English Matters: Spring 2024

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Jian DeLeon Fashion Forward with Our 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Also inside Distinguished Staff Alum

Colleen Kearney Rich

CHAIR’S MESSAGE Dear Alumni and Friends, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing,” Gwendolen Fairfax declares in The Importance of Being Earnest. As a men’s fashion blogger, editor, and now fashion director at Nordstrom’s, Jian DeLeon, BA ’08 and 2023 CHSS Distinguished Alumnus in English, approaches style with a kind of serious play that resonates with both Gwendolen’s concern for style and Oscar Wilde’s witty questioning of “sincerity.” For instance, DeLeon and collaborator Joshua Kissi drew on their shared immigrant backgrounds in “Found in Translation: A New Language of American Style,” a curated shop within Nordstrom’s exploring modes of self-expression that work against more fixed and less inclusive forms of “American style.” Elsewhere, DeLeon shows that such experiments in self-expression draw on a rich knowledge of design and culture, reworking the canon of modern fashion, as in his contribution to “The 25 Greatest Black Fashion Designers”. DeLeon’s story highlights many of the ways that students draw on their experiences as English majors to succeed in a wide range of professions. In the cover story for this issue, he


connects what he does in fashion to his love of close reading, his experiences as a blogger and editor, and “a desire to see the throughlines between seemingly disparate ideas.” His

Have some news of your own?

critique of canons and his experiments with different media and forms of expression will

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the English Department. I talk often about how an English degree prepares students to

Send us an email: engnews@gmu.edu English Matters is produced by the English Department and distributed to alumni twice a year.

also ring true for many of those doing scholarly and creative work in the fields covered by thrive in many careers. Finding ways to do what you love and to engage in the serious play of literary and cultural expression and critique is just as valuable as the skills and knowledge that our students develop through our programs. I hope you will find opportunities to share what you love and engage in serious play with us this semester. Join us for some of the events of Baldwin100, a year-long celebration of James Baldwin hosted by the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center. Attend the Vernon and Marguerite Gras Lecture in the Humanities

ABOUT THE COVER Jian DeLeon, BA ’08 and 2023 CHSS Distinguished Alumnus in English. See cover story, pages 6-7 Photo courtesy Jian DeLeon

by Martin Puchner on Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. or the second annual Busboys and Poets lecture by Nikki Giovanni on Tuesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. And finally, send us your news, share your expertise, and contribute to our programs. This is our first digital issue of English Matters. I hope you like it and that it makes it even easier to connect with us. Tamara Harvey Chair, Department of English



Faculty News

Eric Pankey Retires A Tribute by Peter Streckfus


hen I began the MFA as a student at Mason in the fall of 1997, the program had just hired a new poet, Eric Pankey, the year before. He was the first teacher from the program I met that August, when I arrived on campus, for the first meeting of his “Forms of Poetry” course. He was wearing what I remember as a workman’s shirt. He had the same beard he wears now, maybe with a bit more color in it. In my memory of that day, all of this seems slightly larger than life. He spoke about craft, about each of us, my classmates and myself, having come to the program as artists. The writer as an artist: This idea was new to me, though it seemed absolutely right. Listening to him, I felt as if my life were beginning again. I learned so much from each of my teachers during my three years in the MFA program, but I believe I learned the most from Eric Pankey, starting on that day.

Eric Pankey

This is his last year teaching in the program before his retirement: His final course is filled with students to overload, of course. During his twenty-seven years of artful teaching in this program, he has published fourteen of his seventeen books of poems (two more will come out in 2024) and won a Guggenheim among many other awards. As the Heritage Chair in Writing, he diverted his stipend in order to establish the Heritage Poetry Fellowship, which has allowed seventeen third-year students to work on a thesis without having to teach. For years, he taught a free, public post-MFA workshop as part of the Heritage Chair as well. With his wife, the inimitable Jennifer Atkinson, who retired just a few years ago as poetry faculty, Eric made this program not just a place to become an artist, but a place to learn generosity as an integral part of an artist’s task.

faculty news

A final lesson from Eric that first day of class: As artists, we learn by studying models of the things we want to make. As a faculty, we will miss Eric around the table. But we are also excited for him and ever grateful for the model he has left us.

Scott W. Berg, MFA ’97, earned a spot on the longlist for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Nonfiction for his latest book, The Burning of the World: The Great Chicago Fire and the War for a City’s Soul. Kevin Flanagan contributed chapters to two recent books: “Paternalism, Bohemianism, and the X Certificate: The Party’s Over and the PreSwinging Set” in Adult Themes: British Cinema and the X Certificate in the Long 1960s (Bloomsbury) and “Dropping out: Interiority, Claustrophobia and Decadence in Cosmopolitan London Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s” in Global London on Screen: Visitors, Cosmopolitans and Migratory Cinematic Visions of a Superdiverse City (Manchester University Press).

Ariel M. Goldenthal, MFA ’17, recently had two experimental flash pieces published: “At Twelve Years Old, I Draft a New Custody Agreement” in Exposition Review, also nominated for a Best of the Net award, and ”Two Imaginings of a Conversation We Will Never Have” in Bending Genres. Tamara Harvey published “Sarah Wentworth Morton” in Oxford Bibliographies in American Literature. Tania James’ novel Loot was named on the longlist of the 2023 National Book Awards and was included in “The Ten Best Books of 2023” by the Washington Post.

Samaine Lockwood’s article “Ann Petry’s Rewriting of New England” was published in October in MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literary of the United States. Kara Oakleaf, MFA ’10, had a flash fiction story, “Contained Evolution,” published in MoonPark Review in December. Elizabeth Paul’s essay about Osh, Kyrgyzstan, “It Runs Deep,” was published in The Fourth River’s “Place” issue in November 2023. Emily Tuszynska, BA, ’97, MFA ’02, won the Grayson Books Poetry Contest for her manuscript Surfacing, which will be published by Grayson Books in early 2024.

Steph Liberatore, MFA ’14, recently launched In Short: A Journal of Flash Nonfiction; you can find the journal at www. inshortjournal.com. She also received a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She was one of 20 writers, visual artists, and composers in residence during the month of December.

spring 2024


Feature Story

Screen Time Fresh initiatives broaden the Screen Cultures program across disciplines, across media, and around the globe


n Spring 2023, Mason’s Film and Media Studies program was rebranded Screen Cultures, but more than a simple renaming, this shift recognized and celebrated the breadth and complexity of the program’s missions and its goals. Dozens of students are pursuing Screen Cultures either as a concentration within the English Department, which houses the program, or as an interdisciplinary minor in partnership with various departments, including Communications and Modern and Classical Languages—a broadening initiative with its eye on the future. “The old name couldn’t speak as directly to the expansive approaches our courses take to thinking about culture and media,” explained Jessica Scarlata, professor of English and Director of Screen Cultures, citing the program’s focus on “the global geography of visual culture” as well as the variety of media and screens that are explored as part of the curriculum: “games, experimental video and installation art, activist media and documentary practices, but also things like TikTok.” “Our classes are not just about semiotic analysis of film and television as texts,” added Hatim El-Hibri, another English professor leading the Screen Cultures program. “They also include the broader array of cultural contexts, media industry formations, and social situations in which people encounter such texts.” Within the English Department, courses have what Scarlata called “the flexibility to be organized around thematic and theoretical questions, such as: ‘What and where is Global TV?’; ‘What is the relationship between cities



and screen-based audio-visual culture?”; and ‘Why is it that contemporary politics around the world are so melodramatic?’” Scarlata just finished up a Fall 2023 course in “World Cinema and the Promise of Realism,” and El-Hibri’s spring 2024 courses include both “Global TV” and “Middle East Media and Screen Cultures,” the latter of which examines in part “the cultural and political contexts that have given shape to a range of historical and contemporary voices.” A third English Department professor, Kevin Flanagan, will be teaching both “Introduction to Film” and “Cult Films.” But the interdisciplinary nature of the program further emphasizes how “media studies, cinema studies, or visual culture studies are quite intellectually omnivorous endeavors,” as El-Hibri explained it, “synthesizing and benefitting from the broad sweep of the humanities and humanistic social sciences.” Scarlata and El-Hibri both emphasized Screen Cultures’ “transnational approach,” as with El-Hibri’s course on Middle East Media and Scarlata’s Screening the Global City in Fall 2024. Through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, students have also had the chance to study, for example, “Contemporary Chinese Film,” “French and Francophone Cinema,” and “Topics in (Post) Soviet Film,” but it’s worth emphasizing that the overall curriculum resists the idea of global media as being distinct from U.S. media or somehow “other.” “One thing we are very proud of in the Screen Cultures curriculum broadly, and in our English courses in particular, is that we begin

Jessica Scarlata

by decentering US media,” Scarlata said. “In treating ‘the global’ as our starting point, we see ourselves as being in dialog with Mason students and their diversity of experience.” El-Hibri echoed these ideas. “Rather than artificially putting ‘the US’ into one column and ‘rest of the world’ into another column, our courses give students analytical perspectives to see how the world itself is actually much more transnational and uneven.” Additionally, while Communications courses like “Media Theory and Mass Communication” and “Public Policy” explore the theoretical questions that Scarlata mentioned, classes like “Multi-Camera Studio Production,” “Videography,” and “Digital Post-Production” also help students gain experience on the other side of the screen, underscoring what El-Hibri and Scarlata explained as “the interconnection between thinking carefully about something and doing or making something.” “Many of the most important film theorists historically also were filmmakers,” Scarlata elaborated. “Critical and theoretical insight can form the basis of a meaningful creative practice just as much as it can inform a new way of thinking about the world.”

Screens generally, and for all age groups, seem ubiquitous these days, so offering students “new ways of thinking about the world” might also mean a new way of thinking about their relationships with those screens and their understanding of the media they engage with. “Every generation has a sense of familiarity with the media and popular culture of their time,” El-Hibri said. “Our courses take that familiarity as a useful starting point, as it meets people where they are. One of the things that our courses do is to then take those familiar shows and genres or screens and make them unfamiliar again.” Seeing the familiar anew with fresh eyes, gaining those larger perspectives, giving students, as Scarlata said, “the space to reflect on their place in the world and consider what else the world might be”—students in the program have built on these foundations with success beyond Mason as well.

Hatim El-Hibri

“We are very proud that our students have gone on to successful careers ranging from Amazon executives to fashion photographers, as journalists, educators, filmmakers, writers, and game designers, in both the public sector and the nonprofit world, and at graduate school in many disciplines,” El-Hibri said. “The program offers people a lot of advantages,” Scarlata said, “and our alumni have found it useful in a variety of fields.”

The old name couldn’t speak as directly to the expansive approaches our courses take to thinking about culture and media.

For more information on Screen Cultures, visit https://screencultures.gmu.edu/.

spring 2024


Cover Story

Five Questions With Distinguished Alum Jian DeLeon


he College of Humanities and Social Sciences celebrated Jian DeLeon, BA ’08, this fall with the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award in English.

DeLeon is the men’s fashion director at Nordstrom, where he oversees all aspects of the menswear business. He brings more than a decade of experience in the men’s lifestyle industry, starting in editorial as a staff writer at Complex Magazine. During his tenure as editorial director for the publication Highsnobiety, he was pivotal in elevating the intersection of streetwear, sneakers, and luxury fashion to the mainstream. Additionally, he authored two books published by Gestalten: The Incomplete Highsnobiety Guide to Street Fashion and Culture in 2018 and The New Luxury: Defining the Aspirational in the Age of Hype in 2019. He was named one of Adweek’s 2019 young influentials. In early December, DeLeon chatted with us about his work and reflected on his time at Mason. JIan DeLeon

What does your typical workday/workweek look like? I hate saying “there’s no such thing as a typical workday,” but there really isn’t! That’s been the case ever since I started working in the men’s lifestyle space as a staff writer at Complex over a decade ago. Working in media was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life.


Literally in the past two weeks, I flew to Las Vegas to co-host an event at our store in Fashion Show mall with two Formula 1 drivers from the AlphaTauri team, a clothing brand we’ve just introduced this season. A few days later, I was walking our board of directors and executive team through the changes we’ve made in the New York men’s store for the holiday season. And then I had to catch a flight to Milan to see the newest

Over time, the skillset I developed in editorial

pre-fall collections from some of the world’s

began to cross over into what was happening

most prestigious labels. After a short holiday

in the retail space—there was this period

break, I went straight into back-to-back

maybe about five years ago where media

meetings looking at the new shoe offerings

companies were trying to shift into retail,

from some of our biggest vendors with our

and retailers began to adapt a more editorial

men’s footwear team. At the same time,

approach to storytelling. But in terms of

I was overseeing our men’s social media

what my current day-to-day looks like, this

messaging for the month and approving

past month alone is a good example of how

creative marketing campaigns with our team

hectic things can get.

in Seattle.


On Instagram you wrote “I’ll always be that kid on campus reading fashion blogs in the computer lab who somehow ended up following through on those aspirations.” What drew you to a career in fashion, and how far back does that interest date? I’m from Northern Virginia. I graduated from Chantilly High School and my parents and immediate family all still live in the area— and for the record, I’m proud to still have my 703 phone number. Mason wasn’t the typical college experience for me because I was a commuter student who lived at home with my parents, and I felt I didn’t really get to fully foster that sense of independence that college is supposed to give you. So the internet and campus became my escape from that.

When I was starting out as a journalist, my most important asset was a natural curiosity and a desire to see the throughlines between seemingly disparate ideas.

What is the last book you read?

extracurricular activities like The Broadside

How did the English Department help prepare you for a career in fashion?

newspaper and Apathy magazine [now

Much of my career I owe to my love of

Bullock’s The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside

Volition] helped me figure out what I liked and

close reading. When I was starting out

Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew.

what I didn’t, as did Mason’s close proximity

as a journalist, my most important asset

I like to read a lot of fashion history books,

to Washington, DC, where I spent a lot of time

was a natural curiosity and a desire to

and there aren’t too many that come out.

out of class working at the Urban Outfitters

see the throughlines between seemingly

Fortunately, we’re in a time where a few good

store in Georgetown. That experience was a

disparate ideas. One thing that I thought

ones have been published.

bit of a crash course in subculture, learning

was particularly interesting when I joined

about the old punk scene while enabling me

Nordstrom is the fact that Pete Nordstrom,

to be a part of the burgeoning streetwear

our president and Chief Brand Officer, was

and sneaker scene that was developing in

also an English major when he attended

the early 2000s.

the University of Washington. I think there’s

The community I met at Mason through clubs like the Filipino Cultural Association,

I got super into clothing and fashion because I saw it as another form of storytelling and self-expression. It started out as something I loved, and it turned into a career that I didn’t know you could get paid for.

definitely some skills you learn when it comes to analytical thinking that are applicable to a variety of industries.

What class or professor stood out most from your time at Mason?

The last books I read were W. David Marx’s Status and Culture, followed by Maggie

Currently I’m working through Sowmya Krishnamurthy’s Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion, a book I’m also quoted in, but it also documents a particularly dynamic time in my career when what was happening on the runways of Europe and the stylish streets of New York were converging in a brand-new way.

I took a few film studies classes with Cynthia Fuchs, which was amazing because I never thought I’d get to watch Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog for a class. But it also set me on a path of really discovering alternative film and literature that has informed a lot what I’m into today. spring 2024


Distinguished Alum

Five Questions with Distinguished Alum Colleen Kearney Rich


olleen Kearney Rich, MFA ’95, was honored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award for Mason Staff.

Rich has worked at Mason for more than three decades, and she’s currently the managing editor of the university’s award-winning magazine Mason Spirit and its research newsletter Mason Momentum. While in graduate school, she helped found the literary journal, So to Speak, now celebrating its 30th year. Rich is the author of the chapbooks Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist (2019) and Bunnyman Bridge (2021). Her writing has been published in numerous literary journals, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Matchbook, and Pithead Chapel.

Colleen Kearney Rich

What does your typical workweek look like? I spend a lot of my week editing others and trying to make those stories the best they can be. That includes how they are packaged with photos and headlines. And I am always on the lookout for good stories. I love interviewing faculty and students about their work/class/research and have a long list of stories I’m always trying to find uninterrupted time to write. I need lots of lists to stay organized and love crossing items off. As I write this, I’m in the middle of a week in which I’m pulling together the content for the Spring 2024 Mason Spirit, which is now getting my full attention since the President’s Report finally went to the printer.

What themes or elements do you keep returning to in your fiction? I am currently working on a novella that is based on my one chapbook, Bunnyman Bridge, which was originally published by Heavy Feather Review. I hope to finish a full draft of it in early 2024. In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed writing and reading creepy stories, and I have managed to get a few published. But a lot of my work is character-driven—I love those crazy teenagers from Bunnyman Bridge—or are based on things I’ve heard or most likely overheard.

How has your writing changed from your MFA days to now? My writing has gotten spare and concentrated. In my professional storytelling life, stories have grown shorter. You are expected to write what some call “tight and bright.” There just isn’t a lot of room to expound so you have to make every word count—and do its job. Flash fiction is the same way, and it is amazing what some writers are able to do with so few words. It has made me less tolerant of verbosity and writing I call “precious,” which I don’t know if I could accurately describe.



My writing has gotten spare and concentrated... You are expected to write what some call “tight and bright.” There just isn’t a lot of room to expound so you have to make every word count—and do its job.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Joy Fraser Joy Fraser, an assistant professor of Folklore in the English Department from 2013-2018, died on December 17 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Kaitlyn Kinney, one of her former students, offers an appreciation of Fraser and her work.


What class or professor stood out most from your time at Mason? That’s such a hard question. There were so many good ones. Also please know that I have continued to use my tuition perks far beyond the end of my MFA. In 2006, I was able to take a Novel in One Semester class with novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff, who was teaching at Mason as an adjunct at the time. That class was such a blast, and we all did write 40,000-word novels that semester. I made so many great writer friends in that class and still keep in touch with many of them, including Mary Kay. That little novel has changed a lot over the years and been put away in a drawer many times, but I haven’t given up on it entirely. The people in my writing group liked it.

oy was truly loved by her many students at Mason. And this love has been widely shared as we have come together to remember her in recent weeks. We have been talking much about how Joy went out of her way to support her students, teaching us not only to think critically but to lead with compassion inside and outside of our studies. She provided safe spaces for us all to be human and allowed us grace to re-center ourselves when everyday life became difficult. She supported and provided us with thoughtful guidance throughout our folklore projects and life journeys.

She was supportive of us throughout our early careers as folklorists, often offering her own home in Newfoundland so that we could visit. I was one such student when she encouraged me to submit to the Folklore Studies of Canada Association annual meeting. She wanted me to connect with some scholars there on my work with contemporary communication about death. She even helped one of her students navigate an international move to Scotland. We loved Joy so much that she was often included in our major life moments, such as weddings. To Joy, we weren’t just her students. Her mentorship went beyond the call of duty, and she is someone we call a true friend.

What is the last book you read? I love audiobooks. I’m currently listening to The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, which is a ghost story that takes place in a bookstore. I love her work, and I always learn something from her books.

Joy Fraser

lefto to right: Joy Fraser with Kim Stryker and Annie Hallman

Several of her students are organizing a virtual event on Burns Night to honor her memory on Thursday, January 25, at 7 p.m. on twitch.tv/ folkwise. Twitch is often used as a public-access TV online with a chat component for viewers to engage. We encourage all that loved her to join in, watch, and connect in the chat. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at kkinney2@gmu.edu.

spring 2024


Alumni Student


John Adams, American Studies ’89, had his debut novel, the political thriller Second Term, published by Oceanview Publishing in October.

Molly Gaudry, MFA ’13, had her manuscript Fit Into Me: A Novel: A Memoir selected for publication by Rose Metal Press.

Ken Budd, BA ’88 and MA ’97, won gold in the fall 2023 Digital Health Awards for a Washington Post story on surviving a heart attack. The piece was based on his own experience: Budd suffered a heart attack in January 2023 and was helicoptered from an ER in Washington, D.C. to a catheterization lab in Maryland. He has also written recently for The Atlantic, The Washington Post Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and many more outlets.

Kathy Goodkin, MFA ’11, received the 2023 Roskelly Award for Pedagogical Innovation at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, where she is currently a doctoral student in English. Additionally, she presented the talk “The Lyric as Eco-Commons: Twentyfirst Century Hybrid-Lyric Genres in an Era of Ecological Crises” at the 2023 Association for the Study of Literature and Environment conference, and she has a scholarly article, “‘Multitudes of Flags’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Human-Nonhuman Transpositions as a Legacy of John Donne’s Sacred-Profane Transpositions” forthcoming in BishopLowell Studies. Finally, her poem, “The Pale of Settlement” is forthcoming in Breaking the Glass: A Contemporary Jewish Poetry Anthology, presented by Laurel Review.

Priyanka Champaneri, BA ’05, MFA ’10, spent summer 2023 in Taiwan learning Mandarin after receiving a Huayu BEST Scholarship from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. She studied at National Sun Yat-sen University in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

Priyanka Champaneri, BA ‘05, MFA ‘10, at Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Brian Fitzpatrick, MA ’10, MFA ’12, and Jessica McCaughey, MA ’05, MFA ’11, PhD ’22, have launched The Professional Writing Academy, prowritingacademy.com, which provides workplace writing training and consulting to all types of organizations. Fitzpatrick is an associate professor at Mason, and McCaughey is an associate professor at George Washington University. Andy Fogle, BA ’96, MFA ’00, and Secondary Teaching Certificate ’02, has a new book of poems from Main Street Rag: Mother Countries, spurred by his mother’s death and driven by early 2020’s pandemic and racial unrest.



Jane Harrington, MA ’10, was longlisted for the Crooks Corner Book Prize for In Circling Flight; the prize celebrates the best debut novel set in the American South. Maura Kelly, MFA ’10, had an essay, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” published in August in the New York Times. The essay explores “How becoming a regular at a neighborhood shop soothed my loneliness.” In December, the Times published her essay “An Orphan’s Guide to Celebrating Christmas.” Alyse Knorr, MFA ’12, had a fourth poetry collection, Ardor, published in September by Gasher Press.

Rebecca Knotts, MFA ’02, was named Director of Campus Events & Conference Services for the University of Montana Western. Danika Stegeman LeMay, MFA ’09, had a new poetry collection published by 11:11 press in November; Ablation serves as both “an elegy to Stegeman LeMay’s mom, who died in 2020, and, simultaneously, a love letter to Stegeman LeMay’s young daughter.” Robbie Maakestad, MFA ’17, had three flash fictions published in Fall 2023: “Bill Murray Ponders at Taco Bell” in Beaver Magazine; “Bill Murray Decides He’s Going to Win People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive Award” in Rejection Letters; and “Bill Murray Awakens” in carte blanche. Chris Mann, a first-year MFA student, had a story, “Gone Fishing,” featured in Hard to Find: An Anthology of New Southern Gothic, published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Jonathan Marine, a PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric, received the James Moffett Award—for the second time—from the National Council of Teachers of English for his proposal “Invisible Writing Revisited: Investigating Cognitive Processes in K-13 Composition,” co-written with Shannon Potts. Additionally, Marine joined co-editor Benjamin Hunt, a PhD student in Linguistics, in releasing a new issue of Working Papers in Language and Linguistics this fall: https://orgs.gmu.edu/wpill/current.html. Siwar Massannat, MFA ’12, has a second book of poetry, cue, is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press/Georgia Review Books in March 2024.



Alumni Student


Melanie McCabe, MFA ’05, was named a finalist for the 2023 Virginia Literary Awards for her latest poetry collection, The Night Divers. Grace McKay, BFA ’22, has been accepted into the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. Homa Mojadidi, a second-year MFA student, translated from Farsi the Baidel Dehlavi ghazal “I Abandoned All Desire,” which appeared in November at the Asymptote Journal blog. Nilima Mow, a PhD student in Linguistics, presented “Best Practices in Indigenous Language Immersion Programs” at the International Conference on Indigenous Language Documentation, Education, and Revitalization in Bloomington, Indiana. Additionally, her paper “Totally VS Completely: A Corpus-based Behavioral Profile Study of Near Synonymous Adverbs,” has been accepted the American Association of Applied Linguistics, AAAL, 2024 Conference, which will be held in March 2024 in Houston, Texas. Elisabeth Murawski, MFA ’91, had a poem featured in November on the podcast The Slowdown, slowdownshow.org, hosted by poet and professor Major Jackson; “Kinds of Silence” was originally published in Southern Poetry Review. Additionally, Murawski’s poem “Clown Psalm” was named a runner-up in the 2023 Ledbury Poetry Competition, and her poem “Behold Thy Mother” appeared in the Autumn issue of The Hudson Review. Jihoon Park, MFA ’22, had a short story, “The Chicken in New Mexico Plays Tic-Tac-Toe,” published in Washington Square Review’s Issue 49 last summer; Park had workshopped the story in Courtney Brkic’s class during his final semester at Mason.

Lori Rottenberg, MA ’95 and currently a third-year MFA student, had her poetry featured in December on the Viewless Wings podcast and website. Rion Amilcar Scott, MFA ’08, has a story, “A Grief of the Dead,” in Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, edited by Jordan Peele and published in October. Nicole Tong, MFA ’07, has been named Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Reynolds Community College, Richmond, Virginia. Eli Vandegrift, a third-year MFA student, has been accepted into Tin House’s Winter Workshop, a week-long virtual workshop which will take place in February. Elizabeth Winder, MFA ’06, had a third nonfiction book published in June: Parachute Women: Marianne Faithfull, Marsha Hunt, Bianca Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, and the Women Behind the Rolling Stones. Sarah Ann Winn, MFA ’14, has two ecopoetic poems in the most recent issue of About Place. The theme of the issue is The More than Human World.

Memoir in a Flash: Life Stories in Short Bursts Monday, January 22 6 p.m. Zoom As part of this year’s Homecoming events and in partnership with Mason’s Alumni Association, Steph Liberatore, MFA ’14 and Associate Professor of English at Mason, leads a discussion on writing life stories—fielding your questions about how to bring your histories to life on the page. A generative workshop will give participants the opportunity to write during the session and share their works. Steph’s own nonfiction has been published in River Teeth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Cream City Review, Inside Higher Ed, and elsewhere, and she’s recently launched a new online publication, In Short: A Journal of Flash Nonfiction. Find more about Liberatore at stephliberatore.com, and, visit alumni.gmu.edu/homecoming24 to register!

spring 2024


Support Your

English Department

Martin Puchner

Please consider financially supporting our work and the next generation of Mason English students. Your gift will have an immediate impact on the future of our department and the writers and scholars we prepare for the world.

Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 pm Fenwick Library Main Reading Room

To contribute online, visit english.gmu.edu and select “Give” in the top right corner. If you have questions about the levels of giving or named fund opportunities, please contact Eleanor Weis, senior director of development, at eweis2@gmu.edu.

Vernon and Marguerite Gras Lecture in the Humanities


or this year’s Gras Lecture in the Humanities, Martin Puchner discusses his book Literature for a Martin Puchner Changing Planet, which ranges across four thousand years of world literature to draw vital lessons about how we put ourselves on the path of climate change—and argues for why we must learn to tell new stories about our relationship with the earth if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. The Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, Puchner is a prize-winning and bestselling author whose books include The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization, and Culture: The Story of Us, From Cave Art to K-Pop. He is the general editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature.

George Mason University Visiting Writers Series, Spring 2024 George Mason University’s Creative Writing Program joins Watershed Lit and Mason’s University Libraries in presenting the Spring 2024 Visiting Writers Series. All evening programs will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Reading Room, Mason’s Fairfax Campus. Visit creativewriting.gmu.edu for updated information.

MARY KAY ZURAVLEFF (FICTION) Thursday, April 5 Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of American Ending, which was chosen for Oprah’s Spring Reading List. Her third novel Man Alive! was a Washington Post Notable Book.


Mary Kay Zuravleff

Thursday, January 25 Sandra Lim’s latest book of poetry is The Curious Thing. Her previous collections include The Wilderness, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Loveliest Grotesque.

MELANIE BROOKS (NONFICTION) Thursday, March 14 Melanie Brooks is the author of A Hard Silence: One Daughter Remaps Family, Grief, And Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All and Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma.

JAMES ALLEN HALL (POETRY) Thursday, April 18 James Allen Hall (he/they) is the author of three books, including the poetry collections Now You’re the Enemy and Romantic Comedy, selected by Diane Seuss for the Levis Prize, and a book of lyric personal essays, I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well. James Allen Hall

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