UMD English news & Updates | Fall 2023

Welcome colleagues and friends to the English Department's Fall Newsletter,

As the proud chair of this exceptional department, I am inspired by the achievements and dedication of our community members. Here you will find stories of the countless ways our department is making a positive impact on both our students and the broader community. As a review of recent accolades and accomplishments, this newsletter serves as a celebration of our shared successes and testament to English as a hub of intellectual dynamism.

I extend my sincere gratitude to each of you for your unwavering commitment to excellence. Your contributions are the heartbeat of our department. I am excited to see what we will accomplish together in the coming months as we continue to support and inspire one another, fostering an inclusive and diverse environment where creativity thrives and new ideas flourish.

Warm regards,

Amanda Bailey, Professor and Chair

News & Updates From Our Community

Associate Professor Lillian-Yvonne Bertram was interviewed by Kai Ryssdal on NPR's Marketplace about their newest book, Negative Money.

Marketplace podcast episode featuring Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Lecturer Jesse Brooks’ short story "The Regal Azul" was named a finalist in the Missouri Review's Perkoff prize. The story will be published next year in their spring issue.

Professor Kim Coles’ book, Bad Humor: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England, was reviewed by The Times Literary Supplement in the Sept. 15, 2023 issue.

Senior Lecturers Sarah Dammeyer, Kisa Lape, and Daune O’Brien presented at the September 2023 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference. A product of a Faculty Research and Writing Group entitled, The Anti-Ableist Classroom, their conference panel was titled “The Professional Writing Classroom as a Site for Radical Social Justice: Disrupting Traditional Classroom Expectations in Course Theme, Assessment, and Design."

Fiction M.F.A. student Edward Daschle has a short story titled “Alice & Lucy” in Apex Book Company’s anthology Robotic Ambitions, publication date Nov. 14. Daschle also has a story in Lunch Ticket, titled “I Hope So, I’m Working on It, We’ll See."

Professor Julius Fleming, Jr.'s book Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation (NYU Press 2022) was awarded Honorable Mention for the John W. Frick Book Award (American Theatre and Drama Society) and Honorable Mention for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present Book Award. The book is also a Finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association Book) and Finalist for the Hooks National Book Award. In addition to delivering the Ida B. Wells Lecture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Benjamin Mayes Lecture at Emory University, Professor Fleming has given invited lectures at Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in Saint Louis, Northwestern University, the University of Rochester, the University of Mississippi, Lehman College, Rhodes College, the University of Scranton, the University of Missouri, and George Mason University.

LWR Ph.D. Candidate Erin Green’s “The South Ain't a Lost Cause: A Counterstory” was published in Writers: Craft & Context. They were also awarded a 2023 Shirley Wilson Logan Scholarship Award from the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. They were featured during a special session at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference in Atlanta, GA.

Principal Lecturer Peter Grybauskas delivered the keynote lecture at Lituanicon in Vilnius, Lithuania in October. The talk was titled "'Putting Earth under the Feet of Romance': Two Hobbits at the Battle of Maldon." Two foreign language editions of The Battle of Maldon have been published in recent months: Brazilian (HarperCollins Brasil) and Spanish (Minotauro).

Lecturer Aysha Jawed accepted a new position as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Jawed also published four manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.

Distinguished University Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum and Associate Professor Kari Kraus co-taught a six-hour online course for the Rare Book School entitled "Building a BookLab." They had 39 students from institutions as far away as Dublin enrolled, and they shared their experience and insights from building a humanities makerspace from the ground-up.

Distinguished University Professor Bob Levine participated in two conferences in October. He presented at the biannual Frederick Douglass Symposium at the Douglass Papers in Indianapolis, and he chaired a panel on “The New Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies” at the ALSCW conference in Houston. The panel provided a preview of a book of the same title that he co-edited with Russ Castronovo, forthcoming in 2024 from Cambridge UP. Five people with UMD connections are featured in the book: Edlie Wong, Kelly Wisecup (Northwestern, UMD PhD), Rodrigo Lazo (UC Santa Cruz, UMD PhD), Autumn Womack (Princeton, UMD MA), and Ed Whitley (Lehigh, UMD PhD).

In October, Lecturer John Macintosh gave an invited talk, "‘What can a person do?’: Autofiction and Circulation Work in Heike Geissler’s Seasonal Associate," for a symposium on "Neoliberal Capitalism and the Aesthetics of Self-Destruction" at the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY. He was also elected to the Executive Committee of the UMD chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Dr. Macintosh also published an article in July in the journal Contemporary Literature.

Associate Professor Emily Mitchell’s short story collection Life/Story won the 2023 Elixir Press Fiction Award and is forthcoming from Elixir Press. Professor Mitchell’s short story “The Church of Divine Electricity” which appeared in The Southern Review in 2022 was nominated in July for a Shirley Jackson Award. She published three short stories over the summer: "Madeline" in Blackbird, "Mothers" in The Missouri Review and "The Severe Inquisition into the Causes of the Great Fire" in American Short Fiction.

An article by Lecturer Michelle V. Moncrieffe, director of the NAME project, features in the November issue of Monitor on Psychology.

NAME Project oral health education fair at the Hyattsville Branch Library

Professor Michael Olmert gave four lectures on literature, architecture, and art recently. He spoke at the Talbot County Historical Society on W.H. Auden, Pieter Brueghel, and the symbolism of octagons in architectural history. This talk was a chapter from his book in progress, INK, PIGMENT, BRICKS. In September, he lectured at the Jerusalem Mill Quaker Village in Harford County. In October, he gave an architectural and social history tour of 18th century Easton, MD for the staff of the Easton Public Library. On Nov. 8, he spoke at Johns Hopkins University about the influence of Andreas Palladio on 18th century English and colonial architecture.

Associate Professor Randy Ontiveros was awarded a Dean’s 2023 Faculty Service Award for contributions to the College of Arts and Humanities. As director of Honors Humanities over the past three years, Professor Ontiveros has enriched the living-learning program experience for students with revitalized curricula, refurbished community spaces, increased extracurricular experiences and new community-building opportunities, as well as greater opportunities for mentorship, leadership, and financial support.

Professor Emeritus William S. Peterson has contributed an introduction to Season's Greetings from George: The Christmas Cards of George Mackay Brown (Cambridge: Galileo Publishers, 2023).

Professor Sangeeta Ray was the fall colloquium speaker at Case Western University where she gave a talk titled, "A Boom in Minor Key: The Sri Lankan Refugee Novel." She also presented a paper titled "Objects and Things: Unfolding Thought in Sri Lankan Civil War Narratives" at the Symposium on Crisis and Postcolonial Thought organized by the Association of Postcolonial Thought at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her essay, "The Insufficiency of Paradigms: South Asian Literature from the Diaspora,” was published in the edited collection Diaspora and Literary Studies and another essay was published online in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Indian Literatures. Her conversation with Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka for his novel was aired at the Novel Dialogue podcast.

Professor Brian Richardson gave a keynote lecture, “Characters and Their Reincarnations,” at the International Conference on Fictional Figures at the University of Coimbra. He also read the paper, “Fate, Chance, and Cause in Conrad’s Fiction” at the Joseph Conrad Society (UK) Conference in London. He also taught a master class on James Joyce and interpretation at the University of Giessen. His essays on narrative beginnings have been translated into Farsi. His 2021 book, Essays in Narrative and Fictionality: Reassessing Nine Central Concepts, was re-issued in paperback.

In October, Professor Jonathan Rick delivered a workshop to the Communications Board on how to write a Wikipedia page.

UMD Comparative Literature Ph.D. alum Stephen Rojcewicz recently published one professional paper, two book reviews, a performance review, and a villanelle.

UMD English alum and English Undergraduate Studies Academic Program Specialist Kit Roper has a poem being published in Yellow Arrow Journal: EMBLAZON titled "a study in orange."

Associate Professor Rion Amilcar Scott’s short story "A Grief of the Dead" was published in the newly released anthology, "Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror" edited by director Jordan Peele.

Poetry M.F.A. student Ava Serra has a poem (Methodology: Inner Child Mercy Massacre) in a horror poetry anthology, Under Her Eye. The volume is marketed as a "women in horror" collection, but several of the poets (including Serra) identify as femme genderqueer.

Associate Professor Christina Walter presented a paper “V. S. Naipaul’s Digestive Disorder: Writing (Post)Colonial Being” at Modernist Studies Association Conference. Professor Walter spoke at a roundtable talk at the premiere of UMD Opera Studio’s production of Benjamin Britten’s modernist opera Albert Herring: “The New Woman, the Quiet Queer, and the Shrinking Island in Albert Herring.”

Professor Joshua Weiner's translation of Flight and Metamorphosis, a poetry collection by poet, dramatist, and Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs, has been shortlisted for the American Literary Translators Association's 2023 National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. The collection was translated from German by Weiner with Linda B. Parshall.

Flight and Metamorphosis by Nelly Sachs, trans. Joshua Weiner

Writing Center Director Sara Wilder, Assistant Director Tom Earles, and tutor Julia Pavlick presented at the International Writing Centers Association Conference in Baltimore.

University Recognitions

Matthew Kirschenbaum

Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum was named Distinguished University Professor, the highest appointment bestowed to tenured faculty by the university. Professor Kirschenbaum is a researcher and public intellectual internationally renowned for his contributions to the fields of media studies, digital humanities, electronic literature and book history.

Amanda Bailey

Professor and Chair Amanda Bailey has been named the 2023–25 ADVANCE Professor for the College of Arts and Humanities, a role in which she will create a community for women faculty in the college and facilitate open conversations about supporting the recruitment, retention, advancement and professional growth of women at the university.

Joseph Ross Angelella

Senior Lecturer Joseph Ross Angelella has been appointed the director of the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House, a two-year living and learning program focused on creative writing. Writers’ House residents form a close literary community of 50 to 60 undergraduate students who live together, take courses on different genres of creative writing and participate in activities such as colloquia, workshops, retreats and special events.

Public Humanities

Bob Levine

Distinguished University Professor Bob Levine has been awarded a Public Scholars Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant, which provides funding to individual authors writing nonfiction books in the humanities for the public, will support writing and archival research for Professor Levine’s book-in-progress, under advance contract with W. W. Norton, on 19th-century American author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.

"Mushroom Marvels" event at Hyattsville Branch Library

Associate Professor Christina Walter organized a public humanities event at the Hyattsville branch of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System with English doctoral candidate Diana Proenza and English Ph.D. alum Jenny Schollaert '23 and Britt Starr '23, with sponsorship from BookLab and the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies. “Mushroom Marvels” used the fact that mushrooms are currently having a moment in pop culture to engage community members about the material and metaphorical life of mushrooms. The event featured short talks about the role of mushrooms in literature and philosophy, including book recommendations; a display about 19th-century mycologist Mary Banning and her illustrated book The Fungi of Maryland; and arts and crafts stations showcasing ink, paper, and stamps made from mushrooms as well as the ability to create a print of Emily Dickinson’s poem “The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants” using BookLab’s Gutenberg-style press.


CAARES (Committee for Antiracism, Accessibility, Respect, Equity, and Social Justice) and the English Department hosted the first annual Welcome Lunch for new and returning BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ undergraduate and graduate students on Sept. 27. This well-attended community-building event was for undergraduate and graduate students who identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+.

Graphic by Harley Nguyen


The 2023–25 theme of the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies is Displacement.

Displacement speaks to the forced migration and movements of peoples across the globe over centuries. From slavery to the internal displacement of peoples and the contemporary refugee crisis, the term allows us to connect the literary with the cultural and the political in myriad ways.

On a different register, displacement allows us to engage productively with contemporary challenges facing the humanities.

It can help us think creatively about the public role of the humanities, the literary value of language and writing in the time of AI, the circulation of literature in translation, and the increased access to global circuits of traditional and non-traditional media.

Graphic by Karen Nelson

The first Displacement-themed event, "Panel Discussion: Affirmative Action Displaced," took place on Oct. 11. This event featured Professors GerShun Avilez (English), Janelle Wong (American Studies), and Muna Adem (Sociology) in a discussion on the recent decision by the Supreme Court to end affirmative action.

CLCS will host a two-day Displacement Symposium in the spring from March 27–28, 2024. Please save the date and stay updated on all upcoming Displacement events here.

Creative Writing

“When writers visit Maryland they bring with them their passion, skill, imagination and devotion to the art of writing; and they further instill those values in our campus culture." —Professor Joshua Weiner

Stanley Plumly

The Department of English is launching the Stanley Plumly Lecture Series in Creative Writing, a biennial event co-sponsored by the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies that will bring distinguished writers to the University of Maryland community to deliver lectures devoted to creative writing, read from their own work and spend time with students and faculty.

Graphic by Karen Nelson

The inaugural speaker is 2018 MacArthur Fellow John Keene, who is Distinguished Professor and department chair at Rutgers University–Newark. Keene is the author, co-author and translator of several books, including the 2022 National Book Award-winning collection “Punks,” and “Counternarratives,” published by New Directions in 2015 and Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2016.

The endowed lecture series is made possible by the gift of an anonymous longtime patron of the English department’s Writers Here & Now reading series.


BookLab co-hosted a LGBTQ History Month Workshop with MICA titled "Reflect, Realign: Queer Activist Art Workshop" on Oct. 13.

On Oct. 15, BookLab co-sponsored a community cartonera workshop (pictured here!) with the UMD Latinx Alumni Association for Latinx History Month. To view more photos from the workshop and learn more about cartonera, click here.

Community Cartonera Workshop

BookLab also hosted their semesterly letterpress printing workshop on Oct. 27. Participants learned how to set type for letterpress printing and used the BookBeetle screw press to print a short poem.


The 2023 edition of Interpolations has launched! Interpolations is a journal of academic writing from the University of Maryland. Annually, they publish essays highlighting exemplary rhetorical work that Maryland students produce when taking English 101: Academic Writing.

"This issue of Interpolations sees the publication of six outstanding pieces from our English 101 students. In this issue, you will find Kristen Wood’s succinct and effective summary of Lisa Damour’s article “Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office.” As Damour thinks through and argues for a solution to what she sees as a crisis in education affection young women and girls, Karen Xiao, in her excellent position paper and remediated infographic, argues forcefully for a solution to a different kind of crisis facing all people who menstruate: that of period poverty and the stigma surrounding menstruation, an economic burden Xiao sees as deeply unjust. Indeed, the search for justice is a common theme throughout these excellent pieces. Gerald Markey’s position paper takes a sustained look at race-based admissions in American universities, a topic that once again (and right in the middle of Gerald’s revision process for publication) made headlines through a recent Supreme Court decision. Neeky Vedadi’s position paper looks at animal rights and argues passionately for reforming zoos, both in addressing animals’ physical as well as psychological needs. Finally, in a unique, digital approach to a literature review, Isabella Hofman provides a window into issues of cultural appropriation within the fashion industry." —Joshua Weiss, editor-in-chief of Interpolations

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