News from the Graduate Program

Kate Hope Day, a 2008 English department PhD graduate has sold her debut novel to Random House, in a two book deal. The novel, IfThen, is set in a sleepy town in Oregon at the base of a dormant volcano. The story follows four neighbors who find their lives upended when they begin to see visions of themselves in an alternate reality, and have to question the choices and chances they’ve taken in their lives as a natural disaster is looming. It will be published in early 2019. 

Cameron Barnett, a 2016 poetry alumnus of the MFA program, recently had his first full length collection of poems, The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water, published through Autumn House Press. His book was nominated, and was one of five finalists, for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.

Congratulations to Kate & Cameron!

Laura Feibush Places 2nd in Humanities Division of 3MT. Laura Feibush earned second place within the Humanities Division of Pitt’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT), held April 9, 2018. Laura is a PhD Student in the English Department's PhD in Composition & Rhetoric concentration, where she recently and successfully defended her dissertation, "The Earful Body: Towards a Rhetoric of Listening in and Beyond Scenes of Writing Instruction," directed by Cory Holding.

Alex Malanych took the top honor for the 3MT competition award at the departmental level for his ongoing project, "Rite-ing Wrongs: Ritual, Queerness, and Jewish Rhetoric." Alex is going into his fifth year in the Department of English's PhD in Composition & Rhetoric, and his project is being directed by Professors Peter Campbell and Cory Holding.

Katie Bird places third in the 2018 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Student Writing Award for her essay, "Sporting Sensations: Béla Balázs and the Bergfilm Camera Operator.” 

Congratulations to several English Department students who have won competitive dissertation fellowships for the 2018-19 academic year:

Chambers-Anderson Fellowship:
  • Sagnika Chanda “Precarious Bodies:  Vulnerability as the Site for Posthumanist Justice”
Lawler Fellowships:
  • Sreemoyee Dasgupta  “Nationalism, Genre, and Childhood in Colonial Indian Children’s Literature”
  • Shawna McDermott “Visual Culture and the Modern Child:  Race and Imperialism in Children’s Magazines 1873-1939”
Mellon Fellowships:
  • Mary Gryctko  “‘Eternal Innocence’:  The Victorian Cult of the Dead Child”
  • Jordan Hayes  “Networked Wayfinding and the Forcibly Displaced:  Digital Literacy, Mobile Technology, and the Human Rights of Syrian Refugees”
  • John Taylor  “Interstate Logic:  How Netowrks Change the Cinematic Representation of Time and Space”
Tobias Fellowships:
  • Marlee Fuhrmann "The Victorian Ocean"
  • Treviene Harris "The Poetics of Sound in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction"

Laura Stamm Places 2nd in Humanities Division of 3MT. Laura Stamm earned second place within the Humanities Division of Pitt’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT), held Feb. 22, 2017.  Stamm is a PhD Student in Film Studies based in the English Department, and she is also enrolled in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies certificate program.  Her dissertation, "New Queer Cinema and the Biopic:  Sustaining Life During the AIDS Crisis,” is directed by Mark Lynn Anderson.

Kristen M. Fallica (PhD 2013) was recently named as one of the 2016 cohort of Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows. The program is designed to demonstrate the broad value of advanced training in the humanities by placing humanities PhD students in important roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. Kristen will be working as a Digital Programming Strategist for the Chicago Humanities Festival. For more information, please visit here.

For the second year in a row, a first-year English Department PhD Student has won the Tamara Horowitz Graduate Paper Prize, which is awarded each year by Pitt’s Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program. Nick Marsellas’s paper “Dainty Ariel:  Queering the Colonial Enterprise,” the 2016 winner, was written for Prof. Marianne Novy’s seminar “Shakespeare, Gender, and Sexuality.” The winning essay in 2015, Marlee Fuhrmann’s “Celibacy and the Novel: Critiquing Hetero-Chronormativity,” was written for Prof. Nancy Glazener’s seminar “The Novel: Advanced Texts and Theories.”


New focal areas in the Literature sector of the PhD Program: Four new focal areas have been developed to enhance the department’s intellectual life at large and to provide an infrastructure for PhD students based in literature. The areas are Children’s Literature and Childhood StudiesGenealogies of Modernity: Medieval and RenaissanceMedia and Material Practices; and Race, Poetics, and Empire. Read about the focal areas.

Tess Barry (Pitt MA 2008) is one of 6 poets short-listed for a £10,000  prize in this year's Manchester Writing Competition—one of the largest cash prizesforpoetry i in the world. The competition was devised by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and is run by her team in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University ( The Competition is presented in partnership with Manchester Literature Festival. More information about Barry, the other finalists, and the prize is available here.

Barry earned a BA in Engilsh Writing from Pitt in 2005 and earned an MFA from Carlow University.  She reports that she had a “fantastic experience” at Pitt, where she was “inspired and challenged” by teachers such as Don Bialostosky, Marah Gubar, and Jen Waldron.

Amanda Phillips Chapman has been selected as the 2014-15 recipient of the Eric O. Clarke Dissertation Prize for her outstanding dissertation, "Self-Consciousness and Childhood in the Long Nineteenth Century."

The prize is meant to recognize graduate students in the Department of English and the Cultural Studies Program who have completed outstanding dissertations. The award was endowed in memory of Professor Eric O. Clarke and this year includes a cash award of $500.00.

Among a group of impressive dissertations, Chapman's was particularly admired for developing a new key term within childhood studies, “self-consciousness,” and for demonstrating its historical importance with support from careful readings of a wide variety of primary texts from the long nineteenth century. The dissertation both tells a story of increasing cultural discomfort with children’s selfhood and shows how concerns about children’s self-consciousness had major ramifications for how writers for children (as well as children themselves) conceived of and represented the self.  In the eyes of the selection committee, these elements made it “clearly a significant work of scholarship.” 

A section from one of Liam O'Loughlin's dissertation chapters, "Crisis Contained: The Poetics of Bureaucracy," won the 2014 South Asian Literary Association Graduate Student Paper Prize. Liam's diessertation, "Cosmopolitan Disasters: From Bhopal to the Tsunami in South Asian Anglophone Literature," was completed in spring 2015.

Hyo Kyung Woo, a PhD student in English, has been awarded an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Sciences Research Council for 2015-2016.  Her dissertation is entitled “Korean Englishes, Uneven Asias, and Global Circulation, 1895-1945."

Prize Winners in Gender and Sexuality Studies: English Department PhD students won top honors in this spring’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program competitions.

  • Usha Iyer won the dissertation prize in the humanities for her dissertation “Film Dance, Female Stardom, and the Production of Gender in Popular Hindi Cinema.”  Her dissertation director was Neepa Majumdar, her committee members Lucy Fischer, Marcia Landy, and Ranjani Majumdar of Jawaharlal Nehru University.  Usha is now Assistant Professor of Screen Studies at Clark University.
  • Marlee Fuhrmann (1st-year PhD student) won the Tamara Horowitz Graduate Paper Prize for her essay “Celibacy and the Novel: Critiquing Heteronormativity,” written for Nancy Glazener’s seminar “The Novel: Advanced Texts and Theories” in spring 2015.
  • Sagnika Chanda (2nd-year PhD student) earned an Honorable Mention in the Horowitz competition for her essay “'Indian Army, Rape Us': Kristeva’s Herethics and the Semiotic Bodies of Mothers of Manorama,” written for Lisa Parker’s GSWS course “Gender, Ethics, and the Body” in spring 2015. 


Dan Chyutin, a PhD student in English and Film Studies, was recently interviewed in The Pioneer online magazine while screening his films and offering a master class in India.  Dan is completing a dissertation entitled “The Challenge of Judaism: Screening Israel's Religious Turn.”

To find out more about Dan’s past and recent work, please visit “THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

Newsflash: English Department winners at 3MT: At the first Dietrich School Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on Feb. 25, 2014, Peter Moe and Liam O’Loughlin won 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in the Humanities Division. They were the only English Department competitors. Participants were required to present their dissertation work in 3 minutes or less, using if they wished one projected visual.  

Nancy Garcia (MFA student, Fiction) has recently completed a term-long appointment with NASA Johnson Space Center, where she worked on promotions for the recent EFT-1 launch in December, an experimental and unmanned spaceflight geared towards the future explorations of and potential travels to Mars. She also helped communicate a portion of the human narrative by packing the Orion test flight with historic artifacts that included the bones of a T-Rex, selected poetry and music, items from the iconic show Sesame Street — whose characters were also present at the launch itself — and a microchip carrying the names of over a million vicarious space travelers.

For more on Nancy’s NASA internship, see Orion Flight Test to Carry Mementos and Inspirational Items.

Wenying Xu (Pitt PhD 1994) is Jacksonville University’s new Provost/Chief Academic Officer. Jacksonville University has announced that Dr. Wenying Xu is its new Provost/Chief Academic Officer. JU’s announcement praises Xu as a "consensus builder renowned for her innovation and inclusion." Dr. Xu has recently served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Chatham University and was previously Professor of English and Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University. She is the author of many articles and three books: Historical Dictionary of Asian American Literature and Theatre (Scarecrow Press, 2012), Eating Identities: Reading Food in Asian American Literature (University of Hawaii Press, 2008) and Ethics of Aesthetics of Freedom in American and Chinese Realism (Mellon, 2003). She served as president of MELUS from 2008 to 2012.