Department of English Newsletter: December 2017

in this issue

Past Faculty: Sarah Field Barrow/Faculty Notes/Dinner with Professor Orlemanski/Alumni News/ Writers Resource Center Workshops


Faculty of the Past

Sarah Field Barrow
b. 21 October 1877 in Mississippi
d. 1 May 1956 in Memphis, Tennessee

Sarah Field Barrow earned her Ph.B. at the University of Chicago in 1900, and then went on to earn her Ph.M. from the same university in 1902. Barrow’s thesis, Studies in the Language of Spencer, helped her secure a position as Reader in English at the University of Chicago for a year before she was hired as an Instructor of English at Wolcott School in Denver, Colorado, where she taught for the next ten years (1903-1913). In 1915, Barrow earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and wrote The Medieval Society Romances, her doctoral dissertation. Barrow was hired as an Instructor in English at Mather College for Women in the same year, which she made her scholarly home for the next thirty-two years until her retirement in 1947.

During her tenure at Mather College, Barrow was eventually promoted to Associate Professor of English after the publication of her book Antichrist and Adam: Two Mediaeval Religious Dramas. She was then promoted to full Professor in 1928, and in the same year she was appointed Acting Head of the History department where she served for one year. Barrow then returned to the English Department where she continued to be a fervent supporter of her students and their education. She fought tirelessly to ensure that the curriculum of the arts and humanities was not overrun by what she deemed the “professional bloc” of education training, and directly challenged then University President W.G. Leutner verbally and in writing regarding the issue. Barrow was uniquely committed to the humanistic education of her students at Mather College inside and outside of the English Department, and she made that education the focus of her life.

Barrow taught graduate courses in Chaucer, The Modern English Novel, Great Biographies, and frequent sections of undergraduate courses such as the Survey of English Literature during her time at Mather College.

Entry by Melissa Pompili, from records in University Archives, CWRU, and from public documents.
Photo courtesy University Archives, CWRU.


Lucy Biederman‘s The Walmart Book of the Dead is reviewed at Necessary Fiction.

Michael Clune‘s piece “Formalism as the Fear of Ideas” appears in PMLA 132.4, October 2017.

Joe DeLong gave a presentation at MMLA 2017 in Cincinnati in November.

Chris Flint‘s chapter, “The Material Book,” appears in Samuel Richardson in Context (Cambridge UP, 2017).

Sarah Gridley has a suite of poems forthcoming in the January 2018 issue of West Branch Wired.

Mary Grimm has a story in The Potomac Review.

On Friday, September 8th, Denna Iammarino delivered the lecture “Re-mapping Readerly Experience: Conceptualizing a Digital Edition of John Derricke’s The Image of Irelande, with a Discoverie of Woodkarne (1581) at the department colloquium.

William Marling’s monograph Gatekeepers: The Emergence of World Literature and the 1960s (Oxford UP) is reviewed in the September issue of American Literature and in the July issue of Poortwachters van de wereldliteratuur (Netherlands).

On September 22nd, John Orlock read from his work-in-progress, How I Found You, at the department colloquium.

Luke Reader‘s article “How’s Brexit Going?” was published by History News Network and later picked up by Newsweek.

Brad Ricca discussed his work including his newest book Mrs. Sherlock Holmes at the Middleburg Heights Branch Library on November 14th.

Robert Rowan‘s article titled “Open Source Technical Communication in the Classroom: Digital Citizenship, Communities of Play, and Online Collaboration” will be included as a chapter in the edited collection Citizenship and Advocacy in Technical Communication (Routledge, forthcoming 2018).

Martha Schaffer presented a paper at the Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference at the University of Dayton in September. The paper was titled “Teaching Care: Feminist Rhetorical Practices to Foster Empathy in the Classroom.”

Thrity Umrigar had an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Martha Woodmansee delivered a keynote address on “The Business of Authorship: Richardson to Rowling” at the annual meeting of the German Association of Teachers of English, held September 21-23 in Regensburg, Germany. The meeting included a two-day workshop inspired by her 1998 volume New Economic Criticism.


Writers House Hosts Dinner with Professor Julie Orlemanski

On Thursday, November 2nd, several English graduate students joined visiting colloquium speaker Julie Orlemanski for a mentoring conversation over a lovely dinner at L’Albatros Brasserie. This opportunity was generously funded by Writers House, an initiative to construct a university-wide hub centered on the act of writing in all of its rich permutations. John Orlock, Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities, currently serves as the inaugural director of Writers House.

Dr. Orlemanski is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in late-medieval literature and literary theory. She has just completed a monograph entitled “Symptomatic Subjects: Bodies, Signs, and Narratives in Late Medieval England,” and her new book project is “Things without Faces: Prosopopoeia in Medieval Writing,” which addresses fictional bodies in the Middle Ages. Her work has appeared in Exemplaria, postmedieval, JMEMS, Textual Practice, JEGP, and numerous edited collections. For the academic year 2017-2018, she is a Visiting Associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Orlemanski discussed her own academic career and research and shared advice on coursework, teaching, publishing, conference presentations, graduate student activism, and work-life balance.

—Erin Blakeslee


Jeanne Colleran (’80) has been named interim president at John Carroll University.

Andi Cumbo-Floyd (’01) has just published a book—Love Letters to Writers: Encouragement, Accountability, Truth-Telling.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle (’10), Sonoma County’s Poet Laureate, gave a reading at Ukiah- Memorial Library in October.

Kristin Kondrlik‘s work is published in Victorian Periodicals Review.

Alum Candace Martin (’12) is featured in art/sci.

Marie Vibbert (’98) took part in a discussion of “Worldbuilding in Science Fiction” at Happy Dog / The Euc in November as part of Literary Cleveland’s “Big Read.”

Alum (’88) John Vourlis‘s film festival hit Breaking Balls was released on DVD on November 17th.


If you have news you would like to share in a future newsletter, please send it to department chair Christopher Flint (

The department also has a Facebook page on which several hundred of your classmates and profs are already sharing their news. Just use your Facebook locator to find “CWRU English Department” and see what they’ve been up to. Become a member of the community and post your own news. We want to know. The department will be posting here regularly too—news of colloquiums, readings, etc.


Writing Resource Center General Campus Workshop Series

It was standing room only in Bellflower Hall on Friday, December 1st. The final installment in the Writing Resource Center’s Fall 2017 General Campus Workshop Series generated record-breaking attendance. The workshop, titled “Revision and Reflection,” was led by Writing Program faculty members Drs. Denna Iammarino and James Newlin.  The instructors emphasized to more than 70 students in attendance the importance of reflecting on one’s writing while sharing other productive tips – such as “reverse outlining” – when revising drafts. Next spring, the WRC will continue its General Campus Workshop Series covering such topics as scientific writing and using evidence effectively.