Congratulations to Andrea Kitta!

Congratulations to Andrea Kitta, who recently published an article “The significance of folklore for vaccine policy: discarding the deficit model,” in the journal Critical Public Health. Co-written with medical humanities scholar Daniel Goldberg, the paper addresses the relevance of medical folklore for vaccine policy intended to increase vaccination uptake. The authors make two primary claims: First, that dominant approaches to increasing US vaccination uptake have largely been based on deficient understandings of the root causes of anti-vaccination behavior; and second, that superior approaches to evidence-based policy must enlarge the scope of that evidence base to include crucial findings on belief formation, technical and risk communication, and the folklore of vaccination. They show that the failure to attend to this evidence results in interventions that are disconnected from the factors actually driving vaccination refusal.

The article can be found here:

Sophronia Knott

Student Spotlight: Sophronia Knott


Sophronia Knott wins Three Minute Thesis!

Sophronia Knott won the Grand Champion Award at the Three Minute Thesis competition in Oct 2016! She will be going to Annapolis, MD to represent the Dept of English at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools.

Below is a student spotlight on English MA student Sophronia Knott!


Hello! My name is Sophronia Knott 🙂 I’m originally from Guatemala, but I was raised in Smithfield, North Carolina. I have three dogs and we all love to go running!

What brought you to ECU?

Both of my brothers graduated from ECU and my father received his Principal’s Certificate here, so I wanted to carry on the tradition!

What is your area of study and how did you first become interested in it?

I am currently an English MA student, but I also received my BA in English and my TESOL certificate here at ECU. I wrote my first short story when I was seven, and I’ve been reading for what feels like forever. My father used to make me read for one hour for every 30 minutes of TV I wanted to watch, but I was never able to put down a book!

What are your goals after graduation?

After graduation, I would like to attend the University of Denver in Colorado to complete my PhD in English.

What has been most exciting/rewarding about your time in the English department?

The most exciting thing has been writing my thesis, to be honest! As a graduate student, I was able to reach out to my favorite author and talk with her about my ideas. She has since become a friend and mentor, and I feel so lucky to be analyzing her work for my thesis!

What recognitions/achievements in your ECU career are you most proud of and why?

I won the Most Outstanding Undergraduate award in 2015, and that was my proudest moment as a student and an English scholar. I spoke at graduation, and I felt as if I finally got the chance to thank my parents and all of the professor who truly changed my life. I was very grateful to be able to speak and thank everyone properly.

What would you say to someone considering coming to ECU to study English?

If you choose to study English, do it because you love writing or because you love reading. When all else fails, it’s your passion that will keep you going during the hard times. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t be able to sustain your motivation. I can’t imagine doing anything else because English has always been my one true passion.

Stephen Dunn’s Visit to ECU on 10/21

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stephen Dunn performed a reading at Greenville Museum of Art on October 21st. If you missed the event, below are pictures from the event provided by Linda Fox. Also provided is English MA student William Eddins’ excellent write up of the event!

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For many poets, winning a Pulitzer Prize is only a fantasy, but for Stephen Dunn it is an achievement. His intelligence and accessible style resonate with many readers who enjoy his witty insight.

Last Friday, Stephen Dunn visited East Carolina Universityfor a seminar and later in the evening read some of his work at the Greenville Museum of Art. The eventswere sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, along with the Great Books program, and the Contemporary Writer Series.

At his seminar in the Bate Building on East Carolina’s campus, Dunn spoke to students and faculty about his experiences and advice he had to offer.

Among the many subjects discussed was the notion of a crossroads in a poem. This crossroads, Dunn states is, “part of finding yourself and finding the poem.” It is the crossroads that creates the necessary turn in the poem and gives it meaning.

Later that evening, Dunn traveled to the Greenville Museum of Art.  Refreshments were served as people socialized near theCommons Gallery, where Dunn would later read some of his recent work.

The event began when Dr. Helena Feder introduced Stephen Dunn, reciting his achievements and discussing what his work means to the literary community.

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Stephen Dunn is the author of sixteen books; his poems have appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic, The Nation, the New Yorker, the American Poetry Review, the New Republic, and many other journals. Since 1974, he has taught at Richard Stockton College of NJ, where he is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing.


William Eddins, English MA Graduate Student

Dunn read many poems that caused the audience to erupt in laughter. One such poem was “Testimony.” In the poem, the narrator wakes in the middle of the night to Jesus holding a tray of cookies. The narrator eats the offered cookies, not because he happened to be craving them, but because that iswhat a good Christian would do when tested.

Stephen Dunn didn’t shy away from current topics like clowns either. His poem,” If a Clown,” made the crowd giggle in their seats as Stephen recited the first line, “If a clown came out of the woods.”The poem asks the reader to consider a “clown without a context,” —applicable to the times.

Some of his other work he read included, “Nothing to Hold Onto,” “Before We Leave,” “If a Poet,” “Letter to the Man I Once Was,” and “For the Player,” among others.

There were many subjects discussed and great lines, but none greater than from his poem, “Nothing to Hold Onto,” that summarized my experience: “uproarious laughter / the password to moments of fine feeling.”


Love Theft and Other Entanglements (2015) Poster

Ethnic Studies Film Series: Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (2015)

We are happy to announce the third screening of the Fall 2016 Ethnic Studies Film Series!
Film Title: Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (Directed by Muayad Alayan, Co-written by Muayad Alayan and Rami Alayan, 2015)
Time: 6pm, Tuesday, 11/1/2016
Place: Sci-Tech C209
Post-screening Q & A with co-writer and co-producer Rami Alayan
Guest introduction: Dr. Mona Russell
Synopsis: A Palestinian car thief gets into the trouble of his life when he steals the wrong car. What he thought was an Israeli car and an easy way to make money in his impoverished refugee camp turns out to be a load of misfortune when he discovers a kidnapped Israeli soldier in the trunk.
Clown Talk Poster

ECU English Clown Experts in the Media!

Thanks to Andrea Kitta, Jim Kirkland, and Randall Martoccia for organizing and speaking at last night’s creepy clown forum. The event drew over 80 people, mostly students, who learned about clowns in popular culture and the origins of the 2016 clown panic. It was featured in The East Carolinian.

Andrea was also interviewed for a clown story on WNCT local news.

I hope that the department can in the future organize similar informal events related to stories in the news. If you have an idea for one, please let me know. Go English!

[Pictured: Book cover at left/top showing a rollercoaster and a blue sky; book cover at bottom/right showing a large skeleton leaning over smaller people.]

Caswell publishes *The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors*

Congratulations to Dr. Nikki Caswell, whose book The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors was just published by Utah State University Press!
The first book-length empirical investigation of writing center directors’ labor, The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors presents a longitudinal qualitative study of the individual professional lives of nine new directors. The authors adopt a case study approach to examine the labor these directors performed and the varied motivations for their labor, as well as the labor they ignored, deferred, or sidelined temporarily, whether or not they wanted to. The nine directors discuss more than just their labor; they address their motivations, their sense of self, and their own thoughts about the work they do, facets of writing center director labor that other types of research or scholarship have up to now left invisible. The book strikes a new path in scholarship on writing center administration.
Further, the publisher liked this book so much that they did a special print run with a limited edition cover! The standard cover is left/top in the photo, and the limited edition cover is bottom/right.

Creativity and Balance

Check out this new essay teaser “Creativity and Balance, or the Controlling Ideology of Control” by Associate Professor Helena Feder:…/

Is it too sweeping or just too obvious to say that from falling in love to creativity itself, we must be off-balance to become?

I find myself trying not to think about writing when I am writing (things themselves…but of course words fall into this category) and, then, thinking of it constantly when I am not. I have been told by smart, talented people that we all need to find a “balance” between writing and life. This dichotomy proliferates endlessly into the mythological “balance” between thinking and feeling, thinking or feeling and doing, creative and academic work, “research” and teaching, pedagogy and public intellectual life, etcetera, etc…

North Carolina Literary Review Celebrates 25 Years

Celebrating NCLR’s 25th issue at ECU Oct 22

Please join the NCLR staff, past and present, on Saturday, October 22, from 2-4 in the Faulkner Gallery of Joyner Library to celebrate Twenty-Five Years of the North Carolina Literary Review. Among the writers coming to celebrate with us will be Philip Gerard and Michael Parker, who have been publishing in our pages since the earliest issues. The original Art Director, Eva Roberts, who created NCLR’s unique look will also be there, along with her former student, our current Art Director Dana Ezzell. An exhibit will show the evolution of this publication over the past quarter-century. There will be party favors and cake, music and photos, and a short program featuring the guest writers. Dowdy Student Stores will bring our featured guests’ books to sell, and of course, we will have issues for sale—all 25 of them. Don’t miss it!
Free and open to the public. 
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