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.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two from the English Department Featured in the Spring 2015 Honors Magazine

Starshield Lortie, an M.A. student, and Dr. Claudia Barnett were both featured in the latest issue of MTSU's Honors Magazine. (You can read both online at the link.)

The stories deal with Lortie's poetry

and Barnett's Honors seminar "Women Who Kill" and playwrighting.

Lavery Invited to Contribute to "Oxford Bibiographies"

Dr. David Lavery has been asked to author the entry on The Sopranos for a forthcoming volume on the HBO television series for a forthcoming volume in the Oxford Bibliographies Series.

Lavery had previously edited three volumes on the mob drama, published by (respectively) Columbia University Press, I. B. Tauris, and the University Press of Kentucky:

 and co-convened an international conference on the show.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Goodbye to Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson (M.A., 2005), who has been teaching full-time in the English Department since 2006, has taken a job in computer information systems for Ingram Barge Company.

She will be missed.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grissom, Hall Secure Full-Time Faculty Positions

Candace Grissom (Ph.D., 2012) and Arlo Hall (M.A., 2015) have both become full-time faculty at Middle Tennessee Community colleges.

Grissom will be teaching at Motlow State and Hall at Volunteer State.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gary Gravely Off to Roane State

Dr. Gary Gravely, who recently defended his dissertation, has been offered a teaching position at Roane State Community College in East Tennessee and his accepted the appointment.

He will be teaching Introduction to the Humanities and the freshman comp sequence at Roane State's Cumberland County campus.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dubek and Williams Collaborate on an Essay for "The Journal of Popular Film and Television"

Drs. Laura Dubek and Jesse Williams, Jr. collaborated on an essay, “Deeds Not Words: The Battle Cry of Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna," recently published in The Journal of Popular Film and Television [43.2 (2015): 83-91].

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"UI seminar transports scholars back to medieval times"

Read an article in the Iowa City Press-Citizen about a NEH Summer seminar on "The Materiality of Medieval Manuscripts: Interpretation Through Production" at the University of Iowa.

As previously reported on this blog, Dr. Rhonda McDaniel and doctoral candidate Nancy Blomgren are seminarians.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gary Gravely Defends

Dr. Gary Gravely has successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation A Multiverse of Narratives: Possible Worlds Theory and Authorship From the Lone Artist to Corporate Authors

Drs. David Lavery, Mischa Renfroe, and Pete McCluskey served as his committee.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Howard Off to Oklahoma

Michael (Mick) Howard, a Ph.D. candidate in English, has accepted a tenure-track position at Langston University, just outside Oklahoma City, OK.

Howard will serve as Director of the Writing Center and assistant professor of English.