Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, an assistant professor of English at Notre Dame, has been named a finalist for the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the country’s largest peer-juried prize for novels and short stories. The honor is for Van der Vliet Oloomi’s second novel, Call Me Zebra, which follows a young heroine as she leaves New York and retraces the path she took with her father from Iran to the United States. Literature is at the heart of the novel — the protagonist, Zebra, considers books central to her identity, has personal literary theories, and at times literally devours certain pages of books.
Sarah Quesada's research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st century Latinx and Latin American literatures, Francophone West African literature, decolonial and spatial theory, and heritage tourism of the African diaspora. Francisco Robles focuses on multiethnic American literature of the 20th century, particularly African American, Chicanx, Southwestern, postcolonial, and LGBTQ literature. Both have close ties to Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies.
In the past three years alone, Notre Dame student Mary Elsa Henrichs’ passions for theatre, English literature, and German have converged in many memorable ways. She’s attended performances of Hamlet in Berlin. She’s worked as a research assistant to two German professors, helping to bring book projects to publication. And she’s spending next semester studying in Heidelberg, Germany, where she hopes to secure a theatre internship. The arts, she said, are a through line between her majors in German and English.
Julia Steiner ’14 writes songs and plays them in a Chicago-based rock band called Ratboys. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, before attending Notre Dame, where she graduated with a degree in English. During her third year at the University, Steiner studied abroad in Dublin and attended Trinity College. She returned in summer 2014 to intern in the sports department at RTÉ, Ireland’s National Broadcaster. Here, Steiner reflects on her time in Dublin and the influence it had on her music.
Arnaud Zimmern, a Ph.D. candidate in English who is also pursuing a graduate minor in the history and philosophy of science, discusses why he chose to apply only to Notre Dame, the value of the digital humanities, and conducting research that matters.
Laura Dassow Walls, the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, has won the 2018 Christian Gauss Award from Phi Beta Kappa for her biography, Henry David Thoreau: A Life. The prize, which recognizes outstanding books of literary scholarship, will be presented at a reception in Washington, D.C., in December.
Now a program of the Los Angeles Times Foundation, the prizes are dedicated to honoring literary luminaries, championing new voices and celebrating the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers.
Matthew Wilkens is associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include contemporary American fiction, digital humanities, and computational literary studies.
Evelyn Diaz’s career has taken her to the top of Chicago’s governmental, social service, and nonprofit sectors. And at every stop along the way, Diaz ’92 has relied on skills she cultivated as an English major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
Roy Scranton, an assistant professor in Notre Dame’s Department of English, has won a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation in recognition of his fiction writing. Since 1989, the foundation has given literary awards and fellowships to both established and emerging writers “of distinctive literary merit who demonstrate potential for continued outstanding work.”
Junior Katherine Smith has been selected for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to study or intern abroad during the spring 2018 academic term. Smith, an English and theology double major from Saint Charles, Minnesota, will study in Italy through the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.
Associate Professor of English Matthew Wilkens is fascinated by the use of geography in literature over time. How, for example, did the Civil War affect the importance of certain places in American literature, and what can literature tells us about Americans’ sense of place? The answer can be found in books written during that period — potentially thousands of them, many more than Wilkens could ever read and analyze himself. He was recently awarded a $325,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to bolster Textual Geographies, a database and suite of tools he is developing that allow users to find, map, and analyze more than 14 billion place name mentions from books and journals in English, Spanish, German, and Chinese.
David Wallace, the Judith Rodin Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, will be be the 2018 Yusko Ward-Phillips Lecturer. Wallace will spend the week of April 8, 2018, at Notre Dame, presenting a series of graduate seminars and giving a public lecture on Thursday, April 12.
The first edition of Laura Dassow Walls' new biography, Henry David Thoreau: A Life, sold out even before the official publication date of July 12, 2017, Thoreau’s 200th birthday. And Walls has been interviewed by NPR and the BBC, along with receiving positive book reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Wall Street Journal. “Laura’s book is quite remarkable, and it’s been exciting to see it getting such a wonderful reception,” said John T. McGreevy, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “It’s certainly gotten more attention than any book of ours in recent memory.”
Mark Sanders is pushing the geographical boundaries of the study of English literature. Through his scholarly work, he aims to expand the traditional English canon beyond the United Kingdom and United States and to broaden the corpus of black writing, particularly that of black Atlantic authors. Sanders, who joins Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters this fall after 25 years at Emory University in Atlanta, specializes in early 20th-century American and African American literature and culture, as well as Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latino literature and culture.
Barry McCrea — the Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies and a professor of English, Irish language and literature, and Romance languages and literatures — has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Princeton University Humanities Council. McCrea will spend the spring 2018 semester at Princeton as a visiting professor in the Humanities Council and the Faber Fellow in Comparative Literature. While there, he will continue work on his upcoming novel, tentatively titled Thorn Island, and will teach an advanced literature course to a mix of undergraduate and graduate students.
They wrote poetry in Dublin coffee shops over plates of scones and artfully embellished cappuccinos — the curl of steam and lilt of Irish conversation rising and fading in the background. They wrote prose on the grassy shores of Lough Pollaacapull, where the towers and crenellations of Kylemore Abbey reflect in the waters below. They wrote in the Abbey’s common room into the wee hours of the morning. And everywhere, the 16 students in Notre Dame’s first Creative Writing Workshop in Ireland found inspiration — in the landscape, in the country’s literary history, and in each other.
Michelle Karnes believes imagination is the key to understanding medieval meditations about the life of Christ. When readers picture themselves holding Jesus as a baby or feeding him, it evokes powerful emotions, she said. “There are good cognitive reasons why imagining yourself participating in Christ’s life helps you engage with the narrative,” she said. “It causes you to invest yourself in a more profound way.” Karnes joins the faculty in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters this fall as an associate professor of English, after eight years at Stanford University.
The retreat was sponsored by the International Network for Comparative Humanities (INCH), an interdisciplinary group of literary scholars from across the U.S. and Europe dedicated to promoting comparative study. Co-directed by Notre Dame professor Barry McCrea and Maria DiBattista of Princeton University, the organization seeks to develop a new model for networking and scholarly collaboration in the humanities — one that stresses the importance of collaboration across generational, national, and institutional boundaries.