Faculty Engagements


English Faculty at Work

Associate Professor Dustin Parsons had his essay, "Pumpjack," selected in the list of "Notable" essays in the 2014 Best American Essays, ed. by John Jeremiah Sullivan.
Jeanette McVicker (2014) "Rethinking revolution: American youth and political subjectivity," in Postcolonial Studies, 17:1, 76-89, DOI:10.1080/13688790.2014.912192
View this article here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13688790.2014.912192

Rebecca Schwab’s nonfiction piece "Things My Students Don't Know" has been published in the Summer 2014 issue of Drafthorse Literary Journal (online). Her flash fiction work, "Recall" appears in Rivet (online) and her poetry, "Three Tears in a Bucket" is published in Slipstream's Rust, Dust, & Lust issue (September 2014, print).

Associate Professor Natalie Gerber of the Department of English gave two collaborative presentations with composition theorist Peter Ellbow and linguistics graduate-student Hülya Belketin from University of Dusseldorf in Germany at the 2014 Conference on College, Composition, and Communication, in Indianapolis, Ind. "Grammar for the Eye, Grammar for the Ear: Implications for Writing," a half-day workshop, focused on grammatical features often associated with spoken language that give vitality to written texts. Professor Gerber helped participants notice these features and their function in the poetry of William Carlos Williams. Ms. Belketin then used this experiential knowledge to introduce the theory of thetical grammar, an emerging area of discourse grammar. Professor Emeritus Elbow demonstrated the practical application of thetical and so-called spoken grammar for writing teachers and students. Several dozen people participated. On Saturday, March 22, the three presented a condensed version as a panel, "What Can Students and Teachers of Writing Learn from a Careful Linguistic Exploration of Spoken Grammar?" that drew well over 100 attendees.

Dr. Heather McEntrafer recently had her article "'What Are You, Gay?': Positioning in Monologues Written and Performed by Members of a Gay-Straight Alliance," published in Linguistics and Education. You can view the full article on their website here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0898589813000600


Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, has published a poetry collaboration series in the January/February 2014 issue of Orion, one of the country's leading environmental magazines.

She co-wrote the poem sequence about gardens, with Dr. Ross Gay of Indiana University's M.F.A. program, over the course of a year. The entire poetry sequence is set to be published as a poetry chapbook from Organic Weapon Arts Press in spring and can be viewed at: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7969

Nezhukumatathil also served as faculty for the 2014 Palm Beach Poetry Festival in January. She delivered a lecture, taught a nature writing workshop, and participated in a panel discussion with noted poets such as Carolyn Forche, Nick Flynn, Campbell McGrath, and National Book Award-finalist Tim Seibles. In addition, the Miami affiliate of PBS filmed an interview featuring Nezhukumatathil and the U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway discussing the importance of poetry in the schools, which will air in the spring.

The festival is considered by some to be one of the most vibrant of its kind on the East coast. It is billed as an event featuring some of the most “celebrated American poets writing in America today up-close and outstanding teachers of craft who have been recognized as masters of the art and appreciation of poetry."

For more information on the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, visit its website at: http://www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org/

(Campus Report) February 6th, 2014


Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, published her poem, “Two Moths,” in the November issue of Poetry magazine. The editors of this prestigious magazine have nominated the poem for a Pushcart Prize.

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry magazine is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet.

Professor Nezhukumatathil is the author of three poetry collections: LUCKY FISH (2011), winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), winner of the Balcones Prize; and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Her first chapbook, FISHBONE (2000), won the Snail’s Pace Press Prize.

Recent honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pushcart Prize.

To view Poetry magazine’s November issue, including Nezhukumatathil’s poem “Two Moths,” go to: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/2424 (Campus Report) December 10, 2013


Four poems written by Sarah Gerkensmeyer, visiting assistant professor of English, have been accepted for publication in various literary journals since the release of her collection of short stories, “What You Are Now Enjoying,” last spring.

Her poem, “The Woman Whistles,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by B O D Y, an international literary journal based in Prague.

Gerkensmeyer continues to give talks at bookstores, writing centers and schools across the country about “Writing the Unknown.” She will be a visiting writer at Late Night Library in Portland, Ore., on Thursday, Dec. 5, and will be a featured fiction writer at WordFest, a literary festival hosted by the Fresno State University M.F.A. program, in February 2014. (Campus Report) December 3, 2013


Associate Professor Natalie Gerber is working with Professor Peter Elbow on two projects related to intonation and writing.The first is a half-day workshop and a related panel at the 2014 CCCC conference (Conference on College Composition and Communication). Elbow, Gerber, and a noted European linguist, Tania Kuteva, will explore the virtues of features associated with spoken language for writing. The sessions are connected to Elbow's 2012 book, Vernacular Eloquence, and Kuteva's work on thetical grammar, a proposed counterpoint to sentence grammar, governing the construction of nonsentential elements of discourse. Gerber's contributions involve the role of intonation in free-verse prosody, specifically the writing of William Carlos Williams. The half-day workshop is entitled "Grammar for the Tongue, Grammar for the Eye." The panel is "What can students and writing teachers learn from a careful linguistic exploration of spoken grammar?"

They are also planning the 14th session of the Symposium for the Study of Writing and Teaching Writing at U Mass Amherst this July. A dozen scholars from different disciplines will come together to discuss the chosen focus: rhythm and intonation on the page. By bringing together people from education, cognitive science, composition, literature, linguistics, performance studies, psychology, and poetics, they hope to help each other solve perplexities in their current work and perhaps pave the way for future collaborations.


English Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil spent two days at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in October as the Common Contexts Author for its 2013-2014 university theme of “Wonder.” More than 800 students at St. Thomas enrolled in over 60 sections of Freshman English and other creative writing courses studied Nezhukumatathil’s poetry collections, including her latest, “Lucky Fish,” published in 2011 by Tupelo Press.

On Oct. 14 and 15, Nezhukumatathil met with students and faculty and delivered a craft lecture, “The Importance of Wonder in Writing: How to Light Up Like Octopi and Say Good-bye to the ‘Sensible’ World.” During the visit, Nezhukumatathil also read selections from, “Lucky Fish,” as well as from two other collections, “Miracle Fruit” and “At the Drive-In Volcano.” A book signing followed the reading.

Nezhukumatathil was chosen for the honor, in part, because she engages wonder often in her work through encounters with nature, while also pondering the small, seemingly mundane daily parts of life with a sense of wonderment. (Campus Report) November 4, 2013


Assistant Professor of English Dustin Parsons has new publications in creative nonfiction: "Pumpjack" in The Crab Orchard Review, "Divination" in Fourth River, and "Harvest" in Seneca Review. Also, he has a new publication in poetry appearing in I-70 Review. (Campus Report) October 17, 2013

Associate Professor Iclal C. Vanwesenbeeck is chairing a panel on reproductive health and medicine in Jordan and Egypt in this year's Middle East Studies Association Conference in New Orleans, La., in October. (Campus Report) October 3, 2013

Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil of the Department of English, was named in Huffington Post’s 2013 Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry. Other notables on the list include Garrison Keillor, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, and several U.S. Poet Laureates, including W.S. Merwin, Billy Collins, and Rita Dove.

For a complete list of the Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-abramson/the-top-200-advocates-for_b_3750440.html.

Nezhukumatathil recently served as the poetry judge for The Journal's national poetry contest and was the subject of a featured interview in the Spring 2013 issue of the magazine. To read the interview, go to: http://thejournalmag.org/archives/3827.

In Aug. 11 to 16, Nezhukumatathil joined acclaimed writers Joy Harjo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Sapphire as poetry faculty for The Omega Institute's Summer Poetry Festival held in Rhinebeck, N.Y. (Campus Report) September 30, 2013


The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is pleased to announce that Susan Spangler will be speaking at the 2013 NCTE Annual Convention in Boston.

Spangler, of SUNY Fredonia, will present as a member of the panel, "Innovations in Mentoring New Teachers for the Future of English." The participants' description of the panel reads:

This interactive presentation builds on the mentoring concepts discussed in the recent themed issue of the English Journal. The future of English should insure that new teachers are well-supported. Drawing on research, we will discuss with participants ways to (re)invent mentoring that is educative, equitable, collaborative, and based on inquiry.

The session will be held from 4:15 PM to 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Each year, the NCTE Annual Convention draws thousands of elementary and secondary educators, college faculty, administrators, and other educational professionals from around the world to participate in four days of professional learning programming. NCTE convention attendees hear presentations from award-winning speakers, attend thought-provoking sessions, share best practices, and test latest teaching materials. The 2013 NCTE Annual Convention will be held November 21-14, at Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

The National Council of Teachers of English (http://www.ncte.org), with 35,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, is dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. (National council of Teachers of English) September 26, 2013


Ann Siegle Drege will be speaking at the 2013 NCTE Annual Convention in Boston, November 21-24, 2013. Ann's co-presenters on the panel are Cathy Perry, a middle school teacher in Gowanda and Kristen Niemi, a high school teacher in Las Vegas. Both Cathy and Kristen are graduates of the SUNY Fredonia English Department.

Their panel, "Engaging Students: It Matters!" explores a “pedagogy of engagement,” with particular attention to drama strategies that engage students. From 7th graders creating tableaux with The Outsiders to on-your-feet activities fostering writing, participants will share in a range of practical strategies that work with middle school through college students.


Fredonia Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg has written the first chapter in a pilot SUNY project designed to control higher education costs by producing online textbooks and making them available to college students — for free.

“Literature, the Humanities and Humanity,” the sixth book written by Dr. Steinberg, was the first of 15 textbooks written by SUNY professors and accepted by the Open SUNY textbook program for the 2013-14 academic year. Steinberg, whose collegiate career spans four decades, is an enthusiastic supporter of the program and its goal of benefitting students who are confronting ever-increasing textbook prices.

Reed Library Director Randy Gadikian expects the impact of the open textbook movement will be huge.

“Open SUNY will result in dramatic savings for students across the country, as faculty build courses based on texts that can be revised to reflect best educational practices at little cost,” said Gadikian, adding that Steinberg’s book also reflects Fredonia’s dedication to its students. more...


At the West Chester University Poetry Conference in June, Dr. Natalie Gerber of the Department of English organized and led a three-day critical seminar, “Understanding the Expressive Purposes of Rhythm: Meters, Measures, Free Verse.” A dozen poets and prosodists from around the country presented work and debated longstanding issues in the field. She is currently working on co-editing (with Nicholas Myklebust, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin) a special issue of Texas Studies in Literature and Language featuring full-length scholarly essays developed from the papers. Dr. Gerber also gave a popular 90-minute workshop-presentation of her current writing project, “A Poet’s Field Guide to the English Language," and has been invited back to offer another installation next summer, and served on a prosody panel that opened the conference, "The Prosodist Is In."

At the Fourth Annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism, part of the Writing the Rockies conference, Dr. Gerber was one of eight poetry critics from the U.S. and the U.K. invited to give an hour-long talk and a poetry reading. Her talk was entitled, "Wallace Stevens and Lexical Rhythm."

She wrote a book review of, "The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens: Freethinking and the Crisis of Modernity," by Henry Weinfield (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which will appear in The Wallace Stevens Journal in the fall. Dr. Gerber also served on a three-person panel of distinguished judges awarding the 2013 John N. Serio Award for the best annual essay published in The Wallace Stevens Journal. (Campus Report) September 10, 2013


Adjunct Instructor Rebecca Schwab of the Department of English ran a weekly adult poetry workshop at the Dunkirk Free Library for seven weeks -- from the beginning of July through mid-August. The group met on Tuesday evenings for an hour at the library. The size of the group varied from week to week, depending on people's summer commitments, but there were always four to eight poets present.

Each week, the group looked at a different aspect of poetry, did generative exercises, read examples, shared their work, and were assigned "optional" homework. By the end of the class, the "regulars" had built up a friendly community. The workshop ended with a poetry reading, to which family members and friends of the poets were invited.The workshop was sponsored by the Friends of the Dunkirk Free Library. President Virginia Horvath honored the group by attending the reading, and told us about a current exhibit of her personal collage poetry. The workshop poets took a field trip a few days later to see the exhibit, and said it was just wonderful. (Campus Report) September 10, 2013


As the recipient of the Helen F. Faust Women Writers Research Travel award from Penn State University to support her research in its Special Collections Libraries, Dr. Emily VanDette of the Department of English made two research trips over the summer to consult archival materials for a new project that examines the legacy of 19th century U.S. women writers in literary history. Dr. VanDette spent time reading correspondence and other papers by and about Margaret Fuller, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Lydia Maria Child and Grace Greenwood.

In addition to researching the papers of those women authors, she spent a lot of time with the papers of Fred Lewis Pattee, the first scholar to have the title "Professor of American Literature," and a pioneer in the field. Pattee's role in shaping literary history is highly relevant to her research, as she investigates the formative years in the field of American literary studies.

Highlights of her research with the Pattee papers include his 1920s-era lecture notes taken by students in his American literature classrooms, his correspondence with female authors of his own era, and his fascinating correspondence from other literary scholars and professors from around the nation during his battle to establish American literature as a recognized part of college English curriculum.

Dr. VanDette shared the results of her research in a presentation at Penn State on Aug 7. (Campus Report) September 3, 2013

Jeanette McVicker, associate chairperson, arranged for several guest speakers to help her students in ENGL 427: Major Writers–Woolf & Winterson gain insight into multi-disciplinary creative collaboration. Composer Daron Hagen, choreographer Helen Myers (faculty member in Theatre & Dance) and MA program alumna Sarah Dunlap (currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at Ohio State University) discussed their work related to Woolf's 1931 novel The Waves on Thursday, May 2. McVicker was asked to review the Fredonia Dance Ensemble concert (performed May 3-5), for the Dunkirk Observer, which featured the piece "RaptuREgret" based on Hagen's musical composition, utilizing Woolf's text, choreographed by Myers. Dunlap is writing her dissertation in part on this novel; she first read Woolf in a seminar taught by McVicker several years ago.

Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg has written an article, “Loading Jewry into the Medieval Canon,” in the new edition of Pedagogy, a journal dedicated to critical approaches to teaching literature, language, composition and culture.

In the article, Steinberg recommends including medieval Jewish and Arabic poetry in courses on medieval literature, in part to illustrate moments of intercultural and interfaith exchange during the Middle Ages. These serve as models for forging cultural connections today.

The focus of the journal’s special edition for spring 2013 is “teaching medieval literature off the grid,” which means exploring the distinctive pedagogical challenges and payoffs of teaching a traditional literary period using noncanonical texts.(Campus Report) April 29, 2013

Birger Vanwesenbeeck has been accepted into this year's Summer Institute for Literary Studies at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. The summer seminar will be taught by Professor Walter Benn Michaels, focusing on Tom McCarthy’s 2007 novel Remainder and on the issues it raises involving contemporary art and politics.
Ann Siegle Drege, department chairperson, reviews SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre & Dance's current production of The Diary of Anne Frank in the Saturday, April 13th issue of Dunkirk Observer.
Emily VanDette has received the Helen F. Faust Women Writers Research Travel award. It's given to one scholar to conduct research during the summer at the Penn State Libraries Special Collections.
Shannon McRae has been accepted into an NEH Summer Institute this summer at the Newberry Library in Chicago. “The Institute is called Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Twentieth-Century Chicago, 1893-1955. It will help with her current book project on 20th-century American spiritual tourism, because Chicago culture during that time is important to several of the communities she’s studying, and will also open avenues for curriculum development in the American Studies program."
Sarah Gerkensmeyer has been long-listed for the prestigious Frank O'Connor International Short Story prize.  Among those joining Sarah on the list for excellence in short story collections are writers such as Junot Diaz, Joyce Carol Oates, and George Saunders. Sarah is one of only 29 American authors to make the list.

Adrienne McCormick, Jan McVicker, and Katrina Hamilton-Kraft will deliver a panel to the Literary London (serendipitous name congruence) Conference sponsored by the University of London while they are teaching the Literary London classes in July. The conference theme this year is “London in Chaos”; they proposed a panel that coincides with the Summer 2013 Literary London topic of Mapping Englishness, called “Mapping London.”

 Emily VanDette has written a new book, “Sibling Romance in American Fiction, 1835-1900,” which establishes the narrative of sibling love as a culturally significant tradition in 19th century American fiction.

With a focus on novels written during the antebellum through post-Civil War eras, VanDette’s book examines fictional siblings, notably in the context of national crises ranging from South Carolina’s threat to secede from the union in the 1830s to the post-Reconstruction crisis of racial segregation in the 1890s.

By utilizing historical study, literary analysis, philosophical methods and psychoanalysis, VanDette suggests that, by significantly shifting the focus of narratives from courtship to sibling love, these novels contribute to historical conversations about affiliation in such tumultuous contexts as sectional divisions, debates over slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction.

She is the first scholar to examine the important issue of brother-sister ties in 19th century American literature. VanDette reasons that domestic fiction writers used the sibling relationship to address the tensions between independence and solidarity during a challenging period of America history.

“Sibling Romance in American Fiction, 1835-1900” is the first book-length study of a bond that had enormous cultural and literary significance, especially in the framework of anxieties about national unity and the rights of the individual. It promises to draw the interest of scholars of American literature, American history, American studies and family studies.

The author, assistant professor of English, received support to complete the book, published by Palgrave Macmillan, from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her doctorate, from the Pennsylvania State University, focused on 19th century American women’s literature. She is also a graduate of SUNY Fredonia. (Campus Report) February 18, 2013


Natalie Gerber gave two conference presentations at the 2013 MLA Convention in Boston, MA. Her paper, “Raiding the Articulate: What Linguistics Has to Offer Literary Study,” was part of a joint session with the Linguistics Society of America Convention. She also served as respondent to and jointly presided over “Intonation and Poetic Convention,” a special session that she organized with Benjamin Glaser of Skidmore College.

In addition, her article, “The Art of Grammar,” was reprinted in a recent issue of the Journal of the Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar. (Campus Report) February 17, 2013


Birger Vanwesenbeeck has had two book reviews on the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig published in the Journal of Austrian Studies (Nebraska University Press). The reviews evaluate a new English translation of Zweig’s travel writings (Journeys); and a new essay collection in German (Stefan Zweig und Europa) that probes Zweig’s complicated relationship to Europe.

Prof. Vanwesenbeeck has carried out extensive research in the Stefan Zweig archive at SUNY Fredonia, the largest collection of its kind in North America. He is also the coordinator of the Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture series which brings international speakers to campus to share their scholarship on Zweig.

The 2nd Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture will take place on Tuesday March 19 at SUNY Fredonia in Rosch Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. (Campus Report) February 08, 2013

Dustin Parsons was awarded the American Literary Review Fiction Prize for his story, "What Magic I've Saved."  The contest was judged by Hannah Tinti, award-winning author and editor. Of the story, Tinti said: "It reminded me of Raymond Carver’s Why Don’t You Dance?  But this piece takes the yard-sale divorce story to another level. The narrator is selling all of his magic tricks—including the box that his wife disappeared into and never returned from. Was it magic, or did his wife simply leave him? The reader is kept on tenterhooks until the very end... I was entranced by the detailing of the magic tricks, as well as the emotional punch as the 'magic' of the couple’s relationship drains away." (Campus Report) February 04, 2013

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