English Literature Graduate Faculty Members
Jeanine Elise Aune (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015), Senior Lecturer, is the Co-Director of Advanced Communication and the Coordinator of the Learning Community English Link program. She teaches in the ISUComm Foundation and Advanced Communication Programs, specializing in the development of collaborative English links for Learning Communities. Her communication research examines how the (mis)understanding of science affects scientists’ communication with the general public, and her literary research examines silence in the Icelandic sagas.
Gloria Betcher (U of Minnesota, 1994), Adjunct Associate Professor, has a research specialty in medieval Cornish drama. Her articles on drama and festive culture in pre-modern Britain have appeared in books, journals, and on the multimedia DVD-Rom The English Parish Church Through the Centuries: Daily Life & Spirituality, Art & Architecture, Literature & Music (2010). She has received departmental, university, and national recognition for teaching and offers courses on festive culture, Arthurian legend, and medieval drama. Currently serving on the editorial board of Early Theatre, she is also a councilwoman for the City of Ames and recently co-authored the book Ames (2014).
Brianna Burke (Tufts U, 2011), Assistant Professor, specializes in Environmental Humanities and is at work on a book project called Becoming Beast: The Humanimal in Environmental Justice Fiction, which explores the morphing ideology of what it means to be (considered) Animal in a world of decreasing resources. Her primary field is Environmental Justice and 20th-century American Literature, but she also publishes on American Indian Literature as well as the pedagogy of social justice. Her most recent article on The Hunger Games just appeared in ISLE.
Barbara Ching (Duke U, 1990), Professor, is Chair of the Department of English. Her research explores the ways in which distinctions between high and popular culture have been created, expressed, disputed, and changed. She has taken up these questions in Wrong’s What I Do Best: Hard Country Music and Contemporary Culture (2001) and in many articles. Her work on Susan Sontag grows from Sontag’s interest in mass media’s transformation of European high culture, which made movies and other texts and images important sources of meaning for millions.
KJ Gilchrist (Univ. of Kansas, 1995), Senior lecturer, specializes in British literature, focusing on Modernism (British and American), the First World War, trauma studies, and Postmodernism. He has also focused his studies on the development of the novel, with particular interest in the influences of war as making the modern and postmodern novel an expression of trauma. His publications include articles and reviews on war literature and trauma, Evelyn Waugh, Shakespeare, and A Morning after War: C. S. Lewis and WWI (2005). As well as teaching widely across the English department’s curriculum, serving as a department substitute instructor, and having served as Curriculum Fellow in Advanced Communications, he is currently at work on a study of human spaces within Modernist literature and on a novel.
Sean Grass (Penn State U, 1999), Proessor, specializes in Victorian literature, with particular interests in the book market, the mid-century novel, and Dickens. He is the author of The Self in the Cell: Narrating the Victorian Prisoner (2003) and Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend: A Publishing History (2014) as well as essays on Victorian fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His current book project, “Life upon the Exchange,” examines the rise of autobiography as a commercial genre and the cultural and narrative crises this rise engendered.
Charissa Menefee (Southern IL U—Carbondale, 1992), Associate Professor, specializes in dramatic literature, with a focus on contemporary playwrights. Her research and teaching interests include historical drama and fiction, young adult and children’s literature, women’s literature, poetry, film, and performance studies. She is also a playwright, poet, and director.
Donna Niday (U of Iowa, 1996), Associate Professor, has primary expertise in English Education and coordinates the MA in English for those specializing in Literature and the Teaching of Reading (LTR). She has permanent licensure in secondary education in the state of Iowa, has won numerous awards for her teaching, co-authored Mentoring Beginning Teachers (2nd ed. 2009), and has written essays on teaching literature in secondary schools and teaching young adult fiction. She has also held multiple leadership positions in the National Council of Teachers of English.
Justin Remes (Wayne State U, 2012), Assistant Professor, is a film theorist whose research specialties include experimental cinema, intermedia, and aesthetics. His monograph, Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis (Columbia University Press, 2015), is the first book-length study of movies that do not move, and Remes has also written articles for Cinema Journal, Screen, Film-Philosophy, and the British Journal of Aesthetics. He is currently writing a book entitled Contracted Cinema that investigates erasures of sound and imagery in experimental film.
David Russell (U of Oklahoma, 1981), Professor, received his Ph.D. in English literature, specializing in the Renaissance poet Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queene. He has presented on Gertrude Stein and the speech of young children, and since 1985 has published widely on writing in the disciplines, including literature, online pedagogy, international writing instruction, and cultural-historical activity theories of genre. He currently teaches History of Children’s Literature online and develops web-based tools for helping students write literary criticism.
Linda Shenk (U of Minnesota, 2002), Associate Professor, specializes in early modern drama, particularly Shakespeare, and is the author of Learned Queen: The Image of Elizabeth I in Politics and Poetry (2009) as well as numerous articles on Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabethan court drama, and the influence of international politics in early modern drama. She has a background in theater, which influences her teaching and research. Currently, she is also working on a project related to creating sustainable cities and big data.
Matthew Wynn Sivils (Oklahoma State U, 2006), Professor, has interests in the environmental humanities, pre-1900 American literary culture, and the American Gothic. In addition to numerous articles, he has authored or edited seven books, most recently American Environmental Fiction, 1782–1847 (2014) and a critical edition of Paul L. Errington’s Of Wilderness and Wolves (forthcoming). He has held research fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society and the Huntington Library and is the founding editor of the Ashgate book series “North American Literature and the Environment, 1600–1900.”
Michelle Tremmel (Michigan State U, 2003), Senior Lecturer, is interested in writing motivation and the connections between reading writing; the teaching of all areas of English, including literature; genre theory and multigenre discourse; and multi-modal communication. Her most recent article, “Laying Our Burden Down: Saying Final Goodbyes to Theme Writing,” appears in the most recent issue of the Journal of Teaching Writing.
Jeremy Withers (Ohio State U, 2011), Assistant Professor, teaches and writes on science fiction, literary theory, and British literature. Most of his previous publications have examined the effects of warfare on the natural world as represented in literary texts. His current research focuses on issues of transportation in literature, and he has a co-edited book titled Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. He is also working on a book-length study of bicycles and cycling in the works of H. G. Wells.
Susan Yager (U of Pennsylvania, 1991), Professor, is Faculty Director of the Iowa State University Honors Program. Her research focuses on medieval English literature, especially Chaucer, and on pedagogy. She also works publishes on medievalism and children’s literature, as well as on Honors education. Susan regularly teaches Engl 523, Introduction to Old English Language and Literature, as well as courses on Chaucer and on allegory. She recently co-edited a collection of essays, Interpretation and Performance: Essays for Alan Gaylord.