Department of English News

Congrats to SAMLA presenters

The Department of English congratulates ECU faculty John Hoppenthaler, Amber Flora Thomas, Donna Kain, Margaret Bauer, Liza Wieland, and Tracy Ann Morse on their upcoming presentations at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference to be held in Durham, North Carolina, November 13–15. Also presenting at SAMLA is ECU alumnus Michael Brantley, a graduate of the MA program. Best of luck on your presentations, all!

ECU English Club Meeting This Tuesday!

Hello fellow English clubbers!

The ECU English Club will be holding its next meeting on Tuesday, November 3rd at 5:30 pm in the Bate English Lounge (2136). For this meeting, we will be welcoming a guest speaker from the English department, Professor John Hoppenthaler. Prof. Hoppenthaler is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing here at ECU. He teaches courses on literature, creative writing, and poetry. Please join us for an opportunity to meet and chat with Prof. Hoppenthaler. As always, we will be providing scrumptious snacks!

See you there!

With kind and warm regards,

Paige Vaughan

English Club PresidentE

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Matthew Cox

Matt Cox

Dr. Matt Cox is an assisstant professor of technical and professional communication in the Department of English at East Carolina University. He holds a BA from Indiana University, an MA from Utah State University, and a PhD from Michigan State University.



. . .

Where are you from?

A small town called New Haven, Indiana. It’s just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana (the second biggest city in Indiana) in Northeast Indiana (about midway between Chicago and Detroit). Lots of flat farmland and Amish communities around. The local Meijer (like a super Wal-Mart) in my town even has its own covered hitching post for Amish shoppers!

What brought you to ECU?

While I was on the job market, I was very sensitive to whether my research in queer/LGBT rhetorics and professional identity was received well and would be supported. Especially in TPC, often folks will see that kind of work as “too cultural” or somehow “not related to tech comm” (though I disagree vigorously, obviously). The English Department at ECU supported me from the start and I have always felt I could do the research here that I am good at and know the most about. I was also drawn to the PhD and Masters programs that are growing and beginning to receive notoriety in our field. I am very proud to be a part of all of this!

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

My fields are technical and professional communication/writing and queer/LGBT rhetorics. I see these both as existing firmly in rhetoric and writing studies (though some see TPC as more adjacent than within rhetoric and writing studies). Rhetoric and writing studies are, in turn, a part of the larger family of English studies.

What degrees do you hold and where did you earn them?

I received my BA in English (specializing in British literature – specifically the Victorian and Romantic periods) from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1996. I then received an MS in English in Technical and professional communication from Utah State University in 2006. I earned my PhD in rhetoric and writing in 2012 from Michigan State University where I concentrated in cultural rhetorics.

What life experience prepared you for your role at ECU?

I worked from 1996 through 2007 full time as a production editor in the book publishing industry and as a technical editor and writer in the computer software industry. These were absolutely essential experiences for me in terms of learning how to be an effective and thorough collaborator and communicator.

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

Experiences come with age I suppose, and at this point in my life, I’m very proud as a first generation college student to have gone all the way through to my PhD. I’m from a blue collar background (the son of a police officer and a baker and tailor) and no one in my family or extended family has ever had a PhD. It’s been an exciting journey. But, now that I’m here, I’m really the most proud of being able to help the students I work with achieve those same goals. It’s so cool to be able to do that.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love networking. Helping make connections (to both people and ideas) for colleagues and students (and myself). I’m a natural extrovert and networker. To me the world is a huge playground and I think it’s important for us to impart on our students that same curiosity and excitement about the world and their education about that world.

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

I have enjoyed each of them so far in their own way because they allow me to draw on the experiences I’ve had and to pass those on to students. But I also learn so much from my students. They are so diverse and bring with them their own stories and aspirations. I have particularly enjoyed the graduate Cultural Rhetorics course I taught in the spring of 2015. Thanks to technology, we were able to have so many wonderful scholars (both established and up-and-coming) in our field stop by via Skype to talk with our class. Being with our energetic and smart grad students is so energizing for me.

Congrats to the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Faculty!

Congratulations to Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences (THCAS) Faculty who recently were awarded travel grants for Fall 2015. A special congratulations goes to ECU English Faculty Dr. Helena Federer and Dr. John Hoppenthaler!
The new THCAS Faculty Travel Grant Program helps full-time faculty to attend regional, national, or international professional conferences, workshops and events for the purpose of presenting or engaging in original research or creative activity. Faculty Travel Grants are funded directly from the Dean’s office, and are allocated to support professional development activities specifically targeting research and creative discovery.

Congrats to David Poston!

The Department of English congratulates alumnus David Poston on the publication of his poetry collection, Slow of Study. It was published this month by Main Street Rag Publishing in Charlotte.

Poston taught for thirty years in various public schools, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and at Charlotte’s Young Writers’ Workshop, and he continues to teach occasional creative writing workshops. His previous poetry collections are My Father Reading Greek and Postmodern Bourgeois Poetaster Blues, winner of the Randall Jarrell/Harperprints Chapbook Competition. He lives in Gastonia, North Carolina.

For more information on alumni authors, visit the Alumni Bookshelf page at:

Banks, West-Puckett speak on NWPRadio

Last night, Dr. Will Banks, Director of the University Writing Program and the Tar River Writing Project, and Steph West-Puckett, doctoral student in Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication at ECU and Associate Director of the Tar River Writing Project, were invited guests on NWPRadio, a weekly radio show which showcases various work going on across the National Writing Project network. They were invited on to discuss “Pop-Up and Make,” a radical new educational initiative at J. H. Rose high school for which they received a $20,000 grant from the John Legend Show Me Campaign and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. (

“Pop-Up and Make” represents an extensive partnership with Rose high school. Teachers and students from J. H. Rose worked with TRWP leadership in summer 2014 to design pop-up maker spaces for the school. These spaces focus on using hands-on, engaged learning activities to help young people make knowledge and build literacy skills. This project was one of only 14 selected in the country.

To hear the recorded radio show (1 hour):

Kitta publishes Diagnosing Folklore

Congratulations to Dr. Andrea Kitta on the publication of her new co-authored book, Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Disability Health and Trauma. The University Press of Mississippi sponsored a panel about this book at the American Folklore Society’s annual meeting.

With contributions by Sheila Bock, London Brickley, Olivia Caldeira, Diane E. Goldstein, Darcy Holtgrave, Kate Parker Horigan, Michael Owen Jones, Elaine J. Lawless, Amy Shuman, Annie Tucker, and Kristiana Willsey, Diagnosing Folklore provides an inclusive forum for an expansive conversation on the sensitive, raw, and powerful processes that shape and imbue meaning in the lives of individuals and communities beleaguered by medical stigmatization, conflicting public perceptions, and contextual constraints. This volume aims to showcase current ideas and debates, as well as promote the larger study of disability, health, and trauma within folkloristics, helping bridge the gaps between the folklore discipline and disability studies.

This book consists of three sections, each dedicated to key issues in disability, health, and trauma. It explores the confluence of disability, ethnography, and the stigmatized vernacular through communicative competence, esoteric and exoteric groups in the Special Olympics, and the role of family in stigmatized communities. Then, it considers knowledge, belief, and treatment in regional and ethnic communities with case studies from the Latino/a community in Los Angeles, Javanese Indonesia, and Middle America. Lastly, the volume looks to the performance of mental illness, stigma, and trauma through contemporary legends about mental illness, vlogs on bipolar disorder, medical fetishism, and veteran’s stories.

Go here to learn more about the book:

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Screening of Smoke Signals

The Interfaith Pirates will be hosting a screening of SMOKE SIGNALS, followed by a panel discussion with Lee Johnson (Religious Studies), Amanda Ann Klein (Film Studies) and Mike Tierno (media production) about the depiction of faith (and non-faith) in the media. The event is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Rivers 269.

Watch the trailer here:

Snacks will be provided!


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Parille lauded by famed cartoonist

In a recent interview, cartoon artist/illustrator/screenwriter Daniel Clowes was asked about ECU English Associate Professor Ken Parille’s research. Dr. Parille is the editor of the Daniel Clowes reader, and here is what Clowes had to say:

“God, talk about what a great privilege, to have someone like that who pays such close attention that he points out things that I never noticed about my own work.”

Check out the screenshot below or read the full interview.

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Dr. Parille has published essays on Louisa May Alcott and boyhood, the mother-son relationship in antebellum America, graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, cartoonist Abner Dean, TV bandleader Lawrence Welk, and other subjects. His writing has appeared in The Best American Comics Criticism, Children’s Literature, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, Papers on Language and Literature, The Journal of Popular Culture, The Boston Review, Comic Art, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, and The Believer. His monograph Boys at Home: Discipline, Masculinity, and ‘The Boy-Problem’ in Nineteenth-Century American Literature was published in 2009, and Daniel Clowes: Conversations, which he co-edited with Isaac Cates, was released in 2010 by the University Press of Mississippi. Dr. Parille also writes a monthly column for The Comics Journal.