Grad Student Awards Announced

We are delighted to announce the 2018 recipients of graduate student awards from the “Tribute Fund.” The full title of this fund at the UCONN Foundation is “Tribute to English Professors — A Fund for Graduate Education,” and as of 2018 it is now producing enough income for the department to make three annual awards, in the amount of $500 / recipient.


The Milton Stern Dissertation Award recognizes the best dissertation submitted for a PhD in English or Medieval Studies (for dissertations defended between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018). This year’s recipient is Dan Graham, for his dissertation, “Spectral Speculations: The Political Economy of American Spiritualism, 1848-1905.”


The Francelia Butler Graduate Award for Teaching Innovation recognizes a graduate student in English or Medieval Studies who demonstrates commitment to innovative teaching  and reflective practice in a non-First-Year Writing course. This year’s recipient is Meghan Burns, in acknowledgment of her work in English 2203: American Literature 1880-present (Fall 2017).


The David Leeming Graduate Award for Service recognizes a graduate student in English or Medieval Studies who demonstrates excellence in service or outreach to the department, university, institution, or community. This year’s co-recipients are Hayley Stefan and Micah Goodrich, in acknowledgment of their service as, respectively, President and Vice-President of EGSA during the 2017-18 academic year.

Rachel Nolan to University of Manchester, UK

Rachel Nolan has secured a 1-year Research Fellowship followed by 3-year Fixed-Term Lectureship at the University of Manchester.  The Lecturer role in the UK is equivalent to Assistant Professor in the US so this can be seen as a 4-year Visiting Assistant Professorship with a focus on research during the first year.

Congratulations, Rachel!

Sara Austin’s Dissertation Defense

Sara Austin’s Dissertation Defense is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 12:30 pm in AUST 217, Stern Lounge. Interested members of the faculty and graduate students are invited to attend.

THESIS TITLE: “The Evolution of Monsters in Contemporary American Children’s and Young Adult Literature”


Major Advisor: Victoria F. Smith

Associate Advisor: Kate Capshaw

Associate Advisor: Anna Mae Duane

Associate Advisor: Dawn Heinkein


Outside Representative: Nancy Naples

Kerry Driscoll: Book Launch

Book Launch on June 20:
 Dr. Kerry Driscoll’s
Mark Twain Among the Indians

UConn grad and Twain scholar Dr. Kerry Driscoll, recently retired from the St. Joseph University English Department, will introduce her newly published work Mark Twain Among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples at a book launch at The Mark Twain House & Museum on Wednesday, June 20, at 7 p.m. The event is free.

The release of this painstakingly researched and elegantly written book is a historic occasion in the world of Mark Twain studies, filling definitively a blank spot in the narrative and analysis of Twain’s attitudes about race and culture.

The event will be preceded by a reception in Hal Holbrook Hall, followed by a presentation by Dr. Driscoll in the Lincoln Financial Auditorium and a book-signing.

Mark Twain Among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples is the first book-length study of the writer’s evolving views regarding the aboriginal inhabitants of North America and the Southern Hemisphere, and his deeply conflicted representations of them in fiction, newspaper sketches, and speeches,” according to press materials issued by the University of California Press, the book’s publisher.

The book has garnered pre-publication praise from Mark Twain scholars along with encomiums from Native American scholars. Philip Deloria, the first professor of Native American Studies at Harvard University, calls the book “a brilliant and comprehensive assessment of Twain’s contradictory feelings toward indigenous peoples.”

Driscoll is an internationally renowned Mark Twain scholar and Immediate Past President of the Mark Twain Circle of America. For two decades she has been a loyal friend of — and frequent lecturer, exhibition consultant, and teacher-workshop organizer at — The Mark Twain House & Museum, and she was recently appointed to the museum’s Board of Trustees.

Mark Twain Among the Indians and Other Indigenous Peoples retails for $95; the Museum Store will offer one-time discounts EXCLUSIVELY for those attending the book launch: 30 percent for members of The MTH&M, 20 percent for all other attendees.

The event is free, but pre-registration is strongly suggested.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is the restored Hartford, Connecticut home where American author Samuel Clemens — Mark Twain — and his family lived from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote his most important works, including Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, during the years he lived there. In addition to providing tours of Twain’s restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and education programs that illuminate Twain’s literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Avenue are open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit 


Grad Landings: Congratulations!

Congratulations to three of our grad students for landing new jobs:

  • Sara Austin (anticipated ’18), Visiting Assistant Professor in children’s literature, Miami University (Ohio)
  • Tara Harney-Mahajan (’16), Assistant Professor in world literature, Caldwell University (NJ)
  • Laura Wright (’18), Visiting Assistant Professor in writing, Berry College (GA)

Photography and Poetry Exhibit

“Photographs from a Poet’s Eye” exhibit by Pegi Deitz Shea runs from May 4 to May 30. The opening on May 4 was open to the public from 6-8pm, and included wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres.

Date: May 4

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Location: Tolland Arts Center (22 Tolland Green)



Dissertation Defenses

Patrick Butler defended his dissertation, “Unsettling the Exceptional Hero: Recognition & Vulnerability in Middle English Romance,” on April 26, 2018 at 8:30 am in Austin 217.

M. Breann Leake defended her dissertation, “Rewriting the Historian of the English People: The Afterlife of Bede in Early English Texts,” on April 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm in Austin 217.