2016-2017 Awards and Announcements

Dr. Tim Helwig presents the Olive Fite scholarship to English major Arielle Henry

Award Winning Students

Each spring, the English Department awards $20,000 in scholarships and fellowships for our graduate and undergraduate students.  We are pleased to announce the following students were awarded English scholarships this spring for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Undergraduate Scholarship and Award Winners

Barbara & John Blackburn  Scholarship– Emily Bryce Swain; Paul Blackford Scholarship – Rebecca Graham; Olive Fite Scholarship – Arielle Henry; Irving Garwood Scholarship – Courtney Bender; Robert Hodges Scholarship – Tess Tyler; Lila Linder Scholarship– Shelby Davin; Karen Mann Award – Emily Bryce Swain; Alfred Lindsey Scholarship – Kristen Dillender; John Merrett Scholarship – Anna Teggatz; Beth Stiffler Scholarship – Tess Tyler;  Nai-Tung Ting Scholarship – Kelsey Renfro-Cline; Norman & Carmelita Teeter Undergraduate Research Award – Emily Bryce Swain and Rachel Troyer.

Scholar of the Year Scholarship– Anna Teggatz

Writing Awards

Bruce H. Leland Essay Contest: English 100, Introduction to Writing  1st Place, Daniel White; 2nd Place, Margaret Voss ; 3rd Place, Andrea Przybylski. English 180, College Writing I  1st Place, Apryl Moore ; 2nd Place, Faith Buie; 3rd Place, Samantha Pryor. English 280, College Writing II 1st Place Kelly Crowley; 2nd Place, Lisa Crawford; 3rd Place, Adena Ruckoldt. Lois C. Bruner Creative Nonfiction Awards 1st Place, Afolarin Sanni;  2nd Place, Rebecca Gonner; 3rd Place, Sarah Radtke. Cordell Larner Award in Fiction 1st Place, Allen Dullen; 2nd Place, Cheyenne Rideaux; 3rd Place, Matt Gamperl. Cordell Larner Award in Poetry 1st Place, Allison Hartman; 2nd Place, Rachel Troyer; 3rd Place, Natalie Jacobson

Graduate Scholarship, Fellowship, and Award Winners

John Mahoney Research Fellowship – Kirsten Dillender and David “Bo” Plumer; Ron & Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowships –  Ftsum Asfaha and Kirsten Dillender; Syndy M. Conger Essay Award – Kelly Schloss; Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award – Sheldon Gaskell.

A CAS Graduate Student Research and Professional Development Fund grant was won by Kirsten Dillender.

Departmental and College Scholar Awards

The Departmental Scholar awards are sponsored by the Illinois Centennial Honors College.  Each semester, departments select the top student in each of their majors graduating that semester.  Students are selected based on g.p.a. as well as honors and activities.  Those selected receive a medallion to be worn at graduation.  Our winners for this year are Jocelyn James and Rebecca Gonner.

Cecile A. Christison Sterrett Award for Fall 2016 – Rebecca Graham.

Martin Dupuis Leadership Award for Historically Under Represented Communities – Arielle Henry.


Current Undergraduate Students

Katelin Deushane presented “Red Marbles” at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rebecca Graham presented “Noah’s ‘Nakedness’: Nudity, Sodomy or Incest” at the EGO/STD conference in Macomb and at the Northwest Research Conference at Purdue; “Beowulf: Anglo-Saxon and Judeo-Christian Values” at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky, which also won fourth place in the 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Research Competition; “Frankenstein: An Autobiographical Fiction” at the Northwest Research Conference at Purdue. She also published “Recreating Who I Am” in Wordy by Nature, the Sigma Tau Delta blog, which won third place in the Midwestern Blog Contest.

Haley Helgesen presented “Harry Potter and the Representation of Fatness” at the Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Arielle Henry was elected to serve as the Sigma Tau Delta Midwestern Associate Student Representative for 2017-2018. She received a CAS Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to the national Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky where she presented her paper, “Just Get Over It.”

Max Keil received a CAS Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to the national Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where he presented his paper “Language and Monsterism in Frankenstein.” He received an Honorable Mention in the British Literature category. He also presented his paper at WIU’s Undergraduate Research Day. He also published “From Role-Player to Writer” in Wordy by Nature, the Sigma Tau Delta blog, which won first place in the Midwestern Blog Contest.

Bryce Swain received a CAS Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to the national Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky where she presented her paper, “Jane Eyre and the Quest for Christianity.” She also presented her paper at WIU’s Undergraduate Research Day.

Rachel Troyer received a CAS Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to the national Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Kentucky where she presented her paper “Smoke Signal’s Deeper Meaning.” She also presented her paper at WIU’s Undergraduate Research Day.

Current Graduate Students

Zachary Almqist is an intern at the office of Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17).

Sheldon Gaskell  presented “Gendered Geographies: Pakistani Male Water-Becoming in Uzma Aslam Khan’s Trespassing” at the Craft, Critique, Culture Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference in Iowa City.  He also presented “The Paradise and Prison Garden: Problematic Natural Systems of Femininity in Atwood’s Oryx and Crake,” at the 13th Annual English Graduate Conference. He edited One Man’s Journey Through War and Peace by Mark Jurras, a WWII veteran.  He also edited Stephen Ulrich’s Esoteric Echoes and a book of poems entitled A Summer of Song by the Sarah Clark.

Klaira Strickland presented “Fan Subcultures in Dungeons & Dragons,” an excerpt from her thesis project, at the Popular Culture Association conference in San Diego. At the English Graduate Organization conference, she presented  “Transnational Inheritance in Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows.” She plans to teach English in Japan next fall, and she is connecting with other schools to further her research in D&D and Fandom.

Eliza Wells presented “The Rhetorical Power of the Cartoon: Discussing Feminism and Gender in The Powerpuff Girls (1998)” at the Popular Culture Association conference in San Diego.

Laura Winton traveled to the Sigma Tau Delta conference in Louisville  to present her a creative nonfiction piece “Words in My/Her.” At Craft, Critique, Culture in Iowa City, she presented a paper on Women’s Transgressive Writing.  She won the QC Women’s History Month poster contest and the QC Iron Pen Contest for poetry from the Midwest Writing Center Association. She has been hosting the Coin-Op reading series at the Neighborhood Laundromat in Rock Island.  She was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Phi this year.


Christopher Bevard (M.A. 2007) Assistant Director for Educational Technology at John Marshall Law School, Chicago.

Chelsea Brotherton (M.A. 2016) accepted a position as an assistant editor at the American Health Information Management Association in Chicago.

Cody Cunningham  (M.A. 2016) accepted a position as a Senior Copywriter at JLL Commercial Real Estate in Chicago Illinois.

Tiffany Dimmick (B.A. 2011) accepted a position as Office Support Associate for the Writing and Graduate programs in English at Western.

Julie Kaiser (M.A. 2016)  was accepted into the PhD program in English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is currently a teaching assistant.

Justin Kim (B.A. 2016) was accepted into the M.A. in English at New York University.

Jacob Gamage (B.A. 2005) is an English teacher at Soundview Preparatory School in Bedford Hills, NY.

Christopher Ginn (B.A. 2016) is an intern with the McDonough County Voice.

Annette Glotfelty (B. A. 2008) was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Stephanie Hoover (M.A. 2017) accepted a position at Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) as a Case Coordinator.

Brooke Hughes (M.A. 2003) teaches everything from developmental writing to freshman composition and upper-division writing at the California State University, Bakersfield.  She also coordinates a University-wide adopted online program for grammar and writing help and oversees the student-run help center on campus for the program. She is currently writing a composition textbook that will be published in early 2018 by Fountainhead Press.

Ethan Knight (B.A. 2013) is a teaching assistant and doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Cassidy Litle (M.A. 2014)  accepted a full-time faculty position, teaching English, Communication, and Theater courses at Otero Junior College in La Junta Colorado.

Emily Litle (M.A. 2014) accepted a full-time faculty position, teaching developmental English at Otero Junior College in La Junta Colorado.

Kristi Relaz (B. A. 2008) accepted a new position as Bridge Instructor and Career Coach at North Lawndale Employment in Chicago.


Marjorie Allison won the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Multicultural Teaching.

Rebekah Buchanan published “A Punk Pedagogical Approach to Genre” in Recontextualized: A Framework for Teaching English with Music. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam; She reviewed “Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith”;  “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust and Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley”; “Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys”; “The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas.”; “Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator by Jen Klein.” “A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry”;  “The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass.”;  “The Leaving by Tara Altebrando,” all for the 2017 PCA/ACA Mystery &  Detective Fiction Reading List. She interviewed numerous authors for the New Books in Popular Culture Podcast, including “Mozlandia: Morrissey Fans in the Borderlands by Melissa Hidalgo“; “Nerd Ecology: Defending the Earth with Unpopular Culture by Anthony Lioi“; “Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to 80s Teen Movies  by Kevin Smokler“; “Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination by Jack Hamilton“; “The Politics of Punk: Protest and Revolt From the Streets  by David Ensminger“; “Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.She also contributed many radio commentaries to TriStates Public Radio throughout the year.

Merrill Cole published poems including “This Fabulous Shadow,” Women’s Studies Quarterly; “Johnny in Lights,” Spoon River Poetry Review 42.1; “The Hip Poet,” Spoon River Poetry Review 42.1; “Defense Mechanism.” Spoon River Poetry Review 42.1; “Dirty Bits” concīs (Winter 2016); and “Warm Brother.” HIV Here & Now (20 November 2016). His non-fiction essay “The Blond Sheep,” appeared in Mayday Magazine 10 (Fall 2016).

Everett Hamner published “Faith, Science, and Social Justice in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead Triptych” in CRUX 52.3-4 (Fall/Winter 2016): 69-78. He also presented a public lecture, “The Soul, the Cell, and Fiction since the Human Genome Project,” at Regent College, Vancouver, BC. He was the session organizer and moderator for “Orphan Black and Biotech” roundtable, including “Orphan Black and the Slippage of Biotechologies” presentation, at Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, Atlanta.

Magdelyn Helwig published “Schultz, Robert and Binh Danh. War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Renewal (Poetry and Visual Art Exhibition) [review]” in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. She also published two poems, “Artemesia Gentileschi Painting Judith” and “Pulling out the Phials from Joseph Cornell’s L’Egypte de Mlle Cleo de Merode: cours elementaire d’Histoire Naturelle and Examining Each One, Causing Blanks” in The Ekphrastic Review (June 2016). Her poem “The Kill Jar” will appear in Plainsongs. She presented “C. D. Wright’s Legacy: Poetics of Communal Identity” at the 27th Annual Conference on American Literature, held in San Francisco, and  “Murder Ballads as Story Structure in Sharyn McCrumb’s Appalachian Crime Fiction” at the American Literature Association’s Symposium, Criminal America: Reading, Studying, and Teaching American Crime Fiction held in Chicago.

Tim Helwig presented “George Lippard and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Unlikely ‘Partners in Crime'” at the ALA Symposium on Crime Fiction in Chicago, and “Teaching Edgar Allan Poe and Periodical Culture to Different Student Populations” at the ALA Conference in Boston. He was also awarded a Faculty Summer Stipend to conduct research toward his book project, Writing the Working Class: The Literary and Rhetorical Discourses of Class Protest in Antebellum American Print Culture. In terms of professional service, he served as the Midwestern Regent for Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, the Treasurer for the Research Society for American Periodicals, and a manuscript reviewer for ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture.

Bill Knox presented “Planning and Teaching a Future-oriented Sustainability Honors Course” at the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council Conference at South Dakota State University.

Barb Lawhorn published fiction including: “For Now, For The Time Being,” Helen: A Literary Magazine; “Holy Like That.” FemLit; “An Eye For Seeing.” Nebo: A Literary Journal; “Toward the Future.” Toad the Journal; “Everybody Knowing, But Pretending Not To.” The Longleaf Pine. “Cosmos.” The Fabulist; and “Easing Pain” in BLYNKT Magazine. She published nonfiction, including “‘On Writing, Rejection, and Janis Joplin.’ Bird’s Thumb“; “Wool Gathering” Dirty Chai.; and “Migration” in FemLit. She published poetry, including “Pears.” Naugatuck River; “Laundry.” Fox Adoption Magazine and “Blood Demands” FemLit. She reviewed books for The Mom Egg Review, including Joelle Biele’s Broom; Jennifer Karetnick’s The Treasures That Prevail;  Samantha Duncan’s The Birth Creatures; and Susan Rukeyser’s Not On Fire, Only Dying. She also contributed many radio commentaries to TriStates Public Radio throughout the year.

Dan Malachuk published Two Cities: The Political Thought of American Transcendentalism, University Press of Kansas Press; “Disinterestedness and Liberalism” in L. Behlman and A. Longmuir, eds., Victorian Literature: Criticism and Debates, Routledge. He presented “Transcendentalism, Orestes Brownson, and Public Religion” at the American Literature Association, San Francisco.  He served as a reviewer on the American Literature Peer Review Committee for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, and he was interviewed for the film Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul.

Mark Mossman published “Academic Capitalism, Student Needs, and the English MA” in Degree of Change: The MA in English Studies, eds. Margaret Strain and Rebecca Potter, NCTE Press, 2016. His essay “Atypical Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Britain” is forthcoming in The Cultural History of Disability, Volume 5: The Long Nineteenth Century, eds. Martha Stoddard Holmes and Joyce Huff.  Bloomsbury.

Richard Ness chaired and was a participant in the workshop “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Film Music (But Were Afraid to Teach)” at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in Chicago. He signed the contract to write An Encyclopedia of Journalism Films for Rowman and Littlefield, scheduled to be published fall of 2018.

Shazia Rahman presented “Animalization in Pakistani Fiction” at the 45th Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in October, 2016. From December 2016 to January 2017, she traveled to Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, Pakistan where she visited family, friends, and colleagues as she squeezed in as much sightseeing as possible. Here she is in Islamabad.

Jacqueline Wilson Co-advised (with Barbara Lawhorn), SITREP: Veteran Perspectives on Combat and Peace, in its second year of publication. Our magazine featured sixteen contributors from all the major branches of the service who submitted in four categories–fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art. We worked with a team of editors, all WIU–graduate students, Ryan Bronaugh (fiction), Luke Cummings (art), Jared Worley (non-fiction) and Dan Holst (poetry). She helped pilot a Writing Fellows project for English 100, and she published two poems: “Washing Deborah’s Hair” in The Fem and “Milkweed” in Ink-in-Thirds in June.

Alisha White was awarded “Best in Track” from CITR’s Faculty Research and Creative Activities Awards for her research study titled “Creative Responses about the College Experiences of Students with Disabilities.” She published two images in Oddball Magazine, “In Darkness” and “Red Dance.” She presented “Creative responses to Literature: Advocating for the arts in ELA with Preservice Teachers.” with student Alexis Phares; She participated in “Commission on Arts and Literacies Roundtable Session” at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Atlanta, GA, where she also presented “First Person Narration as Agency in Novels Portraying Disability and Mental Illness.” With students Maggie Wallace, & Xiaowei Nu she presented “Connecting to Home through Artifactual Literacies Projects,” a panel for the annual conference of Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE), Bloomington-Normal, IL, where she also presented “Close to Our Hearts: 20 New Authors who Engage Students in Reading” with student Cynthia Karabush.

 Erika Wurth secured contracts to publish two books: a poetry collection entited A Thousand Horses Out to Sea with Mongrel Empire Press and Buckskin Cocaine, a short story collection with The University of South Dakota/Astrophil press. She published short stories, including: “Light and Her Mother’s Arms,” Midwestern Gothic, forthcoming; “Almost Like Children,” Heavy Feather Review; “Harlen Kurjo” South Dakota Review; “Alex Smith,” Eleven Eleven;”Fauna Moon,” Waxwing. Her creative and critical essays included “The Dakota Access Pipeline, Running Through the Heart of Native American Invisibility” Apoge Journal; “The Fourth Wave in Native American Fiction” The Writer’s Chronicle; “The Fourth Wave” Waxwing; Introduction to Pariahs (anthology); “Native Art, Here We are, Where are We” Feminism for the Real World She also published poems, including “Your Eyes to the Sun” and “Beasts at Her Feet” in Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art; “Arcing Towards the Sun,” and “Cold and Tired Wind,” Dark Matter: Women Witnessing; “Distant as a Planet” and “Wild Blue Glory,” Hysteria. She read her work or presented talks at the University of Dubuque; Aspen Institute of Arts, New York, NY; AWP Conference. Panels: Spaceships and Detectives and Celebrating Langston, Washington D.C.; Mile-High MFA, Writer Series, Regis University; Z-Arts (UT); Litfest Pasadena Book Festival; Salem College (NC); She was a judge for the University of Alabama, undergraduate and graduate creative writing contest, 2017.

Pat Young presented “The Tell-Token” at the National Council for Black Studies in Houston, Texas and “Killed Because of Success: The Lynching of Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Henry Stewart” at The College Language Association in Columbia, Missouri.


Ellen Poulter, the Academic Advisor for English, has recently been awarded the WIU Advisor of the Year Award!  The award is given to one individual per year who has displayed an excellence in advising and has reflected the mission and goals of the Advising Unit at Western Illinois University.</p>

Lynne Ward, Staff Clerk in the Department of English for 5 years, was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences Civil Service Award winner for 2016. This award recognizes her endearing personality, on-going commitment to holding us all together, and astounding work ethic. Congratulations on a well-deserved award!