English Graduate Student Association Archives - Kendall College of Arts and Sciences

English Graduate Student Association

Performance and the Body in a Time of Contagion

Saturday, April 9
9:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m. (CT)

Join Zoom meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81656078453?pwd=eUswdTFjZm9SL3I3NllReHFFbVNYZz09

Meeting ID: 816 5607 8453
Passcode: 32MdgU

Illustration by William Blake showing two figures set against a menacing sky and landscapeIn April 2022, we will have passed the two-year mark of living in a COVID-ridden world, in which millions have died or lost loved ones. It is also a world in which people have chosen or been forced suddenly to perform new roles, engage new identities and develop new relationships between the body, the Other and performativity.

Race, gender, class and even species are, arguably, products of the body. As Judith Butler proposes, with regard to gender specifically, effects are “produced through the stylization of the body, and hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and styles of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.” As much as gender is a repetitive act, then it also concedes to a sort of performance-based activity, which begs the questions:

  • How do radical changes to our daily lives impact performance and the performative?
  • Who loses politically when we remove the essential?
  • What can literature and art contribute to the politics of the body?

This year’s English Graduate Student symposium seeks to underscore the ways in which people are drawn or forced to perform during times of crises or otherwise.

Symposium agenda

Introductions and welcoming remarks — 9:45-10 a.m.

Brad Carson, President of The University of Tulsa

Laura Stevens, Chair of the Department of English & Creative Writing

Dennis Denisoff, Director of Graduate Studies

Keynote address — 10-10:45 a.m.

Pamela Gilbert, Albert Brick Professor of English, University of Florida — “Contagion, Bleak House and the Limits of Community”

Panel 1: Body and Its Spaces — 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 

Panel chair: Seungho Lee (University of Tulsa)

Ira Sen (University of Mississippi), “Staged Moor: Aaron’s Shadowy (Dis)Positions in Titus Andronicus

Tyler Dick (University of Central Florida), “‘Through Supreme Acts of Mirroring’: Ecological Colonization(s) in Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation

Mikala Richardson (University of Tulsa), “Mind, Body, and Soul: The Trauma of Transportation in Jack Maggs

Seungho Lee (University of Tulsa), “‘You’ve no idea how difficult uneven ground is when it’s dark’: The Peripatetic Failure and the Materiality of Walking in E.M. Forster’s Howards End

Lunch break — 12:15-1 p.m.

Panel 2: Race and Colonialism — 1-2 p.m.

Panel chair: Ciara Graham (University of Tulsa)

Cooper Casale (University of Tulsa), “Shapes at a Distance: A Case for Afro-Vorticism”

Cheyenne Symonette (Michigan State University), “Sorrow in the ‘Porno-Tropics”

Ciara Graham (University of Tulsa), “Sex, Power and Racial Subjugation in James Baldwin’s ‘Going to Meet the Man’”

Panel 3: Gender and Queerness — 2:15-3:15 p.m.

Panel chair: Jamie Walt (University of Tulsa)

Seona Kim (University of Tulsa), “Exile and Pride: Reclaiming the Disabled Queer Body through Autobiographical Narrative”

Nathan Blue (University of Tulsa), “Teebs and Texts: The Queer, Digital Ecology of Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem

Emma Palmer (University of Tulsa), “Charlotte Temple and the Tear as Agency”

Jamie Walt (University of Tulsa), “We Love to Hate Them: Male-to-Female Relations in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried


Please note: All times are Central Time.

If you have any questions about this year’s symposium or the English Graduate Student Association, contact Jacob Crystal at jac3565@utulsa.edu.

Keynote speaker

Pamela Gilbert
Albert Brick Professor of English, University of Florida

woman with long hair wearing a sleeveless teal-colored blouse with her left arm crooked at her sidePamela Gilbert’s most recent book, Victorian Skin: Surface, Self, History, focuses on the history of the body, medicine and realism in the nineteenth century, with special attention to skin and surface. This is an extension of her long-term work on the history of the body and medicine in the period and on the history of genre. Other areas of interest include popular literature and medical humanities.

Some recent publications include “Recent Studies in the Nineteenth Century,” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 59.4 (2019): 913-954; “Sensation,” in Routledge Handbook of Victorian Literature, Talia Schaffer and Dennis Denisoff, Eds. Routledge, 2019. pp 95-105; “Dreadful: Aesthetic Fear in Victorian Reading” in Dreadful Passions: Fear in the Literary and Medical Imagination Medieval to Modern, London: Palgrave, 2018: 79-99; and “How Disgust Entered the Ghost Story,” in Routledge Handbook to the Ghost Story, Scott Brewster and Luke Thurston, Eds. London: Routledge, 2018: 409-417. A recent coedited project, Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature in four volumes, Blackwell, 2015 (Coedited with Dino Felluga and Linda Hughes), won the “Outstanding Reference Book” designation from the American Library Association, January 2016. Gilbert was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow (2016) and Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell (2016-17).

Gilbert serves on the executive committee for NAVSA (the North American Victorian Studies Association) and on several editorial boards. She is the series editor for the SUNY Press book series Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. At the University of Florida, Gilbert is affiliated with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and is a founding member of CISMaC, the Collective for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medicine and Culture. She regularly teaches courses in Victorian Literature, Literature and Medicine and topics in Victorian Gender and Class.

English graduate studies update (fall 2021)

This year has been one of the most vibrant for Department of English and Creative Writing graduate students.

Virtual innovations

Having to study, teach and interact virtually has, at times, been challenging. But this makes it all the more inspiring to recognize the new technologies and forms of collaboration with which our students have become familiar. Even more valuable, we have all come to appreciate the crucial benefits of face-to-face engagements and being part of a community. Our graduate students have taken the opportunity to engage in virtual online events, become part of international academic networks and build portfolios characterized by pedagogical innovation.

a web banner promoting a student conference entitled Panic! Textual Reactions to Extreme Moments in Time
Call for proposals for EGSA’s 2021 symposium

The English Graduate Student Association even hosted its own virtual symposium, inspired by recent research and creative events addressing the Tulsa Race Massacre. The conference – on the theme of “Panic!” – brought together graduate students from Oklahoma and beyond to address issues of crisis and anxiety in literature from across the centuries.

A bounty of work experiences

woman in an orange blouse and glasses smiling while seated at a desk
First-year M.A. student Angela Ray preparing to teach her first class

A dozen new students joined our graduate program in September 2021, and the TU community stepped up with perhaps the most diverse set of employment offerings ever. We wish to thank everybody who committed the time and money to make this happen.

Most of our students are employed and getting much-appreciated training as teachers and tutors through the University Writing Program, helping all TU students gain confidence as effective communicators and diligent researchers. Other students, meanwhile, are getting experience in fields such as administration, marketing, communications, digital humanities, professional writing and editing. TU departments where our students are currently employed include the Dean of Arts office, the creative-writing journal Nimrod, the Office of Integrative and Experiential Learning and Strategic Marketing and Communications.

Major milestones

Our students continued to have the wind in their sails for another successful year with graduations, scholarly events and a string of professional opportunities. Congratulations to all the students who have recently defended their comprehensive exams, completed coursework, submitted their thesis abstracts and proposals and made headway on their dissertations.

The heartiest of congratulations go to our graduates from the past year. The 2021 M.A. graduates are Danielle Calhoun, Amber Drew and Muriel Unseth.

The Ph.D. graduates from the past academic year, along with the titles of their dissertations, are:

  • Clay Cantrell (PhD ’21), “Features of a New Lyric in Nineties Language Poetry”
  • Blake Connelly (PhD ’21), “Their Bonds Asunder I Shall Tear”: Female Romantic Voices and the Structures of Hierarchy”
  • Annie Page (PhD ’20), “Party Girl: The Modernist Party and Women’s Social Performance”
  • Marie Sartain (PhD ’21), “Team Up: Superhero Comics, Collaboration, and Convergence”
  • Laura Thomas (PhD ’20), “William Dean Howells in Transition: Realism, Regionalism, and the Search for an American Aesthetic”
woman standing next to a large statue outdoors
Muriel Unseth (MA ’21) and a statue of the god Radegast in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Czech Republic, where she is currently a Fullbright fellow

Congratulations to Muriel Unseth, who is now studying and working in the Czech Republic on a Fulbright Fellowship, as well as to Dayne Riley (PhD ’20) and Laura Thomas for being chosen as postdoctoral fellows in the department for 2021-22.

And we couldn’t be happier for those grad students who have most recently found employment, including Carlos Acosta Ponce (PhD ‘20) – assistant professor at Buena Vista University; Marie Sartain – senior copy editor at the American Pharmacists Association; and Danielle Calhoun – undergraduate academic advisor at the University of Texas.

Congratulations all! Your success is our pride and inspiration.

Are you interested in exploring your passion for literature and culture at the graduate level? If so, an M.A. or Ph.D. in English at TU could be ideal for you.

PANIC!: Textual Reactions to Extreme Moments in Time

black and white illustration of a woman with an exotic headdress and a long black dress
Richard Bruce Nugent, “Milady” (1932)

Plan to attend this free, public symposium presented by The University of Tulsa English Graduate Student Association on April 3, 2021. This event is co-sponsored by The University of Tulsa’s Women’s and Gender Studies program.

Our keynote speaker will be Kristin Mahoney (Michigan State University), a leading scholar of late-Victorian Decadence and its 20th-century afterlives.

This year’s symposium will be held virtually via Teams. Join here.


12-12:10 p.m.

  • Welcome and opening remarks

12:10-1:30 p.m.

  • Onyx Zhang (The University of Tulsa), “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Wordsworth’s ‘The Idiot Boy'”
  • Grace Cosby (SW Oklahoma State University), “The Contagion in Wuthering Heights
  • Ciara Graham (The University of Tulsa), “Wuthering Heights and the Role of White Women in Inciting Racial Panic”
  • Daniel Thater (University of Missouri), “From L.A. to Acorn: Community in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

1:30-1:40 p.m.

  • Break

1:40-3 p.m.

  • Muriel Unseth (The University of Tulsa), “Panic, Prolonged: Ulysses as an Expression of Great War Anxieties”
  • Stephanie Almand (University of Central Arkansas), “Male Hysteria: The Awakening of Leonce’s Female Identity in The Awakening
  • Jacob Crystal (The University of Tulsa), “Queer Monsters: The Technology of Monstrosity in Rebecca
  • Jamie Walt (The University of Tulsa), “Drawing from Trauma: Visuality and the Graphic Novel as Play Therapy in Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters

3-3:10 p.m.

  • Break

3:10-4:10 p.m.

Woman with shoulder-length hairKeynote Speaker: Kristin Mahoney (Michigan State University), “Richard Bruce Nugent, Harlem Decadence, and the Rupturing of Black Kinship”

Kristin Mahoney, PhD, is an associate professor and the associate chair of graduate studies in the Department of English at Michigan State University. She is also the director of literary studies and a faculty fellow in the Center for Gender in a Global Context. Mahoney’s research focuses on late-Victorian Decadence and its afterlives in the 20th century. She is the author of Literature and the Politics of Post-Victorian Decadence (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and is currently completing a project entitled Queer Kinship after Wilde: Transnational Decadence and the Family. In this study, she argues that late-Victorian Decadent ideas concerning affiliation and desire operated as models for a new generation of artists and writers in the 20th century who wished to operate outside the boundaries of the conventional, heteronormative family.