Department News, October 2016

Message from the Chair
A Celebration of the Work of James Miller
Jung Yun Hired as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Faculty Visit the University of Macau
Faculty Kudos
Alumni Updates/Class Notes 

Message from the Chair

Marshall Alcron
We’ve begun another exciting year, and English is always delighted to hear from you. Please visit us when you’re in town at our new home on the sixth floor of Phillips Hall. We continue to appreciate your generosity. Read the department blog for up-to-date listings and notes on the many student events and activities which you have helped to support. Please let us know about your personal and professional milestones. As always, we truly appreciate that many of you have been inspired by previous newsletters to make a gift to our department, and we want you to know that your contributions really make a difference. Keep in touch—and, yes, tell us about the great books you’re reading. 
Best wishes, 
Marshall Alcorn
Chair and Professor of English

Photo: Marshall Alcron, Chair and Professor of English

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A Celebration of the Work of James Miller

James Miller

We held a symposium on the work of James Miller in September 2015. Professor Miller (1944-2015) focused in his career on a wide range of topics in African American literary and cultural studies across the 20th and 21st centuries. He was the author of Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial (Princeton University Press, 2009) as well as numerous essays focused on African American literature, music and history. A panel of invited scholars addressed the remarkable reach of Jim’s work. Barbara Foley addressed the connections between modernism, race and labor movements. Farah Jasmine Griffin talked about the African American novel and questions of justice. Paul Gardullo, a doctoral student of Jim’s, shared how Jim’s teachings continue to influence his work at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Finally, writer and faculty member Edward P. Jones brought the house down with a reading from his short story collection, Lost in the City.

Photo: Professor James Miller (1944-2015)

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Jung Yun Hired as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

Jung Yun

The department is delighted to announce the hiring of fiction writer Jung Yun as assistant professor of creative writing. Professor Yun started teaching this fall, and her first novel, Shelter, was published by Picador this year. The central character in Shelter, Kyung Cho, lives in Massachusetts with his wife Gillian and their young child. The couple is struggling financially following the 2008 housing crisis. The novel, in fact, opens with a meeting between them and a real estate agent who is helping them weigh their options for navigating financial crisis. Kyung himself is the son of successful Korean immigrants who live nearby. As Kyung and Gillian talk with the real estate agent, the three are suddenly jolted by a disturbing image out the window in the backyard. A woman is slowly approaching, naked and traumatized. It is Kyung's mother, Mae. Something terrible has happened. We encourage everyone to find out what happens next in this novel that The New York Times has called “gripping” and “captivating.”

Photo: Assistant Professor Jung Yun


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Faculty Visit the University of Macau

Faculty at the University of Macau

This fall, Patty Chu, Jennifer Chang and Daniel DeWispelare joined David McAleavey at the University of Macau for a symposium with that university’s faculty and students. Professor McAleavey is a GW Global Humanities exchange professor at Macau this semester. Everyone shared expertise and experiences in hopes of fostering collaboration in the arts and humanities. As part of the trip, several University of Macau graduate students gave the faculty a brief tour of old Macau, which included the chance to admire the façade of the church of St. Paul, a relic from the time when Macau (also spelled Macao) was a Portuguese colony.

Photo: Professors DeWispelare and David McAleavey (back row), Jennifer Chang and Patty Chu (front row), flanked by University of Macau graduate students.

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Faculty Kudos

  • Professor David McAleavey published the poetry volume Rock Taught (Broadkill River Press, 2016).
  • Professor Jeffrey Cohen and Lowell Duckert, PhD ’12, published the edited collection Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water, and Fire (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
  • Ayanna Thompson’s co-authored Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach (Bloomsbury Arden) was published in 2016.

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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Tiffany Bailey, MA ’07, is president/CEO of OSC Edge, an IT and Technical Communications consulting firm. She acquired OSC in 2010 and grew the firm from two to 35 employees. She attributes OSC's success to the writing and research skills she learned at GW.
Donna Balaguer, BA ’91, is a principal with the law firm Fish & Richardson in Washington, D.C., practicing in the Regulatory & Government Affairs group.
Michael Bennett, BA ’02, has two books forthcoming in 2017: Analytic Philosophy and the World of the Play (Routledge) and an edited collection, Philosophy and Oscar Wilde (Palgrave Macmillan). He is associate professor of English at University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.
Robert (Bob) Blair, BA ’68, has been working in the Philadelphia area for the last 35 years as a clinical psychologist (PhD ’81, U of Memphis) doing mostly psychotherapy which he finds vital and interesting still. He has two adult children, one a 2006 GW graduate, and four grands.
Phyllis Brostoff, BA ’66, in 1970, got an MSW from the University of Maryland, moved to Milwaukee in 1971, started a private social service agency working with the elderly and disabled adults in 1983, had two  children and is still working at what will soon be 72.
Lois Butler, BA ’65, is now living in Austin, Texas. She moved here because her grandchildren (Sydney age 13 and Natalie, age 9) are here. Her incredible second husband passed away three years after they arrived. She volunteers at the local hospital and stays busy.
Caroline Cobb, BA ’04, now teaches 12th grade English in a public high school in the south Bronx. She fights the good fight against poor grammar and weak analysis every day.
Jeff Consoletti, BA ’04, resides in Los Angeles running JJ|LA, his own production, design and special events firm, specializing in large-scale festivals, concerts, fan experiences, brand activations, nonprofit benefits and private events.
Michael Cortese, BA ’87, retired in 2008 from the World Bank as a senior information officer and then became executive director of a D.C. homeless shelter for five years. Since then he has completed a first novel he had started under the guidance of Professor Claeyssens at GW.
Elizabeth (Magovern) Davis, BA ’07, is an arts education professional whose background includes work at the Kennedy Center, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Woodruff Arts Center. She lives in Atlanta, Ga., with her husband Brian and their dog, Peach.
Carol Day, BA ’67, has been programming TimesTalks, The New York Times live and video interview series, featuring actors, directors, writers, artists and leaders in arts and ideas. Next, she will be writing and producing video content with a small team of creatives.
Mary Ewing (Marler), BA ’64, after graduation and "stay at home mom" period, entered the travel industry and became the lead international agent in a large travel agency. She is now retired and enjoying life with her husband and three grandchildren who live close to them.
Kristin Ann Fahlbusch, BA ’05, former beauty editor, lives in NYC where she is now working as the New York program manager of Lipstick Angels. Lipstick Angels provides beauty, health and wellness services to cancer patients.
Rachel Friedman, MEd, BA ’94, is currently an educator effectiveness specialist with Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, Calif.
Suzanne Gibbons, BA ’63, has been taken virtually around the world from her interest in geography, and she now lives in England. She is a director of the local community swimming pool and active in other community undertakings. French, tennis, walking and the garden occupy her spare time.
D. Gibson, PhD ’16, is starting the year as an assistant professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and has a new book under contract for Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series called Jesus Freak.
Michael Gobo, BA ’12, is living in New York City, working in digital marketing as an account manager at iced media.
Susie Gottscho (Coggin), BA ’02, graduated from the GW Law School with her JD in May 2015 and is a member of the Maryland Bar. In August 2015, she married Chris Gottscho. Their first child is due in December. The couple split their time between Arlington, Va., and Park City, Utah.
Sarah Griswold, BA ’06, recently became a manager at Eagle Hill Consulting, an Arlington-based management consulting firm that was recognized by as the #2 boutique consulting firm to work for nationally in 2017.
Marybeth Grunstra, BA ’07, is now a federal prosecutor specializing in anti-money laundering. She is part of the Department of Justice's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, a unique squad focused on combating foreign official corruption.
Thomas Hart, BA ’70, MA ’73, retired from technical writing/programming in 2007. Currently, he maintains a blog devoted to literature and libertarian politics.
John Henderson, BA ’58, thanks to his command of the English language, such as it was, ascended to an office on the third floor of a Jackson Place address. Given the current state of affairs, he finds himself using Anglo-Saxon English a lot.
Colleen Hooper, BA ’01, after finishing her PhD in dance studies at Temple University in May 2016, became a 2016-17 Visiting Artist in Dance History at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Victoria Howe, BA ’14, is currently entering year seven of living in the District! She works for Deloitte in Federal Consulting, and she’s training to run the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October.
Alison Javens Bermack, BA ’91, teaches management and food quantity courses as an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Hunter College. She is the creator of the Cooking with Friends website and brand— She also works as a market research consultant.
Yahia Lababidi, BA ’96, had his sixth book, Balancing Acts: New & Selected Poems (1993-2015), debuted at #1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases, under Middle Eastern poetry. This was especially exciting since it was ahead of personal heroes, such as Omar Khayyam, Gibran and Rumi.
Cynthia Lawrie (Driscoll), BA ’85, is a retired empty-nester who has been enjoying some world travel with her husband since their twin daughters went off to college. Both girls are great readers and writers, so her English Literature degree served her well in both her work career and mom career.
Anita Lawson, BA ’77, after years in editorial work and sales, now teaches workshops to jobseekers. In the resume workshop, she emphasizes the impact that language can have when used properly and effectively.
Virginia Layne, BA ’50, taught school for 20 years, had four children, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. She moved 11 times and at 88, is still working as a church secretary. She states: “Education is always good!”
Rachel Lesniak, BA ’14, is still living in Washington, D.C. She is enrolled at Georgetown University for her MPS in urban and regional planning, and she is a transportation analyst at Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning.
Ramona Lewis, BA ’80, is currently enjoying a career sabbatical from senior level finance and business analytics. The GW BA with major in English literature has/is serving her well; it is important to be able to analyze, synthesize and communicate clearly.
Jessica Matthews, PhD ’05, is currently the acting director of composition at George Mason University where she also teaches a literature course about the popular romance novel.
Catlan McCurdy, BA ’08, in January, left private law practice and moved in-house to NPR's Office of General Counsel. Her practice continues to focus on transactional intellectual property, which translates mainly to music and content licenses as well trademark/branding work.
Julie McGuire, BA ’02, is living in NYC with her wife and two dogs. They are working on adding human children to their household. She is still putting her English degree to use as a high school English teacher, and is now on the reality show My Giant Life with her 6'8” wife.
Teresa Meserve (Sakon), BA ’10, works as a children's librarian at the D.C. Public Library.
Maggie Mestrich (Moss), BA ’06, is enjoying her fourth year as director of development and communications for the Joseph Maley Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit. Her son, Leo, will be two in October, and he could not be more enthusiastic about books :).
Chad Miller, BA ’92, since graduating GW, relocated to Los Angeles, Calif., where the focus of his career has been the development, production and specifically the distribution of feature films. He is reachable through LinkedIn.
Blayr Nias, BA ’04, is a touring standup comic producing her own show at the Charlotte Comedy Zone. She has been seen on the Fox Television show Laughs.  She was a finalist on Comedy Central's Up Next and NBC's Stand Up.
Mimi Nichter (Beeber), BA ’71, is a professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona and her most recent book is Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking among College Students (NYU Press, 2015).
Gail Obenreder O’Donnell, BA ’71, in July, was named a 2016 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at Connecticut's Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. NCI is a two-week intensive arts writers' workshop directed by Chris Jones, theatre critic of the Chicago Tribune.
Gail Orgelfinger, BA ’72, has just completed a monograph tentatively entitled ‘Those Cursed Breeches': England's Joan of Arc. She retired from UMBC in 2013.
Meredith Pond, BA ’70, after 16 years writing and editing for IQ Solutions, Inc., a health communications firm in Rockville, Md., is now retired and working on a novel about the 1960s at GW!
Patrick Prentice, BA ’66, worked for National Geographic for many years as a film writer, producer, and director. He is now retired and has just published a novel called EASTERLAND, available at Amazon and other bookstores.
Chelsea Riley, BA ’05, recently received her master’s in the art of teaching from USC. She is a primary school teacher in an international school in Mexico City.
Carson Rolleri, BA ’16, is working at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in their Communications & Patient Information Department, which combines her love of writing with her passion for public health work.
Jeanne Marie Rose, BA ’95, is associate professor of English at Penn State University, Berks. She recently served as interim coordinator of the campus Honors Program.
Rachael Rosen (Baird), BA ’08, and her husband Adam, ESIA '08, moved to Seattle where they both work for Amazon. In September, they welcomed their first child, their son Jonah William.
Nicholas Santangelo, BA ’13, just began his 2nd year of teaching elementary school Spanish. He loves what he does, and is glad he is able to use ideas he learned at GW in his work!
Maria Seidel, BA ’14, has been working in NYC at film and television post production facility Post Factory NY for nearly two years, and just completed her second season acting, singing and dancing at the New York Renaissance Faire.
John Shortino, BA ’07, and his wife, Allison Mosher, just opened Nine Stories, a new and used bookstore in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood. The shop was featured on Shelf Awareness and Publishers Weekly.
Anna Sicari, PhD ’09, since she has graduated, received a PhD in English studies from St. John's University. She currently is a visiting assistant professor in English and interim director of the Writing Center at Oklahoma State University.
Rima Sidhu, BA ’00, moved to New York City in 2002, and now has a Master of Science degree in exercise physiology and nutrition from Columbia University. She has her own business, Vitruvian Wellness, as a personal fitness & nutrition coach.
Holly Silberman, BA ’07, is currently working as a middle and high school English language arts teacher at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. She is also getting married in Jamaica in November of this year.
Makala Skinner, BA ’10, is currently pursuing her MA in international educational development at Teachers College Columbia University.
Maris Sotsky, BA ’06, is the owner of Bottle & Bottega Miami, an upscale painting and wine art studio catering to corporate clients and individuals celebrating special events.
Claudia Thomas, BA ’74, following 25 years of under-employment, received a MS in secondary education. After eight years of teaching, she relocated and now works for NYS as a senior personnel examiner, testing division of Civil Service.
Rebekah Troutman, BA ’15, is currently working full time as a program administrator at the American Geophysical Union in D.C. and pursuing her master’s of tourism administration at GW!
Aliya Weise, MA ’08, is currently completing her doctoral dissertation with GW and her preliminary teaching credential with SDSU

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