Department of English
On the Books
Graduate Alumni Newsletter
Letter from the Director

Welcome to the latest electronic edition of the newsletter of the Villanova Graduate English Program! As always, it’s meant to keep you in touch with what’s happening with individual faculty members, current students and alumni, as well as within the program as a whole. You can read about our new T-shirts (and other swag), our new faculty member Kimberly Takahata, PhD, program accomplishments, and the ways in which we have contributed to a number of contemporary conversations.

During the past year, the pandemic of course continued to affect us, but we were able to move towards a more normal experience. Our students and faculty traveled to conferences, our classrooms became mostly mask-free, and, by the end of the academic year, we could not only have an in-person Thesis and Field Exam Symposium but also share a post-Symposium dinner together. I hope that next year we will continue to regain our sense of community; our graduate lounge may even return to its pre-pandemic liveliness.

Please stay in touch with us—let us know what you’re up to, and of course contact me or Mike Malloy if you have any items for this newsletter or for the YAWP. The YAWP, of course, is always a way you can keep up with what’s going on—subscribe, and you won’t miss a thing! And don’t forget to check out our podcast “In Theory,” which we started in 2020.

Evan Radcliffe, PhD
Director, Graduate English
Get Involved
Responding to These Times
The students and faculty of Villanova English have been engaged in research that speaks to contemporary conversations surrounding topics such as climate change, gender and sexuality, and the impact of racism and colonialism—historically and in the present.

Kimberly Takahata, PhD, spoke about “Indigeneity and Indigenous Life in Colonial Virginia” at the Northwestern Undergraduate Conference on Literature. Heather Hicks, PhD; Jean Lutes, PhD; Kate Neilsen, PhD; and Lisa Sewell, PhD, presented a panel on climate stories and writing for change appropriately titled “The Apocalypse Isn’t Here Yet.” Mary Mullen, PhD, presented on “Comparison, Colonial Unknowing, and Ireland” at a conference devoted to "How Victorianists (Might) Talk about Race." Yumi Lee, PhD, gave a colloquium at the University of Pennsylvania on the renewed visibility of the Korean War in American literature. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, PhD, participated in a Tibetan Women Writing Seminar at The University of Virginia. Finally, Jean Lutes, PhD, and her student assistants (including Madeline Davids '22 MA) continue to work on the ‘Steenth Street Project, an effort to recover a book of short stories, written by the pioneering Alice Dunbar-Nelson, about Black children in turn-of-the-century New York.

Our community also benefited from the work of visiting scholars who engaged with relevant topics, such as Erin Murphy, PhD, of Boston University, who spoke at the Villanova GWS conference on “Amazons and Zombies: Margaret Cavendish’s Soldiers, Gender, and the Paradoxes of War.” In addition, as part of this year’s Esmonde Colloquium, Carissa Harris, PhD, of Temple University presented on “Twice Militant: Women’s Intersectional Anger from the 1381 Uprising to #SayHerName” and Robbie Richardson, PhD, of Princeton spoke on the place of Indigenous peoples’ bones in the history of museums in Europe and North America. And we had a diverse, talented and engaged group of prominent writers visit us for our Literary Festival.
Faculty News
Kimberly Takahata
Getting to Know Kimberly Takahata, PhD
Alexander Matkowsky '23 MA interviewed new assistant professor of English Kimberly Takahata, PhD, who studies Early American Literature, working primarily with long 18th century texts from Massachusetts to the Caribbean. Read the full interview.
Harry Potter Enchants Students
The magic of Harry Potter first flew in (on a broomstick, of course) to homes everywhere about 25 years ago. Evan Radcliffe, PhD, associate professor and director of the English graduate program, taught ENG 3690 "Harry Potter: Quests / Questions" for the first time in fall 2021, and the course filled up within a day.

Faculty Publications and Honors

Chiji Akoma, PhD, Oral Literary Performance in Africa: Beyond Text. Co-edited by Nduka Otiono. London: Routledge, 2021.

Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, PhD, Revolute, Albion Books, 2021.

Travis Foster, PhD, “The Effeminate Man,” Gender in American Literature and Culture, ed. Jean Lutes and Jennifer Travis, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Kamran Javadizadeh, PhD, “Can Rilke Change Your Life?” The New Yorker, 26 May, 2021.

Heather Hicks, PhD, "'Enough to Change a Planet': Feeling Extinction in Contemporary Literature." Reconsidering Extinction in Terms of the History of Global Bioethics. Ed. Stan Booth and Chris Mounsey. New York: Routledge, 2021. 1-26.

Yumi Lee, PhD, “Ever-Pending: U.S. Literature of the Long Korean War.” The James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies Korean Studies Colloquium. 7 Oct. 2021, the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Jean Lutes, PhD, “A Queer Tale of Two Endings: Alice Dunbar-Nelson and ‘His Heart's Desire.’” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Vol. 9, No. 1, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021.

Lauren Shohet, PhD, “Mediation, Media, and Milton’s Eve,” Milton Studies 63.1 (special issue on “Milton Now”), 2021, 11-24.

Megan Quigley, PhD, was elected to the Board of Directors of the International T. S. Eliot Society.

Kimberly Takahata, PhD, Annotating Grainger, a digital project.
Student News
Hannah Kahn '23 MA and Caitlin Salomon '23 MA presented at The Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2022 Western Regional conference, “Literary Geographies – Space, Place, and Environments,” at Biola University in La Mirada, California in April.
The 12th annual Thesis and Field Exam Symposium was held on Thursday, May 5 at Villanova. Graduating students from the English Master's program presented their theses and field exams in brief presentations and fielded questions from their peers and faculty.
Congratulations to Our Recent MA Graduates
Spring 2022: Sam Covais, Vicki Dearden, Jess Derr, Sam Dugan, Em Friedman, Christina Kosch, Lori McErlean, Amanda Piazza, Franki Rudnesky, Alicia Sakers and Christoforos Sassaris.

Fall 2021: Caitlyn Dittmeier, Zachary Richards and Lauren Wilke.

Spring 2021: Catherine Bialkowski, Mary Cordisco, Kathryn Corona, Sarah Beth Gilbert, Josh Hsu, Anne Jones, Nicholas Keough, Alexander Liska, Olivia Stowell and Shea Szpila.
Student Publications and Honors

Theo Campbell '23 MA earned a summer research fellowship from Villanova.

Deidra Cali '23 MA “‘One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted – ’: Trauma and Terror in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry,” Concept, Vol. 45, 2022.

Samantha Covais '22 MA, “‘God’s Own Image Bought and Sold!’ Analyzing the Intersection of Christianity and Slavery in Brown’s Clotel, Concept, Vol. 45, 2022.

Jess Derr '22 MA, “‘Women Don’t Buy Suitcases’: Unpacking Liminality and Gender in Mad Men,” Concept, Vol. 45, 2022.

Em Friedman '22 MA, “Unsexing Eden,” Milton Studies, Vol. 64, no. 2, 2022.

Franki Maria Rudnesky '22 MA, “‘First it is warm then it gets cold:’ Temperature as Metaphor in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Mrs. Dalloway,” Concept, Vol. 45, 2022.

Christoforos Sassaris '22 MA, “Yerasimos Vlachos’ Dictionary and the Hellenic Diaspora of Eighteenth-Century Venice,” La Bibliofilía, 2021.

Ethan Shea '23 MA, “The Unracing of Whiteness in Heart of Darkness,” Concept, Vol. 45, 2022.
Student Presentations

Theo Campbell '23 MA will present at the International Association for the Study of Irish Literature (IASIL) Conference: “‘Customs Handed Down to Us’: Empire and Vulnerability in Glimpses of my Life in Aran.”

Em Friedman '22 MA presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies: “Healing Backwards: Time, Affect, and the Poetics of Prayer in Medieval Mystical Theology (A Panel Discussion)" and presented at the Villanova Graduate Research Symposium: “Feminist Abolitionism Across Time.”

Hannah Kahn '23 MA presented at the Sigma Tau Delta Convention: “Lips Don’t Lie: A Criticism of ‘Winter Dreams.’”

Isobel McCreavy '22 MA presented at the John R. Milton Writer’s Conference, and at the 118th Annual PAMLA Conference in Las Vegas: “Focalizing on Young Adult Literature: The Dangers of Ignoring Focalization.”

Christoforos Sassaris '22 MA presented at the Villanova Graduate Research Symposium: “Locating the Byzantine in Medieval English Literature: The Auchinleck Manuscript.”
Nova News

Amanda Piazza '22 MA accepted a full-time position at Villanova in the Office of Financial Assistance.

Christoforos Sassaris '22 MA accepted a full-time position at Villanova in Falvey Library.
Alumni News
Alumna and Shares Reflections and Advice
Olivia Stowell ’21 MA shares her reflections on her graduate student career, her scholarship and her advice for other aspiring scholars.

Stowell is currently pursuing a doctorate in Communication and Media at the University of Michigan. She published her first academic article “There’s Certainly a Lot of History Here, But We’re Here to Roast Oysters: Afterlives of Trans-Atlantic Exchange in Top Chef: Charleston” in the journal Television and New Media in January 2022. Congratulations, Olivia!
Recent Alumni in Doctorate Programs

  • Sam Covais ’22 MA, Binghamton University
  • Em Friedman ’22 MA, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jonathan Weiss ’22 non-matriculated, Temple University
  • Kristen Sieranski ’21 MA, University of Notre Dame
  • Olivia Stowell ’21 MA, University of Michigan
  • Matthew Edholm ’20 certificate, University of St. Andrews
  • Matthew Ryan ’20 MA, Catholic University of America
  • Avni Sejpal ’20 MA, University of Pennsylvania
  • Joseph Alicea ’19 MA, UC Santa Cruz
  • Angeline Nies-Berger ’18 MA, Rutgers University
  • Stephen Reaugh ’18 MA, Washington University in St. Louis
  • William Repetto ’18 MA, University of Delaware
  • Casey Smedberg ’18 MA, University of Connecticut
  • AnneMarie Jakubowski ’17 MA, Washington University
  • Laura Tscherry ’17 MA, Indiana University
Other Alumni Activities

Corey Waite Arnold ’14 MA is a professional video game writer, currently working on a post-apocalyptic sci-fi role-playing game called Ostranauts. He was a teaching assistant in Heather Hicks’s Apocalyptic Literature course and often thinks about her writing and their discussions when he writes. You can play some of his games by visiting Horse Honey Games.

Sister Patricia Hendricks ’70 MA retired after teaching English for 30 years, serving her final 10 years as department head at Paul VI High in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Kimberly Koch ’09 MA was elected as the first Democratic woman to the Whitpain Township Board of auditors in 2017. In 2019, she was elected to the Whitpain Township Board of Supervisors. That was the first time in the township’s 320-year history that they had a Democratic majority and female majority on the Board. She is currently serving as chair of that board. This year, she was elected to the Pennsylvania state Democratic Committee.

Joe O’Brien ’19 MA had a crossword published by Universal Crossword, which is syndicated around the country, including, on May 2 in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Aside from that, he is teaching literature at Salesianum High School in Wilmington, Delaware—his tenth year in the position.

In September 2021, Stephen Reaugh ’18 MA published a chapter, “Building Rapport: How Active Learning Strategies Create Inclusivity in the First-Year Classroom” in Teaching Gradually: Practical Pedagogy and Classroom Strategies for Graduate Students by Graduate Students, published by Stylus Publishing with support from the Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University.
If you have a story, publication, conference presentation or job update you would like to share in a future newsletter, please reach out.
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