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