The English Department has many great alumni. For example, CSU alumnus George Kalamaras was recently selected Poet Laureate of Indiana, alumna Chloe’ Leisure is the Poet Laureate of Fort Collins, alumnus Justin Hocking’s memoir The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld was released February 11th, and alumna Mackenzie Fogelson is the founder and CEO of a successful company, Mack Web Solutions – just to name a few.

When stories about our alumni hit the news or we are emailed an update, we love to share it. Teachers, staff, and fellow alumni are happy to hear how their friends are doing. Current students appreciate examples of previous students making a life, making a difference. Prospective students are encouraged knowing what our program has to offer and where it takes people.

We are hoping to feature more news of CSU English Department alumni making their way in the world. If you are a CSU English Department Alumni, please email and let her help you share your story.


Linda Christensen was the sixth and final presenter in the department’s speaker series, “Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” Christensen is an Instructor and Director of the Oregon Writing Project at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education, and a Counseling & Rethinking Schools Editorial Board member. Her presentation as part of the series was titled, “The Tulsa Race Riot: Raising Voices Silenced by History” and described this way,

The past is not dead, and it needs to be remembered for students to understand contemporary patterns of wealth and poverty, privilege and marginalization. Our curriculum should equip students to “talk back” to the world. Students must learn to pose essential critical questions: Who makes decisions and who is left out? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the origins of today’s problems? What alternatives can we imagine? What is required to create change? In this presentation, Christensen will engage participants in an examination of a historical event from eyewitness accounts to revisit the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. Through this workshop, she will demonstrate how she uses “silences” in history to construct solid literacy practices including persuasive essays and historical fiction, building a framework for critical literacy that helps students navigate an increasingly unequal world.

Here’s a video of Linda Christensen’s presentation.

Linda Christensen and Antero Garcia

Linda Christensen and Antero Garcia

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

After a few weeks’ hiatus, April 22 was the finale of the spring 2014 Speaker Series. Since it’s nearing the end of the semester, crowds usually tend to thin and would rather spend a nice evening outdoors, so it was a lovely surprise to see that so many people came out to support what was the last of a phenomenal series of presentations. Everyone in attendance was graced by the presence of Linda Christensen, the Director of the Oregon Writing Project, located in the Graduate School of Education at Lewis & Clark College.

She spoke about the Tulsa Race Riot of May 31 and June 1, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Due to the fact the majority of the audience had never heard of this riot before, the conversation and group activity that took place was one of curiosity and emotion. Christensen’s presentation brought everyone in the room closer together, as we worked together to figure out what really happened during those two days of the riot.

Everyone in the room was given a sheet of paper with a short story about a witness’s involvement in the riot. We were then asked to get up and mingle with people in the room, to work together to find out the cause and effect of the riot. After we received various stories and clues from the people involved we came back together as a group to discuss what all happened during those unfortunate couple of days in Tulsa. Thousands of blacks were left homeless, and justice was never served to those who were affected by the horrors of the riot.

The clue I was given read was about a character named Maria Morales Gutierrez, a Mexican woman who heard the ruckus on the street. After going outside she noticed two black children running loose in the streets without their parents. She rescued them, but a group of white people demanded she hand them over. She refused to do so, but was terrified for her life because so many blacks were being ruthlessly murdered. We discussed that things like this in America’s history are often overlooked and ignored. It’s sad that many of us had no clue that this ever happened, but it was a pleasure for the group as a whole to be engaged and sharing their thoughts about this horrific event.

Christensen explained that she does this activity with many students, and that it engages them to speak and what to learn more about what happened during this piece of forgotten history. This was an eye opening presentation, and it shed light on a part of American history that was denied for 75 years.

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to attend all of the speaker series that were offered. Although the majority of the topics were geared towards English Education majors, it was informative for everyone who attended. Professor Antero Garcia was always full of excitement, and there were always cupcakes and fruit available for us to snack on if we were lacking in energy from a long day. If you missed out on any of these series there are videos that you can view, available in each blog post about the series. If you do decide to tune in, I hope you enjoy them as much we did!

For more information about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, please visit

~Brianna Wilkins

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Does Davia look familiar to you? You might recognize her because she’s a work study in the English Department’s main office.

What is your major, and when will you graduate?

I major in Human Development and Family Studies (HDSF), and I’ll graduate in December of 2014.

What is required of your position as a work study?

There’s always so much to do; I help everyone in here. I especially work a lot with Sheila. Right now we’re working on certificates; I’m working on the finished product which is printing them, framing them, and then organizing them. I also do a lot of copying and filing documents, but I like organizing. I pretty much help everyone out so that their jobs aren’t as hectic, because they do a lot of stuff. This semester I usually work 14 hours a week, but last semester I worked 17; I can just work my hours around my school schedule.

What has been your favorite moment at CSU?

The CU vs CSU football game my freshman year was one of my most memorable. I didn’t really know anyone there, but I went with two of my really good friends; we had so much fun. Also Ram Welcome was pretty fun. I met my roommates friend that she met during orientation, and we’ve all been best friends ever since. That was a good experience because it brought us closer, and we met a lot of people. That’s why I’m applying to be a Ram Welcome leader, because it made me like CSU more, and I would like to help at least one new person feel welcome here as well.

Describe Eddy in one word.


Do you have a favorite song?

My favorite song right now would have to be “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen; I hear it all of the time. I think that it’s one of my favorite because she’s finally breaking out of her shell, and no longer hiding. I feel like a lot of people sometimes hide who they are, and when they finally figure out who they are and become comfortable with themselves, they are happier.

Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen?

Meet new people and try new things. Don’t be one of those people who chooses to stay in their dorms; get out there and have fun!

Are you working towards any goals?

Ever since I was young I wanted to work with kids, and now I’m doing everything that I can to lead me in that direction. I have this internship working with kids, and all of my classes are helping me too. Working with children and helping them in any way possible is my ultimate goal.

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Things are greening up and the bike racks are full at Eddy Hall, image by Jill Salahub

Things are greening up and the bike racks are full at Eddy Hall, image by Jill Salahub

  • Barbara Sebek led a seminar on “Reimagining Topicality” at the Shakespeare Association conference in St. Louis earlier this month. A group of scholars wrote papers addressing the wide variety of ways that topical references operate in the work of Shakespeare, Jonson, and others. Her essay on how Shakespeare’s Falstaff participates in cultural debates over beer, ale, and increasingly popular Spanish wines will soon appear in Shakespeare Studies volume 42. The essay is called “More natural to the nation: Situating Shakespeare in the Querelle de Canary.”
  • Mary Crow has had several poems accepted for publication: “In My Beginning” by Common Ground Review, “Variations” and “Walking Thoughts” by Cimarron Review, “Due Diligence” by Tulane Review, “Into the Desert” by Packington Review, “Seals Bobbin in the Sea” by Pinyon Poetry. She has also been accepted for a week in August at the Ashbery Home School. “The Ashbery Home School of Hudson, New York is a one-week writing conference from August 10th to August 15th, 2014 which welcomes poets who seek to redefine their practice through a radical consideration of the other arts—music, cinema, the visual arts, dance as well as other media. Featuring daily workshops, guest seminars & readings by visiting poets and nightly film screenings, AHS is a concentrated, unique engagement between poetry and the arts in the historic setting of Hudson, New York,” (
  • Department alumna Colleen Fullbright (1990s) has recently revised her 2005 book Cancer: How to Help a Friend Who Has Cancer and it will be published by the American Cancer Society.

Upcoming Events of Interest

  • April 27, 2014: Slamogadro Poetry Slam – Avogadro’s Number will be hosting a Poetry Slam on the final Sunday of every month, April 27th is the first one. 7:00 pm signup, 7:30 start – All are welcome.
  • May 1, 2014: Reading Series – Kaelyn Riley & Ben Findlay MFA Thesis Reading (Poetry & Fiction), Thursday, 7:30pm University Art Museum.
  • May 9. 2014: Final day of classes, Spring 2014
  • May 12th – 16th: Finals Week

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by Evelyn Vaughn

The reading on March 27th, 2014 consisted of three graduate students from the English Department’s Creative Non-Fiction Program. When I first arrived at the reading, as usual in the Art Museum portion of the University Center for the Arts, I was unaware that the readers that night would be so moving. The first two readers, Neely O’Connor and Artemis Savory, both read about their fathers, while Whitney Dean read a piece called “Holes, Depressions, and Other Losses.”

O’Connor’s piece from her thesis was entitled “Gone,” a heartbreaking story of her father’s alcoholism and manic depression.


“The kind of box they put my father in had four white walls. Padded.” The words would haunt me as I left the reading that night. The humor in O’Connor’s piece was what kept me from tearing up as she read, however. Ending on the fervent wish that her father, when he died, would come back as a Wisconsin cow (because the cows there are happy), O’Connor managed to express both a love for her father, and a disappointment in him that will never leave her.

So when Artemis Savory took the stage and said her piece was about her father, I steeled myself to try not to cry again, but her first piece entitled “Doing it Right” turned out to be downright hilarious. There are very few joys on this planet like making fun of our families. In “Doing it Right,” Savory makes fun of her own family’s tendency NOT to do it right the first time.

artemis“So what if the doorknob is on wrong for fifteen years?” she asked the audience. Her father’s bathroom door had a doorknob that had been put on wrong, so the lock was facing out. This meant that while you couldn’t lock people out of the bathroom, you certainly could be locked in. The belly-aching laughter that accompanied “Doing it Right” and her second piece, “Imaginary Boyfriends,” was quite a relief from the heart-rending pieces by Neely O’Connor, and the final reader, Whitney Dean.

Prior to coming on stage, Whitney Dean was introduced in the context of hurricanes,        “Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Sandy. Whitney Dean.” It certainly gave quite an impression of the powerful woman that was about to come on stage, a woman who is a part of the so-called “cult” of CrossFit, with a deadlift of 345 pounds (information that was, right after the hurricane introduction, shared with us). When she began her piece “Holes, Depressions, and Other Losses,” she warned us that she might cry while reading it. After laughing so hard at Savory’s reading, I did not think that this final piece would affect me so much.

whitneydean“I wonder, before the hole opened up, if the television was on.”  The piece, about a sinkhole devouring a house in Florida, did indeed make her tear up a little bit. She imagined the people who lived in the house before the ground opened; she compared them to people she had known in her past.  “I know these guys, sinking long before the ground sunk, and I bet the television was on.”

The Creative Non-Fiction Program has certainly done a wonderful job with these three writers. Lines from all of their work would be bouncing around in my head in the weeks to come, and I’m sure others in the audience that night can attest to the same.

One more reading is scheduled for this semester: Ben Findlay & Kaelyn Riley, May 1st, MFA Thesis Reading, (fiction & poetry).

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, College of Liberal Arts, and the Armstrong Hotel. These events are also sponsored by a grant from the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, a premier supporter of arts and culture at CSU. Please help grow this fund with a gift at:

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information call 970.491.6428 or e-mail


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Associate Professor Ellen Brinks has a B.A. in Philosophy and German from Agnes Scott College, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. Professor Brinks teaches courses in British Romanticism, the Victorian period, literary theory, gothic literature and film, and colonial and postcolonial literatures.

Her research explores the cultural context of gender and sexuality and the tensions between individual and social expressions of identity. She has published numerous essays, including ones on women and 17th-century cartography, on the intersection of economics and sexuality in contemporary film, on the presence of the aesthetic in Winnicottian object relations theory, and on gothic representation and traumatic history.

Her first book, Gothic Masculinity, appeared in 2003. Her latest book, Anglophone Indian Women Writers, 1870–1920, was published in January 2013.


Faculty Profile: Ellen Brinks
~by Brianna Wilkins

What brought you to CSU?
It was one of the jobs that year in my area of specialization. The [English] department was looking for someone who specialized in British Romanticism, and that was the area that I did my doctorate in; that’s what initially brought me to the institution itself. When I came here for a campus interview, I was so impressed with the faculty and the very warm and welcoming atmosphere. I love hiking and outdoor activities, so that was a big draw as well.

Why are the humanities important?
I think they give us the opportunity to think and feel about the things we care about most, and by that I mean things like love and desire, community and social life, separation and loss and death. We have very few opportunities to be together in a communal environment to talk about those things, or even to have personal time to think deeply about them. Because they invite us to reflect on these basic aspects of our lives, the humanities seem to me to be central to personal, social and cultural development. And, to top it off, they confront us in complex and fascinating and challenging ways.

What moment in the classroom has stood out as one of the most memorable?
Well in general just moments where something unexpected or creative happens in the classroom. One example is from my British Romanticism class. We were talking about poetry that is sound based, versus poetry that is image based; we decided to work together [as a class] to make an image based poem. As a group we wrote an imagistic poem, and it was really an amazing product at the end, and none of us expected something so good and remarkable. It’s lost to posterity because nobody wrote it down [laughs].

What advice would you give a CSU English Student?
Read with your mind turned on.

What do you find inspiring?
Great ideas. Colleagues who are excellent teachers. Unselfish and kind people. A great art exhibit, or dance or music performance; anything beautiful inspires me.

What might your colleagues not know about you?
They may not know that during my 20s, for a number of years, I lived on a biodynamic agricultural commune in eastern Pennsylvania. We grew things organically, and I was in charge of a big herb garden for the community; there were over 100 of us working there.

Do you have a favorite word?
Ocean. I like the word because it sounds like the fall of a wave breaking and the silence afterwards, and the ‘O’ to me suggests that moment of awe when you look at its vastness.

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Name: Summers Baker
Major: Creative Writing

What’s your favorite moment in Eddy Hall? Seeing Dan Robinson in his kilt.

Describe Eddy in one word. The Senate. That’s what I want you to write.

Who’s your favorite author or poet? At the moment, my favorite poet that I’ve been reading is George Oppers. And Robert Hass has always been one of my favorites.

What advice would you give to incoming CSU English majors? Read more than you’re assigned and never stop reading.

Tell the story of the chair you built for one of your English classes. It was Intro to American Lit, and [David Milofsky] said we could have extra credit, and do whatever we wanted. If he liked it, he’d give you extra credit. We were reading Walden at the time, and there’s a quote in it by Henry David Thoreau that says “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society”. Because of that quote, I decided to build a solitude chair. It’s now my homework slash solitude chair.

Last words: Some friends and I started a poetry slam called Slamogadro, which is starting April 27th, and going on the final Sunday of every month at Avogadro’s Number. If you’re reading this, you should be there.

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csuwritingcenterThe Writing Center is hiring! The Writing Center has newly available writing consultant positions for the 2014/2015 academic year. If you will be a CSU graduate student during the 2014-15 academic year, we invite you to apply. We are looking for responsible and qualified tutors who are able to work with a wide range of writers. Note that the CSU Graduate School limits graduate student employment to 20 hours weekly, so please do not apply if you are already working more than 10 hours with another department/office.

The Writing Center also has four internship positions available for the fall 2014 semester. If you will be a junior or senior CSU undergraduate or an English graduate student during the Fall 2014 semester, we invite you to apply. Undergraduates must have a 2.5 GPA and graduate students must have a 3.0 GPA. We are looking for responsible and qualified tutors who are able to work with a wide range of writers. Interns who successfully complete the internship may be eligible to continue working as a paid consultant in the spring 2015 semester.


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The Creative-Writing Reading Series is thrilled to bring to Colorado for National Poetry Month internationally acclaimed poet Robert Hass, former US poet laureate, and poet Brenda Hillman (2013 National Book Award finalist) for a free public poetry reading & discussion of the vital link between poetry and ecology.

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7:30PM at CSU’s Lory Student Center in the North Ballroom. Hass and Hillman are among our most important contemporary American poets. This is a rare opportunity to hear them, given their limited travel schedule. Please join us for this very special event. The reading is free and open to the public.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Yale Younger Poets Prize, among other accolades, Hass has been a tireless advocate for public engagement of poetry and co-founded River of Words, which seeks to engage schoolchildren in eco-literacy by providing teachers with interactive, interdisciplinary curricula. He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

Poet Brenda Hillman is the author of nine books of poetry and winner of a Guggenheim, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as a Pulitzer Prize nominee and 2013 National Book Award finalist.

The Reading Series encourages community involvement in and awareness of the literary arts and seeks to engage a broad spectrum of the community across disciplines, within and beyond the university. Special thanks to CSU’s Department of English, Dean Ann Gill, the College of Liberal Arts, OGSW, and ASCSU for their generous support of this event.

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English Department Students,

There’s talk about an exciting opportunity to go to Africa… for three-weeks…and with the possibility of earning up to three undergraduate or graduate internship credits! Would you be interested in such a thing?

Dr. Ellen Brinks will be taking students to Livingstone, Zambia over Summer 2015 to do experiential learning and internships through African Impact, and she’d like to know how many English students might be interested in participating.

“I don’t know. What would I be doing?!?”

The course would run for three weeks and center on a personalized project within the Livingstone community that fits your own interests. There are lots of internship projects – such as teaching, leading a reading club, math club, or adult literacy club, helping with afterschool activities at school or at a youth community training center, as well as offering HIV education – that would be suitable for any concentration or area of study in English and for which you could gain up to three internship credits. Additional projects in the areas of health care, sports, community development, conservation, wildlife care, and reforestation initiatives are available, though you would not be eligible for English internship credit if you elected to design your stay in Zambia round these activities. (Click here to check out project descriptions.)

“Why would I want to go to Africa?”

This experiential course would likely count for E487 or E687 credit. It gives you a very unique international internship opportunity in a stable and beautiful country, Zambia. You will be residing and working in the town of Livingstone, right at Victoria Falls, a center of African eco-tourism and safari tours. (Livingstone is the size of Fort Collins). The program likely ties in to coursework you have done in the areas of world literature in English, literacy, and teacher training. And most of all, it enables you to use your skills to give back to others in this friendly and welcoming community.

“How much would it cost?”

Projected expenses run around $5000, which includes airfare, tuition, vaccinations, and a bunch of other stuff, for three weeks in Africa.

“I think I’d be down for that!”

For the sake of making this potentiality of going to Africa an actuality for English students, we don’t need to know if this is definitely something that you would do. We only want to know if this is something you would seriously consider doing.

If this sounds like an important opportunity that you want available to you come summer 2015, please send me a non-committal reply expressing your interest by May 2nd, 2014.

Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator

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