Alumni Activities and News
English Department Advisory Council
On October 13, 2006, George Crandell, Professor and Head of the English Department, hosted a lunch, followed by a three-hour business meeting, for five members of the English Department's Alumni Advisory Council. Along with those pictured below, Jim Ryan and Margaret Kouidis participated in the afternoon discussion of development opportunities and goals. Several members of the Council, along with Professors Crandell, Ryan, and Kouidis, met again via teleconference on April 20, 2007, to make plans for a fund-raising campaign for an English Department Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Contribute to the newly-established English Department Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Russ Connell and Kim Snyder Manganelli
Stacy Smith and Paul Hotchkiss
Current members of the Advisory Council are:
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- Regina Dragoin Ammon
- Kay Bains
- Edwin R(uss) Connell
- Gwin Copeland
- George Crandell
- Dan Ennis
- Nikki Graves
- Alise Chabaud Hagan
- Paul Hotchkiss
- Max Jones
- G. William (Bill) Koon
- Kim Snyder Manganelli
- Dan Retzer
- Molly Smith
- Stacy Smith
Isabelle Thompson, Professor and Coordinator of the English Center, has been awarded an Alumni Professorship, 2005-10.
Thompson was among five professors this year who were awarded the five-year Alumni Professorships sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association, with funds endowed from Auburn Annual Giving. The awards are presented on the basis of research, publishing, and teaching. You can read about Thompson's research and teaching on the Department's web page.
In addition to the Alumni Professorship, the Alumni Association also honors professors with a Teaching Excellence Award. Nominations for the 2006 award are currently being accepted. For more information, visit the Alumni Association web site.
Judy Troy, Professor and Alumni Writer-in-Residence, received her MA in creative writing from Indiana University. She specializes in fiction and was the recipient of a 1996 Whiting Writers' Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as in literary journals and anthologies.
She's the author of Mourning Doves, a collection of stories published by Scribner's in l993; and West of Venus, a novel published by Random House in l997. Her second novel, From the Black Hills, was published by Random House in 1999. She is currently working on a third novel.
Three assistant professors joined the Auburn English Department in 2006-2007:
Tiffany Portewig, Assistant Professor, received her PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric from Texas Tech University in 2006. Tiffany's primary research interest is in visual rhetoric, specifically workplace studies of technical illustrations and graphics. Her other research interests include technical editing, document design, environmental rhetoric, and technical communication pedagogy. She is currently completing a group research project on technical editing that was awarded the Society for Technical Communication's $10,000 Research Grant.
Tiffany has worked as senior editor of a technical publication, a technical editor and writer, and a consultant in the area of instructional design and documentation. Currently, she serves as the newsletter editor for the Society for Technical Communication Birmingham Chapter.
Tiffany teaches in the areas of technical writing, business writing, technical editing, visual rhetoric, and proposal and grant writing. She likes to incorporate real-world projects into her courses to contextualize the theory and practice of technical communication for her students. Her Representative Publications “Making Sense of the Visual in Technical Communication: A Visual Literacy Approach to Pedagogy.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication , 34.1-2 (2004): 31-42. Review of The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design , Bob Gordon and Maggie Gordon, Technical Communication , November 2003. Review of Digital Media Revisited: Theoretical and Conceptual Innovation in Digital Domains , Edited by Gunnar Liestol, et al, Kairos , November 2003.
Joanne Tong , Assistant Professor, received her PhD from UCLA and her BA from the University of Chicago . She specializes in British Romantic Literature, and she is currently completing a book manuscript titled Imperial Fortunes: Britain and the Romance of China. She has been a fellow at the Huntington Library and the Yale Center for British Art.
Her teaching interests include undergraduate and graduate courses in British Romanticism and Critical Theory as well as the second half of the World Literature sequence and the Introduction to Feminist Theory course for the Women's Studies Program. Her Representative Publications include “‘A Spirit in the Woods': Hegelian Aesthetics and Wordsworth's ‘Nutting.'” English Language Notes. (December 2005): 105-16. “The Return of the Prodigal Daughter: Finding the Family in Amelia Opie's Novels.” Studies in the Novel 36 (Winter 2004): 465-83.
Dave Yeats, Assistant Professor of technical and professional communication, specializes in usability, Web design, and software documentation.
Dave earned his PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric from Texas Tech University, where he served as an Assistant Director of User Research. Before that, he worked as a technical writer at several high-tech companies in Austin, Texas. He still works as a consultant or contract technical communicator as time permits.
In the classroom, Dave likes to emphasize skills that students can apply to their future careers through hands-on projects, including Web sites, research reports, or usability studies.
Dave's research interests include an investigation of usability practices in the open-source software community, examination of the rhetorical purposes of various deliverables related to usability evaluation, and the ethics of technical communication. Dr. Yeats' Recent Publications include (with Lock Carter) "Understanding the Role of the Highlights Video in Usability Testing: A Consideration of Rhetorical and Generic Expectations." Technical Communication, 52.2 (May) 2005, pp. 156-62.
New Assistant Professors joining the English Department Fall Semester 2007 are Trimiko Melancon (PhD University of Massachusetts, Amherst), African-American Literature and Culture; Susanna Morris (PhD Emory University), African-American Literature; Anya Riehl (PhD University of Illinois at Chicago), Early Modern Literature; Sunny Stalter (PhD Rutgers University), Twentieth-Century American Literature; Matt Zarnowiecki (PhD Columbia University), Early Modern Literature.
Professors Alexander Dunlop, Patrick Morrow, and Harry M. Solmon, all retiring at the end of Spring Semester 2007, were honored at a reception on April 27, 2007.
Dr. Alexander Dunlop, Associate Professor and Coordinator of World Literature, has been with the English Department since September 1972. His teaching and research interests include Early Modern literature, especially poetry, literary theory, and World Literature. While here at Auburn, he has seen many changes at the university and in the profession. “Everything is better,” he says, “I think the profession and attitudes toward interpreting literature are broader and more constructive than 35 years ago.” He has seen Auburn University become a broader, more diverse, and more sophisticated place. He believes the students are better, and he has positive feelings about the developments that have happened at the university and within the profession. Dr. Dunlop takes pleasure in preparing for his classes, and has always looked forward to reading and thinking about the material the night before class. This is exciting and fun for him because he likes interacting with the students.
Dr. Dunlop has truly enjoyed working with his colleagues and working toward and developing common goals. “This has been a great place to have a career,” he says, “I have no regrets and have enjoyed the 35 years.” When he retires this May, he will do everything he did before except teach.
Dr. Patrick Morrow, Professor, has been a part of the English Department since September 1975. During his time here, he has seen the student body change. He says, “The students are a lot better and a lot sharper.” He has enjoyed seeing the students get better every year. Dr. Morrow has certainly enjoyed his career here at Auburn . “This is odd,” he says, “Considering I came from Los Angeles.” The Fulbright Scholar has written books and feels it is easier to write books rather than articles. His favorite book he has written is Katherine Mansfield's Fiction which was published by the Wisconsin Press. He learned much about Katherine Mansfield while in New Zealand and Australia.
This May Dr. Morrow will retire, and he plans on finishing a book, Literature (Mostly Fiction) and Anthropology, that he received incentive for after teaching this subject to students in a seminar. He will remain in the Auburn area with his wife, Joyce Rothschild.
Harry M. Solomon, Hollifield Professor of Literature, received his PhD from Duke University. He specializes in eighteenth-century British literature and philosophy and recent literary and cultural criticism. He has written biographies and critical studies of Sir Richard Blackmore, Alexander Pope, and Robert Dodsley.
He has served as elected chair of the Auburn University faculty and in 1989 was awarded the Auburn Faculty Achievement Award in the Humanities. He is currently working on a reinterpretation and vindication of British Enlightenment ideology. His publications include Sir Richard Blackmore. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981; The Rape of the Text: Reading and Misreading Pope's "Essay on Man." Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1993; The Rise of Robert Dodsley: Creating the New Age of Print. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.
Awards and Distinctions
Paula R. Backscheider, Professor of English and Philpott-Stevens Eminent Scholar, was co-winner of the Modern Language Association's thirty-seventh annual James Russell Lowell Prize for her book Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book--a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography--written by a member of the association. The committee's citation for Backscheider's book reads:
"In a pioneering archival and interpretive contribution to literary history, Paula Backscheider recovers a lost world of writing by eighteenth-century women. She situates forty poets and their genres--occasional poems, pastorals, fables, public poems, religious narratives, devout soliloquies, friendship poems--within the important contemporary contexts of modes of literary circulation, the varying shapes of poetic careers, and the status of poetry not only as a lyric form but also as a medium of news, entertainment, and correspondence. Urging us to defamiliarize, rehistoricize, and reenvision the canons that have excised these works, Backscheider shows us how to read and value a counteruniverse of poetic achievement."
Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre is an expansion of Professor Backscheider's essay on eighteenth-century women poets in The Cambridge History of English Literature. Professor Backscheider is currently working on another book about salon fairytales and their influence on the early novel and how fairy tales converge with the eighteenth-century feminist view of the good life. She is also working on an anthology of poems by Restoration and eighteenth-century women to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press and co-edited by Catherine Ingrassia of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Christopher Forhan, Assistant Professor of English, was one of fifty writers to receive a literature fellowship of $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Literature Fellowships are the Arts Endowment's most direct investment in American creativity, encouraging the production of new work and allowing writers the time and means to write. The agency received more than 1,056 applications for its Creative Writing Fellowships in Poetry. Professor Forhan will use the fellowship to work on the manuscript of his fourth book of poems.
Bert Hitchcock, Hargis Professor of American Literature, received the 2006 Humanities Award for his outstanding dedication and contribution to the humanities from the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
The award honors Professor Hitchcock for helping to shape the legacy of American and Southern literature through his contributions as an author, teacher, and scholar. He is the author of Richard Malcolm Johnston in Twayne's United States Authors Series, and his contributions on American writers appear in numerous reference books, including the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Reference Guide to American Literature, and Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South. Professor Hitchcock's deep commitment to bringing the humanities to the people of Alabama is evidenced by his longtime service to many humanities organizations in Alabama such as: The Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Historical Association, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama Center for Literary Arts, The Alabama Writer's Forum, and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, a regional organization of which he will be president next year. Professor Hitchcock teaches humanities classes at Auburn University, specializing in nineteenth-century literature. He holds degrees from Auburn, the University of Oregon, and Duke University.
Faculty and Students Honored at Department Awards Ceremony
The English Department held its annual Awards Ceremony at the Alumni Center. Undergraduate students were recognized for excellence in the classroom, graduate students for their achievements as scholars and teachers, and instructors for excellence in teaching. Awards to students totaled $36,200. Check out our slide show for pictures of students, faculty, family, and friends.
Rhonda Powers and Michael Smith received the 2007 Promotion of Excellence in Teaching and Learning Committee (PETL) Instructional Excellence Award given each spring to outstanding part-time or affiliate faculty in any College of Liberal Arts department.Ms. Powers says that this award inspires her to continue to do good work. She finds inspiration for teaching from good teachers and students. "We all have good teachers that inspire us. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Miller fed my curiosity," she says, "Also the students inspire me. They have so much pressure on them, and I want to instill in them the same sense of learning that I have, that learning can be fun." Powers received her MA from Missouri State University. She has been a part of the English Department for seven
years and looks forward to receiving her PhD from Auburn.
Michael Smith feels it was more than an honor to be nominated, but winning it also makes him happy. It also serves as vindication for the profession he has chosen and the hard work he has put into teaching. He credits advice given to him as a graduate student as part of his inspiration as a teacher: "I was given two pieces of advice as a graduate student," he says, "One, you can't teach very far away from who you are. Be yourself; let the students see you as an individual. Two, teachers are a lot like coaches. Coaches do not treat each team member the same. They motivate different players in different ways. That's the same with teaching." Smith has been an instructor in the English Department for four years. He received his Ph. D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi and was a part of the Center for Writers. He has recently accepted an Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing position at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS.
Department Readings, Lectures, Presentations
Each year one or more members of the department present English Hours on their current research. In the fall of 2006 two such English Hours were held. Associate Professor Jon Bolton presented "Love Hiberian Style: Courtship and Sexual Initiation in the Irish Bildungsroman." Miriam Clark, also an associate professor, spoke on "Attitude Dancing: Kenneth Burke and American Poetry."
On October 17, 2006, Professor Melvyn New, editor of the Florida Edition of the Works of Sterne and author of more than 70 books, essays, editions, and reviews, explored the trends, fads, innovations, and sometimes inadvertent achievements of literary theory and criticism over the past thirty years. In his presentation, "Swimming Down the Gutter of Time with Laurence Sterne and The Scriblerian," Professor New explained why, though his efforts to say something nice about fools who rush into print before they have mastered their subject has not always generated harmony and good will, he nonetheless thinks it important to speak out clearly and forcefully—with wit and irony if possible—against what Laurence Sterne called the “most tormenting cant”—the “cant of criticism.”
Professor New received his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 1966. Since 1966 he has been a professor at the University of Florida, and served as Chair from 1979 to 1988. He has been three times an NEH Research Fellow, has published fifteen books (critical studies, editions, and collections) and sixty articles on eighteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and modernism.
Poet Gregory Orr read from his work on October 26, 2006. Orr is one of our country’s most acclaimed lyric poets. Over the past three decades he has published ten collections of poetry, most recently The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems and a book-length sequence, Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved. He has also published a study of the poetics of the lyric, Poetry As Survival. His memoir, The Blessing , focuses on a traumatic childhood experience of violence that is at the root of much of his poetry, and it recounts his activities as a young civil rights worker in the 1960s, which led to his being jailed, alone, for eight days in Hayneville, Alabama. Orr has won awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has taught at the University of Virginia since 1975.
Robert Clem presented "William March's Company K: From Novel to Film" on November 6, 2006. A screenwriter, producer, and director, Orr is an award-winning filmmaker trained at NYU film school and the Sundance feature Film Lab, where he developed his upcoming feature film project Stray Kids. Since forming Waterfront Pictiures in 1994 Clem has written and directed films aired on public television, the Arts & Entertainment Network, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, and networks abroad. His 1997 PBS film Big Jim Folsom won the International Documentary Association/ABC News Video Source Award. Other feature documentaries include a trilogy on American war narratives from World War I stressing the effect of war on combatants: War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (2003, Gold Special Jury Award, Worldfest Houston); William March/Company K (2004), and the upcoming Lafayette Escadrille. He recently optioned the World War I novel which was the subject of War Birds; it is now being developed as a dramatic feature film.
Abiola Irele, Harvard professor of African-American Studies, presented a World Literature Faculty Seminar and World Literature lecture on January 17. Professor Irele is the author of several seminal works in his field, including "The African Imagination" and "The African Experience." He is an editor of the "Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature" and of the "Norton Anthology of World Literature."
Trudier Harris presented the Benson Memorial Lecture, "Seeping into the Twentieth Century: Fear of Slavery in Phyllis Alesia Perry's Stigmata," on March 15, 2007. Professor Harris taught at the College of William and Mary for six years before joining the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has lectured and published widely in her specialty areas of African-American literature and folklore. The Ohio State University (Columbus) presented her with its first annual Award of Distinction for the College of Humanities in 1994. She has published articles and book reviews in such journals as Callaloo, Black American Literature Forum, Studies in American Fiction, and The Southern Humanities Review. Her authored books include From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature (1982), Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals (1984), Black Women in the Fiction of James Baldwin (1985, for which she won the 1987 College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award ), Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison (1991), The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller's Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan (1996), Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature (2001), and South of Tradition: Essays on African American Literature (2002). She co-edited three volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography series on African American writers and edited three additional volumes. She edited New Essays on Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain (1996) for Cambridge University Press and co-edited The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997), Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition (1998), and The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1998).
Toni Bowers, Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, delivered the talk “What's the Difference?: Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Gender Studies,” Wednesday, March 21, 2007. She addressed the politics, implications, and different effects of three terms used on university campuses: “Feminist Studies,” “Women's Studies,” and “Gender Studies.” The 3 respondents were Ruth Crocker, Director of the Women's Studies Program at Auburn University, Penelope Ingram, Associate Professor in the Department of English, and Joanne Tong, Assistant Professor in the Department of English.
Members of the Auburn English faculty and English graduate students participated in the Graduate Student Research Colloquium on Saturday, March 10, 2007. Organized by the English Graduate Student Organization, the colloquium gives students and faculty the opportunity to share their research, and it introduces students to the art of giving a conference presentation.
Diane Boyd (PhD 2002), Furman University, has had a collection of essays, Everyday Revolutions: Eighteenth-Century Women Transforming the Public and Private (co-editor Marta Kvande), accepted by the University of Delaware Press; Shea Stuart (PhD 2006) has an essay in the collection.
Mary Jane Curry reports that her essay “‘Not a day went by without a solitary walk': Elizabeth's Pastoral World” has been reprinted in Harold Bloom's volume on Pride and Prejudice, from Chelsea House Publishers.
Professor Curry is a 1994 graduate and was Don Wehrs' first doctoral student. From 1994-2000 she was on the English faculty of AUM, where she earned tenure before moving to Georgia. In 2003 she formed a company conducting intercultural and education consulting. Since moving to Birmingham in August 2005, she has been doing much grant writing as intercultural consulting and enjoys it immensely. One of her new clients is Constructores para Cristo (CPC), a nondenominational mission in Mexico with free medical and vet clinics, a preschool, and summer home-building program somewhat like Habitat for Humanity. For CPC she does grant writing and other fundraising as well as intercultural coaching. Her biggest client is the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, for which she does lots of grant writing; in the process, she learns more about all kinds of artists from Joan to the Beaux Arts Trio. Lately she has joined the Japan-America Society of Alabama and is about to join the Alabama-India Partnership and Alabama-Germany Partnership. She finds interacting with people from other cultures endlessly fascinating. She thanks Don for helping to open up some opportunities for work that she enjoys.
Patsy Fowler (PhD 2002) received tenure at Gonzaga University.
Amy Muse (PhD 1999) of the University of St. Thomas will be giving a paper in Bristol in July at the combined BARS/ NASSR Conference and has received an NEH Summer Stipend. She was also granted tenure this year.
PhD candidate Amy Qualls, along with her husband Rodney Sutterfield and son Christopher, would like to announce the birth of Sophie Caitlin Sutterfield-Qualls, born on September 27, 2006. Amy and baby are healthy and happy. Amy has also accepted a faculty position at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville and is completing her dissertation on illegitimate motherhood in eighteenth-century America, directed by Dr. Hilary Wyss.
Jessica Lyn Van Slooten (PhD 2003) has accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, where she'll teach American literature and composition courses.
If you haven't looked at our course offerings lately, you might want to look at the undergraduate and graduate course descriptions.
In 2006-2007 the English Department awarded $36,200 to undergraduate and graduate students. Click here to see a list of this year’s recipients. Click here to contribute to the newly established English Department Alumni Scholarship Fund.
The English Center offers an electronic consultant (interactive online chat) along with onsite tutoring for undergraduate students taking Freshman Composition and World Literature.
If you want to learn more about what our faculty are doing, read their bios linked off the Department Directory.
During the semester, we report on the activities of faculty and students in the English Department in our weekly newsletter, The English Channel. Each week we highlight student and faculty accomplishments. Please view the archives for 2003-2007.
Last updated May 1, 2007