Department News

News from the Chair

Dear Friends of Emory English:

As department chair, I have sent biannual accounts of the achievements, accolades, and ongoing projects of our faculty staff, and students. (That also means that biannually, I have googled the correct usage of “biannual” – twice a year —  and “biennial” – every other year.)  After two terms and six years as chair, this will be my last newsletter.  I am delighted to be handing the baton to my colleague and friend Deepika Bahri, a renowned scholar of postcolonial literature and theory, who will begin serving as department chair in Fall 2023. 

The department has recently undergone several other important leadership transitions.  Tayari Jones served as interim director of Creative Writing in Spring 2023 and will begin a full three-year term as director in the Fall. Pat Cahill served as interim Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Ross Knecht will begin his term as DUS in the Fall.  Nathan Suhr-Sytsma began his three-year term as Director of Graduate Studies, and Paul Kelleher will lead our graduate admissions team next year.  In a bittersweet transition, Joonna Trapp, our exceptional Director of the Writing Program, will be retiring from Emory, and newcomer Sarah Salter – joining us from Texas A&M Corpus Christi – will direct the Writing Program beginning in the fall. 

We say another fond/sad farewell to Laura Otis, our extraordinary neuroscientist/English professor friend, who will also be retiring.  And faculty members Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez and Robyn Schiff have taken exciting positions at other universities.   Fortunately, we have a cadre of wonderful new colleagues joining us in the Fall. Vani Kannan, our new Director of Writing Across Emory, will join the Writing Program from CUNY’s Lehman College, as will Aaron Colton, our new Director of First-Year Writing, who has been teaching at Duke.   Emil’ Keme, a scholar of Native and Indigenous literature and culture, joins us from the University of North Carolina, following a year’s fellowship at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute.  Marina Magloire, a specialist in African American literature, arrives here from University of Miami. 

The best staff in Emory College (in case you can’t guess, it’s the English department’s) has also seen some big changes.   In February, we announced that our Finance Coordinator, Alonda Simms, has accepted an exciting opportunity to move into a new role as Financial Analyst with Goizueta Business School.  Our new Finance Coordinator, Reia Toombs-Karanja, came to us in April from Emory’s Student Health Services, where she worked for 2 ½ years performing similar tasks related to finance and event planning. It’s hard to believe that Academic Department Administrator Tanesha Fluker Floyd and Undergraduate Degree Coordinator Khristin Isley have been with us less than a year – they have brought great leadership and energy to the department already. 

Now it’s time to sing the praises of faculty and students who have accomplished great things since I wrote last fall.  For all the variety of these announcements, they all share one important characteristic: their authors sent an email letting us know what they’d like to share.  Don’t deprive us of your good news next time a call for entries comes around! 
Faculty Accomplishments
Kimberly Belflower,  Creative Writing, jointly appointed with Theater & Dance Kimberly’s play, John Proctor is the Villain, was acquired by Broadway Licensing/Dramatists Publishing; they will represent the play for all licensing and publish the script in the next year. Most recently, the play won two Helen Hayes awards (Outstanding Production of a Play, Best Ensemble) for its 2022 world premiere. John Proctor is also slated for a 2024 production at Huntington Theatre in Boston.  Her latest play, Saint Pigtail, received a week-long workshop and reading at Studio Theatre in DC, and was a finalist for the O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference. Later this summer, Kimberly will travel to the Hambidge Center for a two-week residency to work on a new play and screenplay.
Patricia Cahill, Literary & Cultural Studies, published “Othello’s Kin: Legacy, Belonging and The Fortunes of the Moor. In E. Smith (Ed.), Shakespeare Survey 75: Othello (Shakespeare Survey, pp. 32-48). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  She also has contracted with Cambridge University Press to edit King Henry VI, Part 3. for the new Cambridge Shakespeare Editions series.
Sheila T. Cavanagh, Literary & Cultural Studies, spent her sabbatical completing several articles and Multisensory Shakespeare and Specialized Communities, which is now in press with Arden Shakespeare. She also gave a number of talks, including two focusing on Emory’s Bram Stoker archive for London’s Month of the Dead and the Shoe Lane Library.  This Spring, she worked with PhD students Kelly Duquette, Mary Taylor Mann, John Gulledge and Shakespeare at Notre Dame on a Community Shakespeare series. This summer, she is curating an exhibit for Dr. Johnson’s House in London, as part of her ongoing project on culinary history, currently titled Cooking Across the Canon: Money, Labor, and Trade in Literary Cuisine, for which she received a Slater Fellowship from Durham University. 

Walter Kalaidjian, Literary & Cultural Studies, published “The Surrealist Bestiary and Animal Philosophy” in Surrealism, an edited collection from Cambridge University Press that won the 2022 Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Art Writing and Publishing award for best anthology. He has also published an article entitled “Occult Surrealism as ‘Profane Illumination’: Mina Loy, Leonora Carrington, and Ithell Colquhoun” in the Journal of Modern Literature, 46 (Fall 2022), 158-176.  

Paul Kelleher, Literary & Cultural Studies, co-organized in October a Covid-delayed international conference: “Archive and Theory: The Future of Anglo-American Early Modern Disability Studies” at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.  Along with his co-organizers, he has begun the process of turning this conference into a book of essays (slated to appear with University of Toronto Press). His essay, “Johnson and Disability” appeared in The New Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson (Cambridge University Press). Slated for June 2023 publication is his essay, “Defoe and Animals,” in the edited volume, Daniel Defoe in Context (Cambridge University Press). Returning from his Spring 2023 sabbatical, Prof. Kellleher looks forward to returning to the classroom and serving as the Director of Graduate Admissions next year.

Emil’ Keme, Literary & Cultural Studies, was a 2022-2023 Harvard Radcliffe Fellow and will be joining the English department faculty as Professor of English and Indigenous studiesHe has seen new editions of several of his publications reach print:  Le q’atzij Mayab’/Nuestra palabra maya (2022) (Our Maya Word), was published in a new Spanish edition; and his article “Invisile No More”  has been published in in English and Spanish in Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America. Professor Keme was interviewed in El pulso podcast. “We’re not Latino.

Lauren Klein, Literary & Cultural Studies, jointly appointed with Quantitative Theories and Methods, is co-Principal Investigator (along with colleagues from Clark Atlanta and Georgia Tech) on a $1.3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to establish the Atlanta Interdisciplinary AI Network.  Professors Dan Sinykin and Ben Miller serve on the steering committee for this grant. Please save the date of Wednesday, October 4th, at 4pm, for a kickoff event at the Science Gallery in Pullman Yards.   A website is also coming soon. In the interim, more info about the project can be found here  Klein and coeditor Matthew Gold, of the CUNY Graduate Center, also recently published Debates in the Digital Humanities 2023, the fourth volume in the series. The book features essays on Indigenous and Latinx DH, DH for right-to-left languages, DH and neoliberalism, and more. The book is currently available in print and will be available online in open-access form in the fall via the Debates in the Digital Humanities website.  Prof. Klein has been selected as Emory’s 2023-24 Chronos Fellow, which grants a full year for a faculty member to pursue research. 

Barbara Ladd, Literary & Cultural Studies, published The North of the South: The Natural World and the National Imaginary in the Literature of the Upper South, a collection of three lectures delivered for Mercer University’s Lamar Memorial Lecture Series (UGA Press). 

Ben Miller, Writing Program, was awarded a Visiting Faculty Fellowship by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where he is researching and teaching alongside colleagues in English, Digital Humanities, Writing, and Linguistics.  In his work on the Mellon-funded AIAI grant (see Lauren Klein, above), he will make connections to his teaching in courses like “Writing Atlanta” and his editorship of the Atlanta Studies journal.   In his role as Editor, Ben helped the lead organizers at Georgia Tech and the committee representing institutions across the city convene the 10th Annual Atlanta Studies SymposiumAlong with Dr. Stephen Herron (Queen’s University Belfast), and Dr. Weeda Mehran (University of Exeter), Ben was one of the organizers for the recent Online Extremism and Misinformation Conference hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast.  The event featured talks by experts from industry, government, and academia on approaches to global radicalization and misinformation, with case studies shared about Turkey, the US, Afghanistan, Twitter, and others.  Lastly, Ben was an invited speaker at the recent Living in Languages Colloquium at SUNY Albany, where he spoke on the history of language technology from optical character recognition to large language models, and their implication for close, distant, and transversal reading.

Gregory Palermo, Writing Program, was interviewed about his research and teaching on an episode of the Big Rhetorical Podcast.
Dan Sinykin, Literary & Cultural Studies, took on positions as Culture Industries section editor at Public Books and as reviews editor at Critical AI, a new interdisciplinary journal published by Duke University Press. He completed his second monograph, Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Fiction, which will be published by Columbia University Press in October 2023.

Joseph Skibell, Creative Writing, In the wake of the Gorsuch decision on school prayer, Joseph Skibell published a personal essay, “When the Prayers at School Aren’t Yours: A Supreme Court decision allowing a high school coach to pray on the field reminds one writer of what it was like to grow up,” in the Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2022.  He attended the Sami Rohr Institute as a fellow in summer 2022; and he continued posting his daily journal of the pandemic years on his website ( This year’s journal was called A STRANGER HERE MYSELF; and he is working on a new novel and a second book about the Talmud tales.

Mandy Suhr-Sytsma, Literary & Cultural Studies and Core Faculty in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, published an article titled “Decolonizing Desire: The Indigenous YA Erotics of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Hearts Unbroken in the journal Studies in the Novel (volume 53.4).

Tiphanie Yanique, Creative Writing, published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled  Why do doctors assume Black women’s pain is normal?  Prof. Yanique was awarded a Fulbright-British Virgin Islands Scholar Award for Spring 2024.
Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Bailey Betik (2023 PhD), has taken a full-time position since November 2022 as Digital Publication Specialist at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. She also has a forthcoming Fall 2023 publication in the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing about digital pedagogy through crisis.

Jareka Dellenbaugh-Dempsey, graduate student, has received a month-long fellowship from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Kelly Duquette, (2023 PhD), has accepted a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship at Georgia Tech beginning in Fall 2023. Her essay, “Disabled for England: Crip/Queer Veterans in Henry V” is slated for publication in the journal Shakespeare.
John Gulledge (2023 PhD) accepted a position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Early Modern literature at Wittenberg University (Ohio), where he will be teaching early modern literature and co-directing a new health humanities minor.  He has a chapter entitled “Shakespeare Goes to Technical College” forthcoming this June in the edited volume Inclusive Shakespeares: Identity, Pedagogy, Performance.  

Mary Taylor Mann (2023) will begin a postdoctoral teaching fellowship in nineteenth-century British literature at Utah State University in the fall.

Sanjena Sathian, Creative Writing Post-doctoral Fellow, is winner of this year’s Townsend Prize in fiction.  This biennial award, bestowed by the Atlanta Writers Club, honors “the finest work of literary fiction written by an author in Georgia for her novel Gold Diggers.

Tyler Allen Tennant, graduate student, is the Post45 Contemporaries Associate Editor. Tyler has been working with Monica Huerta, an assistant professor of English at Princeton, on co-editing a cluster of essays at Post45 on RuPaul’s Drag Race, with an introduction from Tyler.
Raegan Allen, Class of 2023, majoring in English. Raegan’s poem, “Shame Study #2” is being published in Zeniada Magazine this coming summer 2023.

Matthew Buxton, Class of 2023, Double majoring in Chemistry and Creative Writing, has been accepted to the University of Michigan’s MFA in Poetry with full funding and a stipend for Fall 2023.

Fiona Jones, Class of 2023, Double majoring in Music and English, will be attending the 2023 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ workshop is the oldest workshop of its kind and is widely recognized as a premier proving and training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction.

Diana Kerolos, Class of 2023, Double majoring in Psychology and Creative Writing, has published three poems and a short story in the Fall 2022 edition of Ripple Zine has published Ripple is a student-run feminist zine from the Women’s and Gender Studies and Creative Writing departments at the University of Maine at Farmington. In addition to her publications, Diana has been accepted into the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s MA program in Social Work, where she will focus on dismantling the racial and economic disparities children of minorities face in the healthcare system.

Christopher Labaza (2022 alum) published a short story entitled “Kingsnake,” in the Appalachian Review, where it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize..

Nico Mestre, Class of 2024, Double majoring in English and Creative Writing and Linguistics, will be a summer intern at BOMB Magazine in Brooklyn, New York. He first heard of BOMB after reading a short story published in the magazine and later The Best American Short Stories of 2021 for his Intermediate Fiction Writing course.

Vince Orozco, Class of 2024, Majoring in English, was awarded  a research grant from the University of Texas San Marcos, to conduct research for his Honors thesis on Cormac McCarthy this summer at the Wittliff Collection at UT San Marcos.

Val Pachecho, Class of 2023, Double majoring in English Creative Writing and Psychology, B.A., submitted her one-act play “Kissing Oranges” and ten-minute play “La Ley de la Vida” to the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) and both were selected!  The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students annually from colleges and universities across the country.

A group of 7 students traveled with Dr. Sarah Higinbotham of Oxford College to present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in mid-April. NCUR is the largest symposium of its kind in the world, bringing together nearly 4,000 undergraduate students each year from all fields and disciplines. Lauren Katz, English Major, class of 2025,  Nicole Kassabian, English major, class of 2023, and Madeleine Kleinerman, English and Creative Writing, B.A., class of 2023, presented on English Literature. In addition, Reese Yang, Anusha Kothari, and Mercedes Sarah presented rhetorical analyses.


Katherine Ellison (2005) is Chair of the Department of English at Illinois State University, where she is also Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies and Publishing Studies. Katherine has recently published two books: Secret Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century: Theories and Practices of Cryptology (Cambridge University Press, 2022) The monograph is in print, with accompanying video demonstrations online, and will also be an e-book available at: Her collected edition, Collaborative Humanities Research and Pedagogy: The Networks of John Matthews Manly and Edith Rickert, co-edited with Susan Kim, was published with Palgrave Macmillan in fall 2022. Katherine’s own chapters include “Academic Exhaustion and the Afterlife of John Matthews Manly and Edith Rickert,” “Marvelous Equipment: The Collaborations and Networks of Manly and Rickert,” “Finding Connection in the Nomadic Life of Scholarship: John Matthews Manly’s Letters” and “John Matthews Manly and the Riverbank Laboratory Network: The Fabyan and Friedman Correspondence.”

Hannah Griggs (2022) began a position as the Visiting Subject Librarian for English at Emory’s Woodruff Library.

Lindsey Grubbs (2019) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Jimmy Worthy (2017) published After a Thousand Tears with the University of Georgia Press. The book is a collection of poetry by a renowned writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson. Dr. Worthy is now an Assistant Professor in the English Department at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

2023  Graduate and Undergraduate Awards and Recognitions 

The list of award-winning papers, poems, stories, scripts, and overall excellencies is lengthy.   To find these honors, click on these links to the departmental web site:

Creative Writing:


Congratulations to all awardees, past, present, and future! 

Wishing you all great success and plenty of good books this summer –

Benjamin Reiss
Chair, Department of English

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