languages with a concentration in English
MA, University of Valladolid, Spain, 2016
Advanced English Studies
MA, Mount Saint Mary’s College, 2018
BA, College of Wooster, 2018
Literature, Culture, & Digital Media Studies
BA, University of Pittsburg, 2013
MA, University of New Hampshire, 2017
BA, University of Toledo, 2018
Doug Dowland’s (PhD 2010) article, “How Academe Breeds Resentment,” was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Annmarie Steffes (PhD 2017) accepted an Assistant Professor position, Department of English, University of Saint Frances, Fort Wayne, IN.
Stephanie Horton (PhD 2012) was promoted to English Department Chair, Harper College, Palatine, IL.
This year the NWP is welcoming a hearty new class of graduate students from Germany, China, and the exotics of Brooklyn, Portland, and even Providence, Rhode Island. We had a record-breaking number of applications to the program last year and wound up admitting fewer than 4% of applicants, all of whom we are proud to be fully funding. Last spring also marked the 5th anniversary of our popular Outreach program, in which our graduate students offer free creative writing master classes to everyone in the Iowa City community, which is our way of thanking our neighbors for investing in our students' educations. We estimate that we've now offered 150 hours of free writing classes, and have served just over 2,000 students. Lastly, we are thrilled to welcome a number of exciting visiting professors to the NWP this year, including Ed Folsom, editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly, and Susan Steinberg, our Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor, who will be joining us for a semester from the University of San Francisco.
English Undergraduate Recognition Ceremony - April 27, 2018 | 3:30-5:00 pm | Old Capitol Senate Chamber
NWP Visiting Writers Series: Cutter Wood - April 27, 2018 | 7:00 pm | Prairie Lights
NWP Visiting Writers Series: Patricia Hampl - April 29, 2018 | 4:00-5:00 pm | Prairie Lights
Faculty Meeting - May 3, 1018 | 3:30 pm | Gerber Lounge (304 EPB)
NWP Visiting Writers Series: Lucas Mann - May 3, 2018 | 7:00-8:30 pm | Prairie Lights
NWP Reading: The Speakeasy Reading Series - Graduation Reading - May 4, 2018 | Trumpet Blossom Cafe
Cross-Examined: A Short Play About the Mothers who Fought Segragation in Iowa Schools (dedicated to Lena and Michael Hill) - May 6, 2018 | 5:00-7:00 pm | Old Capitol Senate Chambers
EC Meeting - May 10, 2018 | 3:30 pm | 331 EPB
Click here to visit the News and Events on the English Department website for more details.