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

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

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. 

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.

Becca Cohen Undergraduate Spotlight

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

Becca Cohen
Biology and English
Emory University, Class of 2023

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

At the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) in Staunton, Virginia, audience members are part of the performance. Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize any lines–but Merchant of Venice’s Portia may point to you while she declares her suitors unsuitable! Because the ASC replicates early modern conditions, some lucky playgoers can sit on the stage in the “Lord’s Chairs” that are part of their recreation of the Elizabethan theater known as Blackfriars. In this indoor theater, lights remain on during the show, so audiences cannot hide in the dark as they can in most modern productions. This type of performance allows for eye contact and–as research has shown– it results in an emotional reaction in participants, which of course enhances everyone’s theater experience. 

This summer I have been lucky enough to be fully immersed in the ASC experience as an educational intern. In this internship, I’ve come to rely on skills I’ve honed in English classes. I’m especially grateful for what I’ve learned in Dr. Cahill’s classes about early modern drama, intimacy choreography, and early modern historical contexts (from aristocratic hunting practices to sorcery and witchcraft) because I’ve drawn on this knowledge as I have analyzed different plays, props, and acting choices. And I’m thrilled to have opportunities to learn more from other Shakespeareans at the ASC, including my supervisor in the education department, Sarah Enloe, and Aubrey Whitlock, who co-hosts the Hurly Burly Shakespeare Podcast.

 So far, I’ve seen Macbeth in an outdoor theater space and Henry V in the Blackfriars. I have also gotten covered in stage blood at a workshop with young children; helped teach early modern rhetoric and meter to college students; attended rehearsals and later provided dramaturgical input to actors (for example, I weighed in on the current production of Henry V set in the grunge era of the 1990s and starring Brandon Carter, an extraordinary actor of color who has appeared in several Shakespeare history plays); analyzed ongoing productions in my blogs; taught administrative staff how to write blog entries; wrote play pitches for future seasons; helped graduate students find resources for their research; absorbed new information from the vast film archives of past productions; and even interviewed actors about how their BIPOC and LGBTQ+ identities affected the decisions they made on stage. It has been very cool to see how vital the skills I developed in my Emory English courses are to my intern experience.

English Department Alum’s Thesis Published in Journal

The English Department is excited to highlight our recent alum, Dylan Schellenberg (20C), whose senior thesis work, titled “A Retinal Twitch, A Misfired Nerve Cell: The Neuroscience of The Crying of Lot 49,” will be published in the Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction journal.

Initially, Schellenberg came to Emory for the great neuroscience program, but by his sophomore year, he realized he was missing his high school English classes. Moving forward, he chose to double major in English and Neuroscience and Behavior Biology (NBB) to further explore both of his interests. “The senior thesis really ended up being the perfect opportunity to realize this long-held goal of mine of independently exploring science and literature,” Schellenberg says.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the process of delving into more and more obscure/esoteric texts in the scholarly pursuit to dig up these odd moments throughout history that have been largely passed over by others,” he explained, “it makes you feel like some academic sleuth.” When asked about advice for English majors interested in writing a thesis, Schellenberg emphasized the importance of reading a lot but reading smart. He explained, “it’s fun to go exploring in your research and learn and discover new things, but you also must be smart with your time, considering this is college and you have a load of other responsibilities to fulfill on top of your thesis.”

Despite the pandemic interrupting his plans to stay in Atlanta, he has continued to explore his interests by reading and writing what he finds interesting. He looks forward to his future career whether that includes medical school to become a doctor or graduate school to become an English teacher. Either way, he plans to continue his literary pursuits by drafting an essay on Pynchon and hopes to be published again in the near future. Emory’s English Department is proud to list Schellenberg amongst our alumni and we’re sure his future will contain a great deal of success in both the literary and scientific fields. Those interested in reading his work can read his published article online.