English Graduate Students

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M.A. Students, 2017-2018

Ciarra Bona: I am a first year M.A./Ph.D. student and hold a B.A. in English with a specialty in Advanced Literary Studies from Saint Leo University (2016). My main interest is in 18th-century British Literature, particularly the rise of the novel.

Sarah Forner: I am a second-year M.A. student interested in poetry, eco-criticism, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. I earned my B.A. in English Literature from John Carroll University (2016).

Garrett Graber: I am a first-year M.A. student and have a B.A. in English from the University of Mount Union (2017). My interests include 20th century to contemporary American literature, film, and narratology.

Blaire Grassel: I am a second-year M.A. student with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Malone University. My interests lie mainly in English literature, particularly in the medieval and Victorian eras, though I also have an interest in American confessional poetry.

Kim Grogan: I am a second-year M.A. student with a B.A. from Case Western Reserve University in Cognitive Science (2016). My interests lie in the intersection between literature and cognitive linguistics, with a focus on the ways in which conceptual metaphor, force dynamics, and semiotics manifest and function within poetry and the novel.

Ellen Liebenguth: I am a first-year M.A. student with a B.A. in English Literature from John Carroll University (2017). My interests include nineteenth century British literature, specifically Romantic and Victorian novels, and Renaissance literature.

Mark Mowls: I have B.A.s in English and in Film Studies from Ohio State University (2002) and interests in film studies, visual culture and rhetoric, and British and expatriate American modernism. I am an M.A. candidate with academic interest in poststructuralism, film, queer theory, and the effects of technology.

Sabrina Skelly: I am a second-year M.A. student with a B.A. in English from the University of  Mount Union (2016). My interests include modernist and postmodern literature, Southern Gothic literature, feminist theory, queer theory, and the shifting constructs of masculinity.

Mary Hanna Stephenson: My bachelor’s degree was competed at Crown College with emphases on philosophical and religious studies as well as nursing and health sciences. I am a first-year M.A. student with interests in history and philosophy of science, fantasy, fairy-story, and science fiction genres, and how our personal and cultural understanding of the physical world influences the stories we tell.

Hayley Verdi: I am a second-year M.A. student with interests in Victorian and Edwardian literature and culture, children’s literature, and literature and writing pedagogy. I earned my B.A. in English from Grove City College in 2010 and my M.Ed. in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2012.

Annika Weder: I am a first-year M.A. student. I have a B.A. in English with a specialty in North American Literature from the University of Bern (2017). My main interest is in postmodern and contemporary American literature.

Ph.D. Students, 2017-2018

Erin Blakeslee: I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) program. Prior to beginning my studies at CWRU, I taught writing for several years at Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana. I have taught a broad range of courses, including developmental writing, advanced composition, second-language writing, and multi-genre creative writing. I earned my B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Purdue. My research interests include writing pedagogy and genealogical writing, storytelling, and archival conventions. My studies focus primarily on writing situations that occur outside of the classroom and the workplace: in community writing groups, in family archives, in queer feminist performance spaces, and on hobbyist websites. I serve as the webmaster for the English Graduate Student Association.

Evan Chaloupka: I am a doctoral candidate in Writing History and Theory. My research explores the narrative functions and aesthetic effects of cognitive and intellectual disabilities in American literature, journalism, and popular science writing. My work has appeared in The Journal of Narrative TheoryDisability & Society, and The CEA Critic.

Michael Chiappini: I am a Ph.D. student whose research areas include classic and contemporary rhetorical theory, medical rhetoric, and literature of the AIDS Crisis.

Maya Cope-Crisford: I am a second-year Ph.D. candidate focused on long 19th-century British literature, with concentration on Romantic and Gothic texts. My research focuses on the idea of an “Other” as it appears through character, theme, environment, or use of scientific and supernatural discourses. I take specific note of the ways natural geography affects both folklore and politics of the British Isles, and how these ecocritical lenses translate across gender, culture, and historical bias. I also take into account the scientific upheaval of the period, and explore the connections between the natural world and burgeoning scientific knowledge as it appears in discourses of gender, geopolitics, and the body/politic. My M.A. thesis explored embodiments of female “monstrosity” across English and Scottish works, and used historical as well as folkloric tensions to define gendered monstrosity. Additional interests include folklore studies, poetics, ecofeminism, the unexplainable and strange, gender and sexuality, and scientific narratives. 

Thom Dawkins: I am a Ph.D. candidate at the dissertation stage working on early modern theology and poetics. I was an inaugural recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship, which supported my research at the nearby Allen Medical Library, where I researched medical texts contemporaneous to the poets I study. I have had the opportunity to teach a great variety of topics at CWRU, including courses that privilege professional communication (ENGL 398), ESL (ENGL 148), and Creative Writing (ENGL 203). I recently served as the president of the English Graduate Student Association, and have held posts as Events Chair and as a representative on the Graduate and Undergraduate Curriculum Committees through the organization. Before coming to CWRU, I completed my M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Chatham University and my M.T.S. at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Leah Davydov: Leah Davydov is a first-year Ph.D. student. She holds a B.A. in Classical Civilization from Oberlin College and an M.A. in English Literature from Cleveland State University. Her research interests focus on intersections of medicine and literature, and she aims to specifically explore how competing models of medical hypnosis may have affected the literary treatment of mesmerism, somnambulism, and other trance-like states in popular fiction of the late nineteenth century.

Philip Derbesy: I am a third-year Ph.D. candidate. My dissertation investigates the influence of film on the post-45 American novel. I hold a B.A. in English from Northwest Nazarene University (2013) and an M.A. in English from the University of Missouri (2015).

Megan Griffin: As a Ph.D. candidate, my main area of specialization is in Early Modern literature, with a particular focus on issues of genre and on the development of the rhetoric of sovereignty from the English Reformation to the English Civil War. I also have a secondary interest in 20th and 21st century sci-fi/fantasy literature and television.

Lara Klaber: I am a Ph.D. student in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) program, with B.A.s in Communication, Film & Digital Media, and English, and an M.A. in English, from Cleveland State University. I take a cross-disciplinary approach to my work, combining elements of rhetoric and composition, literary theory, film theory, and communication theory in my analyses. My Ph.D. project focuses on pedagogical practices in use in Writing Centers, and I hope to run a University Writing Center after I complete my Ph.D. Additional interests include multimedia narratology, technical communication, interactive composition, and the use of contemporary young adult fiction to promote higher literacy rates. I also harbor a great love of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genre writing.

Daniel Luttrull: I earned a B.A. in English and Writing from Indiana Wesleyan University (2009) and an M.A. in English from Baylor University (2011). Currently, I am a third-year PhD candidate working on a dissertation about didacticism and moral philosophy within American Romanticism.

Michelle Lyons-McFarland: I am a Ph.D. candidate with B.A.s in English and Humanities from the University of Washington (2010) and an M.A. in English from Case Western Reserve University (2012). My dissertation, “Literary Objects in Eighteenth-century British Literature,” focuses on authorial use of object representations in fiction to signpost and subvert social and cultural boundaries. My areas of focus are 18th-century British literature, material culture, gender and sexuality studies, gothic literature, games and new media, reader/author/publisher communities and relationships, and composition.

Marcus Mitchell: I earned my B.A. in English from Illinois Wesleyan University (2008) and my M.A. in English from Case Western Reserve University (2011). I am currently a Ph.D. student focusing on Victorian and Edwardian literature and culture. My research examines conflicting attitudes toward women’s muscularity and athleticism in Victorian fiction and the periodical press, as well as the significance of these attitudes in relation to the gender ideologies underpinning Victorian physical culture.

Benjamin Nuttall: I earned my B.A. at the University of Liverpool and my master’s at the University of Nottingham. My research focuses on narratives of social and political progress in the early twentieth-century British novel.

Melissa Pompili: I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in English with a concentration in Writing History and Theory (WHiT). My research focuses on the sometimes contradictory subjectivities that are required by the biopolitical state from the early twentieth century to the present moment. My dissertation, “Internal Medicine: Bioaffect, Medical Discourse, and the Making of a Physician,” attends to the paradoxical subject position that physicians come to occupy through medical training, and the aesthetic products that they produce during their education in order to affectively (as in emotionally and psychologically) accommodate that subjectivity. My theoretical investments include biopolitics and affect theory, and my work falls at the intersections of literary studies, the rhetoric of health and medicine, and the medical humanities. During the 2017-18 academic year, I will be teaching two university seminars. I designed “Internal Medicine: Memoir and Medical Education” (Summer 2017) and “Rendering Life Itself in Literature, BioArt, and Scientific Data” (Fall 2017). During the 2017-18 academic year, I will also serve as the President of the English Graduate Student Association (EGSA), and the Communications Chair for the Graduate Society of Medical Humanities, an organization of which I am a co-founding member. I am also the creator of the Chopin in the Century website, a digital archive of Kate Chopin’s short fiction published in The Century magazine. I hold an MA in Literature from Eastern Michigan University, and a BA in English from Lourdes University. Read more at https://melissarpompili.wordpress.com.

Greg Summers: I am a doctoral candidate in Writing History and Theory. I am returning to the program after an extended absence to complete my dissertation on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and sustainability reporting with special emphasis on the Global Reporting Initiative’s five versions of Guidelines for Sustainability Reporting. My research interests include discourse analysis, rhetoric, visual rhetoric, and new media studies. I worked as an Instructor of writing at Malone University from 1997-2013, and I directed the school’s writing center from 2000-2013. I earned an M.A. in English from John Carroll University and B.A. in English from The Ohio State University. I now live in New Hampshire with my wife and my two Golden Retrievers, Sporty and Lord Byron. I am thrilled to be back in the WHiT program and would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all who helped make my reinstatement possible.

Brita Thielen: I am a second-year PhD student whose research interests bridge both literature and writing studies. I received my M.A. in English Literature with a Certificate in the Teaching of Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2016) and my B.A. in English from the College of Saint Benedict (2011). I am also serving as the English Graduate Student Association Vice President for the 2017-18 academic year.

Megan Weber: I am a Ph.D. student with a B.A. from Wittenberg University and an M.A. from the University of South Florida. My focus is Restoration and 18th-century British Literature. My primary research focuses on the development of language through the period, examining shifting gender roles and definitions of masculinity. Using plays and novels, I explore the gap between the public and private, and the different language used in each.

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