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Current Students

Student Profiles

MA Students

Elizabeth Elmore
I am a second-year MA student with a BA in English Literature and Writing Studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My research interests include twentieth-century American literature, feminist theory, and gender and sexuality studies. I am particularly interested in the depiction and framing of women’s bodies in literature and culture.

Mark Mowls
I have BAs in English and in Film Studies from Ohio State University (2002) and interests in film studies, visual culture and rhetoric, and British and expatriate American modernism. I am a second year MA candidate with academic interest in poststructuralism, film, queer theory, and the effects of technology.

Aaron Perine
I am a second-year MA student. I have a BA in English from CWRU (2012). My research interests include visual rhetoric, 21st-century material culture, print culture, journalism, and identity formation.

John Rooney
I am a first-year MA student with a BA in English from Case Western Reserve University (2011) and a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law (2014).  My interests include Romanticism, poetry and poetics, lyricism, and poetic subjectivity.  I plan to focus at least some of my research on deconstructing and reexamining the theories of the voice and subject in lyrical poetry heretofore proposed or assumed.

Joseph Rooney
I am a first-year MA student with BAs in English and Religious Studies from Case Western Reserve University. In my graduate career here at Case, I wish to explore my interests in narratology and biblical exegesis. Of special concern to me are the ways in which authors of English works of literature draw upon biblical narratives in the construction of their own narratives. My “post-secular” research goals will hopefully allow me to uncover the theological agendas embedded in these works of literature.

Molly Zacour
I am a second-year M.A. student with a BA in English from Mercyhurst University (2014). My primary focus is 18th- and 19th-century British literature. My research interests also include Composition Studies and transmedia storytelling.

PhD Students

Erin Blakeslee
I am a PhD student in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) program. Prior to beginning my studies at CWRU, I taught writing for several years at Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana. I earned my BS in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College and my MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Purdue. My research interests include writing pedagogy and genealogical writing, storytelling, and archival conventions. My studies focus primarily on writing situations that occur outside of the classroom and the workplace: in community writing groups, in family archives, in queer feminist performance spaces, and on hobbyist websites.

Cara Byrne
I am a PhD candidate whose academic interests include children’s literature, African-American literature, gender studies, feminism and ESL pedagogy. I earned my BS in Education and my BA in English from Bowling Green State University (2009) and my MA in English from Case Western Reserve University (2011). I am also licensed to teach middle school and high school integrated language arts in Ohio.

Evan Chaloupka
I am a PhD student interested in cognitive disability and narrative. My previous work has focused on representations of cognitive disability and normalcy in naturalist and modernist American fiction as well as early twentieth-century popular science texts. In 2012, I earned my MA in English from The University of Akron. In 2010, I earned my BA in English from The Ohio State University. I have taught composition at Lakeland Community College, Lake Erie College, and Ursuline College and served as an organizing committee member for the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association.

Michael Chiappini
I am a second-year PhD student whose research areas include classic and contemporary rhetorical theory, medical rhetoric and the rhetoric of science, and literature concerning HIV/AIDS. Specifically, I am interested in how HIV/AIDS emerged as not only a socially stigmatized disease but also an identity category that shaped and continues to shape the lives of LGBTQ people and their literary, artistic, and rhetorical responses to the disease.  I am invested in a pedagogy that undoes the harms of normalization and assimilation by being public about privacy.

Thom Dawkins
I am a PhD candidate at the dissertation stage, writing about early modern poetry and its relation to contemporaneous medical and theological discourses. I am an inaugural recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship, which supports my research at the nearby Allen Medical Library and at additional research institutions. I’ve had the opportunity to teach a great variety of topics at CWRU, including course  that privilege professional communication (ENGL 398), ESL (ENGL 148), and Creative Writing (ENGL 203). I currently serve as the president of the English Graduate Student Assocation, and have held posts as events chair and as a representative on the graduate and undergraduate curriculum committees through the organization. Before coming to CWRU, I completed my MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Chatham University and my MTS at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Philip Derbesy
I am a first-year PhD student who holds a BA in English from Northwest Nazarene University (2013) and an MA in English from the University of Missouri (2015). My research focuses primarily on twentieth-century American literature, especially on how literary modernism interacts with popular culture. For instance, I argue in my master’s thesis that William Faulkner defined his literary project in opposition to filmic storytelling techniques, and my forthcoming article in Religion and the Arts (co-authored with Benjamin Fischer) argues that the popular religious writings of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are formulated as a response to modernist aesthetics.

Kate Dunning
A PhD candidate focusing on 19th- and 20th-century American poetry, my interests include ecocriticism, W. S. Merwin, Emily Dickinson, feminism, and creative writing. I hold a BA in English and French with a minor in Spanish (2008), as well as a Master’s in Library Science (2009) from the University at Buffalo. I also spent the 2009-2010 academic year teaching English at the University of Maroua in Cameroon (Central Africa) as a Fulbright grantee.

Eric Earnhardt
I am a PhD candidate finishing my dissertation on the history and theory of the pathetic fallacy and its application to animal life in Anglo-American poetry from 1856 to the present. By examining changes in poetic representations of birds from Romantic poetic symbols to sentient analogs of human experience, I pursue Ruskin’s critique of pathetic fallacies as a development in what ethologists term “critical anthropomorphism” in the work of Charles Darwin, G. M. Hopkins, Santayana, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, William James, John Dewey, and Elizabeth Bishop, among others. Other research interests include theories of literary pastoral, African American literature, American pragmatism, and religious/secular discourse in literature and public life. I am interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the teaching of literature, the rhetoric of public debates over science and policy, ESL pedagogy, technical and professional writing, creative writing, environmental studies, and the idea of a liberal arts education in the modern university.

Catherine Forsa
I am a doctoral candidate studying early American and nineteenth-century American literature, women writers, and science writing. My dissertation examines the intersection of literature, science, and aesthetics in nineteenth-century America. This interdisciplinary research informs my teaching, especially in courses for the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES) writing across the curriculum program at CWRU. I have also taught courses in literature, composition, foundational writing, and professional and technical communication. I received my MA in English from Seton Hall University and my BA in English from Fairfield University.

Megan Griffin
Holding a BA and an MA from John Carroll University, I am currently a PhD candidate working on getting my prospectus approved and beginning the dissertation process.  My area of focus is Early Modern British literature, with an emphasis on drama.  My current research examnies the function of, and the rhetoric surrounding, the figure of the sovereign during the late 16th century and early-to-mid 17th century.  I also have an interest in subjectivity and the discourses of nationhood during this period.

Raymond Horton
I am a third-year PhD student, and my interests include 19th- and 20th-century American literature, contemporary fiction, religion and literature, phenomenology, and aesthetics. This year, I am starting my dissertation, tentatively titled “Religion as Device in American Literature.” This project will address the persistence of religion as a formal device in American writers from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. Focusing on writers such as Mark Twain, Willa Cather, James Baldwin, Don DeLillo, and Marilynne Robinson, my dissertation explores the ways in which secular disenchantment renders religious backgrounds newly available for an aesthetics of quotidian experience. Beyond my dissertation, I am interested in interdisciplinary approaches to teaching American literature, critical pedagogy in teaching composition, ESL pedagogy, critical university studies, and the role of graduate students in addressing issues of shared governance and academic labor.

Lara Klaber
I am a PhD student in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) program, with BAs in Communication, Film & Digital Media, and English, and a MA in English, from Cleveland State University. I take a cross-disciplinary approach to my work, combining elements of rhetoric and composition, literary theory, film theory, and communication theory in my analyses. My Master’s thesis focused on “the Monster as Romantic Hero in Contemporary Fiction,” and I am particularly invested in the use of popular fiction and media to interrogate cultural norms and values. Additional interests include multimedia narratology, technical communication, interactive composition, and the use of contemporary young adult fiction to promote higher literacy rates. I also harbor a great love of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genre writing.

Kristin Kondrlik
As a fifth year PhD student participating in the WHiT program, my research interests include medical rhetoric, literature of the period between 1880 and 1920, print culture studies, and gender studies. My dissertation focuses on the ways British writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used various genres of print culture – specialized periodicals, popular periodicals, and novels – to bolster the rhetorical ethos of female physicians in the decades after women’s legal recognition as medical professionals. I received my BA in English and Political Science from Canisius College (2008) and my MA in English from Case Western Reserve University (2011).

Daniel Luttrull
I earned a BA in English and Writing from Indiana Wesleyan University (2009) and an MA in English from Baylor University (2011). Currently, I am a first year PhD student interested in American Romanticism, religion, and the histories of nineteenth-century periodicals.

Michelle Lyons-McFarland
A PhD student, I hold a BA in English and Humanities from the University of Washington (2010) and an MA in English from Case Western Reserve University (2012). My area of focus is 18th-century British literature. Academic interests for me include thing theory, gender and sexuality studies, gothic literature, games and new media, reader/author/publisher communities and relationships, and composition.

Marcus Mitchell
I earned my BA in English from Illinois Wesleyan University (2008) and my MA in English from Case Western Reserve University (2011). I am currently a fifth-year PhD student focusing on Victorian and Edwardian literature and culture. My research examines conflicting attitudes toward women’s muscularity and athleticism in Victorian fiction and the periodical press, as well as the significance of these attitudes in relation to the gender ideologies underpinning Victorian physical culture.

Andrea Nienstedt
I am a PhD student, with both a BA and MA from Oakland University in Michigan. My research interests are primarily in 19th-century transatlantic literature (mostly British/Irish and American). Within this period, I’m especially interested in gender issues, specifically, representations (by women or men) of things like gender stereotypes, womanhood, femininity, female sexuality, spinsterhood, etc. I like to utilize information from traditionally non-literary period documents, like advertisements and newspaper articles.

Michael Parker
I am a PhD student focusing on twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature, queer theory, gender and sexuality, race, science fiction, fantasy, and utopian literature. My research focuses on the relationship between experience and expressed desire in queer subjects in American literature. I received my BA in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 and my MA in English from Case Western in 2011.

Melissa Pompili
I am a second year PhD student whose research has historically focused on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century transatlantic women’s writing. My theoretical interests include gender and sexuality studies, affect theory, and biopolitics. I am especially interested in the intersection of these theoretical approaches as they relate to conditions of embodiment and social organization. I hold a BA from Lourdes University and an MA in Literature from Eastern Michigan University.

Jessica Slentz
I am a fourth year PhD Dean’s Fellow focusing on digital rhetoric and the rhetorics of display. My dissertation is an ethnographic study that will use observation and interviews to investigate the rhetorical experiences composed by and through interaction with digital haptic interfaces in spaces of cultural exhibition, particularly my two research sites: The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. My secondary research interests include new media and digital literacies, digital writing research, multimodal composition, visual rhetoric, and professional and technical writing. I hold a BA in Professional Communication and Information Design from Nazareth College, an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University, London, UK, and an MA in English Literature from the University of Rochester.

Megan Weber
I am a PhD student with a BA from Wittenberg University and an MA from the University of South Florida. My focus is Restoration and 18th-century British Literature. My primary research focuses on the development of language through the period, examining shifting gender roles and definitions of masculinity. Using plays and novels, I explore the gap between the public and private, and the different language used in each.

Scott Weedon
I am a PhD candidate and I focus on professional communication, rhetorical theory, and design. I graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a BA in English and from Case Western Reserve University with an MA in English.