Writing Program Archives - Kendall College of Arts and Sciences

Writing Program

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.

2021 Writing Program awards

Each year, the Department of English Language and Literature distributes Writing Program awards in three different categories to recognize the outstanding achievements of TU students. 

The Outstanding Freshman Essay contest is annual, and students in ENGL 1004, ENGL 1033 or FS 1963 are encouraged to submit an essay from course work from the fall or spring semester. The contest is judged by a faculty membertypically in the English department, according to a rubric provided by the Writing Program.  

Students or peer instructors may submit nominations for the Outstanding Writing Program Instructor and Writing Center Consultant of the Year awards based on a form provided in all Writing Program Student Guides. Nominees submit a copy of their teaching or consulting portfolio for review and administrators from the College of Arts and Sciences serve as judges of this award. 

Freshman Essay Contest Winner

11 submissions

Judge: Assistant Professor Don James McLaughlin

young person outdoors wearing sunglasses and a white shirt
Wilson Ray

Winner: Wilson Ray, for “Absurdist Humor in The Duchess of Malfi,” composed for Dr. Dayne Riley

Judge’s remarks: “Absurdist Humor in The Duchess of Malfi” is a testament to the power of literary criticism to take readers on a fun and rewarding journey. The author opens up a new way of understanding the entertainment value of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi by piecing together an airtight case that the revenge tragedy relies as much on forms of comedy to captivate its audience. But the author doesn’t stop here. Through beautifully crafted moments of close reading, the author makes the precise argument that alongside the more obvious comedic uses of satire and stereotype, Webster descends at key moments into absurdism and surrealism. The author’s sophisticated exploration of humor as a space of shifting proximity to cleverness and the preposterous illuminates an important dimension of Webster’s style. This essay reminds us that even those genres known for the extreme emotions they evoke (like tragedy) depend upon intricate webs of feeling to draw readers into spheres of experience that strike a chord of authenticity.

young woman with long blonde hair and wearing a green dress
Emilee Elmore

Honorable mention: Emilee Elmore, “Adding Voices to a Movement: The Loud Hands Anthology and Disability Oppression,” composed for Dr. Sara Beam

Judge’s remarks: This exemplary research essay sets out to elaborate the meaning of disability activism’s familiar mantra: “Nothing about us without us.” In a sophisticated exploration of the stakes of this expression, the author demonstrates well how important it is to honor the right of people with disabilities to articulate their own needs and to advocate on their own behalf.

Outstanding Writing Center Consultant of the Year

Nominees: Emma Willibey and Sydney Rubin

Judge: Dean Karen Petersen

young woman with long blonde hair standing outdoors
Sydney Rubin

Winner: Sydney Rubin

Judge’s remarks: Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process. First, please extend my gratitude to both nominees for their work. After reviewing the materials and the rubric, I believe Sydney Rubin achieved thoughtfulness, professionalism, and dedication to her craft far beyond her level of experience. It is clear that she is an effective resource for students, but that is true for both nominees. What Sydney has achieved is a remarkable level of self-awareness, brought on by her own encounters with our education system. I am confident that she will enrich our profession and change lives as a result of her work. As Sydney so poignantly states, “no word can bear to be the final word.” For all of us, I am glad the negative words Sydney endured were not the final words and that she is the author of a much different life story!

Outstanding Writing Program Instructor of the Year

Nominees: Layne Farmen and Lily McCully

Judge: Associate Dean Kirsten Olds

man with beard, glasses, brown hair and wearing a striped shirt
Layne Farmen

Winner: Layne Farmen

Judge’s remarks: Thank you for hosting the Outstanding TA Instructor Award each year and for the opportunity to review the nominees’ materials. TU is fortunate to have such dedicated, enthusiastic and professional writing instructors, and the decision was a difficult one! The candidates scored equally well on those metrics and quality of instruction. It was in terms of originality that Layne Farmen distinguished himself. His multimodal, interdisciplinary pedagogy and assignments demonstrate Layne’s creativity in engaging students and prompting them to produce their best thinking and work in a variety of ways. The collaboration with MADE for ENGL 3003 made visible the benefits of teaming up with other units on campus and writing for a public audience, and course evaluations reflected students’ appreciation for what they learned in the course.