Department News

News from the Chair

Dear All, 

As we approach the end of the semester and this year, let us take stock of the lives and doings of those among us, this newsletter being a way of sharing the warmth of other bodies and minds in the department. As I write this, we are all absorbing the news that we will soon lose our Academic Department Administrator Tanesha Fluker Floyd. We wish her well in the next chapter of her career at Emory. We give thanks for her tireless service, and acknowledge the service and labor of all our staff members with gratitude. 

In other news, Professor Geraldine Higgins, Director of the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, has announced the return of the series, founded in 1988 by Emeritus faculty, Professor Ron Schuchard. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author of books on W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot, including Eliot’s Dark Angel (1999), which received the Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award, and The Last Minstrels: Yeats and the Revival of the Bardic Arts (2008), which received the Robert Rhodes Prize. He is the editor of Eliot’s unpublished Clark and Turnbull Lectures, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry (1993). With John Kelly, he is the co-editor of three volumes of Yeats’s letters, one of which received the Modern Language Association’s Morton N. Cohen Award. Schuchard is general editor of the major eight-volume online and print editions of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition, volume 2 of which won the Modernist Studies Association Edition Prize, volumes 5 and 6 of which won jointly the MLA Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition. 

In honor of the tenth anniversary of Irish Nobel prize winner, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) who delivered the first Ellmann lectures, the series will be relaunched on March 3th, 4th, and 5th by twodistinguishedspeakers, Fintan O’Toole and poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, who was our colleague in the English department for 15 years till her departure in 2017.

Former Ellmann Lecturers: Seamus Heaney, Denis Donoghue, Helen Vendler, Henry Louis Gates, A.S. Byatt, David Lodge, (our former colleague) Salman Rushdie, Mario Vargas Llosa, Umberto Eco, Margaret Atwood, Paul Simon, Colm Toibin, and Claudia Rankine.

The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, now among the most prominent in North America, were established in honor of Richard Ellmann (1918–1987), biographer of James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde, and Robert W. Woodruff Professor in our department from 1980 to 1987.

News of the accompliments of our collegues, students, and alumni follows below.

New Course take Students to the Sea Islands to learn about Gullah Geechee culture.

As part of a one million-dollar Mellon Foundation grant running from 2020-2025 for which she was co-PI, Professor Valerie Babb originated a new study-away course, “Archiving Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and Sea Island Culture.” Students were introduced to the “on-the-ground” history of Reconstruction and Civil Rights movement strategy through classwork, research in the Rose Library archives, and a study away collaboration with the Penn Center National Historic Landmark where they joined students from other area universities: Morehouse, Spelman, University of Georgia, and University of North Carolina, among others on St. Helena Island, South Carolina at the Penn Center. They learned about Gullah Geechee history and culture, and explored Penn Center archives relating to the strategizing meetings held by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Students participated in an indigo-dyeing workshop while learning about this heritage crop’s importance to black culture. They also made excursions to the Barnwell Tabby Archaeological Research and Excavation Project, Mitchelville Freedom Park (located on the site of what was once a self-governed community of the formerly enslaved), and learned about common concerns in Gullah Geechee communities: legal land theft, heirs’ property rights, ownership of cultural production, and sustaining heritage.

Student comments:

“We got to walk down to the dock and see the house the Center built for MLK, but he was never able to stay there because he was assassinated before he was able to return.”

“The first day was filled simply with gratitude, for me, to be amongst such majestic giants, both the trees and the spirits of those who had come before me on the island.”

“As a class, we sat out on the dock, and the water made me feel like I could fully breathe for the first time. There’s something so perfect about being in such loud and active nature. Me and my classmates vowed to go to this dock whenever we could. There’s so much history here, and it’s told to us in stories. First, through the diaries and books we read in preparation, and today through this tour guide, stopping us and telling us to look, to listen.”

Faculty Accomplishments

Daniel Bosch’s poems “Nullius in Verba,” “Swimming at Night,” and “Under the Stalactite the Stalagmite Grows” will appear in the November and December 2023 issues of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Aaron Colton had an article, “From Suspicion to Sincerity in Composition Pedagogy,” published in Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Language, Literature, Composition, and Culture 23.3. The article can be found at the following link by searching  for the journal through the library website:

Geraldine Higgins published an article on “Seamus Heaney’s Desks: Stages of Writing” in ÉIRE-IRELAND (Spring/Summer 2023) and gave a keynote lecture on the same topic at the Boston College Seamus Heaney Afterlives conference in November. She also gave an online lecture at the National Library of Ireland on “Yeats our Contemporary” examining the global reach of W.B. Yeats one hundred years on from his Nobel prize award. 

Irish Studies’ Nathan Suhr-Sytsma hosted Peter Miller for a wonderful lecture on “Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf and the Limits of Lyric” in October.  In November we welcomed Belfast’s Kabosh Theatre for two nights performing their award-winning play, Green and Blue at Emory’s Performing Arts Studio.

Nathan Suhr-Sytsma has also recently had a chapter on postcolonial poetry published in Decolonizing the English Literary Curriculum, edited by Ato Quayson and Ankhi Mukherjee (Cambridge University Press), which is fully access.

Marina Magloire’s book We Pursue Our Magic: A Spiritual History of Black Feminism (UNC Press 2023) explores the influence of African diasporic spiritualities on the work of Black American feminists.

Dan Sinykin’s book  Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed Book Publishing and American Fiction, was officially published on October 24. The same day, an excerpt from the book on Toni Morisson was published in Lit Hub. Dr. Sinykin published two essays related in the book earlier in October: one on the creation of the “fantasy” genre, in Slate; and another on the surprisingly short history of “literary fiction” in The Nation.

Emil’ Keme participated in the following events:

(Virtual) Helped co-organize the II International Conference: Indigenous Peoples Against Racism, and moderated the panel: “Migration, Racism, and Violence Against Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. Guatemala city, August, 16-18, 2023.

Presented the paper, “‘We Are Also Here’. Maya Migrant Stories From TurtleIsland” at the 2023 Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Symposium. Amherst College, MA October 12-14, 2023.

Presented work on, “Indigenous Literatures from Abiayala” at the Festa Literária das Periferias / Literary Festival of the Peripheries (FLUP, ), Rio do Janeiro, Brazil, October 20-22, 2023.

(Virtual) Presented work on “Abiayala: Filosofia e expansão dos territórios mentais/ Abiayala: Philosophy and expansion of mental territories” at the Semana de Politização Indígena Urbanizada / Urbanized Indigenous Politicization Week, São Paolo, Brazil, October 27, 2023.

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellow Steven Huy Thanh Duong’s debut poetry collection, AT THE END OF THE WORLD THERE IS A POND, was just picked up last week by W. W. Norton and will be published with them in 2025. 

LGS doctoral scholar, Alexis Mayfield, was presented the Kharen Fulton Graduate Diversity Award at the EDGE Annual Diversity Reception for her personal and professional efforts towards diversity, inclusion, and community engagement in the Laney Graduate School at Emory University. The Kharen Fulton Award is given annually and has been created to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Kharen Fulton and her dedication to diversity in graduate education.

Sixth-year PhD candidate Ra’Niqua Lee’s book of fiction, For What Ails You, has just been published!


Oli Turner’s article “Notes from Underground Atlanta’s DIY arts scene” was published in the September 2023 Issue of Atlanta Magazine. It is also available online here.

Easton Lane, Creative Writing and Environmental Science double major, was published for the first time as a poet in two different publications! Easton’s first published poem, “I open,” was published in Impostor: A Poetry Journal’s Issue 3.1, and a second published poem, “Bearbaiting,” was published in the Quarter Press’s Weirder Still Issue! Here are the links:

Alumni News

Maggie Greaves, who received her PhD in English in 2015, has published Lyric Poetry and Space Exploration from Einstein to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2023 – 30% with promotion code AAFLYG6).

Molly Slavin, who received her PhD in English in 2018, has published Criminal Cities: The Postcolonial Novel and Cathartic Crime (University of Virginia Press, 2023).

Former student, Celine Chauviere, just published a piece with Atlanta Studies.  Her work, “Redistricting in Atlanta: The impact of Race, Class, and Community Involvement in the Face of School Closures,” began as an essay in one of the new Writing Program courses, “Writing Atlanta.”  In the wake of recent student protests against public school redistricting in Atlanta, Celine’s piece asks what we can learn about prior successful and unsuccessful protests in Peoplestown and Vine City, and from prior scholarship on community power.  After going through blind peer review, it is now available at Celine is the second undergraduate from the spring 2023 Writing Atlanta course to have work published that began in that course.  The other student, Oli Turner, who also took Hank’s class last spring where most of the writing took place, had her piece, “Notes from Underground Atlanta’s DIY Arts Scene,” published in Atlanta Magazine in September.  Her article is available at

And congratulations to Francis Ittenbach, Anmol Sahni, and Palak Taneja on their weddings this December!

Keep us informed of your good news. If we missed something important, please send us your news for inclusion in the next newsletter.

Parting Words from Maya Angelou for the upcoming break: “Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

— Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Jonathan Goldberg

It is with sadness that we report the passing of the brilliant and pioneering scholar emeritus professor Jonathan Goldberg, who joined the English department faculty in 2006

In addition to mentoring numerous graduate students and undergraduates in the department,  Jonathan was a cofounder and first Director of the Studies in Sexualities Program (2007-2012). Under his leadership, the program hosted exciting conferences such as Risky Sex (2010) and Queer Worlds and Global Positions (2011), as well as lectures by José Muñoz, Valerie Traub, Robert Rheid-Pharr, Cathy Cohen, Vernon Rosario, and Gayle Rubin, among many others. Jonathan’s efforts created an important space for queer community among graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty at Emory. 

A highly influential scholar of early modern literature, Jonathan helped create the now burgeoning field of queer early modern studies. He was the author of seventeen monographs whose subjects ranged from Spenser to Shakespeare, Willa Cather, Lucretius, Alfred Hitchcock, Patricia Highsmith, Sappho, Douglas Sirk, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Todd Haynes, Saint Mark, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. His most recent book, published in 2022 by Fordham University Press, is Being of Two Minds: Modernist Literary Criticism and Early Modern Texts. His edited volumes include work on queer early modern studies, sodomy, and Milton. A 2012 Brown University conference in his honor, “Writing Sex and Other Matters with Jonathan Goldberg,” which resulted in an edited volume about the worldmaking power of his work on early modern literature. He also edited Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s posthumous The Weather in Proust (2011). He was a gifted close reader and a formidable theorist who was as adept at negotiating the psycholinguistic moves of queer negativity as he was with the Lucretian swerve. Jonathan’s life and work were worldmaking, in the queer sense of the Old English worold he brought out in Spenser: the making of “something like subjective experience, the meaning of a life” that cannot be captured as the “totality that sums up a life.” His worlding was “sapphic,” a creative process he described in Sappho: ] Fragments as the beautiful “pairing of love and writing” where “love is bittersweet–bitter and sweet.” 

Jonathan joined the Emory faculty in fall 2006 as Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor in the Department of English. He was affiliated faculty in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He received his BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University, and was a 1984 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He previously taught at The Johns Hopkins University, where he was Sir William Osler Professor of English Literature; he also has held positions at Temple, Brown, and Duke Universities. 

Jonathan left a profound mark on the department’s intellectual life through his passionate commitments to scholarship and teaching. He is survived by emeritus professor Michael Moon, his partner of 38 years – who was also a member of the departments of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies —  and by his daughters Julia and Abby. 

Department News

News from the Chair

Dear Emory English:

Apologies for the belatedness of this account of (some of) the accomplishments, recognitions, arrivals, and other exciting developments in the English department at Emory since last June.  It’s been a thrill to see the campus truly open up and to spend more time with colleagues, students, and staff in person this semester.  It’s beginning to feel as if we’re truly back in the business of thinking, talking, teaching, learning, and dreaming together.

New Arrivals

We welcome some new dreamers, thinkers, teachers, and learners to the department’s faculty and staff.  This fall saw the arrival of FIVE wonderful new faculty colleagues:

Kimberly Belflower is no newcomer to Emory, having spent three years as a Playwriting Fellow in our Creative Writing program.  She has now begun her faculty career as an assistant professor in Creative Writing and Theatre. Prof. Belflower has worked in virtually every medium available to a dramatic writer.  Of her many plays that have been professionally produced across the country, her most recent is John Proctor Is the Villain, which received its world premiere production at Studio Theatre in Washington DC. Reviews were very positive, including these two reviews from two different critics at the Washington Post, here and here.  She has also developed several television projects for Nine Stories Productions and HBO/Hyperobject, adapted a cycle of plays for audio drama, and has led original experimental narratives for Meow Wolf, a major player in the ever-growing immersive/interactive entertainment world.  Prof. Belflower received her MFA in Playwriting at the University of Texas at Austin in 2017.

Emma Davenport joins us as assistant professor, specializing in Victorian literature and culture. She received her PhD last spring from Duke University, after receiving an MA from Georgetown and a JD from Harvard Law School.  Her areas of theoretical expertise include novel theory and critical legal theory. She also teaches Anglo-American law and literature, literary and cultural theory, and the history of the novel. Her current research focuses on the intersection of nineteenth-century novels and legal theories of contract. Reading literature, law, and political theory together, she traces how the Victorian novel challenged liberalism’s insistence that contractual agreement enacts willed consent. An article drawn from this research appears in Victorian Studies.

Erica Kanesaka is an assistant professor specializing in Asian American literary and cultural studies, with additional research and teaching interest in childhood studies, transnational feminisms, feminist disability studies, and feminist science and technology studies.  She is currently at work on two book projects: The first, an academic monograph, explores how children’s books and toys have mediated feelings about race, sex, and gender between Japan and the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. The second, a collection of essays written for a general audience, reflects on the resonances of kawaii and cuteness for Asian American feminist politics.  Her research has received awards from the Association for Asian American Studies and the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs. Articles have appeared in Journal of Asian American Studies, positions: asia critique, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Avidly: Los Angeles Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Public Books, and elsewhere. As a teacher, she is invested in the pedagogical approaches of women of color feminism and feminist disability studies. Dr. Kanesaka received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prior to coming to Emory, she was a 2021–2022 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University.

Donna McDermott is a scientist, writer, and teacher who received her PhD in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution from Emory last spring.  She now joins us as an assistant teaching professor in the Writing Program, where she specializes in teaching science writing for public and professional audiences. Dr. McDermott’s scientific research background is in behavioral ecology. Most recently, she studied how bumble bees’ foraging choices are influenced by both pesticides and the presence of their peers. Her scientific work has been published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Current Zoology, and Ethology. Her current research is in biology education. She is studying how instructors assess student ability to make connections across academic disciplines.  She has taught courses on science communication, animal behavior, interdisciplinary writing, and pedagogy. In addition to her work as an educator, she has worked as a journalist through the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship, a wildlife biologist for the National Park Service, and a program coordinator for Science ATL’s community science outreach.

Gregory Palermo also joins the department’s Writing Program as assistant teaching professor. He specializes in the rhetorics of data, algorithms, and disciplinary formation. His teaching and research bridge the fields of writing, rhetoric, and digital humanities, focusing on data transformation and visualization as rhetorical practices. Palermo’s current research project recuperates early methodology of co-citation analysis, a method for mapping the “landscape” of academic fields based on “networks” of published scholarship. This project offers an approach to co-citation for tactically linking distinct research areas with shared values and practices, as well as for supporting citational justice. He has additional interests in narrative approaches to inquiry, such as evocative autoethnography.  His work has appeared in the Journal of Writing Analytics and Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ). Most recently, he is collaborating on DHQ’s Biblio project and co-edited an issue of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP) with a forum on “Data and Computational Pedagogy” (2020). He serves on the JITP Editorial Collective, where he is currently Co-Editor of Reviews.
We are also very fortunate to welcome to the department two new talented and experienced staff members.  Tanesha Fluker Floyd joins us as the new Academic Department Administrator after many years in a similar role at Purdue University Global’s composition program.  And Khristin Isley is our new Undergraduate Coordinator, after having served in several positions in admissions at Georgia State University and her alma mater Pfeiffer University. 
Faculty Accomplishments

Deepika Bahri, Professor of English, published an article titled Why Stories about Illness Matter in The Lancet – the most cited general-interest medical journal in the world — this summer.
Heather Christle, Assistant Professor of English and Creative WritiA new poem, “Fleurrrrs,” appeared as Poetry Northwest’s “poem of the week.” The link is here, ( or you can also listen to a recording ( of me reading it on their Instagram. A Serbian translation of The Crying Book (Knjiga plača) came out this fall.
Jonathan Goldberg, Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Goldberg’s latest book, Being of Two Minds: Modernist Literary Criticism and Early Modern Texts, was published by Fordham University Press this fall.

Hannah Griggs, Visiting Assistant Professor of English
Beginning in January 2023, Griggs (Emory PhD, 2022) will become the Visiting Subject Librarian for English in the Emory Library System.
Barbara Ladd, Professor of English
Her book, The North of the South: The Natural World and the National Imaginary in the Literature of the Upper South (Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures Ser. Book 59) was published this fall, as part of the Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures Ser. (33 Books).
Laura Otis, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of English
Prof. Otis has drafted her book, The Neuroscience of Craft, on how four contemporary world writers activate readers’ sensory imaginations, and she is continuing to get it ready for prime time. Her essay, “Affective Neuroscience: The Symbiosis of Scientific and Literary Knowledge,” has just been published as part of the Routledge Companion to Literature and Emotion.  Her article, “The Role of Multimodal Imagery in Life Writing,” will be included in a special issue of SubStance on Life Writing and Cognition. Two other essays, “Reading to Be” and “Whose Spirit? Literature, Appropriation, and the Responsibilities of Artists,” will be appearing, respectively, in an edited volume on how childhood reading has shaped scholars’ work and a special issue of the Deutsche Vierteljahsschrift on the relationship between literary studies and the social sciences. In her blog for Psychology Today, she has been writing about Brain Fog and Body Ownership.

Benjamin Reiss, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of English, Department Chair
Has worked closely with Prof. Thomas Rogers (History) to develop a Public Humanities graduate certificate program featuring opportunities to collaborate with partner organizations on research and cultural programming in the public interest. They launched an internship program in support of this initiative, in which 8 graduate students from across the humanities will participate in research projects of public interest with partner organizations.   Following from his 2017 book Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World, Prof. Reiss worked with a group of health science researchers to publish an editorial in Sleep Medicine on the role of structural racism in sleep-related health disparities.  He has an essay on “Sleep” in the forthcoming volume Keywords for Health Humanities, edited by former Emory faculty member Sari Altschuler, Jonathan Metzl, and Priscilla Wald. 

Dan Sinykin, Assistant Professor of English
Together with Prof. Laura McGrath of Temple University, Prof. Sinykin edited a series of essays in Public Books called “Hacking the Culture Industries.” He will shortly be joining Public Books as a section editor.  Additionally, Prof. Sinykin was interviewed by Jewish Currents about the Penguin Random House vs Department of Justice trial: and he wrote an essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books about Danielle Steel.  Over the summer, Prof. Sinykin led a group of 12 undergraduates in the English department’s internship program in collaboration with Plympton: A Literary Studio, in which they contributed to a database of prize-winning short fiction and learned about the rapidly evolving publishing industry and its connections to the entertainment world.
Nathan Suhr-Sytsma, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Prof. Suhr-Sytsma published an article, “Forms of Interreligious Encounter in Contemporary Nigerian Fiction,” in the African Studies Review. Thanks to a recent agreement between Emory Libraries and Cambridge University Press, the article is available open access.

Joonna Trapp, Associate Teaching Professor, Director of Emory Writing Program
Prof. Trapp published a creative on-fiction Essay, “A Meditation—Why Teach?” in JAEPL (Journal of Expanded Perspectives on Learning), vol. 27, 2021-2022

Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Julian Currents, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Writing Program
Over the summer, Dr. Currents had their first scholarly essay, “Symbolic Ecologies: A Conch Shell Poetics for the Haitian Imaginary,” published as the lead article in the Journal of Haitian Studies Fall 2021 issue (they’re behind due to Covid). Currents also received their first paid publication over the summer with Islandia Journal, a small circulation visual art and writing publication out of Miami, Florida that primarily “deals with the themes of myth, folklore, ecology, history, paranormal activity, and cryptozoology as they pertain to Florida & the Caribbean.” An accomplished artist, Currents’ linocut print entitled “Impression of a Fertile Valley: Not Hidden” was originally made for and included in their recently-filed dissertation and is inspired by the poetic work of Marion Bethel.
Em Nordling, Graduate Student
Nordling recently received a Student Travel Grant from the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association Conference, based on their paper “Punch-drunk Mr. Brooke and the Carnivalization of Political Discourse in Middlemarch.. The NCSA then featured their profile in their 19 Cents Blog (25 April 2022).  Nordling also presented “Uncovering the ‘World-Chimera’: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Crowds in 19th Century British Literature” at the UC Berkeley Digital Humanities Fair.

Karlié Marie Rodríguez, Graduate Student
Rodríguez received a fellowship to The Book Project to complete work on a memoir under the mentorship of Vauhini Vara at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. You can find the official announcement here. Rodríguez encourages other graduate students who are interested in Creative Writing to reach out to them if they would like to explore similar fellowship opportunities.


Anikka Jordan, Class of 2023, Double majoring in Psychology (BS) & English (BA)
Emory QuestBridge Scholars, Co-President
Lullwater Review, Treasurer
Anikka recently published two poems in Rainy Day, (found on pages 18 and 19), a literary magazine out of Cornell.
Matthew Buxton, Class of 2023Double majoring in Chemistry and Creative Writing
Matthew is currently applying to MFA programs for poetry and hopes to find a career where poetry writing, reading, and sharing are at the forefront of his life whether in an editorial, academic, or other position. 
Matthew’s poem titled “i-15” has been published in the literary journal Court Green. Court Green is a literary magazine edited by David Trinidad, Tony Trigilio, and Aaron Smith. It is named after the property where Sylvia Plath lived and wrote her most famous work, the Ariel poems. They publish twice a year.
Diana Kerolos, Class of 2023, Double majoring in English Creative Writing and Psychology B.A.
Diana’s poem, colorful body was published in Sonder Magazine Issue 2 in March 2022. The poem explores multiple levels of child abuse and the complexity of family dynamics. The poem in the publication is not public online, it’s only sold. A link to the issue with Diana’s poem is here

Support Beckett Letters Linked Data Project

The Samuel Beckett Letters project is 30-plus-year research endeavor to locate, transcribe and annotate all extant letters written by Irish writer Samuel Beckett. Led by project director Lois Overbeck in the Laney Graduate School, it has resulted in the publication of four volumes of selected letters (Cambridge University Press, 2009-2016). Following this publication, Overbeck’s team began collaborating with the library to create the Location Register which provides archival location and letter metadata for each item in public archives and with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) to develop the Linked Data website which provides an interactive index to all Beckett letters in public archives.

The Letters of Samuel Beckett has entered the final phase of its open-access Linked Data Project. This interactive index of all of Beckett’s letters in public archives supports future scholarship and research in the collections of Beckett’s letters held in archives world-wide.

Just as Beckett’s letters offer a rich context for the events of the 20th century to many fields of inquiry, so the metadata of the Linked Data Project opens the door to Beckett’s life and works for digital humanities initiatives. Emory students have played a significant role in establishing this unique resource, and have gained invaluable research skills by working with the editors of the project.

We invite your gifts to support this work toward its live reveal in April 2023. Your donation will be matched, up to $25,000. Gifts can be made online here. For more information about supporting the project, please contact Philip Brooks, Lead Director of Development at philip [dot] brooks [at] emory [dot] edu or (678) 801-5909.         

Department News


Dear students, faculty, staff, post-docs, alumni, and friends of English:

The start of a school year always brings excitement and anticipation; this year, those feelings are especially strong as most of us reassemble on campus for the first time in almost eighteen months, and many others move to campus for the first time.  But this season also brings a sad recognition that we are not quite beyond the pandemic that seemed to have been all but vanquished earlier in the summer.  We return instead to classrooms where we can’t (yet) unmask and encounter what the philosopher Levinas called “the face of the other”: that sense of individual human presence that we encounter first through the vulnerable, exposed, expressive human visage.  We’ll have to wait for that full encounter, not through Zoom, on another day.

As chair, I am grateful to be experiencing yet another emotion at the start of the year: pride for all that my colleagues and our students have accomplished since last I wrote.  What a summer it was for so many of you!  As we gear up for the first weeks of class, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the imagination, research, hard thinking, and critical attention to human experience and expression that has led to extraordinary achievements and exciting opportunities.
Undergraduate Students

It’s an easy call to start with our majors and minors, who are pushing the study of literature, writing, and creative expression into new terrain.

Two students of Prof. Patricia Cahill reported extraordinary summer experiences.   Junior Biology and English major Becca Cohen served as an intern at the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) in Staunton, Virginia, where she contributed to blogs, workshops and dramaturgy, interviewed actor-managers in the company about their performances: including how their identities related to race/gender affect their performances, how they performed gender onstage, and how intimacy choreography works at ASC.  

Senior English & Creative Writing major English major Jack Wolfram worked with Prof. Cahill as a SURE Research fellow, conducted archival research into the trailblazing Atlanta theater maker Adrienne McNeil Herndon, who at the turn of the twentieth century sought to claim access to serious drama for Georgia’s Black audiences.  You can read more about Becca and Jack’s summer work here and here.
13 of our majors and minors participated in a new internship program with Plympton Literary Studio, an innovative, cross-platform publishing company that works with animators, television studios, online and traditional publishers.  The students, led by Prof. Dan Sinykin, helped Plympton staff with an ambitious project called the Writing Atlas, which is a database of award-winning American short stories published since the 1940s.  The project has immediate use for media companies interested in developing new story lines, but it’s also tremendously valuable for scholars who want to chronicle patterns and changes in fiction’s themes, structures, and authorship.  Along the way students met with editors, agents, marketers, showrunners, and others who introduced them to the business side of publishing and adaptations.  You can read more from two participants in the project, English majors Elizabeth Hsieh and Ananya Mohanhere and here.

Speaking of publishing, several of our students are bringing new work before the public.  Laila Nashid, an English and Sociology major, secured a contract for her forthcoming young adult novel, You Truly Assumed with Inkyard Press.  The novel is told from the perspectives of three Black Muslim teens living in different parts of the country, who start a blog to fight Islamophobia and find friendship and hope as they let their voices be heard.  You can read Laila’s thoughts on what it means to be publishing her first book here, and we look forward to the book’s publication early in 2022!

Ellie McAffee, class of 2022, was accepted into a book creators program, where she worked on a creative nonfiction novel about her metal health struggles and in the context of stigmas and miseducation.  The working title is Work in Progress, and she looks forward to publication in April 2022. 

Ozzy Wagner, a rising senior in the Playwriting joint major, was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Theater Prize, won the Drama Award at the Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival, and will be presenting a workshop production of a play based on Ozzzy’s honors thesis this upcoming October, directed by alum Roz Sullivan-Lovett.  Last February, Ozzy was also a semifinalist for the Garrison Award for 10-minute plays for the Northwest region of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Sophia Bereaud, a senior majoring in English & Creative Writing and Anthropology, worked with Professor Heather Christle as a SURE Affiliate to produce a piece of creative nonfiction exploring the relationship between bipolar disorder and artistic production.  You can read more about this fascinating project here.  

Chemistry and English & Creative Writing major Matthew Buxton was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Emory at the of last semester, and Matthew’s winning poem (titled “vii”) will be published on at the end of August.

Diana Kerolos, a third-year English & Creative Writing major, published a poem, “Honey and Blood,” in the newsletter “Call Me [Brackets]” in Issue #5 Call Me [Chaos].
Senior English & Creative Writing major Drew Mindell held a summer internship in the Alliance Theatre’s education department, teaching playwriting and devising to kids ranging from fourth grade to high school. He also won the Georgia Theatre Conference’s One-Act Play Competition, and will receive a staged reading of the winning play “Made Me A Match” at the conference in October.
Kaitlin Mottley, a rising junior in the English program, interned at Facebook as a Content Design intern.
Graduate Students

This spring and summer, six Emory English graduate students received their PhD’s.  All of them are going on to exciting new positions, but we won’t have to say farewell to all of them just yet!

Emily Banks and Tesla Cariani will be serving in our very own department as Visiting Assistant Professors.

Sophia Falvey has moved into a position as Senior Program Coordinator in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, where she will implement programming and events for the Mellon Humanities Pathways initiative and support advancement and alumni engagements staff in developing communications for Emory College strategic initiatives.

Michael Lehmann has begun work as a Brittain Potdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Tech.

Jessica Libow has begun a position as Lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Palak Taneja has begun a position at Assistant Professor at College of the Atlantic, in Maine. 

Additionally, ACLS Emerging Voices post-doctoral fellow Abigail Droge has begun a new position in the Purdue Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts Program.  Droge has a new publication to celebrate as well: “Reading George Eliot with Victorian College Students” has been published in the latest issue of Victorian Studies

Several graduate students have terrific publication news as well.  Wiliam Tolbert’s article, “The American Oriental Society and the Growth of U.S. Empire,” will be published in South Atlantic Review’s winter 2021 issue.

Tesla Cariani’s article “Glimpsing Shadows: Affective Witnessing in Noctambules and ‘Of Ghosts and Shadows’” has been published in parallax

Finally, a trio of graduate students has seen their grant-writing idea yield a string of fascinating, results: a fully implemented ecuational program, a publication, several write-ups, and an award.  Kelly DuquetteMary Taylor Mann, and John Gulledge have been working on a Shakespeare performance-learning program for K-12 students since 2018. Some highlights of the project:Received JPE mini-grants in 2018 and in 2019 to develop and implement “The Puck Project” alongside our Atlanta community partner, Nicholas House. A digital story for the Emory Wire in 2019, which won a “Grand Gold” award in this year’s CASE III Circle of Excellence Awards.A two-day training at Emory by The Feast of Crispian in 2019. A publication entitled “The Puck Project: A Shakespeare Performance and Ethics Program for Kids” in Early Modern Culture Online (EMCO) in 2020.An honorable mention award for the inaugural, 2021 “Shakespeare Publics Award” from the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA). 

This spring, three Emory faculty members were awarded the prestigious fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; two of them were in English!  Fiction writer Tayari Jones will be working on an eagerly awaited novel, following the extraordinary worldwide success of An American Marriage.  Polymathic literary scholar and neuroscientific investigator Laura Otis will be spending the fellowship year completing her new bookLiterary Insight into Sensory Integration: Fiction as a Guide for Neuroscientists You can read a bit more about Professors Jones and Otis in this piece.

Specialist in early modern literature Ross Knecht’s book, The Grammar Rules of Affection: Passion and Pedagogy in Sidney, Shakespeare and Jonson was published with the University of Toronto Press. A study of how the expression and management of such emotions as love and melancholy were taught, much as one might learn grammar, via literature, Knecht’s book has been hailed as “a thrilling contribution the thriving field of early modern affect studies.”
Scholar of Latinx Studies Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez has also published a new book, Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora with Duke University Press. Her book, focusing on archival records of the Bracero program, which brought more than 4.5 million Mexican men to the United States to work in temporary agricultural jobs from 1942-1964.  The book focuses on the personal correspondence of anarchist Enrique Flores Magón and the photographs of Leonard Nadel, taken to document poor treatment of Mexican Bracero workers who harvested crops in the California Valley. Through their words and images, she uncovers surprising glimpses of the emotional and physical intimacy that arose among these men – a portrait that challenges prevailing notions of machismo.

Geraldine Higgins’ landmark edited volume Seamus Heaney in Context (Cambridge University) press was published this past spring. It includes 32 chapters, including several by current and retired Emory English faculty – Deepika Bahri (“The Postcolonial”), Ron Schuchard (“Thomas Hardy”), Nathan Suhr-Sytsma (“In Print”) – and Emory English PhDs – Margaret Greaves (“Eastern Europe”), Brendan Corcoran (“Elegy”), and Simon B. Kress (“Music”).

Speaking of Deepika Bahri, her co-edited volume (with Filippo Menozzi), Teaching Anglophone South Asian Women’s Writing was published by the Modern Language Association. 
Lauren Klein has been awarded an NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant to complete her digital project, Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization, 1788-1900. The grant will fund several Emory students (both undergraduate and graduate) from English and Computer Science to work as research assistants on the project.

Fellow digital humanities specialist and scholar of contemporary American literature Dan Sinykin and his colleague Laura McGrath launched the Post45 Data Collective, a massive repository of peer-reviewed data on post-1945 literary culture.   Recent Emory English PhD Kayla Shipp of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship played a key role in designing the site.   Sinykin published an excerpt from his book-in-progress on the business of contemporary publishing in Post-45 and Cultural Analytics.  Sinykin’s writing has been featured several times in the Chronicle of Higher Education: including his response to Jill Lepore’s recent book on the  history of data science and his take on Netflix’s new series The Chair.  
Writing Program faculty member Melissa Yang has assumed directorship of the Emory Writing Center, a position she takes over from our colleague Mandy Suhr-Sytsma, who led this core component of Emory’s teaching mission for nearly a decade.  Suhr-Sytsma will continue teaching courses in Native American literature, children’s literature, and first-year writing. 

Novelist, filmmaker, TV writer, and all-around creative force T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper have been signed to develop a screenplay for a biopic on Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender MMA fighter. Cooper’s pandemic-inspired short story, “First Aid,” was published in the Georgia Review.
That very same issue of the Georgia Review contains several poems by Heather Christle, including one with the memorable title “A Shop. I Like Shops.”  And this very same Heather Christle has been a Howard Foundation Fellowship in nonfiction,

Novelist and poet Tiphanie Yanique’s story “The Living Sea” (a section of her forthcoming novel Monster in the Middle) has been awarded an O Henry Prize for short fiction, and is included in the Best Short Stories 2021 volume, edited by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie.

Writing Program faculty member Kt Leuschen, Director of First-Year Writing, has published “Stabilizing Stories: Personal Narrative and Public Memory in Recent Activist Histories” in a new volume, Ethics and Representation in Feminist Rhetorical Inquiry

The Chinese translation of Joseph Skibell’s book, Six Memos from the Last Millennium: A Novelist Reads the Talmud, has come out in a second edition. His long profile of composer Andrew York appeared in the most recent issue of Fretboard Journal. 
Just as Barbara Ladd was about to embark on her sabbatical this semester, she received news that she was the recipient of the Archie K. Davis Award for funding to travel to Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill and to the Franklin Library at Fisk in Nashville to do some research in connection with Charles Chesnutt and Moses Grandy. In November, she’ll spend two weeks at Quarry Farm in Elmira, NY (Mark Twain’s summer home) working on an essay on traces of Mark Twain in the work of Edna Ferber. And she has been invited to deliver the inaugural Howry Lecture in Faulkner Studies at the University of Mississippi, which will be scheduled later in the fall semester (if Covid and its variants permit).

Writing Program faculty member, poet, critic, and master anagrammaticist (if that’s a word) Daniel Bosch and George Kalogeris have published a fascinating interview with poet David Ferry in Literary Matters. Vol. 13 no. 3. This publication came over eight years after the interview itself, a saga that Daniel will happily relate to anyone intrepid enough to ask.

Finally, no departmental newsletter would be complete without an announcement of an award for poet Jericho Brown, who has been inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
I’ll stop now, before my keyboard catches fire. But I do want to take a moment to celebrate all the quiet acts of reading, writing, thinking, and creating that didn’t make it into this newsletter: that quietness is just as important as my brags about my wonderful colleagues and our at least equally wonderful students.  But when you have something to share, please do send it along to Eric Canosa at eric [dot] canosa [at] emory [dot] edu.
From a humbled chair,
Benjamin Reiss
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Chair, Department of English
Emory University

Sophia Bereaud Undergraduate Spotlight

The Department of English is delighted to spotlight a selection of summer achievements from our amazing undergraduate students!

Sophia Bereaud
Creative Writing and Anthropology
Emory University, Class of 2022

Pronouns: She/Her

As a member of the SURE Affiliate program this summer, I worked with Professor Heather Christle to produce a piece of creative nonfiction exploring the relationship between mental illness and creativity. The premise arose from my interest in mania, a state of mind characteristic of bipolar disorder, which begins with elevated mood and energy levels and devolves into psychosis. Early manic phases can be marked by sudden overwhelming creative ambition. I was intrigued by the possibility of a linkage between these two phenomena, which would bear interestingly on the veracity of the ‘mad genius’ and ‘suffering artist’ stereotypes. I quickly found statistical evidence pointing to a far higher prevalence of the illness among artistic populations compared to general samples – about 20 percent to 1 percent, respectively. Moreover, many of the symptoms of hypomania – ebullience, grandiosity, goal-driven behavior, ‘flow’ state – strikingly resemble those of creative states of mind. So while there’s no conclusive neurological evidence, the possibility of a catalytic link between bipolar disorder and artistic production is a viable and highly contested research question.

My research, both of scientific and literary bents, frames the narration of a manic flight.  Knowing my curiosity was upheld by the scientific community, I set out to humanize the inquiry with anecdotal evidence from the experiences of artists and creatives. I read works by artists with bipolar disorder, including those who treat the subject of their own illness, in fiction, poetry, and prose. I read about the lives of some of these artists, namely Virginia Woolf and August Strindberg, hoping to understand how bipolar disorder colored their creative lives. Their stories served as contrasts and referents as I unfurled my narrative. I make use of interstitial prose to weave research, reflection, and storytelling together. The piece begins at the start of a manic episode and ends with the episode’s finale, paying visits to despair, euphoria, high school, the 19th century, and the inside of a Childish Gambino album on the way. Its narrator is sometimes lucid, sometimes patently insane. It is an exercise in navel-gazing, aspiring to writer Melissa Febos’ take on the term: “I suspect I could write something relevant and dynamic and political and beautiful and intellectual about my own navel.”

Laila Nashid Undergraduate Spotlight

The Department of English is delighted to spotlight a selection of summer achievements from our amazing undergraduate students!

Laila Nashid
English and Sociology
Emory University, Class of 2023

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Being both an author and an undergraduate student has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I fell in love with writing through reading, which was fostered through weekly trips to my local library as a child. There, I became a fan of the Angelina Ballerina series, so much so that I started writing Angelina Ballerina fanfiction at the age of five (though I did not know it was fanfiction at the time). My writing has since transformed into working on original young adult novels.

My debut is a young adult (YA) contemporary novel titled You Truly Assumed, which releases February 8, 2022 with Inkyard Press, a young adult imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I like to think of it as the Netflix show Dear White People meets Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, and it follows three Black Muslim teens as they navigate the summer before their senior year and the world of online activism. I started writing You Truly Assumed during my junior year of high school. This was around the time when the Muslim Ban was in the news and anti-Muslim hate was really being discussed due to how it was being used in politics. Additionally, growing up in the DC area and going to school in the city meant that politics was always in the background in my daily life. I think I was also processing the results of the 2016 election, and what that meant for me as a young Black Muslim woman.

As a Black Muslim woman author in a white male dominated industry, I’ve sought out spaces and connections where I am able to be surrounded or engaged with people who share similar backgrounds. Because publishing is such a white space, I’ve found it important to be able to support and to be supported by authors of color, especially Black authors. There has been progress in the industry, which I can tell just based on the difference between the books I had growing up and all the books that are being published now. But there is still a long way to go. One valuable lesson that I’ve learned is the importance of lifting as you climb. I was really grateful to have authors who saw me and recognized the value in You Truly Assumed. They shared a lot of their time and energy with me, and that’s something that I definitely want to continue to pay forward. A lot of times in publishing, and other primarily white spaces, there’s this narrative that there’s only room for one Black person. But the reality is that there’s room for all of us, and I think lifting others up really pushes back against that narrative.

While I’m still striving to find a balance between writing and academics and adjusting to being back on campus, I’m excited that You Truly Assumed releases during the spring semester and that Emory will be a part of my debut experience.

Summer 2022 Update!

Laila Nashid has been selected as a 2022 Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Summer Institute Fellow. This six-week residential program is for rising seniors interested in pursuing a PhD in the Humanities. Students attend morning seminars with distinguished research scholars, attend discussions of assigned readings, and conduct research in the Schomburg Center.

The program invites students to explore how the past is influencing the present and how the present can shape the future.

Institute fellows explore a variety of disciplines (including history, literature, arts, religion, and cultural studies) and historical periods. The Fellows examine questions about identity, culture, arts, gender, migrations, mental health, and criminal justice, and reflect on how they will affect the future.

Drawing upon the Schomburg Center’s extensive collections the students prepare a research prospectus that could be the basis for their senior thesis or a major research paper. 

Ananya Mohan Undergraduate Spotlight

This summer, Emory partnered with Plympton, a San Francisco-based literary studio that focuses on innovation in publishing, to offer paid internships to thirteen students, most of them English majors. Plympton works across a range of practices, from story format to book cover design to library licenses to writer compensation. It is also building a database of short stories, called the Writing Atlas, which includes rich information about each story, such as plot summaries and reader annotations, to help understand why some stories have been successful and how some might also be successful as TV or film adaptations. It aspires to be the world’s most comprehensive database of short stories.

Emory student interns each read approximately one hundred and twenty short stories this summer, most from the history of the Best American Short Story series, and prepared accounts of them for the Writing Atlas. In addition, they had opportunities to meet with industry professionals. Each week, Plympton hosted figures working in a range of positions to speak with and take questions from the interns, which allowed them to explore possible careers. Finally, Plympton invited interns to share their particular passions and helped them find special projects to take on, which included working with adaptation rights from literature to film, designing ebook covers, and writing treatments of novels for Hollywood producers.

The Department of English is delighted to spotlight Ananya Mohan’s participation in the internship, read her reflections below!

Ananya Mohan
English Major
Emory University, Class of 2024

Remote internships can seem like a necessity enforced by the pandemic – complicated to execute and difficult to participate in – but my experience with the Emory-Plympton internship was anything but. The primary objective was to work on the Writing Atlas, which is a database storing information on American short stories going back several decades. By itself, this was engaging work – being exposed to the variety within the sub-genre and working with stories that overlap in interesting ways with other fields of study.

However, the best part of this internship was the extra value that it offered by way of weekly speaker sessions. These meetings allowed interns to connect with people who have been working in the publishing industry for many years, who offered advice and insight into the realities of the job. The main thing that I took away from this internship is the real-world applicability of an English major, especially since Plympton supplemented their speaker meetings by giving interns the opportunity to work on their other projects as well.

Overall, this was an experience that I really enjoyed. The environment was welcoming, the hours were more than reasonable, and even though it was remote, it felt well-connected. I hope Emory carries this forward in the coming years!

Elizabeth Hsieh Undergraduate Spotlight

This summer, Emory partnered with Plympton, a San Francisco-based literary studio that focuses on innovation in publishing, to offer paid internships to thirteen students, most of them English majors. Plympton works across a range of practices, from story format to book cover design to library licenses to writer compensation. It is also building a database of short stories, called the Writing Atlas, which includes rich information about each story, such as plot summaries and reader annotations, to help understand why some stories have been successful and how some might also be successful as TV or film adaptations. It aspires to be the world’s most comprehensive database of short stories.

Emory student interns each read approximately one hundred and twenty short stories this summer, most from the history of the Best American Short Story series, and prepared accounts of them for the Writing Atlas. In addition, they had opportunities to meet with industry professionals. Each week, Plympton hosted figures working in a range of positions to speak with and take questions from the interns, which allowed them to explore possible careers. Finally, Plympton invited interns to share their particular passions and helped them find special projects to take on, which included working with adaptation rights from literature to film, designing ebook covers, and writing treatments of novels for Hollywood producers.

The Department of English is delighted to spotlight Elizabeth Hsieh’s participation in the internship, read her reflections below!

Elizabeth Hsieh
English Major
Emory University, Class of 2023

Pronouns: She/Her

I had the pleasure of working as an Emory Fellow for Plympton Literary Studio over the summer. As part of a new program with the English department, the interns from Emory helped with the development of a database for short stories, the Writing Atlas. Going into the summer, I was not sure if any opportunities related to my English major would be available during all the craziness with COVID. I was skeptical of online internships and questioned whether they would allow me to get real experience, but working with Plympton was extremely hands-on. My favorite part was getting to explore areas in the literary world that I had never considered before. As an English major, I often get questioned about what my professional plans are following college. Many people have the idea that the only options are graduate school or working as an educator. My internship really opened my eyes to the creative, engaging, and multidisciplinary opportunities that are available to English majors. They invited leaders and businesswomen and men from multiple industries to have small zoom discussions each week. It was so fun to learn about fields that I did not even know existed, such as agencies and management companies specifically for adaptation. Plympton also supported me in exploring my personal interests in law and publishing. When I told the project managers that I was feeling a bit stuck between the two areas, they allowed me to see contracts and even explained legal concepts to help me get a better feel of that type of work.  

Another part of the internship I loved was getting to apply the knowledge and skills I have picked up in my classes. The Emory Fellows mainly focused on creating summaries for all the Best American Short Stories published since the 1940s. We also wrote tags for the stories and wrote loglines. As I read through the stories, it was so satisfying to find a story that fit into a certain literary movement or genre I had previously learned about. For example, I took a Southern Literature class with Professor Ladd, and it came in handy so many times when reading stories from southern writers. I found myself recognizing core themes and trends and being able to fit the story into a greater picture. I know that without that class, I might have blown right past some symbolic moments when writing my summaries. My classes also prepared me to deal with stories that had more sensitive themes of race, slavery, gender, or sexuality. Being informed about the context in which certain stories were written made me feel a bit more comfortable and clear-sighted. Overall, the database we worked on is meant to help others understand the gist of a story without having to read it themselves, so it was great to be able to point out core themes, motifs, and other details that went beyond the basic plot. As a student who has benefited a great deal from literary databases, I found it truly gratifying to apply my knowledge from Emory to help someone else’s research on professional projects.

Jack Wolfram Undergraduate Spotlight

The Department of English is delighted to spotlight a selection of summer achievements from our amazing undergraduate students!

Jack Wolfram
English and Creative Writing
Emory University, Class of 2022

Pronouns: He/Him/His

As a SURE research fellow, I’ve spent the past ten-weeks conducting full-time independent research under the direction of Dr. Cahill. My project, which builds upon her published work, is entitled “A Fitting Scene for Unusual Capabilities: Adrienne Herndon’s Trailblazing Black Theatrical Mobilization Across the Jim Crow South.” My work is prompted by my interest in Black theatre and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement’s unprecedented surge in 2020, which spurred the United States to acknowledge and address its deep-rooted racism. By 2021, long-overdue investigations into suppressed Black history have gained increasing attention within scholarly spheres and popular culture. The groundbreaking but tragically-short life of the Atlanta theater maker Adrienne McNeil Herndon in the early twentieth century is one such marginalized story. In the late 1800s, she cultivated a promising performance reputation in the North while earning multiple academic degrees; when racism prematurely ended these exploits, she returned south to helm the drama department at Atlanta (now Clark Atlanta) University. As the faculty’s lone African-American woman, she established unprecedented access to serious drama for Georgia’s Black communities before her untimely death in 1910, radically reclaiming Shakespearian performance as the “birthright […] of the American Negro” and using theater as a means to bring together diverse populations of Black theater makers in resistance to White supremacy.

Drawing upon Dr. Cahill’s scholarship, I set out to find out more about how Herndon mobilized Black audiences in the Jim Crow South beyond Atlanta. Working with Emory Librarian Erica Bruchko, I made a plan to research contemporary Black periodicals, university bulletins, event fliers, similar records, and secondary sources in the online and physical archives of Emory University, Clark Atlanta University, the HBCU Library Alliance, and Auburn Avenue Research Library. My uncovered findings thus far document that Herndon undertook a reading and performance tour throughout the South, including stops in Augusta and Savannah as well as in Aiken, South Carolina, and going as far north as Chattanooga, Tennessee. Not only do these findings invite further exploration, but my research may also help expand Dr. Cahill’s perspectives about Black protest – specifically, that resistance to White supremacy was carried out not only by political organizations, but also through cultural productions and pedagogy. It furthermore enables us to realize the complex politics of Shakespeare performance, given Shakespeare’s place as a longtime White status symbol as well as a medium of Black resistance.