April Bayer is a first-year M.A. student on the Literature/Critical track at USD. She graduated with high distinction from Concordia University, Nebraska in 2019 with a B.A. in English and Theology and a B.S.Ed. in Educational Studies. April served as the president of Concordia’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter and enjoyed her time writing and editing for its departmental magazine, Potpourri, a recipient of Sigma Tau Delta’s Outstanding Literary Arts Journal Award. She is also a past recipient of the Willa Cather Foundation’s Norma Ross Walter Scholarship and a Horatio Alger Scholar. April has experience working with ESL students and spent time interning in the Editorial Curriculum Resources department of St. Louis-based publishing company Concordia Publishing House. Her academic and research interests include literary modernism, the New Woman movement of late Victorian fiction, immigrant narratives, postcolonial criticism, and the pedagogy of composition and literature.
Jordan Biggerstaff is a first year MA student specializing in literary criticism. She received her BA in English, Theatre, and German from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is a member of the Augustana chapter of Alpha Psi Omega. As a undergraduate student, Jordan directed Stop Kiss in conjunction with the Augustana Collaborative Theatrical Society. Following the production, she presented her directorial research at the Arthur Olsen Student Research Symposium in a lecture entitled, "Exhume Your Gays: Women's Writing in Diana Son's Stop Kiss." Jordan recently presented "Death Becomes Her: Gender, Fear, and Power in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Penny Dreadful" at at USD’s Frankenstein 200! symposium. Her areas of interest includes postmodern literature and revisionist fiction.
Julie Boutwell-Peterson is a second-year PhD student on the creative track. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from Wake Forest University and a M.A. in English from Auburn University. Studying, teaching, and/or doing development work, Julie has lived and worked in England, France, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, and Senegal. Now a TA at USD, she has also taught composition and/or literature at Auburn University, the College of Coastal Georgia, and the University of Sioux Falls. Before and in between teaching jobs, Julie worked as a newspaper reporter in North Carolina and Alabama and as a freelance feature writer in Florida. Her current creative interests lie in middle-grade fiction and creative non-fiction. Her critical interests include immigrant and refugee literature as well as American protest literature. In November, Julie will present “‘Brains Full of Unawakened Power’: Immigrants and the Ethics of a Nation in Life in the Iron Mills” at the PAMLA Conference in San Diego, California.
Molly Cameron is a second year MA student on the critical track. She earned her BA in English Literature from Western Illinois University in 2018 as an Honors Scholar and the president of her Sigma Tau Delta chapter, a position she has also taken up at USD. She has presented both critical and creative work at multiple conferences and open mics, and recently won an award for writing the best creative response to the common reader at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri last spring. She is looking forward to presenting her paper "Body as Commodity: Capitalism, Gender, and Social Commentary in Neo-Burlesque" at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association conference in San Diego, California this November. Molly's areas of interest include postmodernism, Marxism, gender and queer theory, and Digital Humanities. She is particularly excited about her thesis, which focuses on interactive narrative and ethics and is tentatively titled “Becoming Human, Playing God: The Illusion of Interactivity in Branching-Path Narratives.” Although she strongly focuses on critical analysis in her academic life, Molly also enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry, and hopes one day to write a graphic novel.
Jeremiah Davis is a first-year PhD candidate on the critical track. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Saint Cloud State University and a M.A. in English from the University of Saint Thomas. His primary areas of interest involve utilizing a Kierkegaardian lens to analyze early 20th century American literature from authors as diverse as John Steinbeck and Nella Larsen and also exploring the conceptions of civilization found in pulp-fantasy authors such as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Outside of American literature, he greatly enjoys medieval English literature and classical studies of Greece and Rome. He taught English in China for 18 months and is interested in finding connections between canonical works from both the East and the West.
Sydney J.E. Evans is a first year English M.A. student specializing in literature. She earned her B.S. in English alongside a minor in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in 2018. Her first publication is a research project, undertaken during her undergraduate degree, which unfolds the life and military career of Fern Odell Bruebaker, a fallen WWII soldier from Clay County. Sydney's work appears in a collection of similar projects undertaken by other USD alumni, and headed by USD faculty member Jing An Williams, PhD., in Hometown's Fallen: Discovering the Human Aspects of Wars (2018). She is also featured alongside the original contributors in an updated biography within its second volume, which was printed this year. Her academic interests include: Shakespeare, performance studies, 18th and 19th century British literature, feminist and queer theory, and object and violence studies. In recent works, she has analyzed Shakespeare's dramas to examine concealment and disguise while also exploring androgyny as a created space between societal mores or conditions, where an actor may posses qualities of two unique states of being and the authorities thereof. Currently, she is working as a teaching assistant while she studies. When not reading or writing, Sydney enjoys gaming, baking, painting, and spending time with her spouse, Jesse, and two cats, Ana and Theo.
Simon Ferrell is a critical-track Ph.D. student specializing in 20th- and 21st-century British literature. He earned his B.A. from Augustana University and his M.A. from the University of South Dakota. A two-time Emily Haddad Graduate Teaching Award recipient, Simon has taught at the University of South Dakota, Augustana University and the University of Iowa. Recently, he has presented at the Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture Since 1900 in Louisville, Kentucky; the Midwest Modern Language Association conference in Detroit, Michigan; and the American Conference for Irish Studies - Western Region in Rapid City, South Dakota. He has published in the International Journal of Zizek Studies. His dissertation, which he is finishing this year with plans to graduate Spring 2020, focuses on structures of violence, futurity, forms of labor, and the demands of capitalist modernity within postmodern archipelagic British and Irish literature.
Mary Geraets is a second-year M.A. candidate specializing in creative writing. Mary has earned a B.S. in English from the University of South Dakota and is a member of USD's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. She has two years of experience working with middle school students and was an intern for the South Dakota Review in 2016. Mary is interested in creative non-fiction, hybrid genres, poetry, trauma studies, and feminist theory. She is interested in teaching English and creative writing in a secondary education setting.
Jayna Gearhart Fitzsimmons is a critical-track Ph.D. student specializing in 20th and 21st-century drama. Her research interests include metatheatre, theatre for social change, resistance literature, and the relationship between text, performance, and audience. Jayna received her B.A. in theatre arts from Southwest Minnesota State University and her M.A. in theatre from the University of South Dakota. Since 2010, Jayna has been a full-time faculty member in the theatre department at Augustana University where she directs productions and teaches coursework in acting, theatre history and literature, new play development, improvisation, and theatre for social change. Jayna also teaches a global studies course that explores performance in Central and Eastern Europe, and she sits on the board of the Upper Midwest Association of Intercultural Education (UMAIE). Jayna’s directing work has received regional honors from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF); most recently, she earned recognition for her productions of King Lear and When the World Was Wild and Waste. As a director, Jayna frequently partners with the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts, and she is the producing artistic director of Bare Bodkins Theatre Company, a professional, original practice Shakespeare company based in Sioux Falls.
Kacie Fodness is a critical-track Ph.D. student specializing in 19th-century American literature. Her primary interest is in the American Renaissance tradition. Kacie’s theoretical interests are grounded in genre studies, considerations of history and form, and epistemologies of language/representation. Kacie received her MA from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her thesis, entitled “‘Ashes Denote that Fire Was’: The Poetics of Space in Melville and Dickinson,” was the 2011 winner of the Alvan S. Ryan Award for Best Literature Paper in the MA English Department. She has presented at several regional and national conferences in both Literature and Composition & Rhetoric. Most recently, she served as Senior Advisor for the American Literature Association “Year in Conferences” article that was published in ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture in the fall of 2019.
Erin Frink has a B.A. and M.A. in English with a minor in Spanish from the University of Northern Iowa. Her thesis is titled “Romantic Melancholy: European Post-Enlightenment Protest in the Age of Reason.” She is currently a Ph.D. graduate student and instructor on the critical-track at the University of South Dakota. Her specialization includes British Victorian and Romantic literature as well as Spanish Romanticism. Her academic interests specifically concern 19th Century Sensation Novels as well as Pop Culture, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy. She has also instructed at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. In 2016, she presented a paper titled "Dangerous Women: Female Crime and Subversion in the Sensation Novel" at the Crime and Criminality conference for the Carolina Graduate Literature Society at the University of South Carolina. In 2018, she presented "Basic Braining': Rhetorical Ideology in the Video Game 'Possibility Space'” at the College English Association conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, and she presented at the Frankenstein 200! symposium at the University of South Dakota. She has also held a position on the Graduate Student Advisory Committee.
Justin Gray received his bachelor’s degree in English from Brooklyn College and his master’s degree in English from the University of South Dakota after successfully defending his thesis project The Revolution on Magnolia Avenue. Justin is currently enrolled as a second year PhD student at USD. He has presented a paper titled, “Finding Humanity Through Ridicule: Understanding Racism and Nationalism Through the Films of Mel Brooks” at the Midwest Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association conference in St. Louis, Mo in the fall 2017 and a paper entitled “Mary Shelley and the Romantic Brain” at the Frankenstein 200! conference in Vermillion, South Dakota. Most recently he presented “Staging Idiocy: Harpo Marx and The Good Soldier Švejk as Resistance Figures Against Totalitariansim” for the Space Between conference in June 2019. Justin’s duties as a Teaching Assistant include Comp 101, ENGL 210, ENGL 283, and ENGL 205. He also has served as a consultant and administrator for the USD Writing Center. Recently, Justin’s short story “The Creature in the Woods” was published in Oakwood Literary Journal.
Avery M. Guess (@averymguess) is a recipient of 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and residencies from the Albee Foundation and the Ragdale Foundation. She is a PhD student in creative writing, poetry, at University of South Dakota and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Crab Orchard Review, Moon City Review, Thrush, Rogue Agent, Tinderbox, Glass, Rust + Moth, and Deaf Poets Society and creative non-fiction in Entropy and The Manifest-Station. Her chapbook, The Patient Admits, is out from dancing girl press, and her first full-length collection of poetry was published in April 2019 by Black Lawrence Press. Avery’s website is averymguess.com.
Elin Hægeland is a first year PhD student on the critical track and a graduate teaching assistant. She is from Norway, but she has lived in the U.S. for several years. She holds a BA in English and Classics from Augustana University and a MA in English literature from USD. Elin Specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth- British and transatlantic literature and is particularly interested in literature relating to colonialism and the empire. In November 2019, she will be presenting “Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce: Sentimental Africanism in Eighteenth-Century Abolitionist Texts” at the PAMLA conference in San Diego.
Morgan James earned a B.A. in English in 2015 from South Dakota State University and is currently an M.A./J.D. candidate at USD. Before starting law school, Morgan worked as a Technical Writer for Daktronics; she also began her M.A. in English Rhetoric at SDSU, gaining experience as a writing center tutor and graduate teaching assistant. This past summer, Morgan worked as a legal intern in the Governor's Office. She currently serves as a member on the USD Moot Court Board. Her research and literary interests are in gender studies and feminism and creative nonfiction.
Laurie Johns is a first year Ph.D. English candidate. Laurie earned both her M.A. in English and her B.A. in German from the University of South Dakota in 1986. She also attended Frederich Alexandar Universität in Erlangen, Germany. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe and southeast Asia. Her interests are diverse. She has been committed to the study of yoga since 2004. She also paints and writes poetry and her work has appeared in The Briar Cliff Review.
Derric Ludens is an English faculty member at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. He is married to the love of his life Maria Ludens, who is a medical student at the Sanford School of Medicine. Ludens' academic interests include nineteenth and early twentieth century American Literature, as well as literary and cultural theory. His dissertation is entitled "Subtle Trauma: Experiences on the Margins," which seeks to broaden the applicability of trauma theory by (1) focusing on the subtle forces that hegemonic cultures place on certain bodies and (2) examining how these forces can create traumatic experiences for socially, politically, and/or economically disenfranchised individuals. He also advises Dakota Wesleyan University's Student Diversity Council and the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.
Raul Benjamin Moreno received his B.A. in rhetoric from Willamette University, his M.A. in communication from Washington State University, and his M.A. in English from Colorado State University. As a doctoral student at USD, an associate professor of English at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and a student media advisor at Washington State University Vancouver, Raul is currently at work on his creative dissertation, which carries a working title: The Land of Infinite Variety. As a collection of linked stories, Raul’s work narrates a series of attempts at homecoming in the American West and beyond. Raul’s fiction, essays, and other prose have been published by outlets such as The Normal School, Hobart, Quarterly West, Drunken Boat, and Otis Nebula. His teaching interests include the short story, creative nonfiction, multimodal composition, journalism, and fieldwork. Past presentations have included panels for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the Western Literature Association, and the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. In 2019, Raul moderated a discussion among working writers at AWP in Portland, Oregon, titled “Selfish, Sleepless, Self-Deprecating: Parents on Children and the Writing Life.” He also served as guest editor for The Liminal, an interdisciplinary journal of technology in education, based at the University of Denver’s Digital Commons.
Jacquelyn Morgan is a second-year M.A. English candidate on the creative track. She received her B.A. in English from the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska while working full-time in the Accounting department of a rival university. She served as the Editor-in-Chief of the inaugural edition of the literary journal The Saint Mary’s Review in 2016-17 and returned to the staff in 2017-18 as Editor Emerita. During the spring and summer of 2019, she was fortunate enough to work in the USD Writing Center. In her free time, she enjoys working as a freelance editor to help writers uncover their best writing. Jacque currently serves as Treasurer of USD’s Alpha Mu Phi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. Her interests include (but are definitely not limited to) Holocaust and genocide studies, creative nonfiction, trauma theory, publishing, her dog Charlie, and teaching English and creative writing for secondary education.
Heather Corrigan Phillips is a second-year Ph.D. candidate on the creative track. She holds a B.A. in English from Southern Connecticut State University and a M.S. in Professional Writing from Towson University. Prior to joining USD, Heather taught English in the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Czech Republic. Her interests include cross cultural narratives, humor writing, and memoir. She has published essays as Heather Corrigan in North American Review, Ascent, Connecticut Review, Louisville Review, Oyez Review, Litro Magazine and Lowestoft Chronicle, among others. Her essay “Widmarked” was a 2015 finalist in Southeast Review’s narrative nonfiction contest and her essay “Death and Fat Sandwiches” was a finalist in the 2010 William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing competition for essays.
Kevin Phillips is currently working on his Ph.D. in creative writing (fiction) at the University of South Dakota. He has an M.A. in ancient history from the University of Minnesota and an M.F.A. in fiction from Louisiana State University. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Bryant Literary Review, CC&D Magazine, Hippocampus, Dangling Modifier and The North American Review, for which his essay, "Eight Hours, with Cow," won the 2017 Torch Prize for Creative Nonfiction. His current novel project, The Mother of Dust, earned a finalist slot for best novel-in-progress at the Words and Music Literary Festival in New Orleans. His short story “Animalia” appears in the September ’18 edition of Masque & Spectacle.
Grant Riedel is an artist who hails from the Midwest. He holds both a B.A. in art and a M.A. in creative writing from the University of Northern Iowa. His interests are teaching, general fiction, publishing and conceptual poetry. Currently, Grant is the assistant managing editor of Astrophil Press. His prose and poetry has appeared in journals such as The Black Fox Literary Magazine and The North American Review. Currently, Grant works as a high school educator instructing English. Grant’s dissertation is titled EMIT, a fictive rendition of the misconception of time.
Joshua Rudnik grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the eastern plains of Colorado, locations from which he continually draws his inspiration. He holds a B.A. in English from Metropolitan University of Denver and an M.A. from the University of South Dakota and he is currently working on his Ph.D. in creative writing, focusing on poetry and creative nonfiction. While Joshua’s main writing endeavors focus on childhood nostalgia, his research interests include Native American studies, postcolonial/decolonization theory, and a growing interest in ecocriticism. His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in Metrosphere. During the summer semester, Joshua teaches English courses at the Indian University of North America at Crazy Horse.
Taya Sazama holds a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from the University of Sioux Falls and an M.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas. After teaching high school English for four years, she is now entering into her second year as a Ph.D. graduate student and instructor on the critical-track at the University of South Dakota. Her academic interests include 18th and 19th Century British Literature, feminist studies, and pop culture. She published a paper entitled “Theory in Practice in the High School Classroom: Using The Kite Runner to Teach Literary Theory” in the Minnesota English Journal Online. In 2017, she presented her thesis, “Bringing Theory and Practice Together: Heroism, Disability, and the Women of the Romance Novel Community,” at the Texas State University Research Symposium.
Jay Schroeder returned to academia to pursue his PhD after eighteen years as a business leader and executive. He is currently a fourth-year critical track PhD student focusing on 18th and 19th century British Literature. His dissertation research focuses on the atmosphere of fear in Gothic literature through an examination of atavism, degeneration, monstrosity and the appropriation of the medieval. Jay received his Masters in Literary Studies from St. Cloud State University where his thesis was titled, “A Medievalist Point of View on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: Power and Women: An Examination of Daenerys Targaryen.” He has presented at several conferences in both literature and composition and rhetoric. Most recently he presented “The Monstrous Body, The Other, and Language in the Formation of Identity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” as part of a panel on Social Contexts at the Frankenstein 200 conference at the University of South Dakota, February 2018. Jay also teaches at Western Iowa Tech and serves as an instructor with the Upward Bound summer academic program. He lives in Vermillion with his wife and four active children in a constant state of partial sanity.
Russell Shaffer is a fifth-year creative track PhD student with interests in historical fiction, wartime fiction, 20th century American literature, American history, and children's literature. His publications include "Little Brown Coat," Vermillion Literary Project, 2017; "Pit Bull in Pink Chiffon," Vermillion Literary Project, 2016; "Patchwork Stars," Furrow, 2014; and "Those Who Will not Hear," Furrow, 2013. Recent presentations include "Grounding Historical Fiction: Redlands, CA," IdeaFest 2017, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD; "Treehouse Soldiers," IdeaFest 2016, USD; and "Rooting for the Wrong," Red River Graduate Student Conference 2016, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. Russell’s dissertation is titled “Treehouse Soldiers.”
Lindsay Stephens studies 20th and 21st-century American literature, with an emphasis on the American West, settler colonialism, frontier mythologies, and environmental extraction. She is particularly interested in the works of Wallace Stegner, Mari Sandoz, James Welch, and William Kittredge (among many others), and she approaches these texts through a range of lenses, particularly ecocriticism, settler colonial studies and place studies. Her essay “‘I Think a Look at the West Will Do You Good’: Queer Visibility and Mythological Refuge in The Price of Salt” is slated for publication in the autumn 2018 issue of Western American Literature, and her paper “Mobile Stickers and the Specter of Snugness: Place-Making in Pa Ingalls’s Dakota Territory,” appears in the 2019 collection Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder. Lindsay will present her paper "'What Are Y'all Starin' at?': Female Masculinity, Queerphobia, and Agency in Godless" at the upcoming 2019 Western Literature Association conference in Estes Park, Colorado. A skier, hiker, and rock-climbing guide, Lindsay has also written the historical Black Hills guidebook The Adventure Climbs of Herb and Jan Conn, published in 2008.
Wes Yeary’s interests lie in contemporary and 20th-century American literature, such as Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner. He has historically been interested in object oriented ontology and posthumanism, but has a budding interest in familial and theological elements in literature. His first publication, “‘What if I said that he’s a god?’: Messianism in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,” appears in the collection Worlds Gone Awry: Essays on Dystopian Fiction (McFarland 2018).