Department of English News

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Sixth Annual English Graduate Student Conference


Mark your calendars! The Sixth Annual English Graduate student conference is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, beginning at 9:00 a.m. We hope you will consider attending all or part of the conference to support the graduate students who are presenting. Within the next week, we will also be seeking faculty members willing to introduce conference panels.

Thank you for your instruction and for your support for the English graduate students! If you have questions about the conference, contact Justin Littlefield, EGSO president, at, ​or Brianne Holmes, EGSO vice president, at

The Ethnic Studies Film Series, Spring 2016

All the screenings are free and open to the public; no tickets are needed.
The Ethnic Studies Film Series, Spring 2016
Co-sponsored by the English Department and the Voyages of Discovery Lectures
Both screenings are approved for the Wellness Passport Program.

Windtalkers (Directed by John Woo)
Tuesday, March 22nd, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Sci-Tech Building 307
Guest Introduction: Bobby O’Daniel (Diné), USMC
Post-screening Discussion Planned
Co-sponsored by the Voyages of Discovery Series
Two U.S. Marines in WWII are assigned to protect Navajo Marines who use their native language as an unbreakable radio cypher.

Listopad (Directed by Gary Griffin)
Tuesday, April 19th, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Sci-Tech Building 307
Guest introduction: Dr. Lida Cope
Post-screening Q & A with Producer Jeffrey Brown via teleconferencing
LISTOPAD is a tale about the adventures of three teenage boys who become swept up in the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989 in the former Czechoslovakia.

Leanne E. Smith’s Floating Dancer: Robert Dotson, the Walking Step, and the Green Grass Cloggers.

If you have about 22 minutes to spend on YouTube, and would like to listen to a 91-year-old dancer talk…My latest narrative project is a mini-documentary (my first one!) called Floating Dancer: Robert Dotson, the Walking Step, and the Green Grass Cloggers.  Here’s the link:

I met Robert several years ago through my folklife research and activities and continued to visit him and collect snippets of him talking where he lived in Sugar Grove, NC, until shortly before he died in early 2015. 

In the last couple of months, I collaborated with a fellow member of the Green Grass Cloggers–recent ECU biology PhD graduate M. Chad Smith–who is more experienced at working with the editing software than I am.  And this film is what we came up with.

Vaughan wins Christman Scholarship

VaughnThe English department is proud to announce Paige Vaughan as the winner of the Russell Christman Memorial Scholarship in English.

Associate Professor Marianne Montgomery said that the Christman scholarship rewards academic success but also spirit and extra-curricular involvement.

“I nominated Paige because of her energetic participation in English Club,” Dr. Montgomery said. “From the day she arrived on campus, Paige has been a regular at English Club, and this year she serves as the club’s president. In her leadership role, she plans meetings, invites guest speakers, and welcomes students into the club. She is also heavily involved in German Club. Overall, Paige is an English major who is learning and growing as a person both within and beyond the classroom, and is a most deserving recipient of the Christman award.”

Vaughan said receiving the Christman scholarship has helped her to see her potential as a student here at ECU.

“I am thankful to have professors and peers who recognize my hard work and capabilities, even when it is not always clear to me,” she said. “I will strive to continue staying involved in campus activities and improving myself intellectually.”


This scholarship is named for Russell Christman, an English Department instructor who was killed in a car accident in 1976. The scholarship was established by his parents, and is given to the junior English major who most typifies Russ’ spirit: vivacious, caring, energetic, and involved in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Academic merit is a factor in choosing the recipient, but character is given greater weight. The amount of the award is generally $500. Students are nominated by instructors in the English Department, and a recipient is selected in the spring semester for the following academic year. Eligible applicants must have completed 36 hours at ECU by the end of the fall semester. The application process for nominees includes: 1) cover letter from the nominee; 2) a completed scholarship application form (available in the English Department office); 3) a resume; 4) an interview with the Student Services and Scholarships Committee.

2015-16 ECU Scholar-Teacher Award!!!

Congratulations to associate professors of English William Banks and Andrea Kitta, who have received a 2015-16 ECU Scholar-Teacher Award. The Award recognizes outstanding faculty members who integrate scholarship and teaching. The 2015-16 ECU Scholar-Teacher Awards and Symposium will be held from noon – 4 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the ECU Heart Institute. Banks and Kitta will present posters at 2:10 and 2:30 p.m., respectively, in the Auditorium. Faculty, staff, students and community friends are encouraged to attend all or parts of the afternoon symposium and to enjoy a wonderful celebration of scholarship and teaching at ECU.

McKeever wins Moore Scholarship

The English department is proud to announce Sarah McKeever as the winner of the Charles and Patricia Moore Scholarship in English.

“Sarah is someone who embodies the intellectual curiosity, coupled with the intellectual humility, that is that hallmark of an excellent student,” said Professor Jeffrey Johnson, who works with McKeever on the John Donne Variorium. “She also has the agility of mind to engage difficult problems with nuance and creativity.”

McKeever feels a special connection to this award.

“On my most current scholarship application I wrote that the Moore Scholarship has funded not only my financial bank but my spiritual one as well,” she said. “My best friend, Christopher Thomas Moore, passed away in 2007.  I saw the scholarship three years ago and applied for it because it was his last name.  I have felt each time that I have accepted the award as though my friend is still with me in this experience.  It helps me remember that though he’s gone, he is still my guardian angel.”

The Moore Scholarship awards in-state tuition and fees to one sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has both a demonstrated financial need and has a GPA of 3.0 or better. Applicants need not be in-state students, but must have completed 36 hours at ECU by the end of the fall semester. The amount of the award is generally $1,500. Students are notified about this scholarship opportunity, and a recipient is selected in the spring semester for the following academic year. The application process usually includes: 1) cover letter from the applicant; 2) a completed scholarship application form (available in the English Department office); 3) documentation of financial need (tax returns from the applicant and/or parents or guardians is usually sufficient); 4) an interview with the Student Services and Scholarships committee.

Dr. Mark Johnson teaches pedagogy in Lima, Peru

In August 2015, Mark D. Johnson was invited to conduct two pedagogical workshops for teachers of English as a foreign language at Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA) in Lima, Peru. Seen here working with teachers at ICPNA’s Miraflores location, Mark was able to work with teachers at the ICPNA’s nine other locations throughout the city of Lima via webcast.

Johnson teaching in Peru

Student Spotlight: Emma Calow



Emma Calow is an English graduate student from Belfast, Ireland.





. . .

What brought you to ECU?

Good question! I was in my second year of studying English with American Studies at my home university in Coleraine, Northern Ireland when one of my American Studies professors approached me about applying for the opportunity to study in the States for one academic year through the International Student Exchange Programme. Long story short, following several months of application processing, deliberating, and decision making, ECU chose me and I was admitted into the English undergraduate programme in the Fall of 2012. Turns out I wasn’t quite ready to leave ECU, so I took the leap of opportunity and decided to continue pursuing my education here and the following year was officially omitted as an international pirate. As a result, I managed to earn my BA in English with a minor in Sports Studies last May and am now onto the next stage of my academic journey – mastery in English and graduate certification in Sport Management.

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

Being in the English graduate programme, I have had the exposure to, learned in more depth of, and become highly engaged with some very interesting areas within the English studies spectrum. More specifically though, it has given me the chance to explore further into my specific areas of study and reach interests – the African American experience and the rhetorics of sport with a focus on cultural, social, and racial discourses. Given my own sporting past, involvement, and experiences on an international level, my attention to this particular domain has augmented and thus developed over time, especially since moving to America. If anything, sports fuel my fire and I think there are some very interesting conversations surrounding such a spectacle in society.

What are your goals after graduation?

Another good question! Given my student visa limitations, I am just keen to try to keep as many options on the table as possible. Part of me is hopeful in continuing my education through pursuing a PhD programme, whereas the other half of me is eager to get started into the professional world. That being said, an overriding goal is to build a career here in the States (and stay as long as I can!)

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

I think ECU’s Department of English encompasses a uniquely diverse and supportive sense of community with a lot of incredibly creative and knowledgeable minds. Looking back, perhaps the most exciting time was finally walking across that stage and earning that Bachelors degree then subsequently getting accepted into the Masters programme. More importantly though, I think the most rewarding has been the many different things I have learned, not just academically but also personally. Also, being a member of the Department of English community has afforded me the opportunity to meet and get to know some pretty cool people.

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

Probably earning my Bachelors degree is one of, if not the, proudest achievement thus far (and come next year, accomplishing that Masters will probably take the lead!), as it’s been a long journey – academically, personally, and geographically! In saying this I think my achievements are maybe a wee bit more subjective from a personal standpoint than educational. Nonetheless, I’m proud of having the ability to maintain the institutional expectations and standards that come with being a student (undergraduate and graduate), such as GPA, never missing class, meeting assignments deadlines, English Honors Society etc.

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

I would say to be open-minded, hard-working, and above all, to keep those positive vibes flowing, even on the bad days because it’s all part of the journey. I think English is perhaps the most fundamental disciplines one can pursue seeing as a degree in English can open doors to a number of professional avenues and careers such as teaching, journalism, editing, writing, among others. Also, in the academic study of English there is, evidently, a substantial amount of reading and writing so be sure to know that you enjoy, to a certain extent, doing these. The cool thing about ECU is that there are various resources that offer help when needed (writing center, English workshops, library databases, friendly professors and fellow students).

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Will Banks


Dr. Will Banks is an associate professor of rhetoric and composition in the Department of English at East Carolina University. He holds a B.A. in Literary Studies from Georgia Southern University, an M.A. Literary Studies from Georgia Southern University, and a Ph.D. in English Studies from Illinois State University.


. . .

Where are you from?

I am from Louisville, GA.

What brought you to ECU?

I chose ECU because of the type of students we have here. ECU students are often the first generation in their families to attend college, as well as coming from a working class background. Those are students that I prefer to work with because the academy has worked so hard to keep them out.

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

My field of research is in Rhetoric and Composition, specifically queer rhetorics. I was interested in Rhet-Comp because of my previous experience teaching for several years. I’ve had the chance to work with many students – teaching literature, language, and writing — but I realized that I enjoy working with struggling student writers more than struggling student readers. I enjoy helping students to see why writing is important and all the options that careful, rhetorically sophisticated prose provides to the writer. While I was teaching at Georgia Southern University, I had the chance to participate in an Invitational Summer Institute of the National Writing Project, which also influenced my research interests and further solidified my commitment to working with writers and helping them develop voice and agency.

What life experience prepared you for your role at ECU?

I am one of those students from a working class and rural background that research suggests tend not to go on to higher education, or to be successful once there. Higher education is filled with invisible rules and tacit values that work very hard to exclude working class students and students of color. I am the type of person that wants to help students with access because many students of a working class background (like myself) may miss out on great opportunities, so I want to pull back the curtain and make some of those invisible blockades visible. When they’re visible, we can work together to tear them down.

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

One of my biggest accomplishments here at ECU has been raising combined internal/external funding of over 2.5 million dollars to support ECU students and eastern NC teachers. That level of grant funding is nearly unheard of in an English department and the humanities generally. While that took away from my book-writing time, it has meant that ECU finally has a real writing center, which helps over 3,000 students per year with their writing, and it means that area K-12 teachers have had free or low-cost access to graduate education focused on writing, which is usually absent or under-developed in their undergraduate education. Over 1 million of those dollars has gone to professionalize K-12 teachers in our area and help them become teacher-researchers in their own classrooms who present their research at national conferences.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working with students. Period.

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

Summer Study Abroad in London! Taking ECU students, many of whom have never flown on a plane, to experience a new culture where they see themselves and their culture differently has been amazing. Students are able to study writing, literature, theatre, and culture in a new context, and also explore new places, where people of many cultures think differently from the ways we do in the United States. Also, being able to collaborate with Dr. Rick Taylor is always exciting! He has been the single most important professional mentor in my career, and his commitment to this program – and to keeping it affordable so that study abroad isn’t just for the rich kids – is so important.