Muhammad Manzur Alam is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English. His research interests lie in the areas of ecocriticism and Anglophone South Asian literature. He has made conference presentations and publications on South Asian literature, political discourses, ecocriticism and the Indo-Caribbean writer V.S. Naipaul. His current dissertation project focuses on the representation of climate change in Anglophone South Asian fiction and examines how the unrelenting colonial and capitalist interventions disintegrate postcolonial environments.
“Reading South Asian Ecofiction as Counternarratives to Climate Denialism.” “Humanities on the Brink: Energy, Environment, Emergency:” A Nearly Carbon Neutral Virtual Symposium sponsored by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) and the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, 10-31 July 2020.
“Clash of Perspectives: Global Form, Local Ecology, and Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.” “Transnational Spaces: Intersections of Cultures, Languages, and Peoples:” The 50th NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association) Anniversary Convention, Gaylord National Resort Center, MD, USA, 21-24 March 2019.
Rachael Bradley was born and raised in Michigan, where she studied English and Arts/Humanities at Michigan State University before coming to WVU as a graduate student to pursue her MFA in creative nonfiction. In 2020 she was chosen as the recipient for the WVU Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding English Graduate Student. Rachael’s writing often explores ideas surrounding mental illness, family, and her Jewish heritage.
Jackson Buttery is an incoming candidate in the MFA program. Previously, he served as the speechwriter for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in communications for Beyond Celiac, in historic preservation with the National Park Service on St. Simons Island, GA, and helped to manage a family-owned organic orchard outside of Philadelphia. In Tallahassee, he was fortunate enough to take multiple workshops at Florida State University with Robert Olen Butler. His fiction is often concerned with place, the environmental tradition and who or what is not present, but still there.
Katie Clendenin (She/Her)
Katie is a second-year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction. She is from Charleston, West Virginia and received her undergraduate degree in English from West Virginia University in 2018. Katie’s work has appeared in Little Death Lit.
Alexis Constantine is a first year Ph.D. student in the English Department. She is primarily interested in researching how contemporary popular culture texts are rewriting and subverting plotlines and tropes from classic literature, particularly the 18th/19th Century British novel. She wrote her M.A. thesis on how the Netflix series Orange is the New Black possesses the characteristics of a modern-day novel of manners that features two main characters who subvert the Austenian marriage plot. She is also interested in exploring the ways in which fan fiction often serves as a medium to complicate and fully realize the queer subtext of original works.
“A ‘Darling Mamma’ and Her Devoted Son: The Displacement of Sexual Desire in May Sinclair’s Mary Olivier: A Life.” British Women Writers Association, Chapel Hill, NC | June 2017
Edith Wharton Society Roundtable Presentation: “Lilies, Dandelions, and the Price of Privilege: Wharton’s The House of Mirth and Kohan’s Orange is the New Black.” South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Atlanta, GA | November 2017
M.F.A. New Hampshire Institute of Art
M.A. West Virginia University (Summer 2021 Grad)
B.A. University of Maryland Global Campus
After finishing their M.A. coursework, AJ will be transferring into the Ph.D. program in the fall of 2021. AJ’s research interests include the etymology, rhetoric, and representation of weather terminology, with a particular emphasis on moving weather to the forefront of language about climate change in order to bridge the gap between lived experiences of meteorological phenomena and the representations encountered in media and literature. As a playwright, AJ’s work has been produced or read in over a dozen states, including NYC, and won or been selected for the AACT NewPlayFest, Barter’s Festival of Appalachian Plays and Playwrights, Baltimore Playwrights Festival, and the Bluestone Project, among others. AJ also recently opened a seasonal bicycle shop, called The Tiny Corner Bike Shop, and plans to (hopefully!) race the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race from Canada to Mexico in June of 2022.
Gracefully Ending, Dramatic Publishing, Chicago, 2016
Madison grew up in Fayetteville, NC, and her dissertation work focuses on 19th century Appalachian Murder Ballads. Through these songs, her work explores community responses to trauma and tragedy. Her other research interests include Southern writers such as Eudora Welty and Charles Chesnutt, who she’s really psyched to tell you lived in Fayetteville.
Meghan Hutton is a first-year PhD student from Memphis, Tennessee. After finishing her MA in Tampa, Florida and in need of a cooler climate that actually has seasons, Meghan accepted an offer from WVU with the hopes of broadening her interests in working-class literature by having the opportunity to read Appalachian literature in the heart of Appalachia. Meghan’s research primarily surrounds intersections of gender, sexuality, and class in American working-class literature from mid-nineteenth century periodicals to contemporary memoirs.
Wenyu is from Dalian, China. She is in the second year of her Ph.D. program. Her study field includes British and Anglo-Irish Modernism, contemporary literary theories, psychoanalysis, and temporality. She is keenly interested in how narrative could (re)create personal and historical memory and also curious about haunting phenomena as well as the presence of “ghosts” (hauntology) works in literary texts. Besides literary study, she is also spending time practicing interpreting and translation between Chinese and English.
Devin is a West Virginia native, wearing the Appalchian identity proudly. As a writer and editor, she is driven by a passion for storytelling and beautifully arranged words. When not in the classroom, she works as an intern with New South Media and is a member of West Virginia Writers Inc. She is a recipient of the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding English Graduate Student in P.W.E. and serves as the P.W.E. representative of the English Graduate Student Union. Her backgrounds in both writing and editing have prepared her to work within a variety of genres, but she tends to prefer magical realism and creative nonfiction—unique interpretations and varied perspectives of a familiar world. Devin can often be found curled up by a sunny window with a hot drink and a book or hunched over her laptop, typing like a madwoman. One or the other.
You can find her work in publications such as WV Living and Morgantown magazines.
Andrew hails from the much flatter earth of Pennsville, New Jersey and earned a B.A. in English from nearby Rowan University in 2019. After an unsatisfying year of studying higher education administration at the graduate level, he realized that chasing a life in literature was the right path after all. Andrew is particularly interested in exploring inclusive models of queer theory, LGBTQIA+ literature, loneliness, trauma/mental illness, the coming-out imperative, and how to apply Judith Butler’s “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” to literally everything. When procrastinating, he likes to spend time with his pug, Tank, and battle transphobia on the world wide web. Andrew is genderfluid and is comfortable with all pronouns, commonly choosing to use he/him/his.
Luke Jordan Lyman Barner
Luke studies Appalachian regional identities, political subjectivities, and literature. He is particularly interested in the study of Appalachia as an ‘internal colony’ and the benefits and limitations of that research model, as well as the figure of the ‘hillbilly’ in literature and popular discourse. In addition, he has also written on video games as literary texts with attention to a growing number of feminist, antiracist, and decolonial texts in the medium.
April’s research interests center on ecocriticism and the writing of mobility in British and American Romantic literature. Her dissertation addresses the ways in which traveling on foot through “wild” landscapes amplifies one’s capacity for ecological thinking. April has been teaching writing and literature at the college level since 2011. She is passionate about interdisciplinarity and public-facing academics and designs her courses with an eye toward helping students draw connections between humanities topics, their own academic interests, and the world outside the university.
“Material Agency and the ‘Cluttered’ Environment in Dorothy Wordsworth’s Travel Narratives.” European Romantic Review (forthcoming)
“‘Bedabbled with the dew and torn with briars”: Entanglement and Botanical Agency in A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Emily (Emma) Merrick
Emma enjoys reinterpretations of classical mythology and folklore, like Madeline Miller’s Circe, and The Witcher 3, as well as modern myth-making adventures like D&D. Recently, she’s finished reading A Clash of Kings for the second time, and has also taken an interest in Japanese historical fiction. Her writing frequently touches on themes of mental illness, disability, and anger - with a bit of magic sprinkled on top.
Currently, Emma resides in Morgantown with her pothos, Polis, and her collection of bullet journals.
Taylor grew up in the hills of West Virginia, where her love for reading and the outdoors was cultivated. This love was nourished and strengthened through her undergraduate years at West Virginia University as she followed the Professional Writing and Editing track of the English B.A., and she intends to extend this care and growth through continued education. While Taylor was largely involved on campus and outside of class throughout undergrad, she is taking a step back from overachieving and overexerting to more thoroughly enjoy her downtime and more deeply appreciate her studies. If she succeeds in this endeavor, she intends to spend said downtime spending time with her family and friends, growing her plant collection, and enjoying copious amounts of coffee and tea.
Jennifer studies the intersection of race and environmental humanities, particularly in the South. Using Indigenous and Black Southern narratives, she studies and writes on the failed ideology of Southerness and how BIPOC communities grapple with continued racially charged and divided society in the South as they reclaim heritage and form identities distinct from their colonially imposed ones. Her writing aims to deconstruct the “magnolia memory” by examining the Indigenous and Black South that faces a waterlogged and flooded climate crisis. Jennifer’s interests are narratives about or surrounding water, swamps, and hurricanes. She blames her swampy, Southern upbringing entirely.
Jennifer is the current President of the English Graduate Student Union.
“Among the Porches and Peacocks: Preserving Andalusia’s Literary History” American Literature Association, Boston, May 2019.
*“Hearts on the Ground: Indigenous Women’s Poetry and Resilience” MELUS, New Orleans, April 2020. *Canceled due to Covid.
“What Exists in Shadow: Cultural Identity in Southern Swamps” NEMLA, Philadelphia, March 2021.
Gabriella’s research interests include global anglophone and migration literature and human rights narratives. Specifically, her work focuses on the cross-border experiences of refugees, immigrants, and displaced individuals and how different narrative forms can impact the dissemination and reception of these stories as well as influence human rights conversations. She is currently working on her dissertation, a project examining the affects of survival migration that is invested in narratively reimagining the survival migrant in a way that goes beyond the common refugee literary tropes of flight, journey, and relocation. In addition to her research, Gabriella is also involved with the Appalachian Prison Book Project and the Council for Gender Equity.
“Materializing Grief: The Re-realization of Loss in Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire.” ACLA. Online, April 2021.
“Traversing the ‘Far, Far Away’: Reconceptualizing Fairy Tales as Refugee Narratives.” The Ohio State University/Indiana University Folklore & Ethnomusicology Conference. Columbus, February 2020.
“Expanding the Narrative: Border Violence in Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World.” MELUS. Cincinnati, March 2019.
Ashley is a first-year creative writing student with a focus in poetry. She currently resides in Morgantown with her dog, where she writes about religion, sexuality, mental illness, and the idea of being sentient.
Qazi Arka Rahman
Qazi Arka Rahman is interested in the nexus of postcolonial literature, south Asian studies, and digital humanities. He is curious about the role of fiction in shaping the concepts of nation and nationality in modern South Asia and seeks to understand the multidimensional identity politics operating there. For his dissertation, he aims to bring in Bangladeshi literature in English and Bangla to expand conceptions of South Asian literary and postcolonial studies and broaden existing notions of South Asian identity while incorporating DH tools and methods. He is a firm believer in the power of narratives and actively tries to weave that philosophy into his pedagogical approach. He also enjoys critical studies of science-fiction, films, popular culture, and loves anything cyberpunk. A recipient of 2019 Summer Humanities Internship and 2020 Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant, Arka is also involved with the Eberly Writing Studio as a graduate studio consultant and serves as the VP of English Graduate Student Union (EGSU). Learn more at https://qazirahman.academia.edu/.
David's academic interests include Romantic and Victorian era fiction, specifically nautical fiction, as well as sexuality, queer, and crip studies. He is particularly interested in the intersections and interplay of marginalized identities within 18th and 19th century writing.
Aaron’s research focuses on the intersection of women’s religious traditions and the development of American ethnicity. Using techniques of literary folkloristics, his dissertation incorporates literary analysis of texts by Kate Chopin and Anzia Yezierska with oral history fieldwork performed with two groups of women in Western Pennsylvania.
“The Mother as Social Activist in Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead and Maxo Vanka’s Murals.” Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal. (Forthcoming)
“Rebecca Harding Davis’s Transgressive Religion: Women’s Good Works.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 49, no. 7, 2020, pp. 782-797.
“There’s no place for such as you”: Domesticity, Working-Class Street Children, and Davis’s “The Promise of the Dawn.” Topic: The Washington and Jefferson College Review, vol. 59, 2013, pp. 47-58.
“Kate Chopin’s Links to Folklore,” American Folklore Society, Baltimore, MD, 2019
“Using Minorcans to Define American Ethnicity in Woolson’s ‘Sister St. Luke,’” Constance Fenimore Woolson Society, Winter Park, FL, 2019
“Ethnic Performances of Street Children in 19th-Century American Culture,” Eastern American Studies Association, Harrisburg, PA, 2019
Melissa Reynolds is a native West Virginian who is interested in helping writers craft strong works to reach their highest goals. She is currently an editor with The Metaworker Literary Magazine and is an active member of the Morgantown Writers Group. She has work published with Every Day Fiction, BlazeVox, Trembling With Fear, and others. Her heart lies with creative writing, and she pursues her projects on her own time.
Anna Schles is an MFA candidate in fiction. She has always been interested in writing about outcasts, about people working to find their niche in the world and undergoing personal growth in the process.
“2001: A Space Odyssey, the Unknown, and the Uncanny.” 2019 WVU English Graduate Student Union Conference, Morgantown, WV, March 2019.
“‘It’s Mueller Time!’: The Positive Folkloric Response to the Mueller Investigation.” 13th Annual OSU/IU Folklore & Ethnomusicology Conference, Columbus, OH, February 2020.
Miranda Smith is a second year M.A. student from Matewan, WV. After finishing her B.A. in Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Classics from Marshall University, Miranda decided to continue her literary studies and accepted an offer at West Virginia University. Her research interests include ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, with a more specific focus on the EcoGothic body and the ways that race and gender overlap with environmental concerns.
Emily Sparrow is from Clover, South Carolina, and she received her B.A. in English Literature and Language from Winthrop University. Her undergraduate honors thesis was an ecofeminist analysis of character and setting in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Following graduation from Winthrop, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia from 2018-2020. As a graduate student, her research interests remain in ecocriticism.
“Using Podcasts to Engage Students in the Classroom.” 13th National TEFL/9th Mongolia TESOL International Conference, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, September 2019.
“The Long Tail and Language: Critically Thinking about our Teaching Approaches.” 12th National TEFL/8th Mongolia TESOL International Conference, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, October 2018.
“Birds and Beasts: An Ecocritical Reading of Character in Jane Eyre.” Winthrop SOURCE Conference, Rock Hill, SC, April 2017.
“‘Bird and Beast and Flower Were One with Man’: An Ecocritical Analysis of John Boorman’s Excalibur.” Longwood University’s 11th Annual Meeting in the Middle Conference, Farmville, VA, April 2017.
Nicole M. Stahl
Nicole is a Ph.D. candidate from North Pole, Alaska. The three states she has called home between then and now—Alaska, Wyoming, West Virginia—all share a dual sense of place, with picturesque landscapes and powerful natural resources, shaping her research interests in energy humanities and environmental(ist) policy and aesthetics. She studies ecocriticism as it intersects with the history of industrial and ecological science, focusing on long poems from the long eighteenth century. She has also taken to moonlighting in mythology and film studies.
“Transatlantic Shores Illumine Wide’: A Global Re-reading of Anna Seward’s Local Writing.” NeMLA, Baltimore MD, March 2017.
“Not on the Same Page: Divergent Verses and Voices in James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane.” ASECS, Orlando FL, March 2018.
“Enlightenment After Dark: Scientific Exploration Under the Night Sky and Underground.” EGSU, Morgantown WV, March 2019.
“The Moves of the Plants: Weird Creatures Growing in Erasmus Darwin’s Botanic Garden.” NeMLA, Boston MA, March 2020.
“Environmentalism Un-Earthed: Estranging the Energy Narrative from the Human Experience.” ASLE, Virtual Symposium, July 2020.
“Suburban Decay: Unsustainable Narratives of Environ/Mental Contagion.” NeMLA, Philadelphia PA, March 2021.
Angel is a first-year MFA student in Creative Nonfiction.
Terra is a first-year MA student and English 101 GTA. She grew up in Hardy County, West Virginia, and now splits her time between Pittsburgh and Morgantown. At Chatham University she was a presidential scholar and studied English, creative writing, and German. She is interested in Medieval European literature and women’s writing—she plans to expand her undergraduate capstone focused on The Book of Margery Kempe and how women’s mysticism interacts with the spectacle of the woman’s body politic while at WVU. Her poetry and creative nonfiction has appeared in Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Writers, Edges, and The Minor Bird. She is a founding member of the Goat Farm Poetry Society Writing + Mutual Aid Group and Chatham’s Learning Edge, a group focused on expanding the reach of the Michigan Model of Intergroup Dialogues in Pittsburgh.
Sarah is a first-year PhD student and writer born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University where she majored in Creative Writing and Literature and where she returned to attend graduate school. She was named the 2019-2020 Rosanne Blake Scholar and was awarded both the Edmund Taft and Wallace E. Knight award at Marshall University. Her nonfiction work has been featured in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, GNU Journal, The Blue Mountain Review, and in The Storyteller Anthology. Sarah also has academic publications with The James Dickey Review and specializes as a late twentieth, and twenty-first century Americanist.
“Barn Red” or “Oil Paint,” Et. Cetera, March 2020.
“Untangling the Story Within,” The Writing Lab Newsletter, accepted September 2019.
“James Dickey: The Unknown Magical Realist,” The James Dickey Review, January 2019.
“Taxi Cards,” The Blue Mountain Review, August 2018.
“The Books I Never Read,” The Storyteller Anthology, July 2019.
“Building the Homeplace: Misremembering’s Role in Creative Nonfiction,” Fiction Southeast, June 2019.
“Road to Remembering: The Research and Reason Behind Remembering Sophia Jane,” Fiction Southeast, January 2019.
“ M O V I N G L E T T E R S,” GNU Literary Journal, 2018.
“Special Collections, Creative Writing, and Sermon Studies: Faculty and Student Projects at Marshall University,”Appalachian Studies Association Conference, 2020.
“Appalachian Daughters: Writing the Next Generation,” Appalachian Studies Association, 2019.
Yu is a second year PhD student in the Department of English. His research interests lie in the nineteenth-century American historical narratives. His dissertation project aims to establish a theoretical framework to see alternative temporalities in nineteenth-century American literary traditions and their destabilizing effect upon historical narratives.
Katie Vogelpohl has been teaching literature and writing at the university and high school levels for the past 11 years. While at West Virginia University, she has taught classes in American Literature, Business Writing, and Composition. Her Short Story and Novel course from the spring 2018 semester was titled Narrating Madness and examines the techniques used by classic and contemporary authors experimenting with “abnormal” voices.
Katie’s current project focuses on postpartum narratives from the 1960s and 70s, investigating the physical changes and societal and emotional influences that affect new and soon-to-be mothers in American literature. This project is supported by her work with the Appalachian Prison Book Project, a non-profit organization that sends books to incarcerated peoples. Through APBP, she was honored to be able to assist with the Women of Wisdom book club at the local women’s correctional facility. Within their first manuscript of collected writings from the Women of Wisdom group, there is an overwhelmingly number of narratives composed to or about either absent parents or children, as these women await their return to both society and family.
When not at school, Katie is probably reading terrible mystery stories or watching British cooking competitions with her husband, Jacob; son, Colin; pup, Branwell; and tortoise, Ichabod.
“‘She Didn’t Kiss Me When She Said Goodbye.’” Midwestern Modern Language Association Conference, Cincinnati, OH, November 2017.
“Improving Student Motivation and Combating Learned Aversion.” Midwestern Modern Language Association Conference, Cincinnati, OH, November 2017.
Michael Vozniak is from Fairmont, West Virginia. His research interests focus on Appalachian students in the college composition classroom, and how they often have to perform a different identity in order to acclimate to the alien world of academia. He has recently taught “Popular American Culture,” which focused on popular texts’ depictions of Appalachian stereotypes, and how those depictions have historically aided in marginalizing the Appalachian region and culture. He is currently teaching “Short Story and Novel,” in which he continues to focus on Appalachian stereotypes in local color writing as well as in popular Appalachian-set fiction. He is also currently teaching “Introduction to Composition and Rhetoric,” in which he is exploring the pedagogical possibilities of utilizing Wikipedia in the classroom in order to teach students to analyze and compose Wikipedia articles relating to Appalachia.
“The Popular Culture Class as a Tool for Decolonization: A Case Study from Appalachia.” Embracing Differences: Communication, Culture, and Social Justice, Midland College, Midland TX, April 2021 (online).
Olivia Wertz is a first-year Ph.D. student whose studies focus on gender, race, and media consumption/production. Olivia often researches race and gender within the context of popular cultural and contemporary American ideologies. Olivia has presented at a number of conferences, two of which most recently include The University of Arizona’s New Directions Conference in 2020 (accepted, but canceled due to COVID-19) and California State University Fullerton’s Lenses: Ways of Seeing, Reading, and Knowing 2019 Conference.
A handyman, musician, and martial arts instructor from Maryland, Liam Wholihan meanders often and with whimsy. In his poems as in his delights, he attends to making and things made with his hands. His putterings so far have been picked up by Quail Bell Magazine, Bridge Bluffton: University Press, Catch, Quiver, and Cellar Door.
Kelli’s dissertation work incorporates rhetorical and psychological approaches and focuses on the presence and meanings of silence beyond repression and resistance in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century British novels authored by women (Wollstonecraft to Shelley). It specifically interrogates how reinterpretations of literary silences can help us to read intimacy and responses to trauma and loss. She mentors writing instructors as an undergraduate writing program assistant and was a WVU 3 Minute Thesis winner (2020).
Publications and Conferences:
“Where’s the Pie?”: Nostalgic and Apocalyptic Foodways in Supernatural,” Breaking Out of the Box, Edited Collection, Random House, 2020
“Confessing Nothing: Female Confession and Eighteenth-Century Criminal Conversation Narratives,” ICR Annual Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO, October 2016.
Panel Chair, Once Upon a Mother, ASECS Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, PA, March 31-April 3, 2016.