Montgomery named department chair

Congratulations to Dr. Marianne Montgomery, who was just announced as the English department’s new permanent chair, beginning in August. Dr. Montgomery has been serving as interim chair since May.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to lead a vibrant, vital department whose work is central to ECU’s mission of student success, public service and regional transformation,” Montgomery said. “English is a big department, so this is a big new job. I am fortunate to have supportive and experienced colleagues in the department and in the college to help me to learn this new role.”

Read the full story on new chairs in Harriot College here:


Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Andrea Kitta


Dr. Andrea Kitta is an associate professor of Multicultural and Transnational Literatures in the Department of English at East Carolina University. She holds a B.A. in History (Honors) from Slippery Rock University, an M.A. in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, and a Ph.D. in Folklore from Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

. . .


Where are you from?

Originally Western Pennsylvania, but I also consider St. John’s, Newfoundland to be one of my “homes.”

What brought you to ECU?

I was between here and a post-doc in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I ended up choosing ECU because I wanted to teach and I really wanted to teach students that were the first people in their families to attend college.

What is your field and how did you first become interested in it?

I first heard about the field of folklore from a GA in Anthropology while I was taking some post-bac classes. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go to grad school and when I told him about all the things I was interested in (history, stories, culture, medicine, the supernatural) he said “Why don’t you become a folklorist?” I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went home and started looking into. I immediately knew it was exactly what I wanted to do, so I started applying for my MA in Folklore that night.

What other life experience prepared you for your role here at ECU?

I did two years of service with AmeriCorps, the first was part-time (900 hours) while I was getting my BA, the second was full time (1600 hours) right after I graduated. I can’t express how much I learned in my time at AmeriCorps – every time I came up with an idea, I was given the go-ahead to try it. That was a fantastic experience and really helped me to see that I wanted to pursue my PhD and be a professor.

What recognitions/achievements are you most proud of and why?

I’m really proud of all of my achievements, but I think the ones that stand out the most for me were the ones when I broke a boundary and helped people to see things in a different way. I’m very proud that I was the first person from the Folklore Department to get an Applied Health fellowship when I was working on my PhD. I was the first folklorist to get the Duval prize at the Canadian Immunization Conference. I was also really proud to represent the American Folklore Society in the US/China exchange program.

What is your favorite part of your job?

That’s difficult, I love being in the classroom and working with students, but I also love my research. And I love going to conferences. I basically love every part of my job except grading and meetings.

Describe one of the most rewarding courses you’ve taught in your time at ECU?

Just one? I absolutely love teaching the Supernatural class because my students are so interesting and unique – they always give me something to think about and remind me of how much there is to learn. I also loved team-teaching the Disability and Literature class and I’m really enjoying my honors class this semester on experiencing illness and alternative medicine. And the American Folklore class is where I get to see my students fall in love with folklore, so that’s really rewarding as well.

North Carolina Bookwatch

Margaret Bauer will appear on “North Carolina Bookwatch” to talk about her book, A Study of Scarletts. The episode will air on Sunday, July 24 at Noon on UNC-TV, with an encore broadcast on the following Thursday at 5pm. Shortly after broadcast, the episode will also be available at

“Web extras” are already online at the following links.

Garrett Yarbrough

Harriot College Names Garrett Yarbrough Inaugural Humanities Honors Scholar

Congratulations to Garrett Yarbrough, ECU Harriot College and Honors College sophomore pursuing dual majors in English and History, who has been named the inaugural Humanities Honors Scholar.  Yarbrough will receive a $3,000 annual scholarship through his senior year, which is in addition to the tuition scholarship he receives from Honors.  The Humanities Scholars Program, established by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, aims to recruit and retain high-ability students who wish to pursue degrees in this important set of disciplines.  In doing so, it will emphasize the humanities’ importance at East Carolina University and underscore our institutional commitment to the liberal arts.  “I am deeply honored to have been selected as a Humanities Scholar.  I am elated to illustrate the significance of the understanding of the humanities, of what intrinsically defines us as human and how this essence and ambition are coupled with sciences and other fields to usher in progress,” said Yarbrough.  “I eagerly anticipate my role as a representative of the humanities within the student body, to further the awareness of the importance of the accomplishments and exploration of the human spirit.”  For more on Yarbrough see, and details of the scholarship program may be found at

Hillary Dunn wins Farr Essay Contest

Congratulations to Hillary Dunn, whose essay “Dismembering the Dismemberer” is the winner of the 2016 Paul Farr Memorial Essay Contest. Named in honor of a former faculty member of the English Department, the Paul Farr Memorial Essay Contest was established by Paul and Marie Farr before Paul’s death in 1976. The contest encourages excellence in undergraduate expository writing, particularly emphasizing clarity and elegance in prose.

Retrospective: A Note from TPC Graduate Student Jonah Schwartz

By Jonah Schwartz

In May of 2016, I won the Society for Technical Communication’s student infographic contest. East Carolina University and the English Department generously flew me out to Anaheim, California to receive the award at STC’s annual summit. To say it’s an experience I’ll never forget is not an empty cliché. My journey has been circuitous and onerous, so the hard work I’ve put in and the praise and recognition I’ve received is more valuable to me than the physical award. It’s not something I take lightly. My relationships with the TPC professors—even ones I haven’t taken—have provided me with the confidence and structure to put me on the path where I am now.

I came to the Technical and Professional Communication program after ten years of working retail; a third of my life pressed against the glass looking into this field. Now that this opportunity is realized, my intense passion and enthusiasm has been reciprocated with help from friends, professors, and colleagues. Most of my classmates are recent graduates or are already secure in their careers. Starting from a less privileged position, I’ve taken advantage of every available opportunity. I’ve attended Professor Mike Albers’ annual Symposium on Communicating Complex Information in Greenville twice now and joined the Society for Technical Communication Carolina chapter. The relationships I’ve forged as a result have been demonstrably beneficial, so I would encourage any student who is in a remotely similar situation to explore these opportunities.

I won’t tell you that the CEO of STC shook my hand and told me what a fantastic job I did. I also won’t mention how senior STC staff and editors—including Sam Dragga—invited me to sit with them for after-conference drinks. What is important is that I achieved in one year what I’ve been fantasizing about for ten, and I’m only halfway through the program. I knew what I submitted was good, and I figured, best case scenario, I’d have a nice portfolio piece. I never imagined I’d win top prize.

The depth of technical communication is not only intellectual, but spatial as well. It is not until you’re sitting next to scriptwriters from OSHA-compliant training videos and JPL engineers and developers for air traffic control software that you realize that these people all share the same passion. There is something beautiful in realizing that people from all over the world; people with years more experience than you; people from positions you never think about; people who have devoted their lives and careers to this field—share the same thoughts and feelings and interests as you. It makes you say, “I am doing something right.”


Kain wins national service award

Congratulations to Donna Kain, who has recently been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC)’s Distinguished Service Award.  This national-level award is given to only one person per year, and it is awarded based upon an individual’s national reputation relating to aspects of curriculum design and program development in technical, professional, and scientific communication. Donna will be presented with the award during CPTSC’s annual conference, which will take place in Savannah, GA on 6-8 Oct.

Schwartz receives award at STC

Schwartz Graduate student Jonah Schwartz, recent winner of the Society for Technical Communication’s (STC) Student Infographic Contest, received his award and was honored today at the STC annual summit in Anaheim, CA.

Click below to check out a short interview featuring Schwartz talking about his experiences with the ECU English department.

Schwartz, who recently completed the Professional Communication Certificate, is now pursuing his MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication.

“I entered the TPC program after a decade of working in retail,” Schwartz said. “The field is one that I have had an immense passion in to begin with, which is perhaps why it is such a good fit for me. What I love about it is that it allows me to merge the creative process with empirical approaches.

“I created this infographic using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Publisher and Photoshop Elements; I did not need expensive or fancy software. I wouldn’t even describe myself as artistic. All you need is an idea of what you want to do, passion, and patience.

“One of the favorite quotes I’ve come across in my reading is that there is no such thing as good design and bad design. There is only effective and ineffective communication. What TPC is, in a sentence, is learning the best ways to create for different users. Every industry hires technical writers–this infographic is just the top 10”

Click for Schwartz’s winning infographic


From left to right: Tracy Morse, Will Banks, Wendy Sharer, Michelle Eble

ECU faculty publish book after finding success in improving writing program

Pictured from left to right: Tracy Morse, Will Banks, Wendy Sharer, Michelle Eble

Re-posted from


Members of East Carolina University’s English Department collaborated to publish a book they hope will help other higher education institutions harness the full potential of their writing programs.

After successfully utilizing the reaccreditation process to improve ECU’s writing program, faculty members Will Banks, Wendy Sharer, Tracy Morse and Michelle Eble co-edited, “Reclaiming Accountability: Improving Writing Programs through Accreditation and Large-Scale Assessments.” The book provides examples of how departments and writing programs have used accreditation to gain the kinds of benefits seen at ECU through similar initiatives around the country.

As part of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), required for accreditation, the authors focused their efforts on specific initiatives that would help broaden the reach of ECU’s writing program. “We saw reaccreditation as an opportunity to rethink our first-year writing program and our writing-intensive program so they worked together more effectively at helping students move from beginning college-level writing and thinking across their years at ECU,” said Banks, associate professor.

According to Sharer, director of the QEP, some of the changes seen in the program at ECU include:

  • Additional peer consultants to work with students and faculty in all disciplines in a larger, welcoming University Writing Center.
  • A revised Writing Foundations curriculum that includes a new, sophomore-level composition course designed to help students transition into writing in their major areas.
  • Writing mentors embedded in writing-intensive courses across the curriculum.
  • A website that brings together writing-related resources.

Additionally, the university provided resources to help faculty learn new information about writing and how to teach it in major courses.

As part of the updated curriculum, the class “Writing About the Disciplines” was added for second-year students to make it easier to transfer their skills to writing for their disciplines. “We are making the writing that students are doing explicitly relevant to the writing they will do in their majors or even careers,” said Eble, associate professor.

Their book brings together a series of critical cases that show how accreditation has been used in similar ways at other institutions to effect change on campus and across various academic programs. It illustrates how faculty can use accreditation to cultivate campus-wide discussions of writing to better meet local student learning needs.

–Jamie Smith


Student Spotlight: Darien Smith

Darien Smith.




Darien Smith just graduated from the East Carolina University Department of English!




. . .

What brought you to ECU?

My first trip to ECU was actually in 1998 when I came with my family to a football game, I guess you could say it was my destiny. I competed here in a public speaking competition in high school and fell in love with the campus. I originally had my heart set on College of Charleston, but ECU just struck me as having a much more diverse and welcoming atmosphere, I felt like the possibilities were endless as a Pirate. When I came back for orientation, I knew I was home.

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

Funny story, I’ve actually had 5 majors in my time at ECU (and I’m still graduating early!). I could read before I started kindergarten, and I’ve never really stopped. I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday of a quote from my favorite book, The Outsiders, so I should’ve known then that English was my calling. After lots of trial and error, I decided I was ready to settle down and graduate. After looking at all my credits, I realized that the recurring theme was English and that I’d always done markedly better in my English classes; all the pieces fell into place from there.

What are your goals after graduation?

I’m stoked to say that I will be continuing my work with the organization that I did my English internship with, Eastern NC Stop Human Trafficking Now, as a paid employee! I plan to eventually go to law school for nonprofit and civil equality law. Long term, I’d like to start a nonprofit to benefit special needs kids in foreign countries that don’t get the help and acceptance they deserve.

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

The best part for me is realizing my own intelligence/power. I’d always doubted myself and thought I wasn’t an academic, that I wasn’t smart enough, but being in the English department has helped me find my own voice and stand my ground (supported with textual analysis). Besides, who else can say that they got to watch Star Wars (Science Fiction), create their own company (Professional Writing), and imitate Sir Ian McKellan (Shakespeare: The Histories) during their senior year?

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

It’s going to sound really cheesy and I’ll probably regret this later, but finding myself. College has been a long, hard journey, but one I’d do anything to relive. I’ve grown so much as a person, and I have ECU to thank for that.

Also I have a killer GPA and I still go to bed at 9:30 every night.

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

“We’re all mad here.”
But seriously, do it. There’s no right or wrong in the English department (except your/you’re and they’re/their/there and even that’s debatable in poetry). You don’t have to be a certain way or like a certain thing or have read a lot of classic works (because I’m graduating and I didn’t do half of my reading assignments, sorry Dr. Feder). English is so much more than reading books by dead white guys. English is the written expression of the history of the human race, there’s something here for everyone.

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