Department of English Newsletter: September 2022

Letter from the Chair

The packet of mail that Chris Flint left on my desk has an old black-and-white polaroid in it. Eight faculty are sitting or standing, some in pairs, some gesticulating. A combination of shirtsleeves and winter wear reveals very little about the season, hidden by the long curtains on the windows: it could be December, or it could just as well be April. (You can see that I’ve already been warned about northeastern Ohio.) I’m not going to venture a guess about the date the photo was taken, either. On the first Friday of fall semester, an uncanny thing occurred: the image came to life again in the Guilford House parlor, as faculty, staff and students gathered to welcome each other and the new semester. Not eight faculty this time, but dozens of new faces, fresh conversations, and exciting ideas. Most striking to me, as a new member of the department and the incoming chair, was the continuity on display: here were Gary Stonum and Martha Woodmansee, no strangers to Guilford, at the long dining table; and, over in the hallway, there was a group of first- and second-year students talking about forming an English Majors’ Club. About “some trees” in fall, or is it spring, John Ashbery writes that “their merely being there means something.” That’s true for a department too.

It was true that Friday in particular, but I hope this year offers plenty of opportunities to gather and celebrate the daily work that we do—teaching courses, reading books and watching films, helping students, and each other, write, think, imagine, and argue. On Friday afternoons, starting on September 9th, the English Colloquium will bring together scholars, poets, novelists, and translators on topics that range from Black linguistic justice to the James Joyce Collection at Buffalo to the relation between poetry and analytical philosophy. The department’s first “Wayzgoose,” a traditional celebration of the letterpress held in candlelight, will showcase the New Gutenberg Annex. Ongoing workshops in Bellflower Hall, under the leadership of Brie Parkin in the Writing Resource Center, will continue to prove that writing extends not only across the disciplines, but across the border between the university and the greater community. And those events only add to the crucial, quotidian encounters, chance conversations, and leaps of imagination that occur in our fall classes on Black British literature, American literature, poetry and fiction writing, journalism, Dark Comedy, and Shakespeare.

At the department’s welcome back party in Guilford, I found myself in the unusual but etymologically sound role of host and guest. I come to Guilford House and to Cleveland after seventeen years in the southeast, including nine at Clemson University. I’m a scholar of poetry and a poet, and I believe that literature exists to be shared with others. Poems are particularly easy that way; they meet me in my desire to be around others. You read a good one—you give it to a friend. The process keeps on going until, suddenly, there is a little world, an everywhere, with all of the requirements that such a world calls into being: to make a place for strangers, to work for the good of difference, and to brave the honesty of justice. It’s almost a rule: “I feel I must sing and dance, to tell / Of this in a way, that knowing you will be drawn to me.” That’s Ashbery again, writing about a new friendship as a work of art, a blessing in disguise.
–Walt Hunter

New Faculty: Welcome to the Department

Elysia Balavage is an Anisfield-Wolf SAGES fellow specializing in transnational modernist literature. Her current book project investigates the ways that modernist authors transform ideas commonly associated with Friedrich Nietzsche’s nihilism – nothingness, despair, and destruction – into culturally illuminative and creative points. She is currently researching the role of Chicago’s Dill Pickle Club as a space for facilitating conversations that used dominant understandings of nihilistic ideas as points of revolution across racial and geopolitical lines.

Joe DeLong has an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa and a PhD in English from the University of Cincinnati. He’s the author of How We Measure (Finishing Line, 2021), a full-length poetry collection. His other publications include literary scholarship, visual poetry, and translations (with Noriko Hara) of contemporary Japanese poet Ken’ichi Sasō.

Jamie Hickner (PhD, American Studies, Purdue University) has taught writing and literature courses for two decades, most recently at Southern Oregon University, where she also directed a college bridge program. Jamie teaches courses in multiethnic American literature, writing, and pedagogy, and she is working on a book about contemporary literature by African immigrant writers. Jamie joins the department as an Anisfield-Wolf SAGES fellow.

Alexandra Magearu is a literary scholar, writer, and visual artist. Born and raised in Romania, Alexandra obtained an MA in Photographic History and Practice from DeMontfort University and a PhD degree in Comparative Literature and Feminist Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research and teaching have explored postcolonial literatures and cultures, transnational feminist theory, human rights, globalization, and forced migration.

Reda Mohammed earned her PhD in English Studies with a specialization in Linguistics & TESOL from Illinois State University and her MA in Literature from the University of Wyoming. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature bringing together Linguistics, Composition Studies, and Literary & Cultural Studies. Her pedagogy focuses on creating equitable access to resources and materials and on accommodating the diversity of her students. She joins CWRU this fall as a full-time lecturer in the SAGES ESL Writing Program.

Robin Beth Schaer is the author of the poetry collection Shipbreaking and a work in progress on art and atrocity. Her teaching interests include all genres of creative writing, with a focus on creative practice, environmental writing, and hybrid forms. Her recent writing awards include the Creative Capital Award Shortlist in 2022, a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts in 2021, and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2020.

Lindsay Turner is the author of Songs & Ballads (Prelude Books, 2018) and the chapbook A Fortnight (Doublecross Press, forthcoming). Her translations from the French have been acclaimed by The New Yorker and The New York Times and honored by the National Translation Awards, the Best Translated Book Awards, and the French American Foundation. Her interests include creative writing, poetry across periods, literary translation, contemporary literature, global cinema, and gender studies.

Marion Wolfe completed her graduate work in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy at The Ohio State University. She taught at Kenyon College for several years before coming to CWRU last year as a SAGES part-time lecturer. Her research interests are in feminist rhetoric(s) and the history of women’s rhetorical practices as well as the teaching of writing/composition.

Xia Wu has earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and PhD in Teaching and Curriculum at University of Rochester. Her primary research interest is international students’ academic socialization experience in U.S. higher education. Recently, Dr. Wu’s research interests have expanded to exploring the role of instructional talk in first-year writing class, and writing program curriculum reform.

Department News

Michael Clune discusses A Defense of Judgment on the Chasing Leviathan podcast.

Charlie Ericson spoke at the Centennial International James Joyce Symposium in June on the role of Ulysses in the development of the novel form as an autonomous artwork.

Mary Grimm‘s story, “Anyone Else,” appeared on Wigleaf’s Top 50 of 2022. It was first published in Threadcount.

Josh Hoeynck and his co-editor, Michael Kindellan (University of Sheffield), have been awarded the British Academy’s Leverhulme Grant. This grant is in support of their editorial project on the Charles Olson and Robert Creeley correspondence, a project that aims to complete the series of publications begun by George Butterick and Richard Blevins.

Walt Hunter was awarded a 2022 Silvers Grant to finish The American House Poem.

Kris Kelly, Gabrielle Bychowski, and Cara Byrne participated in the August 2022 Anisfield-Wolf Summer Seminar focused on Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia by George Makari.

Michelle Lyons-McFarland was selected as a 2022-2023 winner of the Helen F. Faust Women’s Writers Research Award from the Penn State Special Collections library. She’ll be traveling there to do on-site research on their Charlotte Lennox holdings for the Lennox Bibliography Project, and then doing a Zoom talk with them in October to discuss her research.

William Marling‘s Christian Anarchist: The Life of Ammon Hennacy is reviewed in the Spring 2022 issue of American Catholic Studies Newsletter, published by the Cushwa Center at Notre Dame University.

English major Amanda Martinez Moreno tells her story on The Sound of Us:

Marilyn Mobley and Bishop Joey Johnson co-authored the op-ed “Love, Loss, and Lament” in the wake of the death of Jayland Walker which appeared in The Beacon Journal on Sunday, July 17, and in RealDeal Press on Wednesday, July 13.

Steve Pinkerton has an article forthcoming in the December 2022 issue of Genre. It’s called “Ambivalent Man: The Is-and-Isn’t World of Ralph Ellison’s ‘Tell It Like It Is, Baby.'”

Brad Ricca‘s Ten Days in the Mad-house graphic novel that he created with Courtney Sieh was just nominated as a Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Thrity Umrigar discussed her latest novel, Honor, at the Thurber House Summer Literary  Picnic on August 6th.

Alumni News

Danny Anderson (’12) has a story in Litbreak Magazine.

Shelley Costa (’83) has a new mystery out—Evil Under the Tuscan Sun.

A review of Alum (’10)  Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s book West:Fire:Archive. appeared in Night Heron Barks.

Catherine Forsa (’16) has earned tenure & promotion to Associate Professor of Writing Studies at Roger Williams University this year.

Miriam Goldman (’10) has co-published a book called The Loving Wind with her father, Dr. Gabe Goldman. The book is intended for children of all ages who have lost a loved one.

Alumni (’69) Abdul Jabbar’s latest book, “Not of an Age, but for All Time”: Revolutionary Humanism in Iqbal, Manto, and Faiz, has been published by Peter Lang International Publishers.

Kristin Kondrlik (’16) reviews two books in the Victorian Periodicals Review.

Alum (’99) Jeff Morgan‘s fourth book, The (Un)Welcome Stranger: Intercultural Sensitivity in Six American Novels, is forthcoming from McFarland.

Annie Nickoloff (’16) is now a senior editor at Cleveland Magazine.

Alum (’22) Brita Thielen‘s article, “Ethos, Hospitality, and the Pursuit of Rhetorical Healing: How Three Decolonial Cookbooks Reconstitute Cultural Identity through Ancestral Foodways,” appears in the current issue of Rhetoric Review.

Alum (’88) John Vourlis‘s documentary feature film The House Next Door has been selected to screen at the 13th annual Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (, running from October 5th through 9th. The film is a feature length documentary about how the foreclosure crisis of 2008 ripped through the Greater Cleveland area.

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