Meet the Current English Graduate Students

Jessie Adolph

Africana Literature & Theory, PhD

Gregory Allendorf   

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Khem Aryal

Rhetoric/Composition & Creative Writing (Fiction), ABD

Hailing from Nepal, Khem is the author of Epic Teashop (Vajra Books, 2009) and Kathmandu Saga And Other Poems (NWEN, 2004). His short stories and poems have appeared in Poydras Review, Qwerty Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, Of Nepalese Clay etc. Currently, he's working on a novel and a collection of short stories, in addition to working on his critical dissertation. He (in)frequently blogs at   

Dorothy Atuhura

Folklore & Oral Tradition, PhD        

Constance Bailey      

Africana Literature & Theory, ABD

Alison Balaskovits    

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

Alison's critical work focuses on traditional fairy tales and their current incarnations, eyeing them through a feminist lens. She has recently finished a collection of revised folk and fairy tales and is currently working on a novel. Her work can be found at The Madison Review, Gargoyle, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere.

Anne Barngrover

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD         

Anne earned her MFA at Florida State University. She is the author of Yell Hound Blues (Shipwreckt Books 2013) and co-author with Avni Vyas of the chapbook Candy in Our Brains (CutBank 2014).

Toby Beeny

Medieval Literature, PhD      

I specialize in Medieval Literature, particularly in Anglo-Saxon works dealing with heroism and kingship. I am especially interested in examining the ways in which the bonds between warriors and lords and the codes that warriors (sometimes) lived by was influenced by Christian ideas. Some of my recent work has examined the ways that King Alfred emphasized the sacral character of kingship in his translations of Gregory's Pastoral Care and the Psalms, a role that prioritizes the virtue of wisdom in a king as well as the king's function as teacher while simultaneously upholding the traditional idea of king as war leader.

Colin Beineke

Contemporary American Literature, PhD     

Colin is a PhD student in comics studies and contemporary American literature. He has published articles in ImageText and the International Journal of Comic Art.

Erica (London) Brickley      

Folklore & Oral Tradition, PhD

Elise Broaddus

Medieval Literature, MA/PhD

Jeremy Brok 

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), MA

Hsiao-wen Chen       

Critical Theory, PhD

Julie Christenson

Medieval Literature & Creative Writing (Fiction), ABD        

Meagan Ciesla

20th-Century American Literature & Creative Writing (Fiction), ABD          

Meagan is a PhD candidate in English with concentrations in Creative Writing and American Literature. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Cimarron Review, The Long Story, Iron Horse Literary Review, PrimeNumber, and other publications. She is currently working on a collection of stories, and a novel based loosely upon real events that occurred in Upstate New York in the early 1990s. Her critical research interests focus on working class issues in 20th-century American fiction.

Katharine Clark       

Medieval & Renaissance Literature, PhD

Naomi Clark 

Rhetoric/Composition & Women’s and Gender Studies, ABD

Naomi studies 21st-century American political rhetoric in the context of globalization and neoliberalism and currently serves as Graduate Research Assistant at MU’s Campus Writing Program. As a mother of two young children, she is passionate about supporting the academic success of other parenting students. She enjoys cooking with the farm-to-table bounty of central Missouri and has recently taken up yoga.

Rachel Cochran

Creative Writing (Fiction), MA          

Allison Coffelt          

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), MA

Allison is a graduate student in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Missouri. She has a particular interest in writing about social justice issues and sense of place. Allison attended Truman State University where she earned undergraduate degrees in English and Political Science. She enjoys traveling, being with friends and family, reading, and knitting.  She is up for trying any kind of cheese or baked good.

Corinna Cook

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD   

Drew Darr    

Renaissance Literature, PhD

Devin Day

Contemporary American Literature, MA/PhD

I am a second-year MA/PhD currently writing my thesis on William T. Vollmann’s historical fiction. I went to the University of Minnesota for undergrad, and I attempted to take as many contemporary literature courses as they offered—turns out there were only two to take. Besides historical fiction in the 21st century, I am also interested in the intersection between science and literature, as well as that thing called post-postmodernism. 

Philip Derbesy          

20th-Century American Literature, MA

I grew up in Alaska and did my undergraduate work at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho. I enjoy being outdoors (hiking, camping, fishing, and so on), but I’m not particularly outdoorsy (I have trouble keeping a fire lit and always let someone else gut whatever I happen to catch). I also enjoy hamburgers (I’d say Booches makes the best burger in town), playing guitar poorly, and watching films both in and out of an academic setting. 

Eric Dragseth

Rhetoric/Composition, PhD   

Joanna Eleftheriou

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), ABD

Joanna grew up in New York and Cyprus, and studies creative nonfiction, and the essay in particular. Her broader scholarly interests include bicultural identities, nationalism, places of conflict and trauma, and how traumatic histories influence genre. She has worked as a teacher of ESL, literature, and creative writing, and is instructor of Modern Greek Language at the yearly Writing Workshops in Greece. Her memoir excerpts, lyric essays, travel writing, short stories, poems, and translations have appeared in journals including The Crab Orchard Review, Chautauqua, Apalachee Review, and The Common. Her dissertation, Wild Honey, Locust Beans is a collection of essays addressing themes of inheritance, Greekness, historical trauma, and place.  

Lauren Fath

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD

Russian and Slavonic Studies, MA

Lauren is a PhD candidate in nonfiction writing, and holds the Creative Writing Program Fellowship. She is concurrently completing a master’s degree in Russian and Slavonic Studies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Oregon State University. Lauren’s work has appeared in Post Road, the South Loop Review, and poemmemoirstory, among others, and is forthcoming in Fourth Genre. Her essay “By Being Written, They Would Disappear” was nominated for the 2011 Pushcart Prize.

Marissa Fugate

Contemporary World Literature & Creative Writing (Fiction), ABD

Marissa’s work examines the rhetoric of adolescence in contemporary world literature, specifically looking at the ways in which emerging nations are conceived in the western literary imagination. Her work has been published by the University of Cape Town Press, The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, The Oxford American, and Fugue.           

Cole Gustafson

19th-Century American Literature, PhD       

Lianuska Gutierrez

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD         

Ryan Habermeyer    

20th-Century Transnational Fiction, PhD

I’m a fiction writer originally from Los Angeles. I live with my wife and three children, and my scholarly interests are all things associated with the European fairy tale tradition. That about does it for me—I’m a fairly boring person.

Monica Hand

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD         

Rachel Hanson         

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD

Katelyn Harlin          

African Diaspora Studies, MA/PhD

Kate is a New Yorker happily stranded in Central Missouri while she pursues a PhD in English at the University of Missouri with a focus on African Diaspora Studies with a special interest in South African literature. She has a BA in English and Political Science from SUNY Geneseo. When she’s not studying, she enjoys jumping from various high places (airplanes, bridges, mountainsides, etc.) as well as seeing rock concerts, doing crazy things to her hair, and occasionally taking a nap.

Aaron Harms

Rhetoric/Composition, PhD

Online Writery Director, MU Writing Center

Aaron spent his kiddo years in a town of 100 (give or take) in the middle of Missouri. Now he attempts to raise a kiddo in the middle of Missouri, directs the Online Writery for the MU Writing Center, plays most manners of stringed instruments in two local bands, and gently pursues a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition in bliss-filled Columbia, Missouri. He collected a BS in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy (not unlike Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse) from CMU (unlike Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse), and an MA in English from the University of Missouri. Along the way, he met, wooed, and was wooed by, an amazing folklorist. They have a house with a pool, two dogs (Kitty and Skillet), and two cats (Wes and Zelda). He prefers his sodas iced, his confections cinnamoned, and his Friday (basket)Ball marathoned.

Ryan Harrigan         

American Literature, MA

Before coming to Mizzou I worked at the American Jazz Museum and taught music in Kansas City. I am also a semi-pro Senegalese-style wrestler. My favorite color is infrared.

Jim Hayden   

Contemporary American Literature, PhD

Stephen Haynie        

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

Jes Hodgson

Rhetoric/Composition, PhD   

Jes researches representations of contingent and academic labor in the university open or close possibilities for successful change. She is also pursuing a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, and she is actively involved in the WGST graduate student group, organizing a graduate student-driven colloquium series and conference. When not working on academic things, Jes can be found cooking or goofing around at home with her fiancé and two cats (if you want to hear about the cats, just ask…she’ll have lots of stories and pictures).

Darcy Holtgrave

Folklore & Oral Tradition, ABD       

Shelli Homer

Southern & African American Literature, ABD

Shelli is originally from southern California and she is currently working on her Ph.D. Her primary area is 20th-century African American Literature, her secondary area is 20th-century Southern Literature, and her favorite area is where those two intersect. She received her B.A.s in English and American Studies and her M.A. in English at the University of California, Chico. Her current research interest is in the reverse/return migration of African American to the South and its connection to identity in literature of the 1970s-2000s. In her free time she reads contemporary popular literature, swims, paints, makes pottery, cooks, and amuses her dog.

Michael Horton

20th-Century American Literature, PhD        

Joshua Huber

Creative Writing (Poetry), MA           

People usually call me Josh. I hail from roundabouts Omaha, NE, where my parents, three brothers, and sister-in-law still reside. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Truman State University. After graduating I made a virtual fortune working with international students in campus ministry and as a counselor/rehab tech. in a drug addiction treatment. In my free time I enjoy, reading, running, watching Netflix and chilling with my beautiful wife.

Brianne Jaquette

19th and Early 20th-Century American Literature, ABD

Brianne Jaquette is a Ph.D. Candidate in English at the University of Missouri. In addition to her work in the English department, she is also acquiring a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.  Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Brianne took many routes to Missouri, including an undergraduate stop at Denison University in Granville, Ohio and also a brief time in Boston to obtain an M.A. in English from Boston College. At MU, Brianne studies late 19th/early 20th-century American Literature with an emphasis on women writers.  Her dissertation, currently in progress, explores literary culture in Pittsburgh at the end of the nineteenth century.  

Heather Johnson

Folklore & Oral Tradition, PhD        

Heather is originally from Tennessee, where she worked as a whitewater river guide on the Ocoee River. She finds grad school less stressful than river life, if also less eventful. Her research interests fit under the broad category of folk belief, and she is interested in how we create our realities from beliefs we share with others. For her dissertation, she is working with a local group of paranormal investigators.

Sarah Johnson          

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Jennifer Julian         

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Thomas Kane

Creative Writing (Poetry), ABD

Ruth Knezevich

18th-Century British Literature and Romanticism, ABD

Originally from northern Minnesota, Ruth moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2009 and received her MA in English from MU in 2011. Her scholarship explores the ethno-historical footnote in narrative poetry and novels of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Ruth also serves on the editorial staff for the Journal of Oral Tradition.

Patrick Lane 

Creative Writing (Fiction), ABD

Long Nguyen Le

19th-Century American Literature, PhD

Lawrence Loiseau

Critical Theory, PhD

Jolie Mandelbaum

Critical Theory, PhD

Miranda Mattingly

Victorian Literature, PhD

Elizabeth McConaghy         

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

LaTanya McQueen  

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

LaTanya is a PhD student in Creative Writing. She received her MFA from Emerson College and her short stories have been published in The North American Review, Fourteen Hills, New Orleans Review, Nimrod, Potomac Review, and War, Literature, and the Arts, among others. Her short story collection, “The Burning City,” was recently a finalist for the Willow Books Literature Awards and Dzanc’s Short Story Collection Competition.

Claire McQuerry

Creative Writing (Poetry), ABD

Jackson Medel          

Folklore & Oral Tradition, PhD

Laura Morgan          

Creative Writing (Poetry), MA

I’m from Columbia and, though I’ve lived other places, love this area enough that I moved back here after college (College of Wooster, Ohio). I write poetry and essays, take lots of photographs, get fanatical about music and make 90s style mix CDs, cook, ride a bike, hike, garden, and romp around and notice things. I’ve won two Academy of American Poets poetry prizes and several other poetry awards. I still need to start actively submitting my poetry for publication.

Angela Netro

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

My short fiction primarily focuses on setting: Baltimore, Maryland, my hometown.  I grew up loving the Chesapeake Bay, and crabs, and people who call each other “hon,” and Old Bay on absolutely everything (especially Mac ‘n Cheese).  Capturing place—with all its rich and tiny details—is what I hope to accomplish with my work.

Rachel Peterson

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Juliette Paul

Restoration & 18th-Century British Literature, ABD

Melanie Pavao          

British Romanticism/Victorian Literature, MA/PhD

I’m an MA student studying 19th-century British literature. I'm all the way from Massachusetts, and got my Bachelor’s in English and Women’s Studies at Providence College, located in the (very) small state of Rhode Island. I love Wordsworth, Tennyson, and poetry in general, the ocean, traveling, the color yellow, my cat, and I occasionally indulge in an episode of Pretty Little Liars (okay, I watch it weekly!). Oh, and of course I love reading and writing (is that seriously a question?).

Megan L. Peiser

18th-Century British Literature & Book History, ABD

Megan is a doctoral candidate studying women writers in the 18th century and the history of the book. Her dissertation looks at the book-review periodical as a unique genre. She has built a database to catalog reviews of novels from the late eighteenth century and uses it to make quantitative and qualitative conclusions about the book market, review culture, and the novel. Her interests include history of the book, periodicals, digital humanities, women writers, and material culture.

Beth Peterson           

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), ABD

Beth has an MA in Education from Wheaton College and an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Wyoming. A wilderness guide before she began writing, she is currently working on a collection of essays set in a disappearing glacial landscape in Norway. Her research interests include: literature of place, eco-criticism, the lyric essay and 19th & 20th Century British genre fiction. Beth holds a departmental fellowship, is a Creative Arts Fellow through the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and has recent essays in Fourth Genre and River Teeth. In her spare time, she likes to run, kayak and fix up old houses.  

Michael Petrik          

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

Mike is a PhD candidate in fiction, and his studies focus on 20th- and 21st-century fiction of the Americas and environmental fiction across the Americas. His stories and poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Stone Canoe, The MacGuffin, and Sugar House Review and are forthcoming from The Journal, the Owen Wister Review, and Paper Nautilus.

Leanna Petronella

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Leanna received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in Austin. Her poetry appears in CutBank, Beloit Poetry Journal, La Petite Zine, Unstuck, and other publications.

Maxwell Philbrook

Rhetoric/Composition, ABD

Hullo. Nice to meet you. I study the changing landscape of communication as globalization continues to exert huge influence on the way we use language (and the way language uses us). I'm especially interested in how texts flow through global networks, and how notions of audience and rhetor have necessarily changed in the last few decades. My dissertation focuses on the discourse of the Green Revolution, and how scientific arguments about food production were transmitted, diffused, received, and used by a diverse cast of local and global actors. Hopefully with a more complex understanding of communication, we can better understand the power dynamics that characterize globalization in the 21st century. 

Kavita Pillai  

Critical Theory, PhD

I think of myself as being from all over the place; born in India, moved to Charlotte, NC with my parents, then to Kansas City area, and now I am in Columbia. I like reading, talking (a lot), teaching (kinda goes with the whole reading and talking thing), eating, and spending with people I love. My research interests include 19th and 20th-century British Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, discourse on feminism in post-colonial countries, cosmopolitanism, religious fundamentalism and neoliberalism. 

Nick Potter

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD   

Melissa Range           

Creative Writing (Poetry), ABD

Nick Robinson

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), ABD

Eric Russell

19th-Century American Literature, PhD

In addition to 19th-century American Lit, I’m especially interested in natural history writing of the period, and I have a growing interest in Native Studies. I’m originally from Michigan (BA Michigan State, MA Central Michigan) and so is my wife. My definitions of fun are the Lake Superior shoreline, reading John James Audubon’s work, and watching Michigan State defeat U of M in football and basketball.

Alison Rutledge

19th & 20th-Century British Literature, ABD

Alison’s research and teaching interests focus on the development of the British novel during the 19th century, particularly the formal developments in characterization and narration that lead to the stylistic developments associated with Modernism. She is also interested in the formal connections between travel writing and the rise of mass tourism during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is currently at work on a dissertation that explores the formal influence of travel writing on the development of the novel in the nineteenth century.

Johanna Saleska

Rhetoric/Composition, MA

I grew up in St. Louis, but lived in Southern California for five years before returning to the good ol’ Midwest to attend Mizzou. My loves include sushi, all things outdoorsy, travel, red wine, and cooking.

Travis Scroll

Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD

Travis holds an M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School and a B.A. in English from Valparaiso University. His book, Walking the Labyrinth, is forthcoming in fall 2014 (IVP), and he has published poems most recently in Peregrine, Palimpsest, and Prospect. He also writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( on religion and culture.

Eric O. Scott

Medieval Studies & Creative Writing (Nonfiction), PhD

Eric’s memoirs focus on his life as a second-generation Pagan, exploring the situation of being an exception within an exception, a lifelong Pagan in a religion of converts. He also studies medieval literature, especially the Icelandic literature of the Viking and Saga ages. He writes regularly for The Wild Hunt and PaganSquare, and is a contributing editor at Killing the Buddha.  He once sang in a Taoist glam rock band.

Austin Segrest           

Creative Writing (Poetry), ABD

Joseph Simpson

Rhetoric/Composition, MA

Joe is a veteran of the psychological operations group, U.S. Army. He is interested in how to create a classroom environment tailored for veterans of the armed services at the collegiate level.

Carli Sinclair

19th-Century American Literature, PhD

Magi Smith

18th-Century British Literature, PhD

Gregory Specter

19th-Century American Literature, ABD

Rachel Spillars

Folklore & Oral Tradition, MA/PhD

My main scholarly focus is in folklore, and I also dabble in medieval studies and creative writing. I subsist on coffee, tea, and corny movies. My favorite color is fluorescent beige. When not reading, writing, or otherwise being awesome, I can be found watching reruns of black and white television shows with her cat, Basil. I intend to get an orange tabby cat and aptly name him Tomato.

Jennifer Spitulnik

Folklore & Oral Tradition, ABD

Jennifer’s research interests focus on the self-representational texts produced by the community of Broadway musical theater performers, and explores what happens when we think about issues of power and representation in ethnographic writing in terms of self-representation by the ethnographic subject. If it’s true that “home is where the wifi connects automatically,” then she makes her home at Dunn Bros Coffee.

Christopher Strelluf

Language & Linguistics, ABD

Raymond Summerville

Folklore, PhD

David Sussman

Creative Writing (Fiction), PhD

Janessa Toro

20th & 21st Century American Literature, PhD

Janessa is originally from Minnesota but has lived in Missouri’s lush, humid river valleys for most of her life. Currently pursuing her PhD in English at Mizzou, Janessa began her college career with a BA in English from Maryville University and an MA in English from Saint Louis University. Her primary area of focus is Contemporary American Literature in which she examines current trends in dark comedy, humor, and the absurd.

Kacy Walz

Contemporary American Literature, PhD

Chun Ye

Creative Writing (Poetry), PhD

Jihun Yoo

20th-Century American Literature, ABD

Molly Zapp   

Rhetoric/Composition, MA

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