Rabb building
Changes to Brandeis English PhD Program Highlighted in ACLS

April 11, 2024

"How might refocusing graduate work on student needs and skills help to create a more equitable and democratic doctoral program?"

Read about changes to the Brandeis English PhD program in an article published by the American Council of Learned Societies.

Mandel Grant Winners from English

April 1, 2024

Several English department members received Mandel Grants for 2024-25:

Professor Caren Irr won a Faculty Award for her project, "Mass Central: A Walking Meditation."

Professor Robin Miller received a Faculty Award for "Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and the Small of this World."

Graduate Student Research Awards went to Anik Chartrand for her project, "Animating Belonging: The Role of Animate Objects in Native American and First Nations Novels" and to Sungkyung Cho for "Poetry and Self-Love: Thomas Love Peacock and the Poet's Amour-Propre."

And Graduate Student Dissertation Innovation Awards went to Sreemoyee Bhattacharya for "Elegiac Fo"rms in Play: Documenting Grief from the Perspective of a Child"; Savita Maharaj for "Reclaiming Women's Voices: Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean Women's Resistance in 18th and 19th Century Post-Colonial Literature"; and Sahid Mondal for "Photographing Secularism: A Visual Ethnography of the India-Bangladeshi Border."

Read more about Mandel grants

Bridget Chalk
PhD Alum Appointed Dean

March 19, 2024

Bridget Chalk, PhD '09, has been appointed associate dean of the Kakos School of Arts and Sciences at Manhattan College. Read more.

Paul Argenti with his arms crossed
A Roundabout Journey: Paul Argenti's Return to the English PhD Program

March 18, 2024

Paul Argenti first entered the Brandeis English Department as a graduate student in 1975. While he had begun his undergraduate studies at Columbia University as a pre-medical student, Argenti said that, after taking a nineteenth-century literature course with former Brandeis professor Sacvan Bercovitch, “I wanted to be who he was and teach English.” Bercovitch recommended that Argenti apply to Brandeis for graduate school, and he began the English PhD program there. After a couple of years, though, his professional career went in a completely different direction, and he ended up as Professor of Corporate Communication at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where he has been for the last forty-three years. It’s never too late to follow your first love, however, and as of 2021, Argenti, while continuing to teach at Dartmouth, is back at Brandeis completing the English degree.

Continue reading this story by Abigail Arnold, PhD '20, Assistant Director, Operations & Academic Administration, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

book cover
Ramie Targoff's Shakespeare's Sisters Reviewed by New York Times

February 27, 2024

"In Shakespeare’s Sisters, the Renaissance scholar Ramie Targoff presents an astounding group of Elizabethan women of letters." -New York Times

Read the review and purchase the book!

A Communal Experience: Sarah Perkins Creates Dissertation Film With New Collaborators and Audiences - by Abigail Arnold

February 16, 2024

cows exiting through a fence onto a roadPhoto: An image from Sarah Perkins's dissertation footage. Credit: Sarah Perkins.

Sixth-year English PhD student Sarah Perkins is working to present her dissertation research in new ways, with new audiences and new collaborators. Her project? Creating a film based on the biblical story of Job alongside a community in rural Idaho. This dissertation project was made possible by the Brandeis English department’s 2021 decision to change the structure and requirements of their PhD program, including allowing dissertations beyond the traditional book-length manuscript that the discipline usually demands. Perkins took the opportunity to incorporate her own interest and experience in film into her work. Here’s how she’s creating her non-traditional dissertation.

Read the story by Abigail Arnold, PhD '20, Assistant Director, Operations & Academic Administration, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

English PhD Students Think Outside the Dissertation Box

February 7, 2024

screenshot from Nai Kim's online dissertation - the words Powerful Vignettes in Vignettes overlaid over photos of streets and people walking

"In the wake of 2020, responding to changes in the world and in academic job markets, Brandeis’s English faculty decided to change the structure and requirements of their PhD program. Among these changes? Allowing dissertations beyond the traditional book-length manuscript that the discipline usually demands. With the new curriculum coming into effect in 2021, the fruits of this change are now appearing in dissertations that take a wide range of forms..." Read more from Abigail Arnold, PhD '20, Assistant Director, Operations & Academic Administration, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Christopher Castellani Receives National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship

January 25, 2024

Department Writer in Residence Christopher Castellani has received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts!

Ever humble, Chris said, "I’m honestly not sure what I did right this time, but I accept the sign with immense gratitude and joy and surprise along with a recognition of the luck involved."

Luck? We think not.

He is the author of five books, most recently the novel Leading Men (Viking, 2019), for which he received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships program offers grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement.

logo with green and blue circles around the words, "Climate Change Theater Action 2023"

January 23, 2024

In fall semester 2023, participants in ENG 113b, Performing Climate Justice, created radio play adaptations of short dramatic scripts commissioned by Climate Change Theatre Action, an international festival held every other year, curated by Chantal Bilodeau (Canada/US) in collaboration with the Arts and Climate Initiative and The Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

For each CCTA cycle, Bilodeau commissions five-minute plays from 50 playwrights around the world and makes those plays available to any group seeking to produce them at events drawing attention to the climate emergency.

Working in teams, students in Performing Climate Justice adapted six scripts as radio plays, accompanied by 10-minute podcasts exploring the issues relevant to the plays and proposing climate justice actions that students can take on the Brandeis campus.

These plays and podcasts will be aired on our student-run radio station, WBRS 100.1FM, early in the spring 2024 semester. You can also listen to them at any time on our website, Climate Change Theatre Action at Brandeis University: The Radio Plays and Podcasts.

Our hope is that the creativity, critical thinking, and advocacy of the climate justice performers you'll meet here will inspire you to take action in response to the climate emergency, on the Brandeis campus and beyond.

Visiting artists and change agents funded by The School of Arts and Sciences, Brandeis University; the minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation, Brandeis University; the Department of English, Brandeis University; the Environmental Studies Program, Brandeis University; and the department of Theater Arts, Brandeis University.

Novels of Ocean-Crossing: A Homage to Vibrant Lives Across the Oceans

January 17, 2024

storefront in background with a graphic of a hand reaching up in front

"This is a dissertation?" asks Nayoung ("Nai") Kim's (PhD '23) "Prismatic Reader," a website, "a space to reach out and share unfinished experiences and murmurs" -- a dissertation.

Experience it

Ramie Targoff
Ramie Targoff Receives Grant from NOMIS Foundation

January 11, 2024

Professor Ramie Targoff has received a multi-year grant from the NOMIS Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland for her project, "Petrarch in Global Translation."

"Petrarch in Global Translation” is a collaborative humanities project across languages and national borders to investigate the foundational conception of Western love as codified by Francesco Petrarch’s Canzoniere, arguably the most influential book of love poetry ever written. The project involves a team of Italian scholars whom I have assembled from across the world (eight European countries, as well as Argentina, Iran, China and Japan) all of whom are re-translating, and through translating, re-thinking Petrarch’s impact on how we think about and represent love. Petrarch, a fourteenth-century Italian writer often referred to as the “Father of Humanism", wrote the first major collection of love sonnets, the Canzoniere, which spread quickly across Europe even before the advent of the printing press. By the early sixteenth century, scores of imitators took up his style and central themes—the idealization of the female beloved, the codification of a certain set of physical and spiritual qualities, the unrequited nature of love—creating a virtual monopoly on how women were represented and how erotic relations were imagined. Major works of art during the Renaissance such as Botticelli’s "Birth of Venus,” Cervantes Don Quixote, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are indebted to Petrarchan norms and ideas, but the influence of “Petrarchism” was by no means limited to the Renaissance. On the contrary, it has persisted over the centuries, influencing how cultures far beyond Europe think about love (the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s 1959 Cien Sonetos de Amor is explicitly in conversation with Petrarch, as are many other love poets writing in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries). By studying this foundational text from the Renaissance and its translations across space and time, the project ultimately aims to shed new light on our understanding of love today.

Professor Targoff will serve as the English translator, as well as the Principal Investigator for the project. And second-year English PhD student Tali Cohen, who serves as project assistant, is working on a website that will include translations of the poems in twelve different languages!

Ayla Cordell
Geeking Out With Ayla Cordell

December 15, 2023

Ayla Cordell, second-year MA student in English and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, was interviewed by GSAS for their new "Geeking Out With" feature. Read about her interests in digital media production, aerial circus classes, and more! 

Kurt Cavender

Photo Credit: Kutztown University

Kurt Cavender, PhD'18, Managing Director of Humanities

Brandeis English alum Kurt Cavender has been hired as managing director of the Boston University Center for the Humanities. His responsibilities will include managing daily operations of the center, organizing and producing the center's humanities programming, building stronger collaborative relationships with other Boston-area humanities centers, recruiting BU and area faculty to prepare collaborative grant proposals in our three focus areas (digital humanities, global humanities, and humanities leadership training), and co-leading the center's dissertation fellowship seminar. Prior to this position, Cavender was assistant professor of American literature at Kutztown University, and, more recently, proposal and grants administrator for BU's physics department.

PhD Students Join With Middlesex Community College Instructors for Transformative Reading-Writing Pedagogy Institute

November 28, 2023

students and faculty standing on rooftop garden

From June 26 to June 30, GSAS hosted Brandeis’s inaugural summer Teaching Institute in Reading-Writing Pedagogy, designed to give doctoral students hands-on, intensive training in pedagogy for reading- and writing-heavy courses. While particularly aimed at students who are interested in teaching positions at community colleges and access-oriented institutions, it also prepared students for teaching at other types of colleges and universities.

Eight GSAS PhD students - including English students Jessi Brewer, Anik Chartrand, Paige Eggebrecht, and Miranda Peery - gathered with eight Middlesex Community College faculty members for the institute, which was initiated by the MLA and supported by the Mellon Foundation, to strengthen reading and writing instruction at access-oriented institutions.

Jessi Brewer said, “Perhaps the most valuable thing I gained from this week is a group of supportive, like-minded teachers committed to improving their pedagogy. We plan to continue the conversation and support outside of this week-long experience.”

Paige Eggebrecht, PhD '22 (ENG), Faculty Advisor to the University Writing Center, co-planned and facilitated all programming for the five-day institute. She said, “The conversations were rich because you had people with tons of experience teaching writing and people with almost no teaching experience. I think everyone got something out of it, and there was a lot of exchange of strategies. Everyone was learning and able to participate in these up-to-date conversations.”

Read more, and also read an Inside Higher Ed article on the institute.

Howie Tam
First-Generation College Celebration: Professor Howie Tam

November 8, 2023

Did you know that many Brandeis professors were first-generation college students? 

November 8, 2023 was the seventh annual 
First-Generation College Celebration. Started by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success, this celebration highlights the accomplishments and experiences of first-generation college students. It is observed by institutions throughout the United States. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences talked with faculty and graduate students who were first generation students as undergraduates.

Howie Tam was the first in his family to earn an undergraduate degree. "One thing about college that was surprising to me was its diversity. I grew up in a rather close-knit Vietnamese American community, and going to university was the first time I got to interact with people from other parts of the country and the world, people of different backgrounds, faiths, political inclinations, etc. I remember feeling exhilarated, but I also had to learn how to socialize and navigate in such a diverse community. That wasn't always easy. Universities usually emphasize diversity, but it's a much more difficult and important task to create a meaningful community out of that diversity." 

Read the full GSAS interview and more about GSAS' participation in the Celebration

King Lear in Rwanda

November 3, 2023

Ramie Targoff's Rwandan students

This is a photo of Professor Ramie Targoff’s first-year medical students (all 18 years old—they go right from high school to medical school) at the University of Global Health Equity in northern Rwanda, where she's teaching a very intensive, five day course on King Lear. Read more about the program, which is run through the University of Global Health Equity, a medical school run by Partners in Health.

Sahid Mondal
Sahid Mondal Wins Mother Board Writing Prize

November 2, 2023

Second-year PhD student Sahid Mondal has won a 2023 Mother Board Writing Prize from the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality. His prize-winning paper is titled, "The Memory of the ‘Enemy’: Conjuring a Postsecular Insāniyat in Meherjaan."

From the GCWS newsletter:

"Sahid Mondal (he/him) is a second-year English doctoral student at Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Calcutta University in 2018 and his M.A. from Jadavpur University in 2020, both in English. He studies the politics of religious pluralism and secularity among minorities in South Asia. He specifically looks into the issues of epistemic injustice, religion, caste, and gender violence through 20th and 21st-century literary and cinematic productions. He also has former experience in designing Learning Management Software and hopes to carry forward his interest in technology to study techno-colonialism in the near future. As an observer of the quotidian religious practices in the lives of Indian Muslim minorities, he finds that his penchant for photography feeds into his academic research. For all his unexpected impulses to freeze time when he is and about his day, Sahid carries a camera in his backpack so the moment doesn’t pass him by."

Miranda Peery
Geeking Out With Miranda Peery

September 27, 2023

"Geeking Out With Miranda Peery" - Fifth-year PhD candidate Miranda Peery was interviewed by GSAS for their new "Geeking Out With" feature. Read all about her passion for teaching!

Jennifer Travis in front of a bookshelf

Photo Credit: Dr. Jennifer Travis / The Torch

Jennifer Travis, PhD '96, On Her Passion for Teaching

September 19, 2023

"While there are many ways to maintain a close connection with students over the computer, Travis utilizes the tactic of 'tap[ing] video announcements that I send out a few times a week so my students know I am thinking about them. I like being like "I’m here, you can see me and talk to me.”'" -Dr. Jennifer Travis, MA ’94, English and WGS, and PhD ’96, English, was featured in an article about her career as an English professor and Head of the St. John’s University English Department. She talks about maintaining connections with students even in online courses, accommodating student struggles, and her overall passion for teaching.

Read the article.

Savita Maharaj
Savita Maharaj Interns With Boston Public Schools

Doctoral student Savita Maharaj was featured in a GSAS story on summer internships. Savita had an internship in curriculum development with the Boston Public Schools, working with Angela Hedley-Mitchell, the Program Director for History and Social Studies. Her internship was funded by the Connected PhD grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has provided Brandeis PhD students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences with opportunities to explore non-academic careers for the past four years. Read more about her summer experience.

Jackson Holbert standing in front of a rose bush
Jackson Holbert '17 Named One of the Bold 9

July 6, 2023

Jackson Holbert '17, a creative writing major, was named one of the Bold 9 in 2023, a group of young alumni making change in their fields.

Holbert said, "For me, writing has always been a very physical act. I feel something physically in my body when I feel like I am ready to write a poem and then I know that poem is done when that feeling has dissipated. Early on when I was at Brandeis, I felt poems a lot in my shoulders for some reason. And then I would write and write and write and eventually that tension would sort of dissipate and that would be when I knew that I had done what I could with the poem."

Holbert recently released his first book of poetry, Winter Stranger, a collection that largely examines the opioid crisis in eastern Washington, his original home.

Read more

PhD Alums in Interesting Careers

June 21, 2023

Jacob and Hanh

Jacob Burg, PhD'20, and Hanh Bui, PhD'21, have followed the career paths of their dreams upon earning their English doctorates. Both were featured in Graduate School of Arts and Sciences interviews.

Burg works at Boston University as a lecturer and writing center coordinator. His experience in the Brandeis English department prepared him for the work. "Since I'm teaching at a university, I use the skills I learned while at Brandeis every day. Although I'm teaching writing rather than literature classes, there's still plenty of overlap. In particular, the ability to analyze a text and situate it within larger cultural and historical movements remains the hallmark of my work as a scholar and as a teacher."

Bui is a teaching and research fellow at Shakespeare's Globe in London. "At the Globe I help to organize and host "Anti-Racist Shakespeare," a series of free webinars that unpack issues like race and social justice in Shakespeare's plays. Our audience is made up of secondary school teachers, students, theater artists, and general lovers of Shakespeare, not just researchers. It's important to know how to connect to people with different life experiences and knowledge - how to make your subject of expertise accessible to a range of folks inside and outside the academy."

Read more about Burg's and Bui's career paths.

book cover - mountain and sea
John Plotz, "Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea"

June 14, 2023

"What makes readers fall in love? You might want to start your answer by explaining Ursula Le Guin. She owned John Plotz at age eight, on the overlit and understaffed second floor of the DC library..."

Read more about Professor Plotz's Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea, Oxford University Press, August 2023. 

Order the book today. 

Rebeck seated on a bench
Theresa Rebeck, PhD '89, on TV Endings

May 30, 2023

Theresa Rebeck, Brandeis English PhD '89, contributed an opinion piece to the New York Times on May 30, 2023, called "Why TV Finales Matter (And Why They Are So Hard to Get Right)." The most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time and creator of the NBC series "Smash," Rebeck offers her thoughts on what makes a good ending: "[It] should grow out of everything that came before, but also be different from everything that came before." Read the Times piece to find out why television presents particular challenges to writing a good ending.

Prof. Callender on Rose YouTube

May 24, 2023

Professor Brandon Callender participated in a Rose YouTube Channel talk on May 11. Callender, along with Fenway Health's Adrianna Boulin and Dr. Calvin Fitch discussed "Black Queer Representation, Intimacy and Violence," a conversation inspired by the exhibition Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last loveWatch the video

Callender on YouTube

English Grad Students Win External Grants and Awards

May 12, 2023

Several English graduate students have received external grants and awards in 2022-23.

Jenny FactorJenny Factor is a fifth-year PhD candidate. Her research focuses on a story of Phillis Wheatley Peters’s poems as examples of games and word games, a narrative that unfolds mainly in relation to the live and locally circulated versions of her poetry. Jenny’s fellowships center around how the material culture of gaming and word play moved along diverse alternative and expansive domestic literary networks in New England; she plans to use archival sources, and the materiality of New England leisure, to show how Wheatley Peters, as enslaved teenage poet, grew from a virtuosic game player to an innovative game maker. Jenny received three grants: a Lewis Walpole Library/ASECS Fellowship at Yale University for 2023 to 2024 (which supports research in the Walpole Library’s collection of eighteenth-century materials), a John Carter Brown Fellowship at Brown University for 2023 to 2024 (which supports research on the colonial Americas in the Brown Library’s collections), and a Publication Scholarship with BBIP/AFRO Publishing Without Walls from the Black Books Interactive Project and the University of Kansas for 2023 to 2024 (which supports digital humanities training in conjunction with work on Black literature).

Savita MaharajSavita Maharaj is a first-year PhD student. She is invested in exploring the entanglements between past and present perceptions of women’s resistance in contemporary Caribbean texts. Her research interests also focus on contemporary and eighteenth-century Caribbean history and literature, archival theory, critical histories of race and gender, and postcolonial theory. She received two fellowships: a Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) Fellowship for 2022 to 2024 (which supports a cohort of students in working at the intersection of technology and the humanities, arts, and sciences) and a RaceB4Race Social Media Fellowship from Arizona State University for 2023 (which supports fellows in developing digital safety strategies).

Daniel Schwartz and dogDaniel Schwartz is a third-year PhD student. His research examines the breakdown of mimesis in modernist literature. He received an honorable mention in the 2021 to 2022 North American Dostoevsky Society Graduate Essay Contest; this award goes to an outstanding graduate student essay on a topic related to Dostoevsky. His essay will also be appearing as an article in The Slavonic & East European Review.

Read more from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Mandy Feuerman (ENG) and Megan Tan (CW) Win Giumette Academic Achievement Awards

May 9, 2023

students posed on a picnic table
Each spring, a group of outstanding sophomores is selected for the Giumette Academic Achievement Award, which provides $5,000 each semester for their remaining two years at Brandeis. The award recognizes students who have distinguished themselves and made a significant contribution to the community during their first two years at Brandeis.

This year, English major Mandy Feuerman and Creative Writing major Megan Tan are two of the winners.

As a research assistant and teaching assistant for professor Jytte Klausen’s Western Extremism Project, Feuerman studies terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, she studies campaign finance as a research assistant for professor Zachary Albert. Feuerman enjoys teaching English classes to immigrants in the Waltham area as a volunteer with the Waltham Group’s Language Empowering Action Project.

Megan Tan has plans to become a screenwriter. In her “free” time, she enjoys designing “Broadsides” with Professor Elizabeth Bradfield, spending time in the WBRS studio and helping them plan events, and attending bible studies with ABSK. She plans on getting her own radio show next semester.

Read more about Feuerman and Tan and the other award recipients

Mary Campbell
Mary Baine Campbell's Poetry Imprinted in Sidewalk

May 4, 2023

Professor Emeritus Mary Baine Campbell is one of five winners of the Cambridge, MA 2023 Sidewalk Poetry Contest. Her poem, "Reader," will be imprinted into a Cambridge sidewalk. Read the poem here

Tisdale's book cover with picture of Attica and prisoners
Dave Sherman on Tisdale's "When the Smoke Cleared"

April 30, 2023

"When the Smoke Cleared: Attica Prison Poems and Journal, an anthology of work [compiled by Celes Tisdale] by 24 incarcerated writers as well as Tisdale, is a riveting contribution to contemporary literary history and recent social histories of the Attica uprising. This volume poses far-reaching questions about prisons as sites of cultural production and the mobilization of Black political subjectivity at the beginning of what we now call the age of mass incarceration." --Professor David Sherman in a piece he wrote for the Los Angeles Review of Books: "Lyric Forms for Carceral Justice: On Attica Prison and Celes Tisdale’s 'When the Smoke Cleared'" (April 30, 2023). Read the article. 

Sarah Perkins with video camera
Graduate Dissertation Innovation Grants

April 26, 2023

Several English grad students have been awarded 2023 Graduate Dissertation Innovation Grants from the Mandel Center for Humanities: Jessi Brewer, Reimaging Narratives for Social Change: A Study of Victorian Literature and Incarceration; Jenny Factor, Intimate Play: Phillis Wheatley Peters and the Art of the Poem Game; and Sarah Perkins (pictured), Full of Days: A community-based public humanities study of theodicy and narrative.

Read more about the award and projects.

Tom King
Tom King receives a Mandel Faculty Grant for Public Humanities/Community Engagement

April 26, 2023

Professor Tom King received a Mandel Faculty Grant for Public Humanities/Community Engagement. His project, Urban Pastoral, aims to transform his ongoing research and teaching on the literary and performative mode of pastoral into a community-engaged, arts-andcreativity-centered practice promoting inclusion and belonging, welcoming migrant communities displaced by the climate emergency, and rebuilding relations to built and natural environments as an important strategy for mitigating climate emissions, by imagining together forms of sociality committed to degrowth. (In a degrowth or wellness economy, community value is measured, not in traditional terms of economic development, but in terms of wellness, with an emphasis on reducing consumption and waste, fostering circularity and relational goods, and promoting environmental justice.)

Read more about the project.

Daniel and his dog
Daniel Schwartz, "Once Upon a Time"

April 11, 2023

PhD student Daniel Schwartz has published a book of poetry, "Once Upon a Time," with Unlock the Clockcase.

Read more and order the book!

Ulka Anjaria Discusses PhD Reforms

April 11, 2023

Professor Ulka Anjaria was interviewed by New Books Network for The Academic Life podcast series, "The Connected PhD." She discussed the the importance of humanities PhD programs and the restructuring of PhD timelines, among other topics.

Listen here.

podcast logo

Jenny Factor
Jenny Factor Wins Several Awards

March 28, 2023

PhD student Jenny Factor has won an eight-week John Carter Brown Library fellowship to advance her research on Phillis Wheatley Peters, material culture, and play. Jenny was also named a Black Book Interactive Project Scholar at the University of Kansas to work on a Black diaspora digital humanities project. Finally, she has been awarded a Lewis Walpole Society fellowship and been named a Lewis Walpole Society/ASECS Fellow for 2023-24.

She will be working at the library at Yale on her dissertation project.

Changing Lives Through Literature

March 22, 2023

Suffolk Superior Court honored seven graduates of Changing Lives Through Literature on March 22, 2023. Brandeis' participation in the bibliotherapy program is an outgrowth of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative, co-founded by English professors David Sherman and John Plotz, and Legal Studies professor Rosalind Kabrhel. Brandeis Heller School scientist Mary Brolin designed the assessment program for Changing Lives.

Read the press announcement by the Suffolk Superior Court.

Exemplary England book cover
Publications by PhD Alums

March 21, 2023

English department alums have been publishing widely.

Sarabeth Grant, PhD '15, has a new book out, "Exemplary England: Historical Inquiry and Literary Recompense in Pope, Gray, and Richardson" (University of Virginia Press, 2023). UVA Press is a leading press in the field of 18th-century studies. Grant's book was put on display at the annual conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) in March 2023 in St. Louis. Grant is a leader in ASECS, organizing panels on poetry (her speciality) and on supporting adjunct and contract faculty in the profession.

George Franklin, PhD '98, won first prize in the 2023 Yeats Poetry Prize Competition for his poem, "Picking Favorites." The prize is awarded by the W.B. Yeats Society of New York, and Franklin will participate in a public reading in New York on April 27. Franklin also has two new books of poetry out: "Remote Cities" and "Conversaciones sobre agua/Conversations about Water" (co-written with Ximena Gomez).

book cover - words on pink background with blue soda bubbles
Nicole Steinberg '04 Publishes dear Elsie/seltzer

March 15, 2023

Nicole Steinberg '04 (creative writing major) has published a new chapbook from Bloof Books, "dear Elsie / seltzer," a crown of sonnets — 20 poems all connected to each other with a narrative arc. Epistolary in nature, it's about falling in love unexpectedly and coming out as queer later in life, and wondering aloud about those who came before you. Along the way, there's a lot of talk about astrology, Judaism and pastries.

Order a copy of the book and learn more about Nicole.

Elizabeth Cayouette '19 Lands Book Deal

March 9, 2023

cayouetteElizabeth Cayouette '19 has landed a book deal with St. Martin's Griffin for her novel "One Last Shot," a second-chance romance that follows two friends who, after making a marriage pact, have a falling-out." (Publishers Weekly). The book is scheduled to come out in summer 2024.

Cayouette graduated Brandeis with a film studies major and with minors in creative writing and English. She took a writing workshop early in her career with creative writing co-director Stephen McCauley.

In 2021, she was named a Brandeis BOLD 9 winner, as an up-and-coming alumni who is sparking creativity, conversation and change in her field. As the lead videographer and editor for Aerie by American Eagle, she travels the world to produce video content that promotes female empowerment and positive body image, and encourages people to love themselves.

Cayouette is the creator of @bettysbooklist, the viral TikTok/Instagram account that is one of the top book recommendation accounts in the world and is featured in outlets such as The Boston Globe, Euronews, Fox News, The London Times and Glamour UK. She has over 448,000 followers.

Dorothy Kim Wins 2023 Medieval Academy of America Article Prize

February 8, 2023

Medieval Academy banner

Professor Dorothy Kim's article "The Politics of the Medieval Preracial," which appeared in Literature Compass, has won the 2023 Medieval Academy of America Article Prize in Critical Race Studies.

From the Academy: "Professor Kim’s critical survey of the concept and terminology of race in the study of the Middle Ages is a timely and valuable contribution to the study of premodern race. Maintaining that “Race, rather than ethnicity, otherness, alterity or difference, is the most appropriate and accurate term to use in discussing structures of racist phenomena and white Christian European hegemony” (3), Kim advances a critique of historical approaches to the Middle Ages that overlook critical race studies. The committee felt that this work of intellectual history — its clearing of the ground, framing the stakes, contextualizing of the critical vocabulary — does an important service to medieval studies and the profession at large. It is a particularly vital resource at the current, relatively early stage of premodern critical race studies (as opposed to premodern race studies) and will be beneficial to the many students and scholars newly entering the conversation."

Prof. Kim also recently won The Garfinkel Prize in Digital Humanities for her co-edited book "Alternative Historiographies of the Digital Humanities."

Read more.

Usman Hameedi '12 and Malika Imhotep '15 Publish Books of Poems

February 3, 2023

book covers

(From left: Button Poetry, Red Hen Press)

Two Brandeis alumni — Usman Hameedi '12 and Malika Imhotep '15 — have published collections of poetry.

Usman Hameedi '12 (creative writing minor) has a book of poems called "Staying Right Here" being released by Button Poetry in April 2023. With this collection, Hameedi "invites readers to bear witness to vignettes of joy and hardship as he navigates finding his place in America." In 2009, Hameedi founded the Brandeis Slam Team, a spoken-word poetry group he served as coach and captain of for two years. He also organized the Brandeis Open-Mic Series, a biweekly competitive poetry slam. He majored in biology and went into a career in medicine, but his writing practice remains vibrantly alive. He served as a Mass Poetry Artist in Residence and worked with educators on how they can incorporate poetry into their classrooms.

Pre-order his book today, and read more about his journey at Brandeis and beyond.

Ra Malika Imhotep '15 (AAAS major) published the poetry collection "gossypiin" with Red Hen Press in April 2022. From the publisher: "Within these pages, the poet is joined by a 'sticky trickster-self' named Lil Cotton Flower who tells of their own origins and endings in the Black vernacular traditions of the griot and the gossip. Interspersed throughout the collection, Black feminist wisdoms and warnings meld with the poet’s own yearnings and Lil Cotton Flower’s tall tales."

Order Imhotep's book, and read more about her current work and her social justice work at Brandeis.

Emiliano Gutierrez Popoca
Emiliano Gutierrez Popoca Discusses His Journey to the National 3MT Competition

January 24, 2023

"[Shakespeare's] servants steal the show, and in consequence, I argue, we get to know their thoughts, feelings, and motivations as much as we know those of the wealthy or noble characters." — English PhD candidate Emiliano Gutierrez Popoca in an interview about the thesis he presented at the National 3MT Competition.

Read the interview.

David Sherman
The English PhD is dead, long live the English PhD

January 23, 2023

Professor David Sherman dives into changes the department is making to the English PhD program to prepare graduates for both academic and non-academic careers.

"We now ask applicant statements to address 'the potential social and cultural impact of your doctoral work' and include a new 'Career Paths' section: 'The Brandeis PhD in English is designed to prepare students for a range of careers. Please describe three careers you might be interested in pursuing after graduation. In one paragraph, describe how you think your PhD will prepare you to pursue these different goals. If applicable, please also describe any previous experience relevant to your career goals.' This question should be asked at every stage of doctoral program as a fundamental part of this education."

Read more.

Jackson Holbert
Jackson Holbert '17 Wins Max Ritvo Poetry Prize

December 8, 2022

Milkweed Editions has announced that Jackson Holbert '17 is the winner of the 2022 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. His manuscript "Winter Stranger" was selected by judge Henri Cole and will be published in June 2023. In addition to publication, Holbert will receive $10,000.

Holbert was a creative writing major at Brandeis, received an MFA in Poetry from the Michener Center for Writers and is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford.

Read his alumni profile.

Emi and her book cover
Emi Watanabe Cohen '21 Publishes Debut Novel, "The Lost Ryu"

November 16, 2022

In her debut 2022 middle-grade novel, "The Lost Ryū," Emi Watanabe Cohen '21 tells the story of a Jewish Japanese American girl named Isolde, her Japanese friend Kohei and a Yiddish-speaking dragon. Watanabe Cohen majored in creative writing and took a fiction class with Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities John Plotz, who gave her new insight and appreciation into J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." In the acknowledgments to "The Lost Ryū," Watanabe Cohen writes that Plotz's "hot takes on Tolkien will forever be a part of my soul."

Read more.

book cover
Dorothy Kim Wins Book Prize

November 8, 2022

Professor Dorothy Kim's co-edited "Alternative Historiographies of the Digital Humanities" (punctum, 2021) won the American Studies Association Digital Humanities Book Prize.

Faith Smith Appointed to Marta F. Kauffman '78 Professorship in African and African American Studies

November 3, 2022

Provost Carol Fierke says, "A leading scholar in Caribbean culture, the African Diaspora, sexuality, and literature, Faith Smith has been a key contributor to the advancement of African and African American Studies at Brandeis. The first endowed professorship in the AAAS department’s fifty-year history, this professorship reaffirms Brandeis’ commitment to social justice."

Read more about the professorship.

The Most Valuable Skill I Learned at Brandeis was to Speak Confidently about Books

November 3, 2022

Jayne Ziemba, joint MA‘12, English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, is associate managing editor at Penguin Random House. She was featured by GSAS Professional Development.

"I'm not sure I would have been successful in starting a career in publishing if I hadn't first done my master's at Brandeis. My experience at Brandeis totally shaped me into a better communicator, thinker, and collaborator. Ultimately, the most valuable skill I learned at Brandeis was to speak confidently about books, which is something I get to do every day in my job as a managing editor."

Read the interview.

Diana Filar
Diana Filar PhD '21 on Professional Development

October 6, 2022

"I'm not encouraging everyone to turn everything they like into a job, but if you have another interest that you want to pursue or can imagine 'oh, in another life I would have been x,' then consider how you may be able to leverage it." — Diana Filar PhD '21 talks about using a Connected PhD grant to fund her work at an immigrant and refugee nonprofit, and offers advice to other doctoral students.

Read Diana's GSAS Professional Development alumni profile.

Ulka Anjaria
Ulka Anjaria Leads Rethinking of the Role of the Humanities Center

September 23, 2022

The Mellon Foundation has awarded Brandeis University a 15-month, $150,000 grant to support "Re-envisioning the Role of the Humanities Center in the 21st-century University," under the direction of Professor Ulka Anjaria, the director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for the Humanities.

"Humanities Centers have the potential to be ideal sites from which to advance innovative programming, center questions of race, equity and social justice, and contribute to large-scale questions about the future of the university," Anjaria said.

Read more.

Dorothy Kim in a library

Photo Credit: Mike Lovett

"House of Dragons" with Dorothy Kim

September 19, 2022

"You see the series do this again and again, where it sets up certain characters as possibly the 'hero/heroine' but then pulls the narrative rug from under the audience and its expectations by killing them off. Instead of being this hero’s journey, we're introduced to this new type of high-fantasy genre." — Professor Dorothy Kim in the BrandeisNOW interview, "How 'House of the Dragon' compares to the medieval era it is inspired by."

Abigail Arnold
Abigail Arnold PhD'20 on Professional Development

September 8, 2022

"I would advise students to engage with experiences outside of their own coursework and research, from teaching to department leadership roles. These will help them build varied skills that can be valuable in many different roles."  — Abigail Arnold PhD'20, who is now department administrator of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Read the full interview at the Brandeis Professional Development site.

John Burt
English Featured in Inside Higher Ed

July 8, 2022

Professor and department chair John Burt was featured in an Inside Higher Ed article about Brandeis' Connected PhD program. He shared departmental changes, to be put in the place over the next few years, which will give opportunities to doctoral students beyond traditional teaching jobs. Students will have the chance to learn a wide range of writing skills, such as grant proposal writing; to take a course on pedagogy that includes studies in teaching outside the university; to do a fourth-year internship; and to complete a final research project that can take on various forms, not just a "proto-book," as Burt said.

Read the article and learn more about the English department's participation in the Connected PhD program.