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Department of English

Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2017 and Spring 2018

Mary Cisper

Mary Cisper

5:30 p.m. Thursday, October 26, 2017, Union Cottonwood Room


Mary Cisper, a poet, will read from her work. With expertise in chemistry as well as literature, Cisper completed her M.F.A. in Poetry at Saint Mary's College of California. Her poems and reviews have been published in various journals including Denver Quarterly, ZYZZYVA, Lana Turner, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Terrain, Water-Stone Review, Newfound, FIELD, 1110, Omniverse, and Fourteen Hills. For more information, visit her web site at http://www.marycisper.com/.



Christopher Newfield


Christopher Newfield

4:00 p.m. Thursday, November 2, 2017, Ekdahl Conference Room, Seaton Hall

Christopher Newfield will present "What Do Universities Do?: Paths Out of the Continuing Crisis."
Newfield is Professor of literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Much of his research is in Critical University Studies, which links his enduring concern with humanities teaching to the study of how higher education continues to be re-shaped by social and economic forces. His most recent books on this subject are Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard University Press, 2008), and Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 (Duke University Press, 2003). A new book on the post-2008 struggles of public universities to rebuild their social missions, called The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2016. His current research, "Limits of the Numerical," studies the effects of learning and research measurement on higher education, and has been awarded a 2-year NEH Collaborative Research Grant. He teaches courses in Detective Fiction, Noir California, Contemporary U.S. Literature, Innovation Theory, and English Majoring After College.


Melissa Chadburn


Melissa Chadburn

3:30 p.m. Friday, November 3, 2017, Union Wildcat Chamber

Melissa Chadburn is a fellow for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She has written for Guernica, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, Salon, American Public Media’s Marketplace, Al Jazeera America, and dozens other places. Her essay, "The Throwaways," received notable mention in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. She recently published her debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Read more about Melissa Chadburn at http://melissachadburn.com/.




Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017

Ross Gay

Ross Gay

5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 8, 2016, Union Cottonwood Room


Ross Gay is the author of Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at Indiana University.



Jerry GabrielKaren Leona Anderson



Karen Leona Anderson and Jerry Gabriel

3:30 p.m. Friday, October 7, 2016, Union Little Theatre


Karen Leona Anderson is the author of the poetry collections Receipt and Punish Honey. Her work has appeared in ecopoetics, New American Writing, Fence, Volt, and The Best American Poetry 2012. She teaches at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Jerry Gabriel's first story collection, Drowned Boy, won the Mary McCarthy Prize and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. His second story collection, The Let Go, was published in 2015. He teaches at St. Mary's College of Maryland.



Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

Ebony Thomas

5:30 p.m. Friday, October 14, 2016, Alumni Center

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas taught elementary language arts, high school English, and creative writing in public schools for several years after graduating from Florida A&M, a historically Black university in Tallahassee, Florida. She earned her M.A. from Wayne State University (19th Century British and American Literature) and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan's joint program in English and Education. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on children's and adolescent texts (broadly construed), the teaching of African American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, and the roles that race, class, and gender play in classroom discourse and interaction. She is also conducting empirical, digital, and archival research for two monographs: a critical volume about the ways that children and teens of color are represented in early 21st century speculative fiction, comics, and multimedia, and a pedagogical volume about how to wrestle with traumatic historical events such as slavery in the teaching of literature. Her talk, "Hermione is Black: Harry Potter and the Crisis of Infinite Dark Fantastic Worlds," is sponsored by the Department of English and the A&S Diversity Committee.

Wilton Barnhardt

Wilton Barnhardt

3:30 p.m., Friday, March 10, 2017, Hale Hemisphere Room

Wilton Barnhardt, a former reporter for Sports Illustrated, has written four novels: Emma Who Saved My LifeGospelShow World, and Lookaway, Lookaway. He teaches at North Carolina State University.

Joy Castro

Joy Castro

3:30 p.m., Friday, March 31, 2017, Hale Hemisphere Room

Joy Castro is best known for her memoir The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses. She has also published two novels, Hell or High Water and Nearer Home; a story collection, How Winter Began; and an essay collection, Island of Bones. She teaches at the University of Nebraska.


Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2015 and Spring 2016

Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle

5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 24, 2015, Union Flint Hills Room


Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and three novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and The Devil in Silver. He has received a Whiting Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. He teaches at Columbia University.

Christopher Myers


Christopher Myers

4:00 p.m. Thursday, October 22, 2015, Alumni Center


Christopher Myers is the award-winning author and illustrator of Caldecott Honoree Harlem and Coretta Scott King Award Honorees Black Cat and Horse. Chris has also won three Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors and a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. In addition to writing and illustrating his own stories, Myers often illustrates books written by his father, award winning author Walter Dean Myers.

Natalie Diaz


Natalie Diaz

3:30 p.m. Friday, October 30, 2015, Union Little Theatre


Natalie Diaz is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec. She has received the Bread Loaf Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry and the Narrative Prize. She currently lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, and directs a language revitalization program at Fort Mojave, her home reservation.

Farah Jasmine Griffin


Farah Jasmine Griffin

4:00 p.m., Friday, April 1, 2016, Hale Hemisphere Room


Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research in African American studies. In addition to editing several collections of letters and essays she is the author of Who Set You Flowin’: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001), and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). Her most recent book is Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II (Basic, 2013). Sponsored by the Department of English and the A&S Diversity Committee.

Trina Robbins


Trina Robbins

4:00 p.m., Friday, March 4, 2016, Alumni Center


Trina Robbins is an American comics artist and writer and has been writing for comics and books for over forty years. She was an early and influential participant in the underground comix movement and one of the few female artists in that movement. In 1970, she edited It Ain't Me, Babe, the first all-woman comic book, and, in 1972, she was one of the founders of Wimmen's Comix, which is, to this day, the longest running all-women comic book anthology in history. Besides numerous articles in art periodicals, Trina has also written three histories of women in comics: Women and the Comics, which she co-wrote with cat yronwode, A Century of Women Cartoonists, and Pretty in Ink: American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013. Sponsored by the Department of English and the Department of Women's Studies.

Poe Ballantine
Rebecca Curtis

7:00 p.m. Thursday, March 24, 2016, Union Flinthills Room


Rebecca Curtis is the author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love & Money, a New York Times Notable Book and an L.A. Times Best Book. Curtis’ fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and elsewhere. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation award and a Saltonstall Grant.

 Justin Torres

Francesca Royster

4:00 p.m. Friday, April 8, 2016, Union Little Theatre


Francesca Royster is Professor and Chair of English at DePaul University, where she teaches courses in Shakespeare Studies, Performance Studies, Critical Race theory, Gender and Queer Theory and African American Literature. Part of the 25th Annual Cultural Studies Symposium. Sponsored by the Department of English.


Julian HoffmanJulian Hoffman

7:00 p.m. Thursday, April 14, 2016, Union Little Theatre


Julian Hoffman lives beside the Prespa Lakes in northern Greece. His book, The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, was chosen by Terry Tempest Williams as the winner of the 2012 AWP Award Series for Nonfiction. In 2014, it won a National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature. Co-sponsored by the Prairie Studies Initiative.


Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2014 and Spring 2015

Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy

Friday, 3:30 p.m. September 5, 2014, Union Little Theatre


Camille Dungy is the author of three poetry collections: Smith Blue (winner of the 2010  Crab Orchard Open Book Prize), Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She is a professor at Colorado State University. 

Phil Klay

Phil Klay

Thursday, 5:30 p.m. October 2, 2014, All Faiths Chapel


Phil Klay is the author of Redeployment, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Klay, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, served in Iraq's Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer.

Kenneth Price and Amanda Gailey

Friday, 4:00 p.m. October 3, 2014, Hemisphere Room, Hale Library


Kenneth Price (professor of English, co-director of Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and editor of The Walt Whitman Archive) and Amanda Gailey (assistant professor and editor of the new project titled The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939) will offer presentations on their respective digital humanities and literature projects at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Price will speak on "'Many Long Dumb Voices...Clarified and Transfigured': The Walt Whitman Archive and the Scholarly Edition in the Digital Age"; Gailey will speak on "Editing a Troubled Past: The Case of The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk." Sponsored by the Department of English and K-State Libraries.

Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud

Sunday, 4:00 p.m. November 2, 2014, Hemisphere Room, Hale Library


Scott McCloud presents "Comics and the Art of Visual Communication." Comics is finally coming of age as an artistic and literary form. Now this once-maligned medium of expression is poised for new opportunities, thanks to a mutating media environment and a potential revolution in visual education. Author and comics artist Scott McCloud shines a light on these and other fascinating trends in a fast-moving visual presentation. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Department of English and K-State Libraries.

Hester Kaplan

Hester Kaplan

Friday, 3:30 p.m. November 7, 2014, Leadership Studies Town Hall


Hester Kaplan is the author of two story collections, Unravished and The Edge of Marriage, and two novels, Kinship Theory and The Tell. She is on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low Residency MFA Program

Poe Ballantine
Poe Ballantine

Friday, 3:30 p.m. March 6, 2015, Union Little Theatre


Poe Ballantine is the author of three works of nonfiction, Things I Like About America501 Minutes to Christ, and Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, and two novels, God Clobbers Us All and Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire. He lives in Chadron, Nebraska.

 Justin Torres

Justin Torres

Friday, 3:30 p.m. March 27, 2015, Union Little Theatre


Justin Torres is the author of We the Animals, a New York Times bestseller. He currently teaches at Columbia University, in Lesley University's Low Residency MFA Program, and at The Writers' Foundry MFA Program at St. Joseph's College.

Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2013 and Spring 2014

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay

Friday, 3:30 p.m. September 20, 2013, Union Little Theatre


Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Short Stories 2012, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Her novel, An Untamed State, will be published by Grove Atlantic, and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, will be published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014. She is an associate professor at Eastern Illinois University. 


Shane Seely

Shane Seely

Friday, 3:30 p.m. October 4, 2013, Union Little Theatre


Shane Seely’s book of poems, The Snowbound House, won the 2008 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and was published by Anhinga Press in 2009. In 2012, Slash Pine Press published his chapbook, History Here Requires Balboa. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 


Suzanne Roberts

Suzanne Roberts

Friday, 3:30 p.m. March 7, 2014, Union Little Theatre


Suzanne Roberts is the author of Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail (winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award) and four collections of poetry. She was named “The Next Great Travel Writer” by National Geographic's Traveler magazine. She teaches at Lake Tahoe Community College and for the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada College.



Julianna Baggott

Julianna Baggott

Friday, 3:30 p.m. April 4, 2014, Union Little Theatre


Julianna Baggott is the author of nineteen books, which appear under her own name as well as the pen names Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode. Most notably, she’s the author of the Pure trilogy (Pure, Fuse, and Burn), the national bestseller Girl Talk, and three collections of poetry. She is an associate professor at Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts

Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013

Steven ChurchSteven Church, nonfiction writer.

Reading: Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Steven Church, an associate professor at California State University-Fresno, earned his MFA at Colorado State University and his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Kansas. He's the author of The Day After The Day After: My Atomic AngstTheoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents; and The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record. His essays and stories have been published in The Best American EssaysFourth GenreColorado Review, and other venues. Church was awarded the Colorado Book Award for The Guinness Book of Me, which has also been optioned for TV by Lionsgate Studios and Fox Television.

Janice GouldJanice Gould, poet.

Reading: Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 4 p.m. Union Little Theater

Janice Gould is an associate professor in Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she received degrees in Linguistics and English, and of the University of New Mexico, where she earned her Ph.D. in English.  Gould has won awards for her writing from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Astraea Foundation. Her books of poetry are Doubters and DreamersBeneath My HeartEarthquake Weather, and Alphabet (an artbook/chapbook). She is the co-editor of Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry

Lauren GroffLauren Groff, fiction writer.

Reading: Friday, November 30, 2012, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Lauren Groff graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Groff’s first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and bestseller and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. She has also published a story collection, Delicate Edible Birds, and a new novel, Arcadia. Groff’s short stories have appeared in magazines such as The New YorkerThe Atlantic Monthly, and Ploughshares and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2007 and 2010 and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.

Danielle Evans, fiction writer.Danielle Evans

Reading: Friday, March 29, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Danielle Evans, an assistant professor at American University, received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop and a B.A. in anthropology and African-American Studies from Columbia University. Her short-story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, was a co-winner of the 2011 PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize for a first book, a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 selection for 2011, the winner of the 2011 Paterson Prize for Fiction, and the winner of the 2011 Hurston-Wright award for fiction. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008 and 2010.

Robin BernsteinRobin Bernstein, scholar.

Talk: Friday, April 5, 2013, 4:00 p.m. Leadership Studies Town Hall

Robin Bernstein, an associate professor at Harvard University, received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University; an M.A. in American Studies from George Washington University; an M.A. in History, Theory, and Criticism of Theatre from the University of Maryland; and a B.A. in Creative Writing from Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (NYU Press, 2011), which has won five awards so far — including the Children's Literature Association's Book Award, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education's Outstanding Book Award, and the New England American Studies Association's Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize.  She is also the editor of Cast Out: Queer Lives in Theater (University of Michigan Press, 2006), and the co-editor of Generation Q: Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals Born Around 1969's Stonewall Riots Tell Their Stories of Growing Up in the Age of Information (Alyson Publications, 1996). She is currently writing writing a book titled Paradoxy: Lesbians and the Everyday Art of the Impossible. In her words, this new book "shows how racially diverse lesbians in the U.S. have, since the early twentieth century, performed paradoxes on stage and in everyday life."

Susan Jackson RodgersSusan Jackson Rodgers, fiction writer.

Reading: Friday, April 12, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Susan Jackson Rodgers, an associate professor at Oregon State University, received her B.A. from Bowdoin College, her M.A. from Kansas State, and her MFA from Bennington College.  She is the author of two story collections: The Trouble With You Is and Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6.  Her fiction has appeared in journals such as New England ReviewNorth American ReviewGlimmer Train, and Prairie Schooner. Rodgers is the past recipient of two Kansas Arts Commission Fellowships and a winner of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition.

Visiting Writers and Speakers, Fall 2011 and Spring 2012

Ander MonsonAnder Monson, poet, essayist.

Reading Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Ander Monson's Neck Deep and Other Predicaments was the winner of the 2006 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize (Graywolf, 2007). Vanishing Point (nonfiction) appeared in 2010 from Graywolf Press and The Available World, poetry, appeared from Sarabande Books in 2010. He is the author of a collection of fiction, Other Electricities (Sarabande Books, 2005), winner of the John C. Zacharis prize from Ploughshares and a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize, and a collection of poetry, Vacationland (Tupelo Press, 2005). His work has been published in Ploughshares, The Believer, Ninth Letter, Boston Review, Quarterly West, Best American Essays 2008, and The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 2. He is a 2007 recipient of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award and a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship. Monson is the designer, editor, and publisher of the literary journal, DIAGRAM, and the founder and editor of New Michigan Press. He earned his MFA in Fiction and Poetry from the University of Alabama.

Manuel MunozManuel Muñoz, fiction writer.

Reading Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Manuel Muñoz is the author of two collections of short stories, Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is a recipient of a 2008 Whiting Writers’ Award and a 2009 PEN/O. Henry Award for his story “Tell Him About Brother John.” His first novel, What You See in the Dark, was published in 2011. Muñoz was featured in the May 2011 issue of Oprah Magazine. His latest novel, What You See in the Dark, was recommended by Reading Room - Titles to Pick Up Now as “an eerily cinematic novel about the filming of Psycho, in which the offscreen action takes a Hitchcockian turn.” Muñoz has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and he was selected as a juror for the 2011 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Glimmer Train, Epoch, Eleven Eleven, and Boston Review, and has aired on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. A native of Dinuba, California, Manuel graduated from Harvard University and received his MFA in creative writing from Cornell University.

Photo credit: © Stuart Bernstein

Ronaldo WilsonRonaldo V. Wilson, poet.

Reading Friday, March 9, 2012, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Ronaldo V. Wilson is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, from University of Pittsburgh Press and Poems of the Black Object from Futurepoem Books. He has held fellowships at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Vermont Studio Center, Cave Canem, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Yaddo Corporation, and has had four poems nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has taught creative writing and African American Poetics at Mount Holyoke College and has (very) recently joined the faculty at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Rebecca MakkaiRebecca Makkai, fiction writer.

Reading Friday, March 30, 2012, 3:30 p.m. Union Little Theater

Makkai holds an MA from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English and a BA from Washington and Lee University. Her short fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Fantasy, and featured on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts.

John PriceJohn Price, nonfiction writer.

Reading Thursday, April 12, 2012, 7:30 p.m. Union Flint Hills Room

John T. Price is a Professor and current Jefferis Endowed Chair of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He earned his M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing and Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa, and is the author of two literary memoirs: Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey into the American Grasslands (U. of Nebraska Press, 2004) and Man Killed by Pheasant and Other Kinships (2008, Da Capo Press). A recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, his autobiographical nonfiction has appeared in numerous national journals, magazines and anthologies, including Orion, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, and the annual awards anthology, Best Spiritual Writing. He teaches literature and creative nonfiction writing courses at UNO, including Autobiography, Modern Familiar Essay, and Travel Writing, and in 2006, was given an Alumni Oustanding Teaching Award. He is also co-director of UNO's graduate certificate in Advanced Writing.