Department News, Spring 2020

Editor's Note: This newsletter was written prior to the covid-19 outbreak and resulting pandemic.

Message from the Chair


Maria Frawley





Greetings to all of our alumni!

In my first semester as chair of the English Department, I’ve been struck at every turn by the hard work, energy and commitment that our faculty demonstrate in the classroom and in service to the university. This makes their continuing scholarly achievement all the more impressive. In this issue of our newsletter, we highlight only a few of many books and articles that faculty have published recently. This spring our department will undergo a five-year review, a routine Columbian College of Arts and Science effort to assess the overall health of its departments. We look forward to this review as we continue to cultivate and seek to strengthen our graduate and undergraduate programs as well as our vibrant Creative Writing Program. As chair, I’d welcome any input you have about your own experience in our department and would be happy to pass your feedback on to the review team. In the meantime, I invite you to have a look at our website and to stay connected to the department via twitter, Instagram, Facebook and our blog. There you’ll find evidence aplenty of how deeply committed we are to our students. Thanks to those of you who have made donations to us—we are so grateful for your support. Please stay in touch. Our goal this year is to make it easier for our alumni to communicate with us so that we can share your career stories with current students.

All the very best to all of you!

Maria Frawley

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Department Spotlights

Composing Disability: A Celebration of A Cultural History of Disability


A stack of copies of the book "a Cultural History of Disability in the Modern Age"





How has our understanding and treatment of disability evolved in Western culture? How has it been represented and perceived in different social and cultural conditions? In a six-volume series that spans 2,500 years, these ambitious questions are addressed by over 50 experts in A Cultural History of Disability (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), whose general editors include David Bolt and GW English Professor Robert McRuer. The Composing Disability event in honor of the series will be held at GW in April. It will feature a roundtable of experts and authors discussing how the volumes describe different kinds of physical and mental disabilities, their representations and receptions and what impact they have had on society and everyday life.

Whitman and Melville: Poets of the Civil War


This Mighty Convulsion by Chris Sten book cover





Professor Chris Sten co-edited the recently published collection, This Mighty Convulsion: Whitman and Melville Write the Civil War  (University of Iowa Press, 2019) with Rutgers University–Camden Professor Tyler Hoffman. It’s the first book exclusively devoted to the Civil War writings of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, America's most important poets of the war. The book's collected essays sharpen and enrich recent critical appreciation of these writers' poetic skill and sophistication; highlight the complexity of their views; and reveal the anxieties they harbored about the war's aftermath. The essays plumb deeply the aesthetic, political, historical, and critical dimensions of Whitman's "Drum-Taps" and Melville's "Battle Pieces," viewed both together and apart, but they also reveal the scars the war left on the poets themselves.

Graphic Narratives in South Asia and South Asian America


Graphic Narratives about South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics by Kavita Daiya





In Graphic Narratives about South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics (Routledge, 2019), Professor Kavita Daiya presents the first edited volume of scholarship on comics that link South Asia and South Asian America and illuminate the new energy in comics studies in South Asia. Scholars from Asia, Europe and North America address some of the most urgent issues of our time, from gender-based violence, discrimination by caste, ethnic group, and race, to climate change, immigration, globalization and political repression.

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Department Kudos

As editor and publisher, David Bruce Smith, BA '79, launched the Grateful American Book Series for young readers. Shifting the focus from presidents to presidential marriages, the series debuted with Abigail and John, authored by Smith himself with illustrations by his mother, Clarice Smith, BA ’76, MFA ’79, Hon. PhD ’12. He was profiled in GWToday.

English Graduate Student Jacob Holl has traveled from the battlefield to the classroom. The combat veteran shared his insights with first-year graduate students and was profiled in the CCAS Spotlight magazine.

Senior Brigid Prial, winner of a Luther Rice research award, combined her interests in English and biological anthropology to research the way two classic novels—Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula—imagined monstrous science. Her work was featured in GW Today.

Emeritus Professor Tom Mallon published Landfall: A Novel (Penguin Random House, 2019).

Professor Lisa Page published "My Family's Gun Wounds: A Tale in Three Acts," in The Atlantic, August 25, 2019.

Professor Jane Shore's poem "Who Knows One" appeared in The Best American Poetry 2019, edited by Major Jackson (Scribner).

Yahia Lababidi, BA ’96, authored the book Signposts to Elsewhere: A Book of Aphorisms (Jane Street Press).

English and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies alumna Ashley Atilano, BA ’19, was recognized as a GW Distinguished Scholar at graduation.

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Class Notes

Michael Bennett, BA ’02, is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the author and editor of 11 books. He will become a Visiting Fellow and Life Member at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, in Summer 2020.

Louella (Peg) Bryant, BA ’71, published her sixth book, the novel Cowboy Code (Black Rose Books) set in southwest Virginia at the end of WWII.

Barry Cardin, BA ’05, received his M.Ed. in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in May 2019.

Suzanne Gibbons, BA ’63, has lived in the U.K. since 1982 after 12 years in Bombay. She is active in community organizations, particularly as a director of the local open air swimming pool.

Mariya Khan, BA ’19, works in the editorial division of National Geographic Books and writes fiction (published three times and counting!) in her spare time.

Gail Obenreder, BA ’71 regularly writes theatre, visual arts and classical music reviews for the Philadelphia online arts journal Broad Street Review.

Chriselle Tidrick, BA ’94, is the coordinator of contributing scholars programs for the Modern Language Association.  She continues to work as a performing artist and presented aerial dance work at the 2019 Dzul International Dance Festival in Mexico.

Karen Vaucher, BA ’70, wrote the children's book titled Sylvester Starr: A Thimble Island Tale—which has multiple five star reviews on Amazon!


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Donor Recognition


The English Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the program from January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Yolande Allen, BA ’70

Vinod Busjeet *

Barry Cardin, BA ’05

Jordan Coggins, BA ’15

Christine Coleman, BA ’91

Christopher Comeaux, BA ’19

Richard Flynn, MPhil ’84, PhD ’87

Shoshana Grove, BA ’82

Anthony Hannani, BS ’18

Donald Larsson, Ph.D., BA ’71

Melissa Matusky, BA ’14, MA ’15

David McAleavey, Ph.D. +

Daniela Savovic, BA ’18

Racquel Nassor, BA ’19

Gail Orgelfinger, Ph.D., BA ’72

Beverly Packer *

Randall Packer, M.D. +

Alexandra Penkava, BA ’19

Katherine Perry *

Jeanna Marie Rose, Ph.D., BA ’95

Sharyn Rosenblum, BA ’86

Michael Sammartino, BA ’13

Christopher Sten, Ph.D. +

John Sussek, BA ’79

Vergie Taylor, MA ’67

William Turner, MPS ’11 +

Jennifer Wagner, BA ’90

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