Michael Chiappini Presents Baker-Nord Work-in-Progress Lecture


Graduate Student Work-in-Progress: Thinking Like a Virus: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, and AIDS Literature
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Location: Clark Hall Room 206

Ph.D. Dean’s Fellow Michael Chiappini will present his research in a Graduate Student Work-in-Progress lecture sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

What does it mean to call a text “AIDS Literature”? What is the effect of applying this label to a text that does not attempt a faithful representation of the AIDS Crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, but instead deploys HIV and AIDS as literary metaphors? By analyzing texts such as the later experiments of William S. Burroughs, the novels of Kathy Acker, and the artwork and memoirs of David Wojnarowicz, Chiappini seeks to trouble the prevailing understanding of AIDS literature by refocusing our attention to texts that do not aspire to narrative fidelity to the Crisis, but instead employ HIV and AIDS for the sake of artistic experimentation.

Pre-lecture reception begins at 4:15 p.m. in Clark 206.

Featured image: “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres


CWRU English at MMLA 2017


English Ph.D. students made a strong showing at the 59th Annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association in Cincinnati, Ohio, November 9-12, 2017. This year’s conference theme was “Artists and Activists.” Congratulations to all of our presenters!

Michael Chiappini: “‘The Age of AIDS’: Deploying HIV and AIDS as Devices in Kathy Acker’s Empire of the Senseless

Philip Derbesy: “‘That’s Just the Way I’m Staring: Filmic Quotation in Kerouac”

Megan Griffin: “Once and/or Future Kings: Richard II, Henry V, and the Suspension of Time” and “‘So when someone proposes a war, remember’: The Continuing Influence of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs Series”

Michelle Lyons-McFarland: “Rising Up: Defoe’s Roxana and Social Mobility”


Three of the Department’s full-time lecturers also presented at the convention:

Cara Byrne (CWRU Ph.D. 2016): “From The Journey to Why Am I Here?: Humanizing Immigration and Encouraging Activism in Contemporary Picture Books”

Lucy Biederman: “Suzan-Lori Parks: Writing in Public” in the special session Biederman chaired, “Surface Writing” and “‘Who would I show it to’: The Elegy in Deep Time”

Joe DeLong: “The Self across Language: Jeffrey Angles’ My International Date Line” in the special session DeLong chaired, “The Poetic Activist Self”

Michelle Lyons-McFarland at Daniel Defoe Society Biennial Conference


Ph.D. candidate Michelle Lyons-McFarland presents her paper “Rising Up: Roxana and Social Mobility” at the Daniel Defoe Society Biennial Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, September 7-9 2017.

Image result for defoe societyThe Fifth Biennial Meeting of the Defoe Society is titled “Tolerance and Intolerance in the Age of Defoe.” The conference description from its website states, “In one light, late seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century Britain might be said to have been an age of tolerance: a degree of toleration of religious dissent became the law of the land; and in the world of letters, many authors sought to cultivate a posture of rhetorical moderation and urbane cosmopolitanism. At the same time, of course, the age was marked by bitter factionalism and biting satire. Social and political upheavals created new opportunities for confrontation as well as for incorporation, for hostility as well as for hospitality. Such tensions led writers like John Locke and Daniel Defoe to address questions of tolerance and toleration directly.”

Evan Chaloupka at Narrative 2017


Ph.D. Dean’s Fellow Evan Chaloupka presented “Writing on the Verge: Cognitive Disability and Its Implications for Storytelling in American Literary Naturalism” at the Narrative 2017 conference, held March 23 – 26 in Lexington, Kentucky.

The conference featured plenary speakers Judith Butler and Linda Williams, both of the University of California-Berkeley, and Kenneth Warren of the University of Chicago.