Fall 2023 Newsletter

English Department Newsletter

Fall 2023 | Volume 2 | Issue 1

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to all of our faculty and staff! There are a lot of exciting events happening this fall, so first and foremost make sure you're following us on Facebook and Instagram (@uofmenglish) to stay up to date.

We are thrilled to announce that Prof. Courtney Santo is now an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing program, and we're happy to welcome three new teaching faculty members this year: Dr. Lindsay Helms, Dr. Adam Sneed, and Prof. Kendra Vanderlip. This fall, we'll welcome a number of speakers and authors to our campus, including Alice Faye Duncan and Daniel Hornsby.

You'll also notice a few new upgrades to Patterson Hall, including new furniture and décor in the fourth floor mail room, a few new promotional posters, and a community bulletin board on the second floor. We are also excited to announce that the graduate viewbook is complete and we are working on an external promotion strategy for our graduate programs. We have also launched a new resources page for our graduate students, please feel free to direct your students here as necessary.

This year we're hoping for even more involvement with the marketing and promotion of all of our amazing programs and courses here in the English department! As always, if you have project suggestions or inquiries, don't hesitate to get in touch with Dr. Tucker or Ms. Gillo.

Welcome New Faculty

Dr. Lindsay Helms, Assistant Professor of Teaching
Lindsay Helms is an applied linguist with interests in Task-Based Language Teaching and Languages for Specific Purposes. Lindsay earned her Ph.D from the University of Memphis in 2023. In her free time, she likes to garden, swim laps, and tent camp with her husband, daughter, and husky.

Dr. Adam Sneed, Assistant Professor of Teaching
Adam Sneed teaches composition and technical writing in the Department of English. He holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, where he specialized in British Romanticism, and has nearly a decade of experience teaching composition with an emphasis on peer review workshop.

Prof. Kendra Vanderlip, Assistant Professor of Teaching
Kendra Vanderlip (she | they) is a queer educator specializing in creative nonfiction and other forms of creative writing. They are currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Texas, where their work focuses on the implications of violence and how pop culture influences the normalizing of violence, as well as generational trauma, mental health, and gender studies. In the classroom, they focus on creating inclusive communities and demystifying academic spaces.

Letter from the Chair

As we return for the 2023-2024 academic year, it is clearer than ever that we are living in the age of AI. The race among Microsoft, Meta, and Google to replicate OpenAI’s achievement with the launch of ChatGPT has animated discussions across the country for the last 9 months. Questions, celebrations, and Jeremiads about the effect of AI in our classrooms, our jobs, and our society appear just about everywhere, from the barbershops to the halls of Congress. In a country divided by politics, culture wars, and streaming services, everyone, it seems, wants in on the AI conversation. In English, the concern over what do to about students who might use AI to write their research papers can be heard by 9th grade high school teachers as well as tenured professors. It's a subject that we plan to take up this year, and one we hope to include the College of Arts and Sciences, if not the university itself, in engaging. However, there is a more formidable question that highlights the role of the English at the center of the university: What does it mean to be human in the age of AI?

The curiosity and anxiety surrounding the impact on technology on humanity has been a frequent theme in literature since at least the Industrial Age, if not the invention of the printing press in 1436. How will technology impact the stories we tell and explore or the language we create and revise? What shape will our culture take? Who will be vaulted forward and who will be left behind?

A results-based approach frequently ignores these questions. Assumptions that we know what the end will be reduce humans to marionettes caught in a tide of inevitable technological change. In English, it is the journey that matters. In our first-year writing courses, drafting and revision take on as much importance as the final draft. Through peer review and substantive, thoughtful revising, we often get to the questions beyond the mere task of writing a paper or checking off a gen-ed requirement. In our upper-division and graduate classes, we create space – in our discussions, our lives, our culture – for the unexpected, for discovery, and for inspiration. English, then, is not only the skills and values we receive, but an experience that flows through the college experience and beyond.

Since the 2020 election many have argued the need for the country to prioritize civics in schools as a way of reinforcing the critical importance of democratic ideals and practices into the body politic. This push contrasts a decades-long logic that courses, particularly at the college level, should lead inexorably to a tangible set of skills that translate into a specific job. Yet what has become increasingly apparent is that a model based on a tangible outcome is not enough. Our lives as citizens, not simply our tasks as workers, must be central to our education and to the experience we take into our lives beyond the classroom.

We are extremely excited to welcome our new faculty and staff, all of whom you will be meeting in these pages. Some of them have been in the department for years and others are brand new to Memphis. Yet they all share a passion, commitment, and talent that will continue to move us forward towards an inclusive, public-facing department invested in quality student mentorship, innovative research, and student-centered, community-based service.

We are also excited about the promotion of 11 members of our teaching faculty, 9 of whom were promoted to Associate Professor of Teaching and 2 of whom became Professors of Teaching.

They exemplify this department’s commitment to teaching excellence and stellar department citizenship. Additionally, our recently promoted full professors, Drs. Cristina Cervone and Kathy Lou Schultz, introduce us to contemporary authors writing about the complex, volatile moment in which we currently live and re-introduce us to forms and authors we assumed we knew well, but about which we have only scratched the surface. Along with our newly tenured and promoted associate professor Dr. Scott Sundvall, they embrace innovative approaches to critical inquiry and inclusive, fact-based interpretation that are key tenets of our department.

At the end of Oppenheimer, the Christopher Nolan film that was released this summer, the question about the potential of a “neverending chain reaction” that would irrevocably change life on Earth has echoes for us today. We are at another seminal moment in human history, one fraught with great risk, great possibility, and numerous unanswerable questions.

We do not know what the end will be, making the journey ever more important.

Join Us in Celebrating Recent Awards & Accolades

Dr. Elliott Casal 
College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Research Grant, 2023-2024
Dr. Cristina Maria Cervone
College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Research Grant, 2023-2024
2023 Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Research in Humanities
Dr. Donal Harris
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Award in Humanities, 2023-2024
Dr. Mark Mayer
2023 Arts Humanities Research Award
Dr. Verner Mitchell
Freeburg Professorship, 2023-2026
Prof. Marcus Wicker 
Radcliffe Fellowship, Harvard University, 2023-2024
College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Award in Engaged Scholarship, 2023-2024

Save the Date for Fall 2023

Howard Rambsy Children's Literature Event with Alice Faye Duncan - Fall TBD


Randall Kenan Randall Kenan Memorial Reading - Fall TBD
Daniel Hornsby The Pinch Presents: Daniel Hornsby - October 5th & 6th 


Follow us on Facebook and Instagram account to stay up-to-date on all the English Department happenings!

Faculty Bookshelf

Ada Limon The PhD Parenthood Trap - Leah Windsor & Kerry Crawford

"In The PhD Parenthood Trap, Kerry F. Crawford and Leah C. Windsor reveal the realities of raising kids, on or off the tenure track, and suggest reforms to help support parents throughout their careers. Insights from their original survey data and poignant vignettes from scholars across disciplines make it clear that universities lack understanding, uniform policies, and flexibility for family formation, hurting the career development of parent-scholars. Each chapter includes recommendations for best practices and policy changes that will help make academia an exemplar of progressive family-leave policies. Topics covered include pregnancy, adoption, miscarriage and infant loss, postpartum depression, family leave, breastfeeding, daily parenting challenges, the tenure clock, and more. The book concludes with advice to new or soon-to-be parents to help them better navigate parenthood in academia."

Ada Limon Learning a Language with Peers: Elevating Classroom Voices - Rebecca Adams & Rhonda Oliver

"Drawing on experiences of ESOL teachers from around the world, this book provides insights into how peer learning is understood and used in real language classrooms. Based on survey responses, interviews, and observations in a wide range of classroom settings, this book integrates research on peer interaction in second language learning from cognitive and social frameworks with original data on teacher and practices around the use of peer learning in their teaching. This book also delineates the ways that current second language peer interaction research diverges from classroom practice and concludes with a classroom-centered research agenda that addresses the nexus of research and practice on second language peer interaction. The book provides a template for integrating research- and practice-based perspectives on second language learning. Language teachers, teacher educators, second language researchers, and advanced students of applied linguistics, SLA, TESOL, and language pedagogy will benefit from this volume’s perspective and unique work."

Casal, J. E., & Yoon, J. (2023). Frame-based formulaic features in L2 writing pedagogy: Variants, functions, and student writer perceptions in academic writing. English for Specific Purposes, 71, 102-114.

Casal, J. E., & Kessler, M. (2023). Can linguists distinguish between ChatGPT/AI and human writing?: A study of research ethics and academic publishing. Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, 2(3), 100068. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmal.2023.100068.

Domingo, Darryl. “Periodicals, News, and Journalism,” Daniel Defoe in Context, eds. Albert Rivero and George Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), 78-88.

Duffy, Will. "Trump’s Thumbs: Pollice Verso and the Spectacle of Ambiguity." Rhetoric Society Quarterly (April 2023).

Jones, Joseph. "James Moffett's Ineffable." Toward a Re-Emergence of James Moffett's Mindful, Spiritual, and Student-Centered Pedagogy. Jonathan Marine, Paul Rogers, Sheridan Blau, and Kathleen Kelly, Eds. New York: Peter Lang, 2023: 83-94.

Schultz, Kathy Lou. “‘Oh Say Can You See’: Seeing and the Unseen in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric.” The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century American Poetry and Politics Since 1900. Daniel Morris, Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2023: 196-210.

Skaja, Emily. "If Anyone Should Fight to Breathe." What Things Cost: An Anthology for the People. Rebecca Gayle Howell and Ashley M. Jones, Eds. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2023.

Sundvall, Scott and Markelj, J., Eds. Special issue on "Digital pedagogies Post-COVID-19: The future of teaching with/in new technologies." Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 29.1 (February 2023).

Click here to download a PDF version of the Fall 2023 newsletter

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