2020-2021 Announcements

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 2020–2021 academic year.

Undergraduate Scholarship and Award Winners

Barbara & John Blackburn Scholarship – Darrin Ross; Dr. Paul Blackford British Literature Scholarship – Darrin Ross; Dr. Olive Fite American Literature Scholarship – Steven Clay; Nai-Tung Ting English Education Scholarship – Samantha Smith; Dr. Irving Garwood Shakespeare Scholarship – Josh Stinson; Sig. Jeannette & Dean Johnson Scholarship – Mackenzie Ricco; Lila S. Linder English Scholarship – Abigail Gindlesberger & Josh Stinson; Alfred J. Lindsey Memorial Schoarlship – Anthony Greer; Karen Mann Essay Award in Literature and Film – Lily Porter; John Merrett Scholarship in British Literature – Josh Stinson; Michaela Romano Scholarship – Anna Headley; Beth M. Stiffler Memorial Scholarship – Deanna Palm; Robert L. Hodges English Education Scholarship – Josie Beaird; Wanninger Foundation Scholarship – Lonita Ash; Scholar of the Year Scholarship – Abigail Gindlesberger.

Writing Awards

Bruce H. Leland Essay Contest: English 100, Introduction to Writing – 1st Place, Peace Agbavito; 2nd Place, Rivers Ashton; 3rd Place, Blaize McGlasson & Daylon MooreEnglish 180, College Writing I – 1st Place, Sydney Nicole Hollis; 2nd Place, Jennifer Hamlin & Kaitlyn Hilt; 3rd Place, Jaken HicksEnglish 280, College Writing II – 1st Place, Arsalaan Raza; 2nd Place, John Warring; 3rd Place, Joshlyn C. LomaxGH 101 General Honors – 1st Place, Likhitha Kancherla; 2nd Place, Kaylee Agans; 3rd Place, Isabella MaxwellMultimodal Writing – 1st Place, Yousif Nasher; 2nd Place, Madison Boyer; 3rd Place, Micaela Maldonado. Lois C. Bruner Creative Nonfiction Awards – 1st Place, Abigail Gindlesberger; 2nd Place, Sarah Lind; 3rd Place, Alison Holmes. Cordell Larner Award in Fiction – 1st Place, Jackson Watson; 2nd Place, Crista Lounsberry; 3rd Place, Victoria Law. Cordell Larner Award in Poetry – 1st Place, Jackson Watson; 2nd Place, Anali Mendoza; 3rd Place, Alison Holmes.

Graduate Scholarship, Fellowship, and Award Winners

Ron & Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowship – Rene Jones; Syndy M. Conger Essay Award – Katya Kozhukhova; Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award – Meghan O’Toole & A. J. Rocca; Michaela Romano Scholarship – Andrew Round.


Current Students

Josh Stinson has been appointed to serve as the Midwestern Student Representative to Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honors society. He will attend the Board of Directors meetings in Atlanta in 2021 and will help to nurture chapters throughout seven states.

Rachael Aderoju, Hannah Edwards, Kaylee Gundling, and Maureen Sullivan inspired their audience to put Edgar Allan Poe’s writing in dialogue with past and contemporary writers in the “Edgar Allan Poe and His Contemporaries Roundtable” at the Sigma Tau Delta National Convention.

Mackenzie Ricco, Darrin Ross, and Jessica Schaumberg facilitated a thoughtful discussion about rural English education and social justice in the “Rural Schools and Diversity Roundtable” at the Sigma Tau Delta National Convention.


Kimberly Ackers (B.A. 2015) accepted a position as Program Coordinator at University of Maryland Global Campus Kindsbach, Ramstien Air Base, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Zachary Almqquist (B.A. 2016, M.A. 2019) accepted a position as Assistant Librarian at the East Moline Public Library in IL.

Allison Barr (B.A. 2021) accepted a position teaching English at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, IL.

Courtney Bender (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching English at Abingdon-Avon High School in Abingdon, IL.

Ryan Bronaugh (M.A. 2015 ) accepted a position as a writer and researcher with Minirva 6 Consultants in Washington D.C.

Flannery Burdick (M.A. 2008) accepted a position as Managing Director at Olive and Crane in Colorado Springs, CO.

Carmen Bizarri (B.A. 2021) accepted a position teaching English at West Central High School in Biggsville, IL.

Dakota Carlson (B.A. 2016, M.A. 2019) accepted a position as University Writing Center Director/Coordinator at Claflin University in South Carolina.

Hayleigh Covella (B.A. 2013, M.A. 2015) accepted a position as Assistant to the Library Director at Bettendorf Public Library in Iowa.

Shelby Davin (B.A. 2020) accepted a position as Program Specialist at Allegis Global Solutions in Glendale, Arizona.

Katelin Deushane (B.A. 2016) earned her master’s degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 2021. She recently accepted a position as Teen Services RA at Peoria Public Library in Illinois.

Kristen Dillender (B.A. 2016, M.A. 2018) was the keynote speaker at this year’s Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day. She is the managing editor of the journal American Literary History, while also studying climate change, the Anthropocene, and risk assessment through later and contemporary US literature as she completes her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.

Hannah Edwards (B.A. 2021) accepted a position teaching English at Bushnell-Prairie City High School in Bushnell, IL.

Jacob Gamage (B.A. 2005) accepted a position teaching English at Oakwood Friends Schools in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Taylor Giamari (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching English at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles, IL.

Rebecca Gonner (B.A. 2017) was promoted from Technical Writer to Quality Assurance Document Control Specialist at Abbott in Evanston, IL.

Katie Green (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching English at All About Learning in Northbrook, IL.

Gayle Grundstrom (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching at Stark County CUSD 100 in Wyoming, IL.

Emilie Hahn (B.A. 2021) accepted a position teaching English at Stark County CUSD 100 in Wyoming, IL.

Heather Harper (B.A. 2014, M.A. 2018) works as a reporter for the Memphis Democrat in Missouri.

Laura Landa (B.A. 2019) accepted a position teaching English at St. Linus Middle School in Oak Lawn, IL.

Alex Lounsberry (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching English at West Prairie High School in West Prairie, IL.

Mat McClanahan (B.A. 2019) accepted a position teaching English at Pekin Community High School in Pekin, IL.

Travis Moran (M.A. 2010) left Beijing, where he taught English, and has become a freelance writer and communications consultant living in Riga, Latvia.

John Naskrent (B.A. 2016, M.A. 2018) accepted a position as Document Control Specialist at HydroGeoLogic, Inc. in St. Louis.

Paige Rohrback (B.A. 2019) accepted a position teaching English at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL.

Kelly (Schloss) Harrington (M.A. 2017) accepted a position as Senior Coordinator, Training and Internal Content at Beekeeper Marketing in Carbondale, IL.

Jo Spengler (B.A. 2019) accepted a position as a Writing Center Tutor at Lewis University in Chicago.

Connor Sullivan (B.A. 2021) received the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council Honorary Recognition Award in the area of Humanities. He has accepted a position teaching English at West Prairie Junior High and High School in West Prairie, IL.

Abigail Tichler (M.A. 2015) accepted a position as Marketing and Project Specialist at Midwest Electronics Gaming, LLC in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Joseph Turk (B.A. 2019) as accepted to Georgetown Law School in Washington D.C.

Brittany Venzon (B.A. 2020) accepted a position teaching English at Stark County CUSD 100 in Wyoming, IL.

Jared Worley (B.A. 2016, M.A. 2018) accepted a position as an instructional designer at Boeing in St. Louis.

Mike Valvano (M.A. 2012) accepted a position as Proposal Manager at EagleView in Rochester, New York.


Marjorie Allison became the Interim Chair of the English Department. In her first year in the position, she lead a major update and expansion of the curriculum, which will now include revised major options in Literature and English Education and new major options in Creative Writing and Professional Writing.

David Banash presented “Copy, Cut, Paste: Fragmentation from Early Modern Commonplace Books to Avant-Garde Collages” at the American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference in Chicago, IL.

Rebekah Buchanan published “What COVID-19 is Teaching Me About Writing” in Teaching/Writing: The Journal of Writing Teacher Education 9(1). She published book reviews for School Library Journal and Library Journal, and she hosted New Books Network, New Books in Popular Culture Podcast. Her radio commentary, “Teachers for Diverse Student Populations” was broadcast on Tri-States Public Radio. She presented “DREAMers and Undocumented Students Access to Higher Education: Findings from Interviews with 33 Dreamers” with Julia Albarracin and Marcy Olague-Jamaic at the virtual Sharing the Dream Conference. She won awards, including WIU Provost Award for Internationalizing the Campus; WIU College of Arts and Sciences Award for Internationalizing the Campus; and WIU Foundation Summer Research Stipend for Heterodoxy: Examining the Writings in an Undergraduate Feminist Zine.

Merrill Cole co-edited and co-translated Quertext: An Anthology of Queer Voices from German-Speaking Europe (U of Wisconsin P, 2021). He was invited by Tupelo Press to participate in its 30/30 series, in which he published a poem a day for the month.

Roberta Di Carmine is currently researching for her next book project on African history and culture in which she examines a vast collection of rare photographs of African tribes (mostly Zulu in southern Africa and Maasai in Tanzania) taken between 1930-1950 by Italian-American photographer and filmmaker Attilio Gatti. She will continue working on this book project next year, during her one year sabbatical.

Magdelyn Helwig co-wrote “Making It as a Female Writing Program Administrator: Using Collective Action and Feminist Mentoring Practices to Transgress Gendered Boundaries” for Women’s Ways of Making (Utah State U P, 2021). She also led the development of the department’s new major option in professional writing.

Tim Helwig served his seventh year as Midwestern Regent for Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and he helped to establish new national internships for English students with the National Council of Teachers of English and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. He moderated a roundtable led by four WIU English majors on the writing of Edgar Allan Poe at Sigma Tau Delta’s virtual annual convention in March. He also reviewed manuscripts for ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance and served his sixth year as Treasurer for the Research Society for American Periodicals.

William Knox presented “A Perhaps Immodest Proposal: Re-envisioning Honors Program Admissions” and “Not Finding (and Finding) Private Honors Support” at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference as well as “Re-imagining Sustainability Outcomes” at Environmentally Concerned Citizens, Macomb. He published “Sustainability and Situational Awareness” in the McDonough County Voice.

Barb Lawhorn published her short stories “Treading Water” in Sandhills Literary Magazine and “Underground Volcanoes” forthcoming in Sierra Nevada Review. She also published the poems “Beading the Alphabet”, “Orb Eater”, and “Capsaicin’s Kiss” in White Wall Review. She tells M&L that “I did no presenting or traveling, unless you include the presentation of many donut moments to my teenagers for coping admirably, and significant travel between my home office and kitchen. As far as winning, successfully completing this semester, creating vibrant writing communities in Zoom classrooms, and navigating rich life with a seventh grader, a high school junior, and an exuberant Jackabee, all without killing a single plant are going to be the only take home prizes.”

Dan Malachuk is a Visiting Professor at Universität Heidelberg, where he taught the “Seminar: George Eliot,” Anglistisches Seminar, Summer 2021. He published “Romanticism and Democracy,” in the Handbook of American Romanticism (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021) and “‘Wider than Our Views of It’: Thoreau’s Universalism,” in Thoreau Beyond Borders (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2020). He presented “The Professor’s House, Settler Colonialism, and Pessimism” at the Brandeis Novel Symposium, Waltham, MA.

Amy Mossman led the development of the department’s new major option in professional writing.

Mark Mossman was interviewed by Olga Springer for “A Q&A with Mark Mossman” at the Disability, Arts, and Sexualities panel for The Limits of Pleasure Virtual Conference at Dublin City University, Ireland. His review “On Disability and Life in Ireland” is forthcoming in Prose Studies. His essay “Lucy Grealy’s Face” is forthcoming in Disability, Arts, and Sexuality from Palgrave Macmillian. He was inducted into WIU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

Christopher Morrow stepped down from his position as interim department chair and left Western to become chair of the English department at Tarlton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

Rich Ness published “A Certain Autonomy: Music in the Films of John Huston” in Miranda – Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone. He presented “In the Seberg Style: How Jean Seberg Challenged the Male Gaze” and chaired the panel “About Jean Seberg: Actress, Activist, Icon” at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference.

Alisha White published “Discovering Disability Experiences” in English Journal, 110(4); “Analyzing Visual Representations of Bipolar Disorder in Marvel’s The Unstoppable Wasp” in The ALAN Review, 47(3) Special Issue Exploring Adolescent Neurodiversity and Mental Health in YA Literature; “The Roots of Addiction as Portrayed in American Comic Books and Graphic Novels,” “The Portrayal of Addiction Consequences in American Comic Books and Graphic Novels,” “The Portrayal of Addiction Recovery in American Comic Books and Graphic Novels—Part 1” all in Blog & New Postings at William White Papers. She presented “Creative Responses in Stimulated Recall Interviews: Universal Design for Interview Methods” [paper] and “Where Are the Recovery Narratives?: Analyzing Representations of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in Comic Books and Graphic Novels” [poster] at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI) at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Virtual Conference. She was also a co-presenter for “Stepping Beyond Our Words: Walking for Place, Community and Self” at the ICQI. She was a co-presenter for “Entanglements: Valuing Multiple Simultaneous Identities through Walking Methodologies” in a roundtable session for A Confluence of Arts: Mini Workshops for Bringing All the Arts into ELA ELATE Commission on Arts and Literacy at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), in Denver, CO. She was invited to present “Ethnography and Interviewing” at the University of Lynchburg and “Introduction to Arts-Based Research” at the University of Kansas. She was also asked to present “Disability Representation in Literature and Popular Culture” at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Macomb.

Erika Wurth published short fiction, including “Let Kari Float Down,” Cutleaf; “Cecilia,” Massachusetts Review; “Little Fox and the Case of the Missing Regalia,” Untitled Middle Grade Powwow Anthology (Harper Collins); “Against All Odds,” The Walrus; “Jim,” Water~Stone Review; “On Account of How Special and Indian,” Talking River; “Why’d you Go Daddy? Was I Bad?” BYNWR. She also published non-fiction, including “The Fifth Wave, Intersections in Canadian and American Indian Fiction,” The Writer’s Chronicle; “Not Your Grandmother’s Native American Fiction, Five Speculative Native American Writers Changing the Landscape of Native Fiction Forever,” ALL ARTS; “Are Native Americans Finally On the Cusp Of True Visibility,” Shondaland; “Native Americans and what Sovereignty Means During a Pandemic,” Bitch Media; “Cherokee Citizens are Writing Themselves into an Indigenous Future,” Lithub; “14 New and Upcoming Books By Native American Writers You’ll Love,” Buzzfeed. She also read her work at venues and events including “Stranger than Fiction,” a panel with author Erika Krause for the City of Longmont, CO; Interview for Collected Works Bookstore with Author Rebecca Roanhorse; Oklahoma City University Reading; Three Part Series for Lit Hub TV Contemporary Native American Writers Series; Litfest Creative Intellectual/Intellectual Creative (CO); Vermont College of Fine Arts; AWP: “Savage Sunsets: A Memorial Tribute to Adrian C. Louis”; Read Earth MFA, reading series.