When senior Michelle Werner wrote an essay analyzing playwright Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, she did not imagine that the class assignment would later win her a prestigious departmental award. “It felt a bit like winning the lottery without having bought a ticket,” she says. “I am incredibly grateful to the Department of English for selecting my essay.”
Notre Dame’s Department of English has solidified its reputation as a top graduate program in the Medieval and Early Modern periods with the appointment of Laura Knoppers, an esteemed Miltonist who arrives in fall 2014. The department has also strengthened its focus on transnationalism, ethnicity, gender, and race studies with the appointments of three emerging young scholars: Nan Z. Da, Jesús Costantino, and Z’étoile Imma.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about the publishing industry and what it’s like to put together a book,” says Meghan Thomassen, a senior English major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. During the summer of 2013, Thomassen interned at Sheffield Marketing Partners, a boutique agency based in Downers Grove, Illinois, specializing in narrative message development and visual storytelling.
“How do you define the English language in a very complex world in which native English speakers account for less than a third of the number of people who speak English today?” says Tim Machan, professor of English in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
In recent years, the English Department has made several superb appointments and has extended into fruitful new areas of research.
Theresa Rebeck ’80 says she has a playwright’s brain. The critics and her peers apparently agree: Not only is she an a Pulitzer Prize for Drama nominee and National Theatre Conference Award winner, but Rebeck was also invited to participate in the prestigious Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference in summer 2012 to develop her new play, Fool. She was one of just eight playwrights selected out of nearly 1,000 applicants, an honor she shared with another participant from Notre Dame, Anne García-Romero, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre.
Behind the mask, the cape, and the suit of every superhero stands a seemingly ordinary individual blessed with an incredible gift. Behind Captain America stands Stephen McFeely ’91. The English and goverment major is part of the screenwriting duo behind the Captain America movies, the Narnia trilogy, and Pain & Gain, as well as the Primetime Emmy Award-winning biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
Two professors in Notre Dame’s Department of English—Sandra Gustafson and Tim Machan—recently won prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. “Gustafson and Machan both explore broad swaths of time and crucial questions that are significant culturally, historically, and artistically,” says Professor Valerie Sayers, chair of the Department of English. “It is a delight to see their work honored with major fellowships.”
During the spring of 2012, Dr. R. Joseph Shonkwiler ’04 reached a crossroads in his career. In a few months he would graduate with a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University, and he needed to decide his next step. Shonkwiler could return to clinical medicine and finish his surgical residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital, or he could pursue a new career in the public policy field.
José Limón, the Notre Dame Professor of American Literature and Julian Samora Professor of Latino Studies, has been elected to the Fellows of the American Folklore Society in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of folklore studies.
Molly Hayes, a 2008 graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, has been awarded a 2014 George Mitchell Scholarship. Hayes, who studied English and Arabic while at Notre Dame, will use the Mitchell Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Irish literature at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. She is the first Mitchell Scholar from Notre Dame since 2007.
“After graduating Notre Dame, would I have ever said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a TV writer in Hollywood?’ Never in a million years,” says Linda Gase, a Notre Dame graduate with a degree in English. She is currently co-executive producer of Switched at Birth, a one-hour drama on ABC Family. Gase has also written for ER, The District, Crossing Jordan, and Army Wives. She credits her strength as a writer to the time she spent at Notre Dame developing her critical thinking skills and examining her point of view. “The biggest challenge of a writer is to trust your voice, and I feel that at Notre Dame, I really honed my voice.”
Joyelle McSweeney, associate professor in Notre Dame’s Department of English recently won the inaugural Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Playwrights for her new play, Dead Youth, or, the Leaks.
When Caitlin Myron ’13 first came to Notre Dame she had an interest in the Irish culture from her childhood, but never imagined it was something she would have the opportunity to study. Four years later, the English major is beginning a master’s degree in Modern Irish at the National University of Ireland.
“As a singer, I spend all my time dealing with texts. I sing poetry, I sing theatre, I’m singing in different languages, and all my training at Notre Dame helped me immensely for that,” says Paul Appleby ’05.
“I wouldn’t have traded my English major at Notre Dame for any other major,” says Greg Miller, ’87, a managing director at Greenhill and Company, an investment bank in New York City.
English professor Tim Machan and another professor in the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, political scientist Benjamin Radcliff, recently received grants from the Fulbright US Scholar Program, which will allow them to travel to Europe to study their respective topics of interest.
Eight Notre Dame graduate students from the history and English departments joined eight peers from U.K. partner universities this summer for an intensive workshop designed to foster cross-disciplinary training, accelerate dissertation progress, and build international networks of young scholars. Held July 1-17, 2013 at the University of Notre Dame London Centre in Trafalgar Square, the first Global Dome Dissertation Accelerator was organized around the theme of transnationalism.
The English Department is pleased to announce our newest faculty appointments, Jesús Costantino and Z’étoile Imma. Both originally came to Notre Dame as Moreau Postdoctoral Fellows, Costantino from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011, and Imma from the University of Virginia in 2012. "We are delighted to have such engaged and dynamic young scholars join the department," says Valerie Sayers, department chair. "The range of their interests underscores our commitment to transdisciplinary scholarship and teaching."