Department of English
Kimpel Hall, 333
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone: 479.575.4301
Fax: 479.575.5919

General News

Graduate Profiles

Joseph G. (Grant) Bain- American Literature

My dissertation, Scaring us Forward: Southern Gothic Fiction 1849-1953, explores the Southern Gothic mode in light of the myriad contending voices of southern history and the convergence of these voices in fiction. By examining writers works by Edgar Allan Poe, Charles w. Chesnutt, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and Carson McCullers, I explore the use of the Gothic to discuss the unspeakable surplus of fears and desires bound in racial, class, and regional discourse. My argument focuses on the ways in which these authors either fail or refuse to resolve the tension their works create, thus compelling the reader to accommodate and attempt to understand the legion of compounded and fracturing perspectives giving rise to social discord.

My primary teaching interests are twentieth century American literature, general American literature, critical theory (especially Marxist and psychoanalytic theory), modern literature, world literature and mythology, film, composition and rhetoric, and cultural studies. In addition to teaching, I have assisted Dr. Patrick Slattery, out Director of Composition, in designing assignments and courses to bring further diversity to the department's course offerings. Since 2006, I have created and continually revised essay assignments for composition courses that focus on issues of diversity, particularly foregrounding Latino/Latina-American and African-American culture. I have also worked with Dr. Slattery to create alternative versions of a required writing-about-literature course.

Jessie Blackburn- Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy

My dissertation, Critical Digital Literacies: Following Feminist Composition Theory into Twenty-First Century Contact Zones, examines how the interests of feminist composition theory, digital media, and new literacy studies intersect within the context of the first-year composition classroom. Specifically, this project examines what happens to the "contact zone" (Pratt, Bizzell) of first-year writing when we introduce digital literacies into that space. Based on research in multiple sections of first-year writing spanning several years and conducted in large university and small liberal arts college settings, this project analyzes the potential of digital literacy pedagogies to enable social, economic, and academic opportunities of students in the twenty-first century. Acknowledging the potential to essentialize or prescribe what constitutes the "liberation" or "feminization" of the contact zone, this dissertation also explores the potential for hyper-mediated fractures to occur in the contact zone, for some students to become constrained rather than liberated, and for the literacy hierarchy to be merely reproduced rather than equalized.

Having taught since 2000, I have experience in the teaching of composition and rhetoric, including courses such as Writing for the Web, Website Design, Writing about Literature in Digital Media, Political Rhetoric and Writing in Digital Media, Professional/Business Writing, Expository Writing, Preparatory Writing, College Composition, and Advanced Composition. I have also taught many literature and interdisciplinary courses, such as Introduction to Literature, Western World Literature, Great Books, Western Traditions, and Introduction to Appalachian Culture and Literature. I am currently the assistant writing program administrator for Advanced Composition her at the University of Arkansas, but before returning for my PhD, I was a visiting professor of English at Emory and Henry College (VA); prior to that, I was an assistant professor of English at Santa Fe Community College (FL). As a result of these professional appointments, I have a wide exposure to diverse learning needs, writing lab management, writing curriculum design, multimodal pedagogies, and writing program administration.

Jacob Lewis- Medieval Literature

My dissertation, Tools for Tomorrow: The Utopian Function in Medieval England, 1350-1420, focuses on the recent scholarly discourse of medieval utopianism. I argue that allegory and dream-vision can open up utopic spaces that lead to moments in traditional discourse where theories of social change can be articulated. In other words, allegory and dream visions are literary genres where contemporary ideas can be expressed, condensed, and otherwise toyed with, allowing the author to better understand his or her historical conditions and point toward novel social and economic ideas. I investigate five dream visions from the late 14th century: House of Fame, Pearl, Wynnere and Wastoure, Piers Plowman, and The Regiment of Princes. Each text is utopian in different ways. House of Fame, for example, discusses the potential inherent in both art and language to shape a better worth in birth, while The Regiment of Princes illustrates a decline in utopian thought after the rough absolutism of both Richard II and Henry IV. I conclude by arguing that the study of these utopian moments contributes not only to our understanding of the past but to our own utopian thought.

My teaching interest include Medieval literature, both English and European; the English Renaissance; World Literature before 1660; critical theory; science fiction; and composition. Over the past several years I have taught an inclusive World Literature course, focusing on a rotation collection of literary texts as diverse as The Analects of Confucius, The Epic of Son-Jara, and The Letter of Alexander to Aristotle. I have also taught two sections of the Medieval and Renaissance survey course for English majors, in which I gave both historical periods equal time and emphasis. While my primary teaching interests are in literature and culture, I have taught composition courses on the college essay and writing about literature, and I would be glad to teach them again.

Sara Stripling- M.F.A. Creative Writing, Poetry

As an MFA candidate in creative writing, my thesis project-Ungathered Masses-will consist of approximately 35-40 pages of poems that are largely free verse; however, there are occasions in the work that reveal formal poetics. The work highlights a straightforward writing style that is constantly searching for and retrieving that quiet burst that carries each poem forth. These poems weave sincerely through a landscape that is both misshapen and compelling. This is a poetry that values intimacy, honesty and even humor and strives to reach towards the sublime in ordinary and not so ordinary life events.

As an MFA student and the University of Arkansas, I have had the unique opportunity to teach for three years. Throughout my times here, I have taught creative writing, essay writing, and beginning and advanced composition, and I have had the pleasure of working with all collegiate grade levels. In addition to teaching at the U of A, I have also taught poetry to Arkansas students from the 3rd grade to the 12th grade, and from the Delta to the Ozarks in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program.

Karen Walker- American Literature

My dissertation, "Pull Off Your Mask America!" Female Identity, Community, and the Ideology of Otherness: Revising American Individualism in Twentieth-Century Literature by Women, Examines the construction of American individualism in fiction by women from the turn of the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. I analyze the inherent qualities of racism and sexism within a tradition in which women and racial and ethnic minorities are invisible or exist only at the periphery of American experience. I examine how texts by Ellen Glasgow, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nella Larsen, Gloria Naylor, Marilynne Robinson, Gloria Anzaldua, Louise Erdrich, and Maxine Hong Kingston negotiate this ideology of Otherness to reveal not only the inaccessibility of, but, more significantly, the inadequacy of American individualism for women of all color; consequently, women are empowered to ground individual identity in female community, revising the fundamental ideology of Otherness behind conventional American individualism and reclaiming a tradition of their own.

I am most interested in twentieth-century American literature, turn-of-the-century American literature, African-American literature, ethnic-American literature, gender studies, feminist theory, creative writing, women's writing, literature of the American South, regional literature, and pop culture. I have over seven years of teaching experience at the university level, having taught composition and literature at the University of Arkansas and the University of Southern California. At USC, where I earned and M.F.A. in professional writing, with an emphasis in fiction writing, I taught Writing and Critical Reasoning, a freshman-level writing course that emphasized building critical thinking skills through an active engagement with a variety of social issues, including Gender and Sexuality in American History; The Holocaust; Diversity and Racial Conflict; War and the American Experience; and Social Issues in Gender.

Liam Nesson- American Literature

Liam Nesson completed all requirements for the Ph.D. in English in August 2009, successfully defending his dissertation, Reactionary and Progressive Environmentalism: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and Stances in Defense of the American West. The study examines how Abbey and Stegner adopt conservationist perspectives in their fiction and nonfiction and how their works encourage particular approaches within the modern environmentalist movement. The dissertation adopts ecocriticism as its primary theoretical framework; however, it also engages in socio-cultural, postmodern, reader-response criticism. A chapter adapted from the dissertation, "Anarchic Resistance and Bureaucratic Appeal: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and Literary Approaches to Environmental Defense, "will be published in the collection Anarchism and the Literary Mind.

Nesson is prepared to teach survey courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American Literature, as well as Modern American Literature, and he has experience teaching all levels of undergraduate courses in composition and technical writing. He has also designed specialized courses on Literature of the American West, Environmental Literature, Southern Literature, and World LIterature. Nesson also developed and led a substantial service-learning project, a Workplace Literacy Course that aided employees of local not-for-profit agencies in improving their professional and grant writing skills. He has several years of experience working as a tutor in the Writing Center.