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April Bayer is a second-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. She recently presented her paper "Willa Cather’s Bright Medusas: Intersections of Art, Myth, and Gender in 'Coming, Aphrodite!' and 'A Gold Slipper'" at the Cather Foundation's 2020 Spring Conference. Her creative work has previously appeared in Capsule Stories. During her time at USD, April has enjoyed reading submissions for South Dakota Review and serving as a graduate coordinator-consultant for the Writing Center. Her academic and research interests include global modernisms, Cather studies, female writers of the Fin de siècle, immigrant and refugee narratives, intersections of literature and media studies, and the pedagogy of composition and literature. When she isn't busy with school, you can find her petting cats, journaling, or embracing her inner Thoreau by taking nature walks.

Jordan Biggerstaff is a second year MA student on the critical track. In 2018, she received her undergraduate degree from Augustana University, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is a member of the Augustana chapter of Alpha Psi Omega. Over the summer of 2020, Jordan participated  in a round table discussion entitled “Together Alone: A Reflection on Support for Instructors of SPCM 101 during the 2020 COVID Pandemic," at the SDCTE/SCASD Online Conference hosted in Brookings, South Dakota. She also acted as research assistant to Dr. Richard Swanson of Augustana University on his most recent project, an original translation of Euripedes' Medea.

Her areas of interest include contemporary and postmodern literature, feminist literature, and adaptation.

Julie Boutwell-Peterson is a third-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. She has lived in England, France, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, and Senegal – studying, teaching, and/or doing development work. Now a TA at USD, she has also taught composition and/or English 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 writer in Florida. Her current creative interests lie in short stories and middle-grade fiction. Her critical interests include immigrant and post-colonial literature, comparative literature, and magical realism. In November 2019, Julie presented “‘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, Calif. In July 2020, her essay, “‘Who are these people?’: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth Flips the Script” was published in Portals: A Journal in Comparative Literature. Julie was the recipient of the 2020 USD Graduate Excellence in Teaching Award.

Clara MacIlravie Canas is a first-year M.A. student on the Literature/Critical track at USD. She received her B.S. in English and Professional Writing from Black Hills State University in May of 2019. Her academic and research interests include 18th and 19th Century British Literature, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Monster Theory. During her time in undergrad, she worked at the university’s Writing Assistance Center for several years where she gained experience working with ESL students. Clara currently serves as a Teaching Assistant at USD while she pursues her degree.

Jeremiah Davis is a second-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 the conception of self as seen in early 20th century American literature from authors such as John Steinbeck, William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor and examining the separation of urban and rural communities during the same period. Outside of American literature, he greatly enjoys medieval English literature and classical studies of Greece and Rome. He taught English in China for eighteen months and is interested in finding connections between canonical works from both the East and the West.

Sydney J.E. Evans is a second year M.A. student on the critical track. She graduated from the University of South Dakota in Fall of 2018 with her B.S. in English and a minor in political science. Her first publication, a research project tracing the personal and military life of WWII soldier and Clay County native Fern Odell Bruebaker, appears alongside a collection of similar biographic projects in Jing An Williams' Hometown's Fallen: Discovering the Human Aspects of Wars. She is also featured alongside the original contributors in an updated author biography within its second volume, which was printed in 2019. Sydney's areas of interest include women's writing of 18th/19th Century England, and the gothic tradition. Her primary area of interest and research are Shakespeare's problem plays/dark comedies, notably: The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, and Much Ado About Nothing. She is particularly attracted to production theory, monster studies, feminist studies, and Marxism. Her recent projects have attended to the staging of the problem plays (primarily, The Merchant of Venice), audience perception and reception of cruelty/monstrosity/victimhood, and the didactic power of theatre. 

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.

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. candidate 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 the poetics of conclusion. She 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. Kacie is currently writing her dissertation on the topic of “Unfinished American Writing.” She has presented at several regional and national conferences in both Literature and Composition & Rhetoric. Most recently, Kacie was a panelist for The Melville Society and the Emily Dickinson International Society’s panels at American Literature Association national conferences. She also served as Senior Advisor for the ALA’s “Year in Conferences” article published inESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culturein 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 M.A. thesis is titled “Romantic Melancholy: European Post-Enlightenment Protest in the Age of Reason.” She is currently a critical track 4th-year Ph.D. candidate and instructor at the University of South Dakota. Her specialization includes Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century British literature. Her academic interests concern Sensation Fiction, the Novel, Feminism, Pop Culture, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy. She has adjuncted at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. At the University of South Dakota, she has presented various papers such as: “A Lineage of Subversion: Constructing Female Identity in Zofloya,” for the 2019 IdeaFest, “Laments of the Downtrodden, A Historiographical Reading of Hood, Dickens, and Mayhew,” for the 2018 USD Colloquium Series, “Disability in Frankenstein,” and  “Beyond Terror, Exploring the Pedagogy of The Sublime, Beautiful, and Natural in Frankenstein” at the 2018 Frankenstein 200! Symposium. She has also held a position on the Graduate Student Advisory Committee Member and served as a juror for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Amelia Anne Harrington Gallagher is an American poet in their first year as a creative-track PhD candidate.

Mary Geraets is a third-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.

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 third 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, and most recently presented “Staging Idiocy: Harpo Marx and The Good Soldier Švejk as Resistance Figures Against Totalitarianism” 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, as well as served as a consultant and administrator for the Writing Center. Recently, Justin’s short story “The Creature in the Woods” was published in Oakwood Literary Journal.

Avery M. Guess (@averymguess) received a 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry. She’s the Grant Program Manager at the Kentucky Foundation for Women in Louisville, Kentucky; a PhD student at USD; and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Her debut her full-length poetry collection, The Truth Is, was published in April 2019 by Black Lawrence Press, and her chapbook, The Patient Admits, is available from dancing girl press. Avery’s website is 

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.

Laurie Johns is a second 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 attended Frederich Alexandar Universität in Erlangen, Germany and 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.

Rachel Mitchell is a first year MA student on the literature track and a graduate TA. She received her BA in English Literature and minored in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Chadron State College in Nebraska. She also has an AA in Theatre from Central Wyoming College. Her primary areas of interest are contemporary Native American female authors, young adult novels, and dystopian based novels. She has also done extensive work researching Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. She has three works published in Tenth Street Miscellany: A critical piece titled The Lost Boy, Renfield, a non-fiction piece A Little Angel, and a fiction piece titled No One By Your Side. She was a presenter at the North American Victorian Studies Associate as an undergraduate in October 2019. She also was accepted to the Sigma Tau Delta International Conference in March 2020 to present a critical essay on Shakespeare.

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.

Parker Oleson is a first-year MA student on the creative track. He received his BA in Communication Studies as well as a minor in Creative Writing from the University of South Dakota. There, he was also the recipient of the Archer B. Gilfillan Scholarship for his short story titled “Muddy Shovel.” His writing interests include environmental and conservation narratives, magical realism and speculative fiction, and creative nonfiction hybrid work in addition to poetry and flash fiction. He is originally from the Black Hills and is thrilled to be surrounded by such talented fellow scholars.

Heather Corrigan Phillips is a third-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. Her most recent essay, “A Scattershot Approach,” was published in Southern Humanities Review’s Spring 2020 issue. She has also published essays as Heather Corrigan in North American Review, Ascent, Connecticut Review, Louisville Review, Oyez Review, Litro Magazine and Lowestoft Chronicle, and her essay “Widmarked” was a 2015 finalist in Southeast Review’s narrative nonfiction contest.  

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.

Karli Tokala Rouse is a first year PhD student on the creative track. She comes from the Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate, was born in the Sandhills of Nebraska, and grew up in Las Vegas. During her time at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she received a BA in English (‘17) and an MFA in Creative Writing (‘20). A multidisciplinary writer, her work and research center upon Indigenous literature, craft theory, and settler colonial studies.

Joshua Rudnik, enrolled Oglala Lakota, is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in creative writing, focusing in poetry and literary nonfiction, at the University of South Dakota, where he is also an associate editor for The South Dakota Review. Joshua’s research focuses in Native American literature aesthetics and postcolonial/decolonization theory, and his poetry and literary nonfiction has been featured in Still, Prairie Winds, and Metrosphere. Recently, Joshua was selected for the Creative Community Leadership Institute 2020-2021 cohort. In addition to his role as a USD graduate student, Joshua began his position as the Associate Director of Student Success for The Indian University of North America and Crazy Horse Memorial in June 2020 where he serves as an instructor and student advisor. Joshua is an avid reader, father of five cats, and LEGO enthusiast.

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. Before beginning her doctoral work, she taught four years of high school English in SD and is now entering her third year as a Ph.D. graduate student and instructor on the critical-track at the University of South Dakota. Her academic interest focuses largely on 19th-century British literature with a focus on marriage, courtship, education, and reader reception. In 2015, 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. Following her graduation in 2016, 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. In addition to her work in the 19th Century, Sazama also studies contemporary popular culture and presented her paper Kindergarten Cop and ‘Docile Bodies’: Evidence of Foucault in Film” at the Mid-Atlantic Popular American Culture Association Conference in 2019. 

Jay Schroeder is a fifth-year critical track PhD student focusing on 18th and 19th century British Literature. His dissertation is titled The Unassailable Unknown: Crisis, Pessimism, and Monstrosity in Nineteenth-Century British Horror Literature. 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. including “The Monstrous Body, The Other, and Language in the Formation of Identity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Jay works full time with Sanford Health as an Instructional Designer and Learning and Development Specialist. He lives in Vermillion with his wife and four active children in a constant state of partial sanity.

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 currently hard at work on her dissertation, which addresses key works of South Dakota literature through the lenses of settler colonialism 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" was published 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 "'Where Progress Is Slow and Civilization Staggers a Few Steps Behind': Fraught Allyship in the Works of Dan O'Brien and Kent Meyers" at the upcoming 2020 Western Literature Association virtual conference in October. 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 is a Ph.D. candidate on the critical track. His 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 edited collection Worlds Gone Awry: Essays on Dystopian Fiction (McFarland 2018). He is currently working as a technology coordinator and online room mentor at Colome High School in Colome, SD.