Saturday, October 3, 2015

Poem for the Day

This poem by M.A. candidate StarShield Lortie was published in the Spring 2015 issue of Collage.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Will Brown to Appear at Fairmont State University in West Virginia

English M.A. candidate and GTA Will Brown will publish his poem, “Fustian,” in the forthcoming Fall edition of Kestrel, an imprint of Fairmont State University in Fairmont, WV.

He has also been invited to their annual publication celebration to serve as guest reader.  Will has also been asked to sit in on a poetry roundtable discussion hosted by the University, participate in a podcast recording of his work, and provide manuscript consultations for students and faculty.

The Kestrel 34 Celebration takes place October 9-10 in Fairmont, the birthplace of John Knowles and Mary Lou Retton. 

Will’s poems, including the one below, have been appearing online and in print since April 2015.

Out there a dark     ocean
holds its breath     for us.
This morning     I found
you walking     its strand of
discontent     looking out
for waves     to bring in a
whale.  Rather     it throws up more
restraint than     bullion.
More shells with     sea
whistling in them     than
answers as obvious     as bodies.
We sat with it. We     let it
wet our naked     feet. Still
it waits out     our hoping
we don’t     have to dive in.
That we     don’t now have
distances     to make beneath it.
*previously published in Pallettes & Quills Magazine, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wise Has Article Accepted for "Tolkien Studies"

"The Book of the Lost Narrator: Re-reading the Silmarillion as a Unified Text," an essay by Dennis Wise, a Ph.D. candidate in English, has been accepted for publication in Tolkien Studies.

The author reports that the essay "argues that the 1977 Silmarillion should enjoy a special prestige among Tolkien's posthumous writings (despite the editorial interventions of Christopher Tolkien), and that if we read the text as a unified whole, not as a compilation of various fragments out of The History of Middle-earth, we actually better serve Tolkien's moral intentions." 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A New Composite of the English Department Faculty's Books

A New Composite of the English Department's Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty and Staff

Click to Enlarge

Dr. Barnett's New Play

Dr. Claudia Barnett's new book has a cover.  Pre-order on Amazon.

MTSU’s 12th Biennial International Holocaust Studies Conference

MTSU’s 12th Biennial International Holocaust Studies Conference (featuring Education and Genocide Studies sessions) will be October 20-23, 2015. Dr. Elyce Rae Helford (Professor of English) is the Conference Program Chair and Associate Conference Chair, is excited to announce that events will include specific presentations particularly relevant to English faculty, students, and alumni. All events will be held in the James Union Building, Tennessee Room, and the conference is free to all members of the MTSU community.

One of three featured speakers is Jacqueline Osherow, poet and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Utah. She will read her poetry on Friday, October 23 from 3-4pm in a presentation entitled “Orders of Infinity: Poems of the Holocaust.” After her presentation and a formal conference closing, there will be a reception and book signing. The reading is sponsored in part by the English Department’s Virginia Peck Trust Fund.

In addition, four scheduled panels feature academic papers directly relevant to English students:

Wednesday, October 21 - 9:10-10:05am (Genocide Studies)
Narratives of Genocide: Papers on Western Film and the Bible’s Book of Joshua

Thursday, October 22 - 11:20am-12:05pm (Holocaust Studies)
Popular Culture as Protest: Papers on Sports Celebrities as Jewish Rescuers and Political and Protest Humor of the Holocaust Era

Thursday, October 22 - 3:55-5:20pm (Holocaust Studies)
Holocaust Literary Studies: Papers on Holocaust Fiction, Survivor Narratives, and Second-Generation Writing

Friday, October 23 - 1:50-2:45pm (Holocaust Studies)
Memorializations of the Holocaust: Survivor Writing and Other Holocaust Literature (including a presentation by a Holocaust survivor/author)

In addition to such panels, many others are of relevance to those interested in narrative and history, rhetorical studies, gender studies, and the like.

Featured speakers include Gerhard L. Weinberg (UNC-Chapel Hill History Professor Emeritus) “The Holocaust After 70 Years” and Richard Hovannisian (UCLA Professor Emeritus) on “The Armenian Genocide on its Centennial.”
Complete Conference information, including a full schedule for all four days is available at No need to register unless you plan to attend the complete conference. Questions? Email

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lavery Invited to Give Keynote at UNA

Dr. David Lavery has been asked to keynote an upcoming conference on "Apocalypse: Exploring Dystopianism in Texts" at the University of North Alabama.

His talk will be entitled "The Plan is Death: Imagining the End with James Tiptree, Jr."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Four English Alums Becomes Parents

Arlo Hall (M.A., 2015), Dawn Hall (Ph.D., 2014) and her husband Jason Hefflin, Laura Beth Jackson Payne (MA, 2011) and her husband Nathan, and Dr. Emily Carr Shearer Stewart (Ph.D., 2014) and her husband Shane all became parents this past summer. 

Arlo Hall and Sydha
Lucian Wade Hall-Heflin and Hall

Payne and daughter Lena Grace

Stewart and Katherine Carroll

Monday, August 31, 2015

The English Department at Vol State Community College

Among the MTSU English people in the above picture (click to enlarge): Arlo Hall (4th from left), Cori Mathis (6th from left), Jamie Sanchez (7th from left), Renee’ (Byrnes) Eades, 8th from left, Laura Black (chair, 10th from left), Shellie Michael (13th from left), Jessica Cocita (15th from left), Julia Cawthon (5th from right), Nikki Ledbetter (6th from right), Nan Blomgren (7th from right), Julia Ormsby (8th from right).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

PH 310A

A Graduate Conference Room has been created in PH 310A. The conference room will be used for Graduate Committee meetings, orals, and defenses. Debbie will maintain the calendar. If the room is open graduate students may use it as a quiet room to study.

"Last Tango in Murfreesboro": The Conference on John Milton to Meet One Last Time

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am happy to announce that on October 15-17, 2015, the MTSU English Department will once again sponsor the Conference on John Milton. However, It is with a touch of sadness that I also announce that this will be our last conference—Milton studies’ Last Tango in Murfreesboro.

 This is our 24th anniversary,  the thirteenth biennial Milton conference held in Murfreesboro since 1991. Over the years the conference has attracted most of the leading American and Canadian scholars in the field of Milton studies.  We have also attracted scholars from further abroad: past participants have come from as far as Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Norway. The conference has included participants at all ranks, from senior faculty with established reputations to graduate students beginning their academic careers. A particular source of satisfaction has been watching scholars who first attended as graduate students later becoming full professors and referring their own students to the conference. The conference has also resulted in a series of collected essays published by Susquehanna UP and Duquesne UP. Two of these collections, Arenas of Conflict: Milton and the Unfettered Mind (1997) and Milton’s Legacy  (2005) have won the prestigious Irene Samuel Prize awarded by the Milton Society of America for multi-author publications on Milton, on his era, or on the context and methodologies that illuminate our understanding of his life and works. A complete list of the collections can be found at the conference website.

This year's plenary speakers  are Professor Sharon Achinstein of Johns Hopkins University and Professor David Loewenstein, Pennsylvania State University. As in past years we will waive the conference registration fee for all MTSU English departmental faculty and graduate students who wish to attend any of the paper sessions and the opening reception Thursday, Oct. 15. The plenary sessions Friday morning and Saturday afternoon are especially recommended. You are all heartily welcome to attend. All conference events will take place at the Doubletree Hotel on Old Fort Parkway. More information, including the complete schedule of events, will be posted shortly at the conference website:

The co-directors of the conference are MTSU Professor Emeritus Charles W. Durham, Kristin A. Pruitt, Professor Emerita of Christian Brothers University, and yours truly. Charley and Kris have both served as past presidents of the Milton Society of America. They co-edited the first eight collections of essays from the conference, include the two Samuel Award winners. Kris is also the author of Gender and the Power of Relationship: “United as one individual soul” in Paradise Lost (Duquesne UP, 2003).  It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with Kris and Charley over the past quarter century.

And so I wish you a satisfying and productive new academic year.


Kevin J. Donovan

Professor of English

P.O. Box 70

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Monday, August 24, 2015

Brown, Cain to Speak in the Fall 2015 Honors Lecture Series

Matt Brown and Dr. Jimmie Cain will both be part of the Fall 2015 Honors Lecture Series on "Veterans."

Brown's talk will be on MTSU's "Writers Corp." Cain will speak on "The Combat Veteran as Monstrous Other."

Barnett's "Witches Vanish" Debuts

Venus Theatre in Laurel, Maryland, will produce Claudia Barnett's play Witches Vanish, August 20-September 20, as part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival—an initiative among 50+ Washington, DC-area theaters to produce world premiere plays by women in the fall of 2015.  
Witches Vanish was written during a DownStage Left playwright residency at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago and was developed at the MultiStages New Works Finalist Festival (New York), the Women's Work Festival (St. John's, Newfoundland), the Great Plains Theatre Conference (Omaha), and the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage New Play Festival (Washington, DC).

Synopsis: In a series of stylized, highly visual vignettes employing puppetry, poetry, and surrealism, the weïrd sisters from Macbeth explore the stories of women who disappear, whether by choice or force. Inspired by history, astronomy, and Shakespeare, Witches Vanish examines the nature of change and the value of human life.

For more info:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dr. Carroll Now at Tennessee State, Ledbetter at Vol State

Dr. Shiloh Carroll (Ph.D., 2014) is now a full-time employee at TSU, working in its writing center.

Emily Ledbetter (M.A., 2015) has joined the English Department at Volunteer State Community College.

Three from the English Department Win 2015 MTSU Foundation Awards

Three members of the English Department won awards from the MTSU Foundation at the beginning of the year faculty meeting on August 21.

Dr. Aleka Blackwell won the Outstanding Public Service Award. Dr. Phil Phillips won the Distinguished Research Award, and Adam McInturff was named an MTSU Oustanding Teacher.

The pages from the program for each may be read below. (Click on the images to see a larger version.)