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Volume 24, Issue 3

In Memoriam

Linda Lorraine Bolton: Teacher, Writer, Activist, and Beloved Friend

It is with great sadness that the English Department mourns the death of Professor Linda Lorraine Bolton, who passed away on Friday, November 30, 2018. Memorial services to celebrate Linda’s life will be held at 1:00 pm on Sunday, December 9 at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 2355 Oakdale Road, Coralville, Iowa.

The English Department will also honor Linda at the annual graduate student “Craft, Critique, Culture” conference on April 4-6.

For more details about the services and to view the full obituary, please visit:

Linda Bolton


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matters

On Monday, December 3, English & Creative Writing major and Rhodes Scholar Austin Hughes distributed an essay titled “The Liberal Promise,” in university buildings and via email. Austin’s essay issues a compelling challenge to the University and the English Department not just to promote diversity, but also to strive toward inclusion, that is, to create a welcoming environment in which all people, especially those from underrepresented groups, feel valued and heard. One of the most striking lines from his statement stresses that living with discomfort and making mistakes play an integral part in this process: “The only way anyone can learn from my expression is if they dare to be uncomfortable and imagine that they are capable of making a mistake.”

The Department of English is committed to uphold the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and workplace. We recognize that we have much to accomplish in these areas, and we are actively working to become a better department, and to make English a welcoming place for the scholars and students who arrive here from all over the country and the world. Our community of over 1000 faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students coalesces through two undergraduate majors, two graduate programs, three journals, and the General Education Literature in English program. With its emphasis on humanistic inquiry and creative expression, the English curriculum encourages students and professors to share perspectives and stories, to have challenging and respectful conversations, and to make ourselves vulnerable to one another, as integral aspects of the educational experience.

The English Department is working urgently to hire faculty members from underrepresented groups, having lost four faculty of color in a single year, including Linda Bolton, whose death this week we are mourning. But we also understand that recruiting a diverse faculty only partially addresses the institutional climate problems signaled in Austin’s essay, which stem from the everyday experiences of minority students and faculty in an Historically Predominantly White Institution. In order to foster inclusion as well as diversity, it is important for all of us to become uncomfortable with comfort. While we plan Spring semester events that address these issues in greater depth, I invite students and faculty who have suggestions or concerns about our culture to see me so that we can work on creating a Department that fulfills our promise.


Rhodes Matters

Austin Hughes has become the twenty-first Rhodes Scholar from the University of Iowa! As the Rhodes Trust noted in its own press release, Austin joins one of the most diverse classes of Rhodes scholars ever, with almost half the class being either immigrants or first-generation Americans and 21 out of 32 being women (the highest number ever, and a steep climb from the years before 1977, when women were excluded) as well as the first DACA recipient.  But in other ways it is less diverse: while Princeton had four Rhodes Scholars and Duke, Yale, and Harvard each had three, with schools like Brown, Penn, and Stanford rounding out the list, Austin was one of only seven students who came from a public university.

Congratulations as well go to English & Creative Writing major Melissa Lauer, who also made it to the Rhodes finalist stage. According to Professor Blaine Greteman, who worked with Austin and Melissa to prepare them for the Rhodes interview, “Both of our candidates this year were terrific….both Austin and Melissa grew tremendously in confidence and verve. It was inspiring to watch them, and I think we should be very proud of the way they represented the department.” If Blaine’s research is correct, the last – and only other – graduate of the Iowa English department to receive a Rhodes Scholarship was Paul Engle, who took a slightly unconventional route, applying for the award after his MA in the department in 1932.

For more, visit these links: 


ATI Matters

The fall semester has been busy for Alpha Tau Iota, the University of Iowa's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society. Our newly inducted members, as well as reinvigorated officer leadership, have made this year's iteration of ATI among the more active and productive in memory. After kicking the semester off with a literary trivia night (in which the rules and format of Jeopardy! were bent in ways never before conceived), ATI went on to hold a variety of social and informational events, including but not limited to public lectures (such as invited presenter Ryan Tribble's take on the ecological complexities of Virgil); film screenings (such as our Halloween showing of the Japanese kaiju film Frankenstein Conquers the World, introduced by UI historian of Japan David Tucker); and a late-evening workshop for undergraduates applying to graduate school (with the invaluable guidance of the English Department's wonderful graduate students: Paul Schmitt (organizer), Enrico Bruno, Aracely Mondragon, Caitlin Simmons, Tiffany Tucker, and Rachel Walerstein). Last and far from least, ATI rounded out this semester with a successful second-annual food drive, which ran pre- and post-Thanksgiving, for the benefit of the Iowa City Free Lunch Program. Congratulations go to the eleven new members of ATI: Cassandra Bertolini, Matthew Breja, Jay Biggs, Ryan Chaglasian, Payton Dowell, Jacob Edwards, Laura Fadness, Jason Fulmer, Brigid Martin, Sarah Weeks, and Sean Wojtczak. Students were formally inducted this September at the home of our indefatigable faculty advisor, Anne Stapleton. Lastly, a tremendous thank-you to this year's ATI officers, whose dedication to literature and community engagement makes organizations such as ATI possible: Emily Buttolph (Vice President and Treasurer), Grace Holbrook (Secretary), Megan Hitch (Historian), and Laura Timm (Publicist). Here's to a restful (and bookish) break, and another exciting semester! 

Nick Dolan
ATI President, 2018-2019

ATI inductionATI post induction dinnerGrad school application workshopATI food drive


Graduate Matters

Alex Ashland presented a paper at the annual South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) conference. His essay, “‘figures cannot lie’: Documenting Novel Sources in Antebellum U.S. Literature,” was included as part of a panel on Afterlives of Violence in American Literature and CultureAlso, writing in collaboration with Stephanie Blalock and Stefan Schöberlein, his chapter, “‘All thy wide geographies’: Reading Whitman’s Epistolary Database,’” will appear in The New Whitman Studies (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019). Lastly, an interactive version of his digital humanities project, Mapping Whitman's Correspondence (i.e. Whitmap), will be displayed at the University of Iowa Main Library Gallery for the upcoming bicentennial celebration of Whitman's birthday.

Corey Hickner-Johnson's essay, "Not With the Program: Sandra Cisneros on Feeling and Being a Latina Writer in the Program Era," has been published in the Fall 2018 issue of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. She also presented at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference on Joyce Carol Oates, neuroqueerness and mental disability in November.


Faculty Matters

Congratulations to Matthew Brown, who has received a Professional Development Award for 2019-20. Matt will complete revisions on his second book manuscript, titled “The Novel and the Blank: Thinking with the Print Shop in British America,” and he will produce an article related to a new research project during the award period. 

Jen Buckley was elected Vice President of the International Shaw Society in November for a three-year term that begins in 2019. The December 2018 issue of Theatre Journal includes Buckley's review of the Shaw Festival's 2018 production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's An Octoroon. Buckley's monograph, Beyond Text: Theater and Performance in Print after 1900, is in production at the University of Michigan Press, and will be published in 2019.

Barbara Eckstein conducted a class October 10 on "Change and Climate Change" as part of the Speakers Series, a program within Liberal Arts Behind Bars (LABB), at Iowa Medical and Classification Center, IE Oakdale prison. On October 18, 2018 The Routledge Companion to Urban Imaginaries was released. It contains "Formal Encounters in Two Tales of Toxicity: Bhopal, Animal's People, Louisville, The Hard Weather Boating Party" by Barbara Eckstein.

Ed Folsom will be traveling quite a bit during the 2019 bicentennial of Whitman’s birth. He had an early start by giving the keynote address at the Whitman and Politics conference at the Centro Studi Americani in Rome in October, a conference celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Italian Center for American Studies. Ed will also  give the keynote address at the Whitman at 200 Conference at the University of Pennsylvania in March, then will kick off the Whitman at 200 Symposium and Exhibition here at Iowa in April, where we will have a large exhibit of Whitman’s books in the University Library, curated by Stephanie Blalock and James O’Neill (the exhibit and symposium will extend from April through mid-August), and a series of lectures by distinguished scholars. In mid-May, Ed will give the Carmel Lecture at the Univesrity of Tel Aviv and the keynote address for the “Poetry Now” conference in Israel, this year focused on Whitman’s influence on contemporary writers. He will go from Israel to Boston, where he will moderate two panels on Whitman at the American Literature Association’s annual meeting, and then, on the eve of Whitman’s birthday, he will give a lecture at the Grolier Club in Manhattan on Whitman’s Urban Poetics. The next day, on May 31, the birthday itself, he will gather with the International Whitman Seminar at the Whitman Birthplace in Huntington, Long Island, for a daylong program. In August, he will give the keynote address at the Minneapolis Source Song Festival, where he will also co-curate a concert of Whitman songs. Then it is on to the Whitman Birthplace again in mid-August to give the keynote for a three-day symposium on Whitman at 200. In October, he will be a guest professor at John Cabot University in Rome, where he will give the keynote address for the Italy Reads Program, focused this year on Whitman, along with teaching a seminar for American literature teachers and giving a talk on the Whitman Archive.

Eric Gidal delivered a plenary talk on "Infrastructural Semantics" at a conference organized by the the Université de Montréal:

Congratulations to Loren Glass, who has received an Arts and Humanities Initiative Standard Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research for his project highlighting the University of Iowa’s prominent historical role in the development of creative writing MFA programs throughout the United States and the world.

Congratulations to Marie Kruger, who received a Professional Development award for spring 2020. During the award period, Marie will work on two projects: she will embark on a new research project about film and television representations of Constitution Hill in South Africa, and she will complete the remaining sections of her monograph and see it through the publication process.

Kathy Lavezzo was the keynote speaker at The Medieval Association of the Midwest (MAMS) meeting at Purdue in October. In November she shared keynote speaker billing with NYU professor Michael Gomez at the Southeastern Medieval Association (SEMA) meeting in the Bahamas. 

Congratulations to Robyn Schiff, who has received an Arts and Humanities Initiative Standard Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research and also a Professional Development Award for spring 2020. During the award period, Robyn intends to conduct research and write a feminist epic poem, titled Information Desk, based in part on her own youthful experience as a staffer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Congratulations to Garrett Stewart who received a subvention from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research in order to support the publication of his book, Cinemachines: An Essay on Media and Method (U Chicago, 2019). Additionally, Garrett's new book, The One, Other, and Only Dickens, was recently released by Cornell University Press.

The One, Other, and Only Dickens


Staff Matters

Corey Campbell has book reviews forthcoming in the journals Colorado Review and Waxwing.


Upcoming Matters

Faculty Meeting - December 6, 2018 | 3:30-5:00 pm | 331 EPB

EC Meeting (tbc) - December 13, 2018 | 3:30-5:00 pm | 331 EPB

Winter Break - December 17-January 14

The Krause Series in Contemporary Nonfiction: Susan Steinberg, Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor - February 14, 2019 | 7:00-8:30 pm | Prairie Lights


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