English Literature Graduate Faculty Members


Jenny Aune

Teaching Professor [ENGL]

Jeanine Elise Aune (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015) is the Director of Advanced Communication. She works with colleagues in English and stakeholders across campus to design and continually update curricula for the program’s four courses. Her research examines how the (mis)understanding of science affects scientists’ communication with the general public and how to effectively collaborate with science and engineering colleagues to create relevant communication courses for students in those disciplines. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education, Journal of Microbiology and Biological Education, and WAC Journal. Dr. Aune also collaborated with Dr. Mackiewicz on the 12th edition of the textbook Business and Administrative Communication.


Gloria Betcher

Adjunct Associate Professor [ENGL]

Gloria Betcher (U of Minnesota, 1994) has a research specialty in medieval Cornish drama. Her articles on drama and festive culture in pre-modern Britain have appeared in books, journals, and on the multimedia DVD-Rom The English Parish Church Through the Centuries: Daily Life & Spirituality, Art & Architecture, Literature & Music (2010). She has received departmental, university, and national recognition for teaching and offers courses on festive culture, Arthurian legend, and medieval drama. Currently serving on the editorial board of Early Theatre, she is also a councilwoman for the City of Ames and recently co-authored the book Ames (2014).


Brianna Burke

Associate Professor [ENGL]

Brianna Burke (Tufts U, 2011) specializes in Environmental Humanities and is at work on a book project called Becoming Beast: The Humanimal in Environmental Justice Fiction, which explores the morphing ideology of what it means to be (considered) Animal in a world of decreasing resources. Her primary field is Environmental Justice and 20th-century American Literature, but she also publishes on American Indian Literature as well as the pedagogy of social justice. Her most recent article on The Hunger Games just appeared in ISLE.


Barbara Ching

Professor [ENGL]

Barbara Ching (Duke U, 1990) explores the ways in which distinctions between high and popular culture have been created, expressed, disputed, and changed. She has taken up these questions in Wrong’s What I Do Best: Hard Country Music and Contemporary Culture (2001) and in many articles. Her work on Susan Sontag grows from Sontag’s interest in mass media’s transformation of European high culture, which made movies and other texts and images important sources of meaning for millions.


KJ Gilchrist

Associate Teaching Professor [ENGL]

KJ Gilchrist (Univ. of Kansas, 1995) specializes in British literature, focusing on Modernism (British and American), the First World War, trauma studies, and Postmodernism. He has also focused his studies on the development of the novel, with particular interest in the influences of war as making the modern and postmodern novel an expression of trauma. His publications include articles and reviews on war literature and trauma, Evelyn Waugh, Shakespeare, and A Morning after War: C. S. Lewis and WWI (2005). As well as teaching widely across the English department’s curriculum, serving as a department substitute instructor, and having served as Curriculum Fellow in Advanced Communications, he is currently at work on a study of human spaces within Modernist literature and on a novel.


Novotny Lawrence

Associate Professor

Charissa Menefee

Professor [ENGL]

Charissa Menefee (PhD, Southern IL U-Carbondale) is a playwright, poet, director, and performer. Her chapbook, When I Stopped Counting, is available from Finishing Line Press, and her poetry can also be found or is forthcoming in Adanna, Poetry South, Terrene, Poets Reading the News, The Paddock Review, Twyckenham Notes, Amygdala, The Indian River Review, Footnotes, Dragon Poet Review, Telepoem Booths, and collections such as The Hippocrates Prize for Poetry & Medicine Anthology, Surprised By Joy, and The Poeming Pigeon: In the News. She is a 2018 Writer-in-Residence at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts.

Dr. Menefee has been a Tennessee Williams Scholar in Playwriting at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a finalist for the Julie Harris Playwright Award. Her plays have been honored by the Utah Shakespeare Festival's New American Playwrights Project, Pandora Festival of New Plays, American College Theatre Festival, Arizona Theatre Conference, Christian H. Moe Awards, and City of Charleston Literary Arts Awards. Pretty Lucky is included in 105 Five-Minute Plays for Study and Performance (Smith & Kraus). Recent productions include Our Antigone, adapted from Sophocles, premiered at Story Theatre Company (Iowa); Your Soup, Sir, part of Paula Vogel's UBU ROI Bake-Off at the Playwrights Center (Minnesota); Sarah's Poem, premiered in Rover Dramawerks' 365 Women a Year Festival (Texas); Check Your Ticket, included in the What She Said Festival at The Underground Theatre (Minnesota); and Lydia's Plan, named Best Play in the Theatre Lawrence Short Play Festival (Kansas). How Long is Fifteen Minutes? was supported by a research grant from Iowa State University's Center for Excellence in the Arts & Humanities and recently featured in Tennessee Women's Theatre Project's Women's Work Festival; the anchoring monologue is in production as a short film, directed by the author. Dr. Menefee has been involved with about two hundred plays, as writer, director, producer, dramaturg, actor, designer, and technician. She was co-founder and co-producer, with playwright Micki Shelton, of Tomorrow’s Theatre Tonight, a new play reading and development series that ran for nearly a decade in Arizona.

Current projects include two new collections of poetry, Last of the Shepherds and The Poet Donates His Minutes; a new full-length historical drama; and a novel.


Donna Niday

Associate Professor [ENGL]

Donna Niday (U of Iowa, 1996) has primary expertise in English Education and coordinates the MA in English for those specializing in Literature and the Teaching of Reading (LTR). She has permanent licensure in secondary education in the state of Iowa, has won numerous awards for her teaching, co-authored Mentoring Beginning Teachers(2nd ed. 2009), and has written essays on teaching literature in secondary schools and teaching young adult fiction. She has also held multiple leadership positions in the National Council of Teachers of English.


Justin Remes

Assistant Professor [ENGL]

Justin Remes (Wayne State U, 2012) is a film theorist whose research specialties include experimental cinema, intermedia, and aesthetics. His monograph Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis (Columbia University Press, 2015) is the first book-length study of movies that do not move.  His forthcoming book, Absence in Cinema: The Art of Showing Nothing (Columbia University, 2020), investigates erasures of sound and imagery in experimental film.


David Russell

Professor Emeritus

David R. Russell is professor emeritus of English at Iowa State University, where he taught foundation composition and upper level business and technical writing, history of children’s literature, and in the Ph.D. program in Rhetoric and Professional Communication. His research interests are in writing in the disciplines and professions, international writing instruction, and the phenomenology of writing. His book, Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History, now in its second edition, examines the history of United States writing instruction since 1870. He has published over 70 articles and chapters on writing in the disciplines (WiD) and professions, drawing mainly on cultural historical activity theory and rhetorical genre theory, to which he has contributed.

He co-edited Landmark Essays on Writing Across the Curriculum, a special issue of Mind, Culture, and Activity on writing research, Writing and Learning in Cross-National Perspective: Transitions from Secondary to Higher Education, and Writing Selves and Societies. He has given workshops and lectures on WiD, including at more than 50 international meetings, and he has been keynote or featured speaker at more than 50 conferences. He has consulted with numerous institutions on writing curriculum, and for international research projects sponsored by the German, British, French, Chilean, and European Union governments.

For twelve years he edited Journal of Business and Technical Communication, a JCR ranked journal, which during his editorship had more NCTE “best article” awards than any of its competitors, almost one third of all given. He was the first Knight Visiting Scholar in Writing at Cornell University, 1999, a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University of London, 2005, and a Fulbright Scholar in Portugal, 2012, and external evaluator for the English Department at City University Hong Kong, 2015-2019.

At Iowa State University, he served as co-director of the Advanced Communication undergraduate program and coordinated the internship program for the Bachelor of Science in Technical Communication program. He received Iowa State’s Mid-Career and Career Researcher Awards.


Brandon Sams

Assistant Professor [ENGL]

Brandon Sams (UNC-Chapel Hill, 2012) has research and teaching interests that include reading and writing pedagogy, critical reflection, and teacher identity development. Much of his current work focuses on the potential of aesthetic and contemplative  reading  practices  to  interrupt  and  renew “schooled”  reading  practices shaped by the epistemologies of audit  culture. He enjoys working with future and practicing teachers who believe that reading books together is a simple but powerful way to create better selves and communities. His work has appeared recently in The ALAN Review, English Teaching: Practice & Critique, and The Journal of Language & Literacy Education.


Linda Shenk

Associate Professor [ENGL]

Linda Shenk (U of Minnesota, 2002) specializes in early modern drama, particularly Shakespeare, and is the author of Learned Queen: The Image of Elizabeth I in Politics and Poetry (2009) as well as numerous articles on Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabethan court drama, and the influence of international politics in early modern drama. She has a background in theater, which influences her teaching and research. Currently, she is also working on a project related to creating sustainable cities and big data.


Matthew Wynn Sivils

Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor

Matthew Wynn Sivils (Oklahoma State U, 2006) has interests in the environmental humanities, pre-1900 American literary culture, and the American Gothic. In addition to numerous articles, he has authored or edited seven books, most recently American Environmental Fiction, 17821847 (2014) and a critical edition of Paul L. Errington’s Of Wilderness and Wolves (forthcoming). He has held research fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society and the Huntington Library and is the founding editor of the Ashgate book series “North American Literature and the Environment, 1600–1900.”


Jeremy Withers

Associate Professor [ENGL]

Jeremy Withers (Ohio State U, 2011) teaches and writes on science fiction, literary theory, and British literature. Most of his previous publications have examined the effects of warfare on the natural world as represented in literary texts. His current research focuses on issues of transportation in literature, and he has a co-edited book titled Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press. He is also working on a book-length study of bicycles and cycling in the works of H. G. Wells.


Susan Yager

Morrill Professor [ENGL]

Susan Yager (U of Pennsylvania, 1991), Professor, is Faculty Director of the Iowa State University Honors Program. Her research focuses on medieval English literature, especially Chaucer, and on pedagogy. She also works publishes on medievalism and children’s literature, as well as on Honors education. Susan regularly teaches Engl 523, Introduction to Old English Language and Literature, as well as courses on Chaucer and on allegory. She recently co-edited a collection of essays, Interpretation and Performance: Essays for Alan Gaylord.


Rochelle Zuck

Associate Professor [ENGL]

Rochelle Raineri Zuck (Pennsylvania State University, 2008) specializes in early American literature, African American literature, American Indian literature, and print culture. She is the author of "Divided Sovereignties: Race, Nationhood, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America", (University of Georgia Press, 2016) and some of her most recent articles appear in scholarly journals such as American Periodicals, Journal of American Studies, and Studies in American Indian Literatures. Her current projects include a scholarly edition of James Fenimore Cooper’s 1848 novel Oak Openings; or, The Bee-Hunter and a book on American Indian newspapers and periodicals.