Welcome! UMD English | Fall 2023

Welcome back to UMD English!

We are excited to greet the 2023–24 academic year with our incoming faculty, staff, and graduate students.

New Faculty

Rebecca N. Liu is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and teaching interests include Asian American literature, Global Asias, Marxist feminism, and critical race and ethnic studies. Her current book project explores how legacies of Asian indenture and the contract form configure race, labor, and social reproduction from the nineteenth century to the present. She received her PhD in English and Interdisciplinary Humanities from Princeton University.

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is an African American writer, poet, artist, and educator who works at the intersection of computation, AI, race, and gender. They are the author of Travesty Generator (Noemi Press), a book of computational poetry that received the Poetry Society of America’s 2020 Anna Rabinowitz prize for interdisciplinary work and longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. They are the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Their other poetry books include How Narrow My Escapes (DIAGRAM/New Michigan), Personal Science (Tupelo Press), a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press), and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press). Their fifth book, Negative Money, is available now. They direct the MFA in creative writing program at the University of Maryland. Their new chapbook, written with AI, is called A Black Story May Contain Sensitive Content and won the 2023 Diagram/New Michigan chapbook contest.

Zoe Alsop is a freelance journalist who has reported on politics, crime, corruption, health, agriculture, art and sports from New York, Colombia, East Africa, and China. She has written for TIME, the Lancet, Runner's World, Monocle, The Globe and Mail, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Associated Press, Global Trade Review, Women's eNews, and many more. Alsop earned a degree in International Media and Communications from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2005. In addition to her journalism work, Alsop has also taught public high school Spanish in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; taught English as a Second Language in Jackson Heights, Queens; painted nursery murals’ worked in a camp for returned refugees in Guatemala; and helped set up Cirque du Soleil tents with ex-convicts in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Chang is a freelance journalist and a lecturer in the Professional Writing Program. She spent 30 years at The Washington Post in a number of positions: copy editor; Magazine assignment editor; deputy Travel editor; Wellness editor and Parenting reporter. She also wrote articles that appeared in these sections and a variety of others. Before working at the Post, she was an award-winning editorial writer for two local newspapers. Elizabeth received her master’s in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Maryland and her B.A. in American Studies from the University of Virginia. In addition to her freelance writing, she co-teaches a course called How to be a Rock Star Freelancer through the Writer’s Center in Bethesda and is collaborating on a book about puberty to be published by an imprint of HarperCollins in 2025.

Alexandra Omogbadegun (she/her) is a passionate educator and lifelong learner. She earned her BA in English from Covenant University, Nigeria and her MA in English from Bowie State University (BSU), Maryland, focusing on revision and reflection in writing classrooms as a path to professional practice. Following her graduation from BSU, Alexandra obtained a grade 7-12 Maryland State teaching certificate and taught English Language Arts at an alternative school, working with incarcerated youth in residential placement. She also taught various college-level writing classes including research writing, expository writing, and critical writing within the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) area. Currently, she teaches Writing for Nonprofits and Writing Case Studies & Investigate Reports at University of Maryland, College Park, and is pursuing her PhD at Howard University, DC, examining “storytelling as data” within the fields of afrofuturism and the digital humanities.

Dr. Olubukola “Bukky” Salako studied Composition & Teaching English as a Second Language. She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has published work on non-native English speakers and presented on topics focusing on Sociolinguistics Analysis, Composition Theories, Language Use, and Second Language Acquisition. She has participated in a variety of conferences, presenting on topics such as African American Vernacular English, Nigerian Pidgin English, Task Based Oral Testing, Lived Experiences, and Writing. She studied in South Korea briefly (Explorations in Global History) at Kyungpook National University as an exchange student while working on her Ph.D. Her publications as a writer include: a journal article, Marginalized Labeling: An Evaluation of English-Speaking Africans Classified as ESL Students, a chapter contribution in the book, Reinventing Identities in Second Language Writing, “Using My Lived Experience to Teach Writing: A Reflective Practice,” a chapter contribution in Global and Transformative Approaches Toward Linguistic Diversity, “An Evaluation of Nigerian Pidgin English and Standard English in a Nigerian Film, a chapter contribution in Futuristic and Linguistic Perspectives on Teaching Writing to Second Language Students, “The Future of Composition Studies: Reconstructing the Past,” and her first novel, The Ancestral Secrets.

Dr. John Constantine Tobin (he/him) is a queer poet and Lecturer at the University of Maryland in the Academic Writing Program and the Professional Writing Program. He received his PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a Co-Founder of Merfolk Games in Shanghai. John received his MFA from the University of Baltimore and BA from The University of Michigan. His recent work has been published in Quarter After Eight, Silver Rose Magazine, Beyond Queer Words in Berlin, and Alluvium - The Journal of Literary Shanghai. He was a 2023 full scholarship awardee for marginalized groups at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. His scholarly work involves LGBTQ+ Literature, Modernism, and Contemporary Poetry.

Aubrey Zinn (she/her) is a life-long educator with numerous scholarly interests including popular culture, literature, and writing. In particular, she is interested in how these fields intersect: How can popular culture bridge student interest in and criticism of traditional texts. She earned her MA in Global Humanities (focus on literature and writing) from Towson University and her BA in English from University of Delaware. She is currently writing a book tentatively titled Helpful Helping: A Primer for Families and Friends.

Rachel Vorona Cote (she/her) is a writer and teacher. Several years ago she studied Victorian literature in the UMD English department, and she is delighted to return as a lecturer. She is the author of the book Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today, which was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2020. Her short-form work appears in a number of publications, including the Nation, Lapham’s Quarterly, Bookforum, the Poetry Foundation, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Washington Post. She lives in Takoma Park with her husband, Paul, a senior lecturer in the department, and their son, Jack.

Amanda Fioreis a PhD Candidate in the International Education Policy Department at the University of Maryland. Her research interests include English as an international language, expatriates, neocolonialism, and the global power dynamics of language. She has more than fifteen years of experience teaching and writing curriculum in Taiwan, China, South Korea, and the United States. Recent publications include a discourse analysis examining the extent to which Peace Corps volunteers’ stories challenge and reproduce a colonial mindset, forthcoming by the World Council of Comparative Education Societies’ Brill Book Series; and a book, co-authored by Dr. Jing Lin, examining non-traditional education pedagogy and the role of story to create change, forthcoming by Bloomsbury Academic.

Kara Pleasants is returning to the University of Maryland as full-time lecturer for the English department, and has taught at both the collegiate and secondary level at several different schools in Maryland. She received an Excellence in Education Award from the city of Bowie, MD in 2011. A UMD alum, she holds a Master’s of Arts in English Literature, focusing on Rhetoric, Renaissance and Early Modern studies; a Master’s of Education in English Curriculum and Instruction; and a Bachelor’s in Russian Language and Literature. She enjoys writing fiction, fanfiction, and poetry, publishing “Disenchanted” (a Pride and Prejudice remix with magic) in 2020 with Quills and Quartos Publishing. She combines her love of poetry with music as director of the Maryland Palestrina Choir, an ensemble dedicated to performing choral music from the Renaissance. On the weekends, she sells organic produce and baked goods at the Havre de Grace Farmer’s Market, where she and her family are curators restoring an 18th century Maryland farmhouse.

Roberta Ward is a retired Administrative Law Judge from the State of California who has had a long legal career. She obtained her J.D. from University of Maryland Law School, has an M.A. in Spanish and in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the California State University at Sacramento (CSUS), and a Master of Law degree in international human rights and humanitarian law from American University. She has taught introduction to U.S. law as well as legal writing to international law students at the University of California, Davis Law School for the past 10 years. In 2019, she taught legal writing at University of Maryland, College Park, and has taught English composition at CSUS as well as to ESL students at several community colleges in California.

Catherine Byrne earned an M.Ed. in Drama Education from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Her academic interests focus on mitigating boys’ downward trend in literacy skills in secondary education. She has been teaching English, IB Language and Literature, IB Literature, and IB Personal and Professional Skills at the secondary level for twenty years. A California native, Catherine began her teaching career in Sacramento, California and moved to Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland in 2010. Fall 2023 is Catherine’s first semester as an AWP and PWP instructor. She lives in Montgomery County Maryland with her husband, Mike, and cat, Buster Posey, and enjoys visits from her three college-age sons.

Greg Deinert: I am a scholar of contemporary American literature with a particular interest in the multi-ethnic novel, anticolonial theory, and post-Marxist critique. My current project interrogates the resurgence of historical fiction that reacts to the contemporary erasure of America’s colonial history. I aim to identify an emergent literary form that theorizes and critiques the amnesiac politics seeking to efface the histories of Native displacement and African enslavement at the bedrock of this nation. Through identifying the misprisions of the archive and providing counternarratives to the myopic perspective that would read absence where it encounters erasure, these authors render plain the processes through which unjust forces sanitize the difficult passages of history. I incorporate these discussions of America’s past and its impact on the present into the classroom, and have taught collegiate writing courses on the rhetoric of the protest, the history of the confederate flag, and the politics of naming buildings on university campuses. I am a graduate of the doctoral program at the University of South Carolina, was a Bilinski Foundation Fellow, and have most recently taught at Winthrop University. My work can be found in Critique and Modern Fiction Studies.

Lucy Sheehan: I am a scholar of nineteenth-century British literature. My current research asks how memories of British slavery survived in Victorian family law, feminist philosophy, and fiction. I received my PhD from Columbia University and was previously Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. My writing has appeared in Victorian Studies, Victorian Poetry, Law, Culture, and the Humanities, VLC, and other journals, as well as in Public Books. I currently live in Takoma Park, MD.

Ariana Nadia Nash: I am a scholar of nineteenth-century U.S. poetry, particularly realist poetry. I argue that realism appearing in poetry during the Civil War and Reconstruction helped to lay the foundation for the tradition of realism in U.S. literature. Refocusing realism on this period and on poetry helps to clarify the important part played by working-class, African American, and female poets, whose contribution to U.S. realism has been vastly overshadowed by white, male, prose writers. My article on Paul Laurence Dunbar and realist poetry was recently published in J19. I am also a poet myself. My first collection of poetry, Instructions for Preparing Your Skin (Anghina Press), won the 2011 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry.

Anney Bolgiano received her MFA in fiction from George Mason University. She teaches first year writing here at Maryland and George Washington University. She joins the UMD faculty after three years as a full time lecturer at Howard. Her debut chapbook, FLAT-PACK, won the DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press 2021 Chapbook Contest. Anney’s essays, poems, collages, and stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, Nashville Review, Salamander, The Rupture, CTRL + V, and elsewhere.

Dylan Carpenter received his MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins University. His poems and translations appear in The Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, The Hopkins Review, The Seattle Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, and other journals. He teaches at the Catholic University of America and here at the University of Maryland.

Victoria Moten is a native of Detroit, Michigan, but is a D.C. transplant by way of Atlanta. She has been teaching for more than 17 years. Victoria earned her M.A. in English with a concentration in African American Literature from Clark Atlanta University and is a Hurston/Wright Fellow. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Morgan State University. Her writing ranges from poetry to short fiction; from biographical to speculative. Her work can be found in the Maryland Bards Poetry Review, Black Freighter Press and victoriamoten.com. When she’s not binge-watching science documentaries, she loves to travel and tend to her garden. She currently resides in Takoma Park with her husband and son.

New Visiting Faculty

Anthony Chukwudumebi Obute is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen Germany. He currently researches “Eco Terrorism” as an ostentatious hegemonic narrative for the global de-legitimation of grassroot environmental movements. He completed his doctoral program at the University of Tübingen where he explored the nexus between the Niger and the Mississippi delta regions of Nigeria and America respectively from enslavement to the environmental ruins of petrocapitalism. His dissertation negates the proposition advanced in some quarters that crude oil was a replacement of the labor of enslaved persons and a compliment to abolitionism. Consequently, he foregrounds how petrocapitalism across these places builds upon the ill-gains of enslavement, and amplifies the sustained importation of Niger Delta crude oil into the Cancer Alley of Louisiana comparable to the defunct importation of enslaved Africans from the region of Nigeria into the plantations of the Mississippi delta. Since 2018, he has taught at the American Studies Program at the University of Tübingen, and he is the co-editor of the forthcoming volume Mediascapes of Ruined Geographies in the Global South. His research interest includes Environmental Humanities, African American Literatures, Postcolonialism, Transnational Black Identities, Cultures of Extractive Capitalism and Resistance Literatures, as well as the Global South.

New Staff

John Yao, the new Admin Assistant II in the MEO, moved to DC last year with his husband Hector from Upstate NY, where he previously worked as an Administrative Assistant at Ithaca College. As a lover of books and fiction, he is more than happy to be joining the English Department here at UMD. John got his BA from Colgate University where he studied music and art, and still remains active in both of those areas today.

Charlene Brooks, the new Business Services Specialist, has worked for the University of Maryland for 21 years with emphasis on supporting Research Centers sponsored by NIH and NSF. She spent 12 years in the Department of Psychology and 8 years with National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Her expertise is in the business spectrum whereas she is currently supporting the Department of English’s travel, purchasing and disbursements (employee reimbursements, vendor payments, honorariums and donations). She loves to travel and has and continues to seek new travel adventures every year.

New Graduate Students

Creative Writing MFA Students

Elizabeth Bryant she/her (MFA, Fiction) is from St. Peter, Minnesota. Her writing explores the phenomenology of Blackness in rural and small town spaces in the midwest. She has studied history and Black studies, and worked as a barista, literary nonprofit manager, nanny, publicist, events programmer, butcher and farmer-trainee. Elizabeth is a founding member of the Minneapolis-based artist collective Burn Something. With her husband Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth curates the Green Way Reading Series at People's Book in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Arielle Heiman she/her (MFA, Fiction) is a writer and filmmaker from New York City. She has a BFA in film production from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. Arielle writes speculative fiction, often grounded in historical settings. In her free time she enjoys horror movies, musical theater, and dishy biographies about Old Hollywood stars.

Olivia McClure she/her (MFA, Poetry) recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Georgia College and State University. Her poetry primarily focuses on the moments of childhood that shape our personhood and the images that stick with us. After growing up in Georgia, she is excited to explore a city with character but is dreading learning to live with the snow.

Taína Rodriguez Patmore she/her (MFA, Fiction) is a proud Higuayagua Taíno writer whose mission is to write her people back into history. She earned her BA in English Literature from Montclair State University. Inspired by giving voice to stories from the margins, her play “Sisters Fight” was selected by the Colors of Community to be directed by Susan Aston and produced at the Harlem School of the Arts. Her writing can be found in the Yellow Arrow Journal, and the Forward to Hiwatahia: Hekexi Taíno Language Dictionary, currently part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s touring exhibit on “Caribbean Indigenous Resistance”.

Annie Przypyszny she/her/hers (MFA, Poetry) is a poet from McLean, Virginia and a recent graduate of American University. Once, she met a girl who claimed she could read “color auras,” and while Annie is skeptical as to this practice’s validity, she believes that the girl’s conclusion that Annie is “pink and purple swirled together” pretty much sums up who she is. She is immensely thrilled to begin her MFA at University of Maryland, and hopes you all have a wonderful day, every day.

January Santoso she/they (MFA, Poetry) is a poet from Fresno, CA. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California. Her writing explores sexuality and cultural taboos from a second generation perspective.

Comparative Literature Ph.D. Students

Ian Hill (he/him/his) is a PhD student of Comparative Literature focused on 19th-century Russian and American literature. He received his BA from Northeastern State University and his MA from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of academics, his biggest interests are extreme metal and finding vegan food with his fiancée.

Rashi Maheshwari (she/her) has completed her BA in English from the University of Delhi, India, and MA in Liberal Studies from Ashoka University, India. Her research interests include autobiography studies, women's writings, caste studies, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, and Bollywood and cinema. When not buried in a book, Rashi is busy baking cakes and cookies or watching true crime dramas, war films, and Bollywood movies. Over the summer, she was consumed with the life writings of Annie Ernaux and is now learning French to read them all over again!

English Ph.D. Students

Ben Desmond (he/him/his) is an active-duty Naval Officer and has been selected for the U.S. Navy's Permanent Military Professor Program. In addition to serving aboard guided missile cruisers and destroyers as a Surface Warfare Officer, he earned his M.A. in English from Georgetown University in 2012 and served as a member of the U.S. Naval Academy English Department faculty from 2012 to 2014. Upon completion of his doctoral studies in College Park, he will rejoin the Naval Academy English Department as a permanent member of the faculty. Ben's academic interests include modern/postmodern narrative strategies with a special focus on mortality, trauma, and war as well as previous work with Dickens and Christianity.

RB Faure (they/them) is a California transplant via New England with a background in fine art and comics. Their work focuses on comics studies and digital humanities, particularly minimal computing and text encoding.

Dalton Greene (he/him) obtained his BA in English at Macalester College and completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Greece before arriving at Maryland's English PhD program. He is interested in early modern drama and its role in laying the foundations for contemporary conceptions of racial, gendered, and (dis)abled identities in the English-speaking world. In other words, he thinks a lot about the question: "Why does Shakespeare matter today?"

Declan Langton is a brand new Ph.D. student from New England. In their upcoming studies, they plan to analyze 19th-century American literature through a gender-expansive and queer lens — for example, the writing of Louisa May Alcott. Outside of school, Declan is a fiction writer who loves swimming, hiking, and listening to music.

Cam Orefice (she/her/hers) graduated from Drew University in the spring, majoring in English and Italian Studies. She wrote an undergraduate senior thesis on the differences between two Italian translations of Little Women in both English and Italian. She is on the LWR track because she hopes to study how to engage students in writing so that they become successful writers not just for undergrad, but for life.

Lisa Osei (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in English with a focus on Postcolonial Studies and African Literature, but specifically on Black Speculative Fiction. She prefers to be referred to as Lisa or Abena. She is a passionate scholar who is interested in the ways in which literature can be used to explore and challenge social and political issues. She is particularly interested in the work of Black speculative fiction writers, who she believes use their work to explore the complexities of race, identity, and power.

Niyanta Sangal (she/her) is a PhD student with a research interest in Global Shakespeare Studies, Films and Adaptation/Translation Studies.

English M.A. Students

Alexander J. Hess (he/him/his) is pursuing a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in Literature. After graduating in May from Andrews University with a BA in English Literature and Behavioral Science, Alexander is delighted to be returning to his home state of Maryland for graduate studies. His academic interests include pop culture, masculinities, and LGBTQIA+ identities, as evidenced by his undergraduate thesis entitled "'If we're gonna heal, let it be glorious': Racism, Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity in Beyoncé's Lemonade."

Charlie Mitchell (he/they) is interested in the novel, 20th and 21st century literature, queer and gender studies, postcolonial literature, Anthropocene fiction, and the work of Joy Williams, among other topics. He has a BA in Food Systems from Middlebury College and has written features and essays for The Guardian, The New Republic, The Baffler, and other magazines and websites. They live in Baltimore.

Harley Nguyen (he/him) is an MA student from Bowie, Maryland. He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and worked in publishing before enrolling at Maryland. His research interests lies in the organizational and introspective power of poetry, and how this genre of writing, long regulated as a pretentious art piece or academic form of creativity, is the most flexible medium of writing of all and has been used for decades by many queer writers and writers of color in community building, mutual aid, and the interrogation of one's identity.

Kanya "Kayna" Richards (she/her/hers) is a Second Lieutenant in USAF, which means she has been many places but she calls Miami, FL home. When she reads literature, she enjoys delving into the big (or nuanced) questions embedded within. Her newfound interests have to do with problems of gender, sex, and religion within the African American community.

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