Department News

NEWS FROM THE CHAIR

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 poets.org 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). 
Faculty

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

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