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 in the program.

You can read about our new faculty member, Dr. Michael Dowdy; the continuing project to recover the work of African-American author, activist and educator Alice Dunbar-Nelson; a pair of innovative graduate courses, both scholarly and practical, that Dr. Alice Dailey is teaching along with Dr. Chelsea Phillips from Theatre; the four generations of Villanova faculty and graduate students who presented at the annual meeting of the T. S. Eliot Society; and of course other news about current grad students, alumni and faculty.

Please 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 Mike has hosted since 2020 and which now includes 16 episodes.


Evan Radcliffe, PhD
Director, English Graduate Program
Get Involved
English Major 75th Anniversary Celebrations

Alumni are encouraged to attend all our anniversary Literary Festival readings (the full roster of writers can be found on our website), but we’d like to extend a special invitation to view former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s reading on March 12, 2024. The reading will begin at 7 p.m. Alumni are also invited to a reception preceding the reading, to be held in the President’s Lounge from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. An evite will be forthcoming.

In addition, alumni are welcome to attend a showing of The Spanish Tragedy from April 10-21!
Faculty News
Welcome to Michael Dowdy
Our newest faculty member is Professor Michael Dowdy, who teaches Latinx literature (among other things). To learn more about Professor Dowdy and his work, check out this interview conducted by Theo Campbell ’23 MA.
Overlooked No Longer
By Megan Walsh-Boyle for Villanova Magazine

A prolific and thought-provoking author, activist and educator, Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935) influenced some of the most celebrated writers of the Harlem Renaissance—and yet, her works don’t appear on many K–12 school reading lists.

Jean Lutes, PhD, is working with a dedicated group of scholars to change that. “Dunbar-Nelson is part of a long tradition of Black activists and intellectuals who have been advocating for racial justice for generations,” says Dr. Lutes, the Luckow Family Endowed Chair in English Literature and professor of English.

GRASP Award for Spanish Tragedy

Professors Alice Dailey, PhD, English, and Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD, Theater and Studio Art, won a $15,000 grant to support a year-long exploration of The Spanish Tragedy, a rarely staged but highly influential 16th-century drama. Dr. Dailey and Dr. Phillips will team-teach two courses, one in the fall which will study the text and prepare for a production, and one in the spring which will stage the play. The grant will enable Dr. Dailey and Dr. Phillips to support a guest artist-in-residence next year, as well as to archive the work generated by the project.

As the play that introduced revenge as a tragic motive to the Renaissance stage, The Spanish Tragedy has had an enormous influence on the representation of revenge in the anglophone tradition, an influence that stretches from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c. 1600) to contemporary comic books and television epics such as Game of Thrones (2011-19).

Faculty Publications, Invited Lectures and Honors

Chiji Akoma, PhD, “E Nwere Iduuazị Ụmụaka N’Igbo?” Ugegbe: Jọnalụ Ụwandịigbo, Vol. 1, 2022.

Alice Dailey, PhD, How to Do Things with Dead People, Cornell University Press, 2022.

Michael Dowdy, PhD, “From Fowler to El Salvador: Juan Felipe Herrera’s Global We.” Juan Felipe Herrera: Migrant, Activist, Poet Laureate. Ed. Francisco A. Lomelí and Osiris Aníbal Gómez. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2023.

Alan Drew, MFA, The Recruit: A Novel, Random House, 2022.

Joseph Drury, PhD, “Afterword: On the Uses of the History of Technology for Literary Studies and Vice Versa.” British Literature and Technology, 1600-1830. Ed. Kristin M. Girten and Aaron R. Hanlon. Bucknell University Press, 2023.

Travis Foster, PhD, “Introduction: American Literature and the Body,” The Cambridge Companion to American Literature and the Body. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Kamran Javadizadeh, PhD, has published regular columns in The New Yorker, including “On Diane Seuss” (June 2023) and “The Eroticism of an IKEA Bed” (February 2023). He has also launched a new podcast.

Crystal Lucky, PhD, “Bible.” Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies. Ed. Gene Andrew Jarrett. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022, 4-25.

Mary Mullen, PhD, presented on “The Aesthetics of Interest in an Age of Questions: Representing Ireland” at Harvard in March 2023.

Megan Quigley, PhD, “Hugh Kenner as an Eliot Fan.” Nonsite 42. Special Issue on Hugh Kenner, 2023.

Lauren Shohet, PhD, earned the Outstanding Faculty Research Award.
Student News
Community, Faculty Connections Key to English Graduate Student’s Academic Success

Whether it is because of similar research interests, connections within the field or other, more nuanced factors, faculty play a large role in students’ choice of graduate school and are also instrumental in shaping the graduate student experience. Villanova English master’s student Theo Campbell ’23 MA points to the kindness, generosity and support of Villanova faculty for helping them to flourish as a scholar and to gain acceptance to the English PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they are starting this fall.
MA Student Presents at NEMLA

Second-year VU English MA student Caitlin Salomon recently presented at the NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association), on a panel entitled "The Future is Fragile," which "examined how the concept of fragility shapes our world and society."

"My paper put Walter Miller’s (post)apocalyptic novel A Canticle for Leibowitz in conversation with Judith Butler’s theory of vulnerability," said Salomon. "I suggested that though Butler’s framework is an exemplary theoretical model to follow, Miller’s novel shows that even when we admit—and have tangible proof of—our own fragility, our flawed humanity leads us to protect ourselves at others’ expense. His inclusion of a posthuman character at the novel’s conclusion intriguingly poses that humanity can only be invulnerable when it’s no longer entirely human." READ MORE

Student Publications and Honors
Jamie Wojtal (second from the left) was awarded the Graduate Research Prize in the 2023 edition of Concept.

Theo Campbell was awarded the Margaret Powell Esmonde Memorial Award for Best Graduate Essay for their paper, “‘Not Man: Woman’: Freeing Leopold Bloom from Her Closet” and presented their work, “Customs Handed Down to Us: Empire and Public Health in Glimpses of my Life in Aran” at the 2022 Graduate Student Research Symposium in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Adam Riekstins earned a summer research fellowship from Villanova and published a novel with his publishing company, Parsley Wake Publishing. The book, Robin and the Great White Heron, is available in Kindle and paperback versions, both online and in select stores.

Caitlin Salomon presented at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference on a panel titled “The Future is Fragile.”

Ethan Shea won second place in the Adult Division of the Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest for his poem Per aspera ad astra and presented his paper “Eliot Goes to the Cinema: Film, Mechanical Reproduction, and the City in The Waste Land” at the 43rd annual T.S. Eliot Society meeting.

Matt Villanueva, “‘This is How I Fight’: The Evolution of Masculinity within Contemporary Depictions of Asian American Men,” Concept, Vol. 46, 2023.

Jamie Wojtal was awarded the Graduate Research Prize from Concept for their paper, “Legibility and Annotation: Reading Images and Words by Wendy Red Star, Thomas Harriot, and Theodore De Bry,” Concept, Vol. 46, 2023.

Eva Wynn, “The Ties That Bind: Personal Feelings in Giovanni’s Room,” Concept, Vol. 46, 2023.
Left to Right: Caitlin Salomon, Deidra Cali, Ethan Shea and Hannah Kahn
Congratulations to Our Recent Graduates

Fall 2023: Jamie Wojtal

Spring 2023: Deidra Cali, Theo Campbell, Hannah Kahn, Caitlin Salomon and and Ethan Shea

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
Alumni News
VU Alum on Academia & Criticism Today
Current MA student Adam Riekstins interviewed alumna Jessica Swoboda ’15 MA, who is now completing her PhD in English at the University of Virginia. Her articles in The Point magazine, “Plural Visions: A reflection on ‘Criticism in Public’” and “Practicing Acknowledgement,” explore new ways of interpreting literature and interrogate characteristics of modern academia, both of which she examines further in her dissertation, “Entangled Relations: Characters, Interpretation, and Aesthetic Experience.” READ MORE
Four "Generations" of Novans on Eliot
Visitors to the forty-third annual T.S. Eliot Society meeting, held in St. Louis and marking the centenary of “The Waste Land,” had an opportunity to see four 'generations' of Villanovans presenting: former Villanova professor Vincent Sherry, Professor Megan Quigley, MA alum Ann-Marie Jakubowski ’17, and current MA student Ethan Shea ’23.
Other Alumni News

Michael (M.I) Devine MA ’06 is a professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, where he is also the director of the Center for Interdisciplinary and Area Studies. Devine won a 2023 New York State Council on the Arts Award for DADAMAMA, his most recent interdisciplinary music project. Cofounder of the pop collective Famous Letter Writer, Devine won the Gournay Prize for innovation in the essay form for his book Warhol's Mother's Pantry (Ohio State/Mad Creek Books).

Laura Dover, MA ’94, has been elected 2023-2024 President of the National Insulation Association. She is the first female contractor President of NIA, and the second female NIA President. Laura is President of Dover Insulation, Inc., which is based in Western North Carolina. “Just a reminder of the usefulness of a Master of Arts Degree in English Literature!” she writes.
Recent Alumni in Doctorate Programs

Theo Campbell ’23 MA, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Caitlin Salomon ’23 MA, University of Delaware
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
Kyle Traynham ’19 MA, Claremont
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
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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