ECU TCR Content Fall 2011

Lead Article


Internationally Recognized Project Comes to ECU and English Department

Contributed by Lorraine Hale Robinson

Portions of this article come from Cornerstone, an online magazine published for the alumni and friends of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

With the 2010 arrival of Dr. Jeffrey S. Johnson as chair of the Department of English came a major collaborative literary scholarship endeavor, the acclaimed variorum edition of the work of English metaphysical writer John Donne. And with the selection of Dr. Gary A. Stringer, founder and general editor of the Donne project) as the David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, Harriot College has become the project’s institutional headquarters. In addition to a planned 8-volume, 11-book print edition, the project (which involves a cohort of over forty scholars from around the world) provides broad public access to many of its materials through the website, DigitalDonne: the Online Variorum.

Gary Stringer began his work on Donne in graduate school, and his dissertation focus was on English Renaissance literature. A desire to expand his 1970 dissertation, “The Biblical Element in Donne’s Poems of Sacred and Profane Love,” into a book underscored the need for a variorum edition (from editio cum notis variorum: an edition of an author’s texts with the notes of various scholars and editors). As a graduate student, Stringer was involved as a “logistics/go-fer” in the foundational meeting of the University of Oklahoma’s Chaucer Variorum, so the scholar became acquainted first-hand with some of the complex but rewarding challenges posed by this sort of work. Attracted, too, by the collaborative nature of such projects (which are typically not housed within one department or institution), Stringer held a three-day planning conference in 1981 at the University of Southern Mississippi where he was an associate professor of English. Out of this internally funded conference grew a project eventually supported not only by numerous educational institutions and private donors, but also by a series of ten National Endowment for the Humanities grants that over the past thirty years have assisted in bringing to the world a treasure of print and online resources. Announced by NEH and the office of North Carolina’s third district Congressman, Walter B. Jones, the most recent NEH grant brings over a quarter million scholarly support dollars to ECU and increases to $1,595,869.00 the total of NEH funding awarded the project.

In addition to engaging the efforts of Stringer and Johnson, the Variorum project offers multiple other opportunities to Harriot College faculty, staff, and students. Teaching assistant professor, Sean Morris (English) will assist with compiling commentary and textual editing, and the project will employ a full-time editor for technology whose duties include development and maintenance of databases, website development, typesetting the completed volumes, and textual editing. Both graduate and undergraduate students will also be provided opportunities to learn the project and participate in the research.

To date, four volumes of the edition have been published; and The Satires has just gone to press. The major focus of the 2011-2014 NEH funding cycle will be the three-part edition of Donne’s love lyrics, his most widely read poems.

The online component began as a site devoted to tracking the progress of the print edition; but in 2005, the site began to be expanded to include analytical and bibliographical tools, an archive of downloadable transcriptions of source texts, collation and transcription software, various cross reference and finding aids, and a comprehensive concordance to Donne’s poems. A recent innovation is the archive of “Digital Facsimile Editions” including the most important manuscripts and early editions of Donne’s poems. With the click of a mouse, interested readers anywhere can now examine on their own computer screens rare artifacts (located in repositories scattered around the globe) that were formerly available to only a few scholars.

Article 1:


Quality Enhancement Plan: Improving Writing Instruction Across the Curriculum

Contributed by Wendy Sharer

The university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Council, a group of more than 35 faculty, staff, and students from across the university, met for the first time on Friday, September 9, 2011. Led by QEP Director Wendy Sharer, the group spent the 2011-12 academic year developing a focused set of initiatives to improve the continuity and effectiveness of the writing instruction that students receive during their degree programs. The QEP is a required part of the university’s reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and, as such, it provides faculty in the English Department and across the university with a unique and significant opportunity to improve how we support student writers.

Over the course of the academic year, the QEP Council has investigated the structures and processes that ECU currently has in place to teach writing, researched best practices and models of writing instruction, and developed initiatives that ECU can implement as our Quality Enhancement Plan to address any gaps that are revealed between what the university currently does to support developing writers and what research-based best practices suggest is most effective for today’s students.

This work will be accomplished largely through three subcommittees:

  • The Writing Foundations Group, led by Sharer and comprising faculty from various disciplines (including several experienced instructors of English 1100 and 1200: Cheryl Dudasik-Wiggs, Grace Horne, Randall Martoccia, and Stephanie West-Puckett ) and representatives of relevant campus programs and offices (the Office for Faculty Excellence, Joyner Library, the University Writing Center, the Academic Advising Collaborative, and several more).
  • The Writing Intensive Group, led by Will Banks and comprising faculty from various departments and colleges who regularly teach writing intensive courses.
  • The Writing Beyond Group, led by Michelle Eble and comprising faculty from various departments and colleges, as well as representatives from various programs, both on and off campus, that deal with career placement, professional accreditation, graduate programs, and community engagement.

Several events were held during the Fall 2011 semester to help QEP Council members and writing instructors across campus explore best practices in the teaching of writing:

  • On September 26, Dr. Michael Carter, associate dean of the Graduate School and associate director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at NC State, conducted two sessions focused on his research into how the concept of genre can be used to introduce students to academic writing and to guide the teaching of writing across academic disciplines.
  • On Friday, October 7, Dr. Elizabeth Wardle, associate professor and associate director of writing outreach in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, led two sessions about teaching to enhance transfer of writing abilities. In addition to conducting research on teaching for transfer, Dr. Wardle oversaw a major revision of the writing curriculum at UCF just a short time ago.
  • On Tuesday, November 8, Dr. Georgia Rhoades,  professor of English and coordinator of the Composition Program, and Dr. Beth Carroll, associate professor of English and director of the University Writing Center, visited to talk with QEP Council members and writing instructors about recent revisions Appalachian State has made to its writing across the curriculum and composition programs. These changes were based in large part on research into learning transfer.

For more information any aspect of the QEP, contact Wendy Sharer (

Article 2:

English Club: Students Talking, Listening, Learning

Contributed by Samantha Settimio

“Kindle or Nook?”

“I like the weight of a physical book.”

This debate continued amicably for almost an hour. The discussion, however, was also frequently peppered with remarks about free electronic versions of Jane Eyre, book downloading speeds, and a distinct distaste for teen, vampire romance novels. In the time I spent observing the English Club, no one person seemed to dominate the dialogue, nor did anyone seem to feel obligated to redirect thoughts-on-hand toward an idealized or narrowly focused topic.

Rules for club interaction were few. Have an opinion? Voice it. Want to quietly observe? Sit back and relax. Disagreement was present of course, but never mean-spirited. No competitive classroom stress levels – just good thoughts and feelings all around.

“We’re a really laid-back group,” stated English Club President Rebecca Blanchette. “Professors will come in and out, now,” but, “it’s not a strict or confined atmosphere.”

When the club was established, guest faculty members were almost always asked to speak at the bi-monthly meetings. However, it was quickly discovered that students wanted to run meetings by themselves, to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about. Less instruction; more conversation. In fact, the English Club began as a student initiative and remains student-led to this day. Dr. Marianne Montgomery, faculty advisor of the English Club since its inception, explains that, “The students actually wanted more of a student space.” Now, while faculty members often drop by for a friendly chat with students, it is only occasionally that the club leaders request faculty to lead discussions.

Student leaders and other members choose issues for discussion. Some topics are decidedly more academic while others are more social. Fall 2011 topics included a pop-culture forum discussing television shows; course previews for which information about all courses offered, as well as books and meeting times was provided; Halloween readings for which students brought in their favorite scary stories, ate candy, and had a good time; an alumni-directed career seminar for those pursuing a BA in English; and a film night. In addition, the club is planned a trip to Stauton, Virginia to visit the Blackfriars Playhouse to get a taste of Shakespeare.

Anyone from any major is welcome to join the club. Blanchette states, “It’s a place where we can talk about literature and pop culture with like-minded people, while trying to keep it fun and light-hearted.”

“The main goal of the club,” according to Montgomery, “is to create a sense of community among our undergrad students who like English.” Club members and leaders hope the casual communal atmosphere will continue to endure for many years to come, providing a place where students of any major can collaborate and converse about a variety of topics, a space where students can form friendships, and a community of English lovers whose thoughts and opinions are not only welcome, but embraced and enjoyed.



NCLR Award


ECU’s annually published North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals competition and the 2010 Best Journal Design award. Dr. Margaret Bauer points out that the primary contribution to the success of the journal comes from Dana Ezzell Gay, the NCLR Art Director, for her initiative in redesigning NCLR in 2009. Other persons responsible for success of the journal are Stephanie Whitlock Dicken of Greenville, Pamela and Dave Cox of Five to Ten Design in Washington N.C., and art editor and ECU English department faculty member, Diane Roberts.


Department Pig Pickin’


Remarks from Jeffrey Johnson

Good Morning,

What a fine pig pickin’ we all had this weekend. Thank you to Michelle and her husband Shane for their bravery and generosity in hosting the department pig pickin’. And, of course, our thanks also to Will for cooking and chopping the pig to such perfection. Finally, thanks to all who attended and who brought such wonderful sauces, side dishes and desserts. It was another delightful department event. It was great to see all of you and sample your excellent food. It’s such a pleasure to work with colleagues who have culinary skills.

I have to mention that Michelle and Shane not only hosted the event, but because we cannot use department funds for such food events for just ourselves, they paid for the pig, the rental of the cooker, the plates and cups, and the “bouncy castle” all themselves. They did this because they wanted to, but I’m sure that they won’t mind any donations that we might wish to offer them to offset their expenses.



This fall, we started offering the new undergraduate minor in Linguistics, a field focusing on the scientific study of language, of the common properties shared by all languages, and of the functions of language in human life and society. The minor in Linguistics provides a solid background for work in any field in which communication is important, but it is particularly valuable for students interested in such disciplines as anthropology, communication, computer science, education (language, literacy, and culture), speech and hearing sciences, languages, law, philosophy, psychology, or in teaching English as a second language.

This inter-disciplinary minor will help students establish connections between a wide variety of classes, ranging from core courses on theoretical linguistics to classes describing and practicing more applied uses of language in a classroom setting as well as in other social and cultural contexts. Additionally, students will benefit from course offerings from different departments and schools, including English, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Anthropology, Communication, and Communication Sciences and Disorders. Minimum degree requirement is 24 s.h. of credit. For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Aceto at or Dr. Marianne Montgomery at

Departmental personnel update

Shannon Cox:

Shannon Cox, the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English acts as a liaison between the department and the Graduate School. She graduated from East Carolina University in 2010 with a B.S. in Apparel Merchandising and a minor in Business Administration. She addresses the needs of over 150 students and numerous prospective students, including answering frequently asked questions about the English Graduate programs, sending correspondence about departmental and university event, deadlines, scholarship and job opportunities. Shannon also assists with graduate student registration and graduate assistantship assignment. Furthermore, she assists with securing financial assistance for eligible students. Shannon was born and raised in Greenville, NC. She is the youngest of five children and has a fraternal twin brother. When she is not at work she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going to the beach, good music, reading, and shopping.

Rachel Parker:

Originally from Lake City, SC, Rachel Parker received her MA in English from Clemson University in Spring 2011. She currently works as the Administrative Assistant in the First Year Writing Studio where she manages the day-to-day activities of the studio, the graduate student staff, and the computer lab located within the studio. She also serves as the liaison between tutors, students, and faculty/staff. Rachel has previously worked as a writing center tutor, an English rhetoric and composition instructor, as well as various assistant positions in libraries and on college campuses. She spends her free time writing a food blog, biking around town, and teaching herself how to sew.

Brandy Alexander:

She serves as the Administrative Assistant for the English Department. She plans and organizes departmental graduation ceremonies and assists the Assistant Chair of the Department of English. She also serves as a terminal operator during registration. Brandy holds a B.S. in Elementary Education (ECU) and an M.Ed in Higher Education Administration (NC State). In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling, and helping others less fortunate.

Michelle Eble:

She transitioned to Director of Graduate Studies from Director of Undergraduate Studies over the summer of 2011. Her responsibilities are varied and include coordinating recruitment, advising, and retention of MA and PhD students and chairing the graduate committee. She feels  that the transitions has given her much to learn and adjust to, not the least of which is daily interfacing with the graduate school and leaning new policies, procedures, and  technologies.  She is excited to be working with a diverse set of students seeking an advanced degree in English.

Marianne Montgomery:

Another of the more noticeable transitions of faculty and staff moves is that of Marianne Montgomery, who has taken the role of Director of Undergraduate studies. As Director of Undergraduate Studies, she will be taking on the responsibilities left behind by Michelle Eble as she transitions into her new position as Director of Graduate Studies.

Additionally, Jeffrey Johnson  remains as Chair of the English Department, Donna Kain as Associate Chair, and Wendy Sharer as   Director of Composition.

Liza Wieland article

Steve Tuttle reflects on the life and works of writer and faculty member Liza Wieland.

My Life in Books

Andrea Kitta article

Joy Holster of ECU News Services reports on Dr. Andrea Kitta’s research on the fears and controversy surrounding vaccination.

Link to Article

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