June 22, 2023


Thursday, June 22, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are enjoying the summer and finding time for relaxation and renewal.  As you know, this summer is bringing changes—Jennie Mussington’s last day was May 31 and Liz Miller will step down as Undergraduate Director/Associate Chair on June 30. Clayton Tarr will become Undergraduate Director on July 1 and Lara Vetter will add Associate Chair to her list of duties.

I’d like to thank members of the English Department and invited guests for giving Jennie such a grand send-off on her retirement. And a special thanks to Angie Williams and Monica Burke for organizing her party. I know it meant a great deal to Jennie. More information will be forthcoming about a realignment of office duties for the fall.

Although Liz has a little more than a week left in her position, I want to say how much I’ve appreciated working with her these past 3 ½ years. She has worked diligently on behalf of the English Department through the most challenging of times. Her steady hand, professionalism, and great common sense helped us tremendously. At the same time, she managed to keep up a successful research program and take on leadership responsibilities in her professional organization. For the past several weeks, Liz has been working with Clayton to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. Thank you, Liz, for your hard work and tireless efforts on behalf of the English Department.  And thank you, Clayton, for your willingness to take on this important leadership role. I look forward to working with you next year.   


Allison Hutchcraft is the third-place winner of the 2023 Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize, “which honors exceptional poems that help readers recognize the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment.” Her poem, “Though from Here I Can’t Smell the Smoke,” was published by the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series on May 6, 2023.

Liz Miller is first author on a recently published co-authored article that appeared in Applied Linguistics titled “Language Teacher Caring as ‘Happy Object’ in Language Teacher Accounts of Happiness.”  Her invited Commentary article “Understanding Emotions in EMI Institutions through Attending to Context, History, and Ideology” was recently published in a special issue of Linguistics and Education titled “The Emotional Landscape of English Medium Instruction (EMI) in Higher Education.

Matthew Rowney published an article titled “Yam Grounds and Sugar Time: A Contrapuntal Reading of Mansfield Park” in Studies in Romanticism, the flagship journal of his field.  

Daniel Shealy gave a presentation titled “May Alcott and the Town of Concord: The Making of an Artist” at the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, MA.  He also presented “‘Thoroughly American’: Abraham Lincoln and Concord’s Civil War” and chaired the session “Alcott in the Archives: Utilizing Collections” at the American Literature Association Conference. His book Little Women at 150 was favorably reviewed in the latest issue of Children’s Literature.

Maya Socolovksy delivered a paper titled “The Dreamer Brand: Immigration, Storytelling and Commodification in Maria Andreu’s The Secret Side of Empty” at the 5th Latinx Literary Conference.

Clayton Tarr recently published three articles: “Spoiler Alert: The Sensation Novel and Victorian Criticism” in Victorian Periodicals Review; “Mind Matters: Psychosurgical Horror in The Great God Pan and Peter and Wendy” in Horror Studies; and, “‘[A] commotion in the firmament’: The Thermodynamics of Neverland” in Children’s Literature. He also gave a conference presentation titled “All Fours: Atavism and Anthropoid in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference.  

Mark West published an article in the latest issue of Early Children’s Literature and Culture ChronicleHis article is titled “Playing in The World of Beatrix Potter” and is part of his Adventures Among the Classics, a regular feature that he writes for this online journal.  He also participated on a panel following the film screening of “It Ain’t Over” about Yogi Berra at the Independent Picture House.


Vasiliki Gkoulgkountina was selected as one of two winners for the 2023 CxC Outstanding ePortfolios Award at UNC Charlotte. In the award notification, she received glowing praise: “In an especially competitive field, we were especially impressed by the quality of your reflection and the navigation and visual design of your ePortfolio. It nicely captures your personality and energy.”
Abigail Vincent (B.A., 2020; M.A. 2023) has accepted an offer with full funding to N. C. State University’s M.F.A. program.

As always, please let me know your accomplishments so that I can share them in future missives. And if I overlook reporting any news you have already sent me, please let me know that, too. 

Best wishes, everyone.  I hope your summer continues to go well.