Eight Department of English faculty members, graduate students, and alums presented papers at the College English Association‘s (CEA) 53rd Annual Conference in Atlanta. Each spring, CEA members get together for three days to share their work, test new ideas, seek feedback from their colleagues, and celebrate all things language and literature.

This year in particular, CEA embraced the idea of “transformations” and featured a diverse range of panels and presentations encompassing transformations in pedagogy and student populations, in the United States and the environment, and in literary texts and in the idea of literature, among many other subjects.

English faculty members Ian Barnard and Morgan Read-Davidson, along with alums Daniel Strasberger (‘20 Dual MA English/MFA Creative Writing) and Candice Yacono (‘21 Dual MA English/MFA Creative Writing) participated in a faculty panel titled “Transformations in the Teaching of Composition.”

Graduate student Rhyan Warmerdam (‘25 MA English) presented their paper: Engendering New Trans*formations: Naming in Cyrus Grace Dunham’s A Year Without a Name.

Graduate students Sawyer Kelly (‘24 MA English), Matt Lemas (‘24 Dual MA English/MFA Creative Writing) and Kristen Venegas (‘24 MA English) presented together in a graduate student instructor panel titled “Cultivating Introspection as a Means of Transformation in the Graduate Student Instructor-Student Experience.”

“Scholarship can sometimes feel isolating, as you often spend hours researching, writing, and revising alone,” said Matt Lemas, “[the] conference showed me, though, that there are people across the country who value the same work I do, making it a great place to simply geek out on what you love.”

In their panel, the trio focused on students who become “defensive toward novel material that does not align to themselves or goes against dominant ideology. This can consequently enforce cultural divides and set up the classroom for a one way track of instilling these presiding perspectives of knowledge in comparison to opening up the classroom for further discourse.”

When asked what advice she’d give to someone new to submitting or presenting at conferences, Kristen Venegas said, “don’t listen to the voice in your head giving you imposter syndrome.”

Congrats to all the presenters.

The Master of Arts in English is designed for students seeking continuing education in literature, rhetoric and composition, and cultural studies to deepen and develop their skills in research and analysis, as well as a foundation for doctoral work (Ph.D., Ed.D., JD) and/or a credential qualifying them to teach literature and composition courses at community colleges. 

(Pictured above: Top row: Assistant Professor Morgan Read-Davidson. Bottom row (left to right): Matt Lemas, Sawyer Kelly, and Kristen Venegas. These group of English members participated in a graduate student instructor panel on Cultivating Introspection as a Means of Transformation at CEA.)