Volume 23, Issue 6
From Planet English
Welcome to the annual undergraduate issue of Reading Matters, which chronicles the achievements of our undergraduate majors and celebrates especially the accomplishments of the 2018 graduating class of English and English & Creative Writing majors. This issue gives a sense of the many distinctions and activities of the English Department’s 823 declared majors, recognized in part at the Undergraduate Honors and Achievements Ceremony that took place on Friday, April 27, at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol.
A lot of care from English faculty and staff goes into every ENGL and ENGL/CW BA conferred. While quality teaching, mentoring, advising, and extracurricular activities are mainstays of student experience in the Department, it also takes a committed team of faculty and staff leaders, advocates, fixers, and policymakers to ensure student success. Warm thanks to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Matt Brown, for his skillful administration of our undergraduate programs, and to Robyn Schiff for her directorship of the English & Creative Writing major, now thriving in its second year. Thank you also to Marie Kruger as Director of the Honors Program, and to Lori Branch as chair of the awards and scholarship committee, who together with curriculum coordinator Hannah Sorrell, worked hard on planning last month’s Undergraduate Ceremony.
This year Phil Round and members of the recruitment committee welcomed prospective students and their families to the English Department on numerous occasions. Special thanks to Lena Hill, Stephen Voyce, and Loren Glass for offering sample classes to newly admitted students on visit days, and especially to our tireless and dedicated undergraduate advisors, Kate Torno and Zach Hickman, for their service to current and prospective English majors. Our recruitment and welcoming activities this year have also been enriched by the corps of enthusiastic English Ambassadors who work closely with Kate Torno: Girindra Selleck, Riley Arnold, Harrison Cook, Colleen Durkin, Elizabeth Chesak, Austin Hughes, Hannah Gellman, Kit Fitzgerald, and Erin McInerny. (Learn more about their respective futures below.)
Finally, special thanks go to those students who staffed the front desk of our office over the past year and have offered warm greetings and invaluable support to all those who enter 308 EPB: Shannon Casey, Alexandra Hernández-Pardo, Austin Hughes, Eilidh Sperry, and Emily Ward.
With so much to celebrate this year and good wishes for the Department’s graduating majors, we look forward to a final stretch of hard work and high spirits.
From the Director of Undergraduate Studies
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? I do, as do my colleagues, for this issue, and happily we do, for it is the occasion of the Reading Matters dedicated to our fabulous English majors! As you will read below, our flourishing students excel, not giving away their collective nor individual shot. Internships in Rarotonga and at Little Village; semi-finalists for Fulbright awards and a winner of the Beinecke Scholarship; soon-to-be matriculants of law and library schools; upcoming bread-winners with Teach for America and medical journals. Locally, the English Society is a thriving source of community and stimulus, with varied and lively programming, inspired speakers, and philanthropic sales—all led by student majors. Alpha Tau Iota, the UI branch of the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta, continues to bring forward leaders and thinkers at the undergraduate level, helping them network on a national stage. At the department’s honors ceremony, the Old Capitol shook to its foundation in the claps and cheers for Marie Kruger, recipient of the John Gerber Undergraduate Teaching Award. And our curriculum continues to innovate, in response to our energetic and multi-talented students. Undergrads! They get the job done.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Congratulations to Alexandra Chasteen, who presented her paper entitled "Masculinity within Spectacle, Spectacle within Spectacle" at the Sigma Tau Delta 2018 International Convention in March.
Austin Hughes was accepted into the prestigious Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets, held for three weeks in June.
Austin Hughes is one of eighteen undergraduates in the nation to receive a 2018 Beinecke Scholarship, a highly selective fellowship created to offer young scholars of exceptional promise substantial financial support to pursue advanced degrees in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The Beinecke is probably the most prestigious scholarship a pre-graduate US student in the arts and humanities can win. The UI has won two – both from English! More here.
Grace Ridnour (English and Rhetoric) and Halle Seydel (Political Science and English) were semi-finalists for the competitive Fulbright ETA program, with plans to teach in, respectively, South Korea and Indonesia.
Fatima Abby Tall received the Kristin K. Lippke Memorial Scholarship from the Department of Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Congratulations to The English Society, which organized a week of activities that raised over $1000 to support the Iowa Youth Writing Project
The Alpha of Iowa chapter is pleased to announce that the following English and English and Creative Writing students have been invited to accept membership in Phi Beta Kappa: Kaitlin Andersen, Lillian Boenker, Katherine Chanez, Ameena Chaudhry, Aubrey Essing, Abigail Evans, Emma Fenstermaker, Nicole Gabrione, Hanna Grimson, Leon Hedstrom, Dalton Hertel, Tyler Hudson, Austin Hughes, Clarissa Klostermann, Parker Reynolds, Daniel Rodriguez, Jessica Roy, Jessica Rusick, Samantha Schwartz, Andrea Shine, Jillian Swanson, Tess Van Den Hurk-Mor.
Creative Writing Matters
Robyn Schiff writes:
As the new major in English & Creative Writing continues to grow both in vision and breadth—with 526 declared majors as of our last count in fall 2017—we are delighted that the faculty is expanding, too. The department spent much of the year focused on our search for fiction writers to join the department, and we are eager to welcome two new professors to the program, Louisa Hall and Bennett Sims, who will be joining us in Iowa City as Assistant Professors of English in 2019. Many thanks to all of the students who attended the inspiring master classes and luncheons during our candidates’ visits, and extra thanks to the community-minded and always game English Society for helping us with organizational details. Our English and Creative Writing majors are proving themselves enthusiastic stewards of our blossoming writing community; perhaps you saw them recently rolling microphone cable at the Mission Creek readings around town or assisting publishers at the Literary Magazine and Small Press Book Fair. We are grateful for all of the work our majors do as participants and leaders in the literary community! Many congratulations to the recent graduates who will be continuing their extraordinary creative work at distinguished MFA programs far and wide in the fall, including at Rutgers (Spencer Williams), UT Austin (Max Seifert), and Sarah Lawrence (Brynn Bogert). And kudos to the students who will be attending the renowned summer creative writing programs at the New York State Summer Writers Institute (Alex Chasteen) and the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets (Austin Hughes). And finally, we are wowed to learn that Austin Hughes has been awarded a 2018 Beinecke Scholarship to support his future graduate work. It is extraordinarily moving to see our majors meet their creative goals in the classroom, in the community here in Iowa City, and far beyond. You can read more about the accomplishments of the English & Creative Writing major here and here.
John D'Agata writes:
During winter break I'll be leading a new abroad trip that's specifically designed for Creative Writing students. This year we'll be heading to Greece, Dec 27-Jan 6. We'll tromp around the country while exploring the myths and ruins that have been inspiring writers for the past 3,000 years. We'll also get a chance to meet and work with some writing students at the University of Athens as well a few famous practicing Greek writers. All while earning course credit!
Honors Program Matters
Kathleen Diffley writes:
With 18 students graduating with honors this academic year, the English Department continues its proud tradition of producing a strong group of accomplished thesis writers. Among the impressive repertoire of creative and critical projects completed this year are creative theses in various genres, ranging from graphic novels and screenplays to linked stories that explore the intergenerational connections among female characters. The critical theses are equally compelling in their examination of the cultural politics of fairytales, their critical review of Indian Boarding Schools, and their analysis of identity and power in Shakespeare’s Roman plays or of religious individualism in Marilynne Robinson's works.
Many thanks to those colleagues who mentored the honors students and guided their projects for the past year: Doris Witt, Lori Branch, Inara Verzemnieks, Loren Glass, Phil Round, Lisa Schlesinger, Brooks Landon, Sean Demers, Ethan Madore, Celine Izsak, Sasha Khmelnik, Naomi Greyser, Barbara Eckstein, Ed Folsom, Blaine Greteman, and Pat Dolan.
Thanks also to those faculty who provided invaluable feedback as second readers: Jen Buckley, Eric Gidal, Sean Demers, Kerry Howley, Phil Round, Adam Hooks, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Miriam Thaggert, Kathy Lavezzo, Sasha Khmelnik, Stephen Voyce, Corey Creekmur, Carol Severino, Blaine Greteman, and Mary Ann Rasmussen.
Molly Arndt, “Crater Lake.”
Advisor: Sean Demers
Jim Baker, “Think Alike.”
Advisor: Pat Dolan
Ian M. Diedrich, “What's next for Native American Studies?: Using Sherman Alexie's Poetry to Explore a Growing Field.”
Advisor: Loren Glass
Julia Everitt, “Copper Royale.”
Advisor: Lisa Schlesinger
Emma M. Geary, “Formative: A Reconstruction of the Years That Changed Everything.”
Advisor: Inara Verzemnieks
Hanna Grimson, “Caravan.”
Advisors: Doris Witt and Ethan Madore
Meredith Johnson, “No Woman Like Me: Heathrow Stories.”
Advisor: Celine Izsak
Jacob Koch, “Federal Indian Boarding Schools: History and Legacy.”
Advisor: Phil Round
Dylan Larino, “Rimetongue: Part I.”
Advisor: Brooks Landon
Erin McInerney, “Missing Pieces.”
Advisor: Lori Branch
Sara Miner, “Another Cinderella Story: Evolving Politics and Societal Values in the Tellings and Retellings of the Classic Tale.”
Advisor: Lori Branch
John Ver Mulm, “Daedalus: a Screenplay.”
Advisor: Lisa Schlesinger
Abigail Miller, “True Root.”
Advisor: Ethan Madore
Paige Netzel, “Getting Out From Under: Transcending Genre and Trauma.”
Advisor: Naomi Greyser
Oli Peters, “Marilynne Robinson's Religious Individualism: The Influence of Walt Whitman and John Calvin.”
Advisor: Ed Folsom
Michael J. Ripa, “In the Shadow of the Northern Horn.”
Advisor: Barbara Eckstein
Girindra Selleck, “The Herdsmen and the Beast.”
Advisor: Blaine Greteman
Leah Waughtal, “Mother, Momma.”
Advisor: Celine Izsak
English Society Matters
Congratulations to these students for a job well done leading the English Society this year: Co-President Melissa Lauer, Co-President Austin Hughes, Publicist Nick Dolan, Event Manager Carla Seravalli, Social Media Chair Rose Simonson, Associate Chair Madeline Berner, Treasurer Naomi Smullen, and Education Chair Alex Chasteen. We're grateful for their contributions to the department's vibrant undergraduate culture!
ATI Honors Society Matters
Anne Stapleton writes:
This academic year, Alpha Tau Iota inducted 17 new students, for a total of 29 active members, seven of whom will graduate in May. Chapter highlights for the year included a lively induction and dinner in October, fall and spring food drives to benefit the Free Lunch Program of Iowa City (with appreciation to faculty and students for their generous donations!), a new winter celebration for December graduates in the Department of English, and a birthday-literary celebration of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charles Dickens, among other events. Away from the University of Iowa campus this spring, President Emmalyn Brown has been interning in Washington D.C. with Senator Murray. Emmalyn reports that her “English background is helpful as writing for the senator does come into play and whether you are helping with speeches, tweets, writing memos etc., English is a very sought after background on the hill.” In March, Alexandra Chasteen and I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend the Sigma Tau Delta 2018 International Convention entitled “Seeking Freedom.”Alex did a fine job presenting her essay selected by adjudicators months before: "Masculinity within Spectacle, Spectacle within Spectacle." Congratulations, Alex! We are also both grateful to the Department of English for their generous travel support, which allowed us to tour the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, listen to featured authors, exchange ideas with students and sponsors from across the nation, and plan ahead for future chapter activities.
With thanks to ATI officers who served their fellow students so well this year: Emmalyn Brown (President), Cheyenne Puetz (Vice President and Treasurer), Molly Arndt (Membership Officer), Claire Dietz (Publicity Officer), and Elli Ruen (Alumni Liaison). Kudos to Cheyenne for adding the duties of President to her busy schedule this spring in Emmalyn’s absence. Finally, welcome to ATI’s officers for 2018-2019: Nick Dolan (President), Emily Buttolph (Vice President and Treasurer), Grace Holbrook (Secretary), Laura Timm (Publicity Officer), Felicia Circelli (Membership Officer), Megan Hitch (Historian), and Elli Ruen (Alumni Liaison).
The Louise P. Herring Scholarship
Established in honor of Louise P. Herring, who earned her master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1930 and her doctorate in 1932. It recognizes excellent students with a commitment to English studies as a preparation for life.
Darwin T. Turner Award
Established in honor of Dr. Darwin T. Turner, chair of the African-American World Studies Program and Professor in the Department of English. The award recognizes outstanding students of color who best combine Dr. Turner’s devotion to literature and scholarship with his exemplary qualities as teacher and leader.
Helen K. Fairall Scholarships
For Iowa born and educated juniors or seniors with preference to students interested in literature from 1900 to the present. The English Department has nominated the following students:
Rose Deighton, Clarissa Klosterman, Megan Koch, Melissa Lauer, Morgan Musselman, Rachel Zingg
Ruth Gulden Holsteen and Charles Sophus Holsteen Memorial Scholarship
Established by Jon Holsteen and Nancy Holsteen Lerner in honor of their parents, Charles Sophus and Ruth Gulden Holsteen, natives of Burlington, Iowa. Mrs. Holsteen graduated with a degree in English and this award honors students who share her commitment to excellence in the field.
Sabrina Gafrick, Eilidh Spery
Helen Aicher and Kenneth Ward Nelson Scholarship
This award is for individuals who intend to teach at the high school level following completion of their studies.
Margaret Leuz and Fred Einspahr Scholarship
Established by John Einspahr in honor of his parents Margaret Leuz and Fred Einspahr. Margaret graduated from Iowa in 1912 with high honors in English, and this award recognizes excellent students who plan to pursue a career in teaching.
Nicholas Dolan, Aubrey Essing, Josh Stalkfleet
The Scott A. Anderson Memorial Scholarship
Scott Anderson received his B.A. in English with highest distinction from the University of Iowa in 1984. He was an honors student, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a winner of the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion, and, after graduation, he worked as a writer for the UI Foundation and in the television industry in New York and Los Angeles. This scholarship honors students who share his love of writing.
Madeline Berner, Rebecca Cammenga, Denise Cheeseman, Hannah Frame, Grace Holbrook, Amelia Johnson, Joshua Meyer, Owen Rehling
Sherry Simmons Loring Memorial Scholarship
Established by Eric Loring, in honor of his late wife, Sherry Simmons Loring, who earned her BA in English at Iowa in 1970. The award recognizes students who, like the Lorings, have demonstrated their commitment to and pleasure in the life of the mind at the University of Iowa.
Irene Enlow, Madelyn Jensen
Allen Ray Foundation Scholarship
This award is given in honor of Allen Ray by his daughter, Allison Yanta, in gratitude for her father’s support of her education in English here at the University of Iowa.
Emily Wagner Scholarship
This award honors Emily Wagner, who received her B.A. in English from the University of Iowa in 2002. After graduating, Emily pursued her love of reading and writing by joining the Teach for America Corps, and continued her career as an inspiring English teacher, challenging and engaging middle-school students until her death in 2010. This scholarship supports an English major who shares Emily’s love of literature, demonstrates academic excellence, and is a graduate of an Iowa high school.
Elizabeth Dietz Essay Prize
This award is given for the best essay on poetry, in honor of Elizabeth Dietz, who was a poet, a professor of Renaissance Literature at Rice University, and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and the doctoral program in English.
Miriam Gilbert Award for Shakespeare Studies
This award is given each year for the best essay on Shakespeare, renaissance literature, or drama and performance, in honor of Professor Gilbert, who taught Shakespeare at Iowa until 2013.
McGalliard Medieval Prize
Established by his former student, Professor Dolores Warwick Frese of Notre Dame University, in honor of John McGalliard, a widely known scholar and teacher Of Old English, Old Norse, Old Irish, Chaucer, and other medieval subjects at the University of Iowa for more than forty years, from 1931 to 1975. This award is given to an English or comparative literature major who submits the most outstanding essay on a medieval subject.
Job and Internship Matters
All praise to these graduates and their career beginnings! Ameena Chaudhry has accepted a job with Teach for America and will move to Kansas City after training this summer. Alexa Starry has been hired at The Tuesday Agency, continuing on from her internship there to help book speakers and manage social media for the firm. Dylan Larino will be attending the University of Oklahoma in the fall to pursue an M.A. in Strategic Communications. Sara Miner has taken a job at Bernard Middle School in St. Louis, teaching language arts to sixth through eighth graders. Leah Waughtal has accepted a full-time position as a Teaching Artist for the Des Moines public schools. Jacob Koch will take up an 8-week appointment teaching language arts and music at the secondary level in Auckland, New Zealand this summer, with the Pinehurst School. And mighty congratulations to these fine folk! Emily Ward has earned an internship with Flatiron Press in New York this summer; Amanda Redfoot has landed a writing internship with Living Full Out, a life-coaching business; Amara Nelson will practice travel writing as an intern for Global Treks and Adventures, including reportage from Rarotonga; and Lily Farmer will be interning at Iowa City’s twice-monthly cultural and news herald Little Village.
Last year saw the start of a Literary Publishing track within our majors. The track is intended for students who wish to explore the labor and thought behind book and magazine publishing. We ask students on the track to take Publishing I (focused on magazines and web-based venues), Publishing II (focused on book production), a book history course, a work internship or career course, and then an elective from book design, prose style, or publishing history. Initial enrollment in the track was 67 students—within one semester it grew to 89 students. No doubt the popularity of the track is due to the hands-on experiential learning taking place in the publishing courses. The final product of Publishing II is the Iowa Chapbook, a proud accomplishment for the students involved. The Nonfiction Writing Program coordinates the placement of three of our students each summer in publishing internships; the 2018 summer includes interning opportunities with such organizations as Brooklyn’s A Public Space.
In other news, the English department continues to develop its relationship with University housing. Zachery Hickman has taken the lead this year as departmental coordinator for the “Living Literature” Living and Learning Community. The community provides students the collaborative experience of working with other students and faculty who love reading and writing. Students learn about the landmarks that make Iowa City famous and that signal its thriving literary culture; and students discover the career possibilities open to people who are passionate about books. All first-year students in this community enroll in the course City of Literature, which counts as a general education requirement. Zachery is responsible for overseeing event planning and curriculum development and meets monthly with the Residence Education Coordinator and RAs, who reside on the Living Literature Community dorm floors. We invite alumni who come to Iowa City for book tours to contact Zachery to schedule a visit to the residence hall. firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve had a great bunch of student ambassadors representing the department to prospective students on campus visits this year. We’d like to congratulate the following seniors: Riley Arnold, graduating and taking a gap year before law school; Harrison Cook, graduating and starting a job in Chicago as a medical journalist for Becker’s Hospital Review; Colleen Durkin, graduating and seeking a job fundraising for a hospital or a health-related non-profit; Erin McInerny, graduating and going to Syracuse University for her MLS next year; and Girindra Selleck, graduating and accepting a full scholarship to attend law school at the University of Iowa. Returning ambassadors will include: Elizabeth Chesak, junior; Kit Fitzgerald, sophomore; Hannah Gellman, junior; and Austin Hughes, junior.
With the presence of two areas of study, whereby students major in English or in English and Creative Writing, our faculty unsurprisingly have stepped up with innovations that appeal across the board. Doris Witt developed a new course on “Reading Obsessively,” toggling between Henry James, Stephen King, and Diane Johnson. Kerry Howley considered the relations between creative expression and romantic implosion with her new offering “Writing the Breakup.” And Harry Stecopoulos trained students in the history and craft of journal editing with his course on “The Contemporary Literary Magazine and Editorial Practice.” Faculty! We get the vocation completed. Harry’s class likewise reflects our booming Literary Publishing Track (see Advising Matters above). The English at Work class continues to chug productively along, sustained by the inspired work of Kate Torno as she tracks appropriate department alumni for our majors to meet: a videogame designer, a lawyer, an arts publicist, a children’s book author, an events coordinator, a community art-space director, a government press liaison—all visited with us in person or by Skype.
Matt Brown has been named an Advisory Editor of the journal Book History, joining the board and serving through 2028.
Congratulations to Jen Buckley who has received a Collegiate Teaching Award for her outstanding graduate and undergraduate teaching.
John D’Agata received the Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Humanities Research award!
Loren Glass’ book, Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word will be released in paperback on April 24th by Seven Stories Press.
Loren Glass was elected to the AAUP Council as a District IV representative.
Congratulations to Lena Hill and Michael Hill, who have accepted new positions at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia; Lena as the Dean of the College, and Michael as Professor of Africana Studies. Thank you to Lena and Michael for all they have done for English and UI, and best wishes in their new positions! More here and here.
Jennifer Janechek recently had her essay, “Gendered Information Networks and the Telephone Voice in Shaw’s Pygmalion and Village Wooing” published in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 60, no. 1, 2018. An interview with Jennifer on her essay was published on the Texas Studies in Literature and Language Facebook page.
Jennifer Janechek also had two reviews recently published, including a review of James Berger’s The Disarticulate: Language, Disability, and the Narratives of Modernity published in Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2018, and a review of Laura Mauldin’s Made to Hear: Cochlear Implants and Raising Deaf Children published in Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 12.1 (2018).
Congratulations to Kathy Lavezzo who has received a Collegiate Scholar Award. This award recognizes faculty for excellence as evidenced in their promotion record at the time of their candidacy for promotion to the rank of full professor.
Kathy Lavezzo received an International Programs Stanley International Travel Award to deliver a paper for a panel on "Do we need periodization?" for the biannual meeting of the New Chaucer Society at the University of Toronto which will take place in July 2018.
Stefan Schoeberlein received the Graduate Research Excellence Award in the Arts and Humanities!
Anne Stapleton received an International Programs Travel Award in order to travel to Paris, France to attend the Eleventh International Walter Scott Conference, titled "Alliance, Antagonism, Authorship."
Miriam Thaggert has received a residential research fellowship from Virginia Humanities. Miriam will spend a semester conducting research and interviews for her book, a social and literary history of African American women and the American railroad. Congratulations, Miriam!
Miriam Thaggert’s essay, “Black Modernist Feminism and This Contemporary Moment,” was published in Feminist Modernist Studies and she was appointed to the journal’s editorial board.
Inara Verzemnieks has been awarded one of Yale's Beinecke Library Short-Term Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to do research on her current book project in their special collections.
Inara Verzemnieks received the Early Career Scholar of the Year award!
Congratulations to Corey Campbell, whose short story “Ocean-Friendly Cuisine” was published in the new fiction anothology Buffalo Cactus and Other New Stories from the Southwest, just out from University of New Mexico Press. Corey also reviewed Yiyun Li’s memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life for Waxwing Literary Journal.
Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp was recently nominated as a Wellness Hero, and was featured in an article in the liveWELL spring 2018 newsletter.
We extend a warm welcome to Rebecca Isaacs, who joined us earlier this month as our new TA & RA Coordinator.
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 Segregation in Iowa Schools (dedicated to Lena and Michael Hill) - May 6, 2018 | 5:00-7:00 pm | Old Capitol Senate Chambers
Writers Gone Public - May 7, 2018 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Prairie Lights
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.