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Department of English Newsletter College of Arts & Sciences

English Matters. College of Arts and Sciences, Washington State University.

2020-2021 Scholarships & Awards

University-wide Awards

Professor Emeritus Nicholas Kiessling honored with Legacy of Excellence Award at WSU Showcase

Professor Emeritus Nicholas KiesslingProfessor Emeritus Nicholas Kiessling is an internationally recognized scholar of medieval and early modern literature and culture. Since his retirement in 2000, he has shed new light on the lives and libraries of 17th-century antiquarian and biographer Anthony Wood and English writer Robert Burton. Kiessling’s 2002 The Library of Anthony Wood—a catalogue of 6,758 items—won praise as “a monumental and exemplary achievement.” His annotated edition of Wood’s autobiography adds detailed notes and a biography to Wood’s own life accounts. Kiessling’s research opened new perspectives on books printed surreptitiously by Catholics in England from about 1558 to 1800. His essay on the illegal transfer of some 20,000 such books out of England was awarded the UK CILIP’s History Essay Award for 2017.

Since his retirement, Kiessling has held a visiting appointment at Université de Haute Bretagne, Rennes, France, and a Fulbright Senior Scholar appointment in Casablanca, Morocco.

Watch Kiessling’2021 Legacy of Excellence lecture.

MLK Distinguished Service Awards: Community, Equity, and Social Justice

Vanessa Cozza, scholarly associate professor of English, and Sara Quinn from Tri-City Area Gaming were among recipients of WSU’s MLK Distinguished Service Awards in Community, Equity, and Social Justice. The award recognizes WSU and community members who continue Martin Luther King’s work by promoting “human rights and social justice” and advancing “an inclusive climate for excellence in activism, advocating, teaching, research, public service, and academic endeavors.” Cozza and Quinn were recognized for their work in Cozza’s English 402 Professional and Technical Writing course.

Watch the 2021 inaugural Community and Social Justice Awards.

WSU Access Center Awards

Nominations for the inaugural WSU Access Center awards were open to students, faculty, and staff who contributed to making WSU a more welcoming and inclusive space for the disability community during the 2020–2021 academic year. Carol Siegel, Lauren Westerfield, and Rachael Wolney from the Department of English were nominated and recognized at the WSU Access Center Awards ceremony on April 21, 2021.

Learning Communities Excellence Awards

Exceptional First-Year Focus (FYF) instructors created additional opportunities to develop community among and connection with their students in response to the restrictions and remote learning required by COVID-19, said First-Year Programs Director Karen Weathermon. One such instructor in English was graduate student R.J. Murphy, who was recognized for exceptional and outstanding work in teaching English 101 in FYF in both fall and spring semesters, from first contact with students before the start of the semester to the many creative and interactive course activities, frequent one-on-one check-ins, and movie and book club gatherings beyond the usual class time frame. Murphy’s creative and dedicated work with students exemplifies the connection, community spirit, and dedication to student success that are at the heart of the very best practices in First-Year Focus.

Smith Teaching and Learning Grants benefit undergraduate education

Since 2000, Smith Teaching and Learning grants have provided support for dozens of faculty-initiated projects aimed at enhancing education. Among this year’s six winners across the WSU system, two are from the Department of English:

Ruth Gregory, scholarly assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Digital Technology andRuth Gregory Culture (DTC) Program, for the project “Digital Technology and Culture in the Community AmeriCorps Program: Closing the Equity Gap in Internship Experiences and Compensation.” The program will address internship inequity by creating an AmeriCorps unit at WSU focused on providing students from marginalized backgrounds paid internship opportunities.

Patty WildePatty Wilde, assistant professor and director of composition at WSU Tri-Cities, for the project “Culturally Responsive Approaches to Writing Instruction: Using a Multi-disciplinary Community of Practice to Improve Equity and Student Outcomes” with Tri-Cities co-applicants Lori Nelson, scholarly assistant professor of biology; Tracey Hanshew, scholarly assistant professor of history; Robert Franklin, clinical associate professor of history; and Vanessa Cozza, scholarly associate professor of English; with facilitation by Janet Peters, scholarly associate professor of psychology. The project will use culturally responsive teaching knowledge to re-envision approaches to writing instruction, assignment design, and assessment in the context of their courses.

2021 College of Arts and Sciences Awards

Distinguished Faculty Award: Carol Siegel

Public and Community Engagement Award: Desiree Hellegers 

Excellence in Institutional Service Award: Pavithra Narayanan

Early Career Staff Achievement Award: Kimberly Pedersen

2021 English Department Awards

COVID Excellence Awards

In March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic led WSU to close the campuses and move from face-to-face to online learning, three faculty members—Laura Kuhlman, David Martin, and Laura Powers—graciously accepted the responsibility of a fifth course. While the English department awarded Kuhlman, Martin, and Powers the COVID Excellence Award, all teaching faculty focused on building a sense of classroom community and giving students an opportunity to connect with their classmates and professors through several technological platforms. 

Throughout the pandemic, WSU’s teaching faculty have employed the audio/video connection program Zoom to meet with students for classes and office hours. Campus technology experts instructed faculty on the various features of Zoom, which faculty then used for teaching. For example, Kuhlman used the chat box tool to spark discussion using a “Zoom waterfall” technique in which students would all brainstorm or free-write together in class, and then press “enter” at the same time to flood the chat window with their ideas. Although educators had to quickly learn how to shift from analog to digital classes, and students sometimes struggled to connect and participate in Zoom classes, all soon adapted to the new learning environment.

In addition to holding classes and office hours over Zoom, educators employed the online Blackboard learning platform for students to access all class documents and readings, assignments, discussion boards, class announcements, and spaces to submit work. While many educators had used the platform prior to the pandemic, most required additional training for the new features that students utilized for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, as well as all fall 2020, and spring and summer 2021 semesters.

When the pandemic struck, English department faculty quickly realized they had to take the first steps to assure students that the faculty understood their situation and would support both their academic and technological needs as we transitioned to a new learning paradigm. Martin noted the experience of teaching during a national contagion is all about humans working with and supporting the learning of other humans while setting firm boundaries for the class objectives. No educator had a magic wand to wave and make everything okay, but they exerted tremendous effort and communication while remaining flexible in accommodating various personal and technological issues.

Avon J. Murphy Scholarship:

Jessie Padilla

The Avon J. Murphy Scholarship is merit-based, and the selection criteria, in descending order of importance, include: (1) demonstrated promise for future academic achievement; (2) academic merit; (3) demonstrated academic leadership; (4) demonstrated creativity; and (5) demonstrated contributions to campus life and environment.

Alexander Hammond Professional Development and Achievement Award:

Kathryn Manis

Students honored with the Alexander Hammond Professional Development and Achievement Award have shown steady, consistent, and remarkable professional growth and achievement over the course of the completion of their PhD degree.

Creative Writing Scholarships and Awards

Ruth Slonim Scholarship ($1,500): Ally Pang

Jennie Brown Rawlins Scholarship ($1,500): Savannah Brown

Sarah Weems Award in Creative Nonfiction ($700 each):

  • Uriel Bermoy for “My Brother’s Travels”
  • Alexander Jensen for “For When the Vernacular Fails”
  • Honorable Mention ($150 each):
    • Aidan Barger for “Hairloom”
    • Reid Brown for “Water Vessel”

Outstanding Seminar Project Awards

MA Level

  • Mitzi Ceballos, “La Faculdad, Standard American English, and the Countering Ways of Knowing.”
  • Matthew Kollmer, “Defining Literary Naturalism: The Mode as Pattern and Layered Approaches of Data Analysis.”

PhD Level

  • Elizabeth Forsythe, “’Then What’s the Problem?’ Disability Justice through Dystopian Futures.”
  • Nazua Idris, “From Wharton to McClure’s to Appleton to Macmillan: Journey of ‘Summer’ from Manuscript to Print.”

Distinguished Service Awards

Teaching Awards:

  • Colin Criss  
  • Jamie Flathers

Service Awards:  

  • Cameron McGill
  • Lauren Westerfield

Summer Research Fellowships

  • Colin Criss
  • Jeff Jones
  • Buddy Levy