Department of English News

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.

Bardill to participate in Building the Medical Information Commons project

Assistant Professor Jessi Bardill will travel to Houston in  March to provide expert support for the Building the Medical Information Commons: Participant Engagement and Policy project.

This project is the result of a $2.2 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute written by Dr. Amy McGuire, director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. The project seeks to develop an ethical and policy framework for building a medical information commons – a networked environment in which diverse sources of health, medical and genomic data on large populations become broadly available for research and clinical use.

“There is a presumption that access to large amounts of data, especially genomic data, will advance research and improve public health. However, the success of these initiatives depends on policies and practices that promote data sharing, are consistent with international standards, address barriers to participation and attend to the ethical, legal and social issues that arise when data on individuals become widely shared resources,” McGuire said. “This project brings together leaders across multiple sectors, many of whom are operating in a competitive environment, to discuss what policies need to be in place to incentivize responsible data sharing while protecting individuals from harm, in order to improve public health.”

The first Building the Medical Information Commons Advisory Committee meeting will be held March 2-3 in the Texas Medical Center. Academic and industry leaders from healthcare systems, clinical labs, technology companies, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations will participate in the meeting. Speaking at the event will be Dr. Adam Kuspa, senior vice president and dean for research at Baylor, and genomics researchers Dr. Richard Gibb, Wofford Cain Chair and professor molecular and human genetics at Baylor, and Dr. Eric Boerwinkle, adjunct professor of medicine.

Through an informal panel-style arrangement, the meeting will encourage participation from all attendees. The discussion will focus on the policy challenges and research opportunities related to:

  • Building noncommercial partners
  • Obtaining industry perspectives
  • Patient and community engagement
  • Legal, policy and ethical considerations

The meeting aims to provide the Advisory Committee and invited guests with a platform to discuss current issues concerning data-sharing policies and practices while simultaneously providing the project team with guidance and feedback.

McGuire is co-principal investigator of the Building the Medical Commons project along with Dr. Robert Cook-Deegan, research professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

ECU Shakespearean Sonnet Competition

The contest is open to all Pitt Co-area high school juniors or seniors, as well as (in a separate category) all ECU undergrads. There is no entry fee. Deadline for submissions is March 15, 2016 at midnight.

Winners will be announced in early April and will be asked to come to Joyner Library to read their winning submissions during the awards ceremony April 21. Attendance at the ceremony is not required in order to win the competition, however.

Sonnets on any topic are welcome as long as they fit the formal guidelines of a Shakespearean sonnet. One sonnet per entrant. The contestant should put his/her name and contact information at the top of the submission. Send submissions only by e-mail to OR Use the subject header “Sonnet Competition Entry” for submissions.

Prize is $100 first place and $50 second place. Submissions will be judged anonymously (double-blind). Judges are faculty members in the ECU English Dept.

The awards ceremony will take place in Joyner Library on Thursday, April 21 at 1pm. It will feature cake, invited readings by the winners and a short (ten-minute) presentation on the art of Shakespeare’s sonnets by Prof. Marianne Montgomery of ECU’s English Department. Play-acting of a Shakespeare scene by ECU’s Storybook Theatre class will follow at 2pm.

The competition is timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 1616) and associated celebrations that are occurring world-wide this year.

All are welcome to come to the ceremony in Joyner.

Seminar-lecture by Visiting Professor Larissa Tracy

Please come hear a GRBK, English and MRST seminar-lecture by visiting professor Larissa Tracy, Associate Professor of Medieval Literature in the Department of English and Modern Languages, Longwood University, VA.

Justice, Kingship, Adultery and Treason in Malory:
Lancelot and Guinevere, Lovers or Traitors?


Thursday, February 18 at 6pm in Joyner 2409

Dr. Tracy is author of Torture and Brutality in Medieval Literature: Negotiations of National Identity (D.S. Brewer, 2012) and editor of Women of the Gilte Legende: A Selection of Middle English Saints’ Lives (D.S. Brewer, 2003; pbk 2012); Heads Will Roll: Decapitation in the Medieval and Early Modern Imagination (Brill, 2012) (co-edited with Jeff Massey); Castration and Culture in the Middle Ages (D.S. Brewer, 2013) (ed.), and Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture (Brill, 2015) (co-edited with Kelly DeVries). Another volume, Flaying in the Pre-Modern World, is forthcoming (Boydell and Brewer) (ed.). She is the General Editor for Eolas: Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies and the series editor for Brill’s Explorations in Medieval Culture. She is founding co-organizer of Meeting in the Middle, the annual undergraduate conference in medieval studies at Longwood University:

Sponsored by the Great Books and Medieval and Renaissance Studies Programs, Department of English and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Thomas Herron
Department of English
East Carolina University
(252) 328-6413

Editor, Explorations in Renaissance Culture (published with Brill per 2015. More at
Writer/Director, Centering Spenser: A Digital Resource for Kilcolman Castle

St. Amant’s collection wins Award of Excellence

Dr. Kirk St.Amant, professor in the Department of English and the International Studies Program, co-edited with Martine Courant Rife, of Lansing Community College, the collection “Legal Issues in Global Contexts: Perspectives on Technical Communication in the International Age,” which recently received an Award of Excellence in the 2015-2016 Summit Competition of the Society for Technical Communication’s Washington, DC- Baltimore Chapter.