Department of English Newsletter: September 2017

in this issue

Letter from the Chair/Faculty Notes/Past Faculty: Mary Esson Reid/Alumni News/Book Beetle/Fall 2017 Colloquia

Letter from the Chair

Dear Friends of English,

Since I addressed you last year in this column, there has been, considerable volatility in our nation. But at least in our academic patch here at CWRU, conditions have been relatively stable. We have seen modest growth in the number of declared majors and overall English credit hours taught and foresee continuing expansion. Guilford House, apart from some recent rehabilitation of the new front steps, has settled into its renovations from the year before. Bellflower Hall continues to gradually transform itself, and I am happy to announce, has received substantial technical upgrades to two rooms, creating much needed fully-functional seminar classrooms, as well as meeting space for SAGES/ WRC support and Writers House/ Colloquium programming.

Our new requirements for both the major and honors within it officially begin this semester, as does our new plus/minus grading in graduate courses. The graduate program has also completed its goals of smaller but more personalized admission and has added a creative writing concentration. The Writing Program, Writers House, the Writing Resource Center, and the Colloquium Series continue to progress and have received substantial financial boosts this year. Last fall, the Colloquium and Helen Buchman Sharnoff Fund hosted such authors as the poets Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Li-Young Lee and non-fiction writers Scott Graham and Kerry Howley; in the spring, Mark Noble, David Giffels, and Kate Marshall spoke on literary topics and Linda Gregerson shared work from her recently published poetry collection. Matthew Kirschenbaum gave the annual Sadar Lecture, “Green-Screeners: Locating the Literary History of Word Processing.” Our SAGES faculty continue to serve a crucial role in fostering writing across the university. And in conjunction with the College, the Center for International Affairs, and the School of Graduate Studies, we will be rolling out the Academic English Proficiency Program in Spring 2018, a two-module post-baccalaureate certificate program for international students planning to attend graduate school at Case Western Reserve University or elsewhere in the United States. Last and perhaps not least we completed and submitted our ten-year Strategic Plan.

Faculty in the department published several monographs (led by Thrity Umrigar’s double heaping of Everybody’s Son and When I Carried You in My Belly, Steve Pinkerton’s Blasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made Flesh, Brad Ricca’s Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation, and Lucy Biederman’sThe Walmart Book of the Dead). And, as always, we produced a very healthy annual output of articles, commentary and creative work. So we are looking forward to a very productive year, one that will likely require us again to energetically promote the personal value, public benefit and professional advantages of a Humanities education.

—Christopher Flint


Lucy Biederman received a Nord Grant to create a website that promotes creative writing and reading among engineering majors.

Cara Byrne‘s review of Julia Lee’s Our Gang: A Racial History of The Little Rascals was published in the latest issue (10.2) of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth.

Michael Clune‘s essay “Formalism as the Fear of Ideas” is forthcoming in PMLA.

Ana Codita presented “Incorporating intercultural communication in the technical writing pedagogy: A new horizon, or a dilemma?” at the Conference on College Composition and Communication Convention in Portland, Oregon.

Gusztav Demeter presented “The Use of Explicit Apologies in Academic Spoken English” at the “Faces of English 2: Teaching and Researching Academic and Professional English” Conference in Hong Kong on June 1.

Sarah Gridley‘s poem “Insofar” has been published in the New England Review.

Mary Grimm has a story up at Writing Disorder.

Denna Iammarino is co-editing and contributing to a critical edition about The Image from Manchester University Press (to be under contract by the end of summer). This summer she used a Baker-Nord Travel Grant to research the text’s author and gather images of the text’s first editions in the UK. With an Active Learning Grant from UTech, she attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute to conceptualize the edition.

Kurt Koenigsberger is now Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, in addition to the Director of Graduate Studies in English.

Dave Lucas will be on a panel, “Things Fall Apart: Re-centering Humanities and Ethics in Medical Education,” at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities in Kansas City, this October.
William Marling‘s Oxford U.P. monograph Gatekeepers: The Emergence of World Literature and the 1960s has been reviewed by American Literary History.

Brad Ricca‘s essay “The Historians of Creators” appears in The Secret Origins of Comics Studies.

Robert Spadoni, associate professor in the Department of English, has been named the Armington Professor for 2017-19.

Martha Woodmansee participated in the annual workshop of the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property, held July 12-14 at the University of Toronto School of Law. She serves on the Executive Board of ISHTIP, which she co-directed from 2008-16.

Faculty of the Past:

Mary Esson Reid

Mary Esson Reid graduated from the University of Toronto in 1920 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. From 1920 to 1923 she worked as an instructor in the English department at the University of Wisconsin. After earning her Master of Arts degree in English from Wisconsin in 1923, she spent the next two years studying at Somerset College, Oxford. Upon her return to her native Canada in 1925 she taught for a year at the University of Saskatchewan. She joined the faculty of Cleveland College of Western Reserve University just one year after its founding as an Instructor of English in 1926. In 1930 she attained the rank of Assistant Professor. During this period she also began working on her PhD at Yale University, writing a dissertation on “The Background of Shelley’s ‘Laon and Cythna.’” Reid took a leave of absence to complete her dissertation, and was awarded her PhD in 1941. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1943, and earned the distinction of Professor in 1951. She was Head of English and Comparative Literature at Cleveland College from 1941-45, and taught at Cleveland College until her retirement at the age of 67 in 1963.

Reid co-edited The Bible Read as Literature: An Anthology (Cleveland: Howard Allen, Inc., 1959) with the critically acclaimed and widely published Cleveland poet Collister Hutchison. Reid also published the article, “The Historical Interpretations of ‘The Parliament of Foules,’” in the publication University of Wisconsin Studies in Language and Literature (1923).

Mary Esson Reid’s academic career rested primarily on her renown as a teacher of English for foreign students. She conducted original research in Basic English with Professor I.A. Richards at Harvard University in 1944 and with Professor Walpole at the University of Chicago in 1946. This research led to an invitation to join the faculty at the University of London in 1948 as a special lecturer on teaching English to non-native speakers. She was also appointed to Harvard University’s summer school faculty in 1950. While she could not accept the position at the University of London, she did accept the position at Harvard where she continued to develop her reputation as one of the most effective and innovative teachers of non-native English speakers.

Throughout her tenure at Cleveland College Mary Esson Reid was one of the strongest faculty voices advocating for classes in the evenings to make the College more accessible to adult learners. She also headed the College’s program for foreign students, and made herself available as an advisor and mentor to non-native students in all the colleges of Western Reserve University. When Reid retired in 1963 she was respected and beloved by faculty members, alumni, and students. Many of her former students and colleagues wrote to the Western Reserve University to express their appreciation for Professor Reid’s sense of humor, patience, and unfailingly high standards for academic quality from her students. An annual prize was established in her name and awarded by Cleveland College in the late 1960s and Western Reserve College in the 1970s.

While she had become a naturalized citizen of the US in 1943, Reid relocated to the Rosedale neighborhood of Toronto following her retirement. She lived in Toronto and York, Ontario, until her death in 1981.

Entry by Hayley Verdi and Kurt Koenigsberger, from records in University Archives, CWRU, and from public documents.
Photo courtesy University Archives, CWRU


Amanda K. Booher (’02) has coedited Feminist Rhetorical Science Studies: Human Bodies, Posthumanist Worlds out now from Southern Illinois University Press.

Alum (’10) Iris Dunkle‘s new poetry collection, Interrupted Geographies, has been published by Trio House Press.

In September, Dr. Abdul Jabbar (’69), Emeritus Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies at City College of San Francisco, lectured on “The Middle East as the Cradle of Civilization.” San Francisco Public Library.

Alum (’09) Christopher Lambert just started an online film magazine – here.

Cameron Macaskill (’17) talks about her life as an English major and about Professor Sarah Gridley as one of her influential teachers.

Jeff Morgan will run a Writer’s Workshop in Antigua, Guatemala, in late December.

Danielle Nielsen has been promoted to Associate Professor of English with tenure at Murray State University, where she serves as Composition Coordinator.

Sarah Sadid (’11) has left her position at Children’s National Medical Center in DC (where she managed their million-dollar donor society). She is joining the Seattle Children’s Foundation, where she will be developing the strategy for Stewardship at all levels of giving to cultivate current and prospective donors to the hospital.

Brandy Schillace had a book launch at Dittrick Museum: “Clockwork Futures: How Steampunk Science (Re)invented the Modern World.”

Nadia Tarnawsky (’96) has a Fulbright in Ukraine.

Marie Lillian Vibbert (’98) will be teaching a class for Literary Cleveland in October: “Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy: Exploring the Literature of ‘What If?'”


 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.


The BookBeetle Has Arrived

The Department of English has been awarded a Nord grant to establish a small, traditional wooden screw press (The BookBeetle) in a secured space in Writers House. The press—which can print from movable type, photopolymeric plates, and cut lineoleum blocks—along with its attendant supplies will be available, with appropriate supervision, to instructors and classes who wish to use it.

Fall 2017 Colloquia

Friday, September 29th
Literature and Politics,” a panel discussion. Participants: Michael Clune, Megan Jewell, John Higgins. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, October 6th
A Poetry Reading by Susan Stewart (from Cinder: New and Selected Poems). Clark 206. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, October 20th
A Reading by Lucy Biederman. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, October 27th
A Lecture by Sara Newman. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, November 3rd
Embodying Fiction and the Limits of Literary Theory, in the Middle Ages and Beyond,” a lecture by Julie Orlemanski. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, November 10th
How to Do Things with Dead People: Temporal Conjecture and the Shakespearean History Play,” a lecture by Alice Dailey. Clark 206. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, November 17th
Sharnoff Panel. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, December 1st
Job Talks. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.

Friday, December 8th
Macintyre Event. Guilford Parlor. 3:15 to 4:15.