Faculty Publications, Presentations, and Press

Jay Atkinson‘s new book, Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America (October/Globe Pequot) was the subject of recent interviews on WBUR’s Radio Boston, NHPR, and in Boston Magazine, BU Today, and several other media outlets. Atkinson’s adventure travel piece, which ties into the subject of the book, appeared in the Sunday New York Times on November 12th.

AndersonIngrid Anderson was the co-editor of the volume The Value of the Particular: Lessons from Judaism and the Modern Jewish Experience, which included her chapter, “Ethics, Meaning, and the Absurd in Elie Wiesel’s The Trial of God and Albert Camus’s The Plague.”

Kevin Barents is a contributor to DYLAN: Disc by Disc.

Seth Blumenthal‘s WP course, “Marijuana in American History,” was featured on USA Today.

Jessica Bozek‘s review, “Everyone’s Problem,” was published in the Boston Review. In this review Bozek compares two poetry books she taught in her Spring 2015 WRX course, Poetry Now.

Tessa Croker‘s course, “The Wonderful World of Disney” was featured in the “Class by Class, Lecture by Lecture” series in BU Today.

William Giraldi‘s foreword to The Annotated Poe was published by Harvard University Press.

Dora Goss has a short story in the first ever issue of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. This book is the newest addition to the “Best American” series. Goss’s Borges-inspired story, “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology,” is also available online at Lightspeed Magazine.

Ted Kehoe is the author of “The Children’s Kingdom,” which Ploughshares has released as the latest in their digital-first series of individual long stories called Ploughshares Solos. Also, Kehoe’s review of Undermajordomo Minor appeared in the Boston Globe.

         Kehoe-LoRes-e1442249676112                minutiaecover_1024x1024

Samantha Myers’s chapbook The Fate of Minutiae was published with Dancing Girl Press and Studio.

Anna Panszczyk and a co-writer, Ashley Hogan, presented a paper titled “The Power of Magical Forests through the Photography of Ellie Davies and into 20th-Century Middle Grade Fiction” at the South Atlantic Modern Languages Association (SAMLA) conference in Raleigh, NC this past November.

Joelle Renstrom was interviewed by CGS about her essay collection, Closing the Book: Travels in Life, Loss, and Literature.

Bill Skocpol has completed a transcription of letters by Dr. Olga Stastny, M.D., his great-grandmother, from her time in France (1919), Czechoslovakia (1919-1922), and Greece (1923). Dr. Olga Stastny, M.D. did award winning relief work in all three countries.

12248138_10103523975451750_5212039925184316003_oLesley Yoder, Sarah Hanselman, and Kim Shuckra-Gomez presented “Student Agency in the ESL Classroom” at the annual conference of the National Association of University Professors in Los Cabos, Mexico (November, 2015).

Matthew Yost presented “When I Was a Boy: The Question of Transgendered Narrative in Isaac de Benserade’s Iphis et Iante,” at the Society of French Studies Annual Colloquium, on June 30, 2015, in Cardiff, Wales.


Highlight: ESL in Academic Scholarship

The WP Faculty with Paul K. Matsuda, September 2015; (From L-R): Joe Bizup, Esther Hu, Christina Michaud, Maria Zlateva, Paul K. Matsuda, Soomin Jwa, Kim Shuckra-Gomez, and Somy Kim.

The ESL faculty has been working harder than ever to provide the Writing Program with the necessary tools to teach our ESL students effectively. With international students making up 24% of the fall 2015 incoming class at BU, we have all become ESL instructors in some way. Paul K. Matsuda’s fall visit (pictured above) was quite a success with a range of faculty engaging in workshops and conversations with the celebrated academic; many of us walked away invigorated with insights about language learning and its relationship to our teaching. Most recently, an all-day seminar, organized by Maria Zlateva and Christina Michaud, brought together the collective expertise in ESL teaching and writing in our program. You will be able to access the articles and assignment sheets on our Blackboard page under Faculty Seminars. Here is the full agenda of topics below. Please feel free to contact any of these panelists for more information about a topic of your interest.

2016 ESL Faculty Seminar Schedule

1.        Introduction and Intercultural Topics (9:00-9:35)
Panelists: Brandy Barents, Diana Lynch, Michael O’Mara, Stephanie Mikelis

Belcher, D. (2014). What we need and don’t need intercultural rhetoric for: A retrospective and prospective look at an evolving research area. Journal of Second Language Writing, 25(1), 59–67.

Matsuda, P. K. (1997). Contrastive rhetoric in context: A dynamic model of L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing,6(1), 45-60.

  1. Language Learning, or ESL in the Classroom (9:40-10:20)
    Panelists: Somy Kim, Lesley Yoder, Pary Fassihi

Guilloteau, N. (2010). Vocabulary. In Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth (Ed.), COERLL, The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from https://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/modules/vocabulary/02/

Hinkel, E. (2003). Simplicity without elegance: Features of sentences in L1 and L2 academic texts. TESOL Quarterly, 37(2), 275-301.

  1. Practical Application: Responding to ESL WR 100 Essays—WCF and Beyond (10:25-11:05)

Panelists: Kevin Barents, Tom Oller, Michele Calandra 

Ferris, D. (2014). Responding to student writing: Teachers’ philosophies and practices. Assessing Writing, 19,6-23.

Goldstein, L.M. (2004). Questions and answers about teacher written commentary and student revision: Teachers and students working together. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 63-80.

  1. Mediated Integration and Multilingual Classes: ESL in WR 100/150 (11:10-11:50)
    Panelists: Sarah Hanselman, Kim Shuckra-Gomez, Holly Schaaf

Matsuda, P.K. & Silva, T. (1999). Cross-cultural composition: Mediated integration of U.S. and international students.Composition Studies, 27(1), 15-30.

Myles, J. (2002). Second language writing and research: The writing process and error Analysis in Student Texts. TESL-EJ 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume6/ej22/ej22a1/?wscr

Lunch 11:50-12:40

  1. Second Language Writers and the Writing Center (12:40-1:20)
    Panelists: Heather Barrett, Amy Bennett-Zendzian, Olga Drepanos

Myers, S.A. (2003). Reassessing the proofreading trap: ESL tutoring and writing instruction. Writing Center Journal, 24(1), 51-70.

Thonus, T. (2004). What are the differences? Tutor interactions with first- and second-language writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 227-242.

  1. Genre and English for Academic Purposes (1:25-2:05)
    Panelists: Soomin Jwa, Justin Cubilo

Cheng, A. (2008). Analyzing genre exemplars in preparation for writing: The case of an L2 graduate student in the ESP genre-based instructional framework of academic literacy. Applied Linguistics, 29(1): 50-71.

Colombi, M.C. (2009). A systemic functional approach to teaching Spanish for heritage speakers in the United States. Linguistics and Education, 20(1), 39-49.

  1. Q&A and Reflections: Transfer, Composition, and Language Development (2:10-3:00)
    Panelists: Maria Zlateva, Christina Michaud

Belcher, D. (2012). Considering what we know and need to know about second language writing. Applied Linguistics Review, 3(1), 131-150.

Frodesen, J. & Holten, C. (2003). Grammar and the ESL writing class. In B. Knoll (Ed.), Exploring the dynamics of second language writing (pp. 141-161). Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Post-seminar drinks with colleagues makes work more fun!

New Faculty 2015-16: Gavin Benke


It’s great to have you in the BU WP, Gavin. How are you finding the move from Texas?

In Texas, it was sometimes so hot that I began to wonder if the sun had something against me, so this is a nice change. In general, I’m really enjoying Boston, though I’m still getting to know it.

What courses are you teaching?

This semester, I’m teaching sections of WR100 called “Heroes and Villains in American Business,” which looks at the ways corporations and businesspeople have been depicted in books and movies throughout the 20th century. In the spring, I’m teaching two different topics of WR 150, “Narratives of Finance” and “Postindustrial Geographies.” In my research, I focus on the intersection of business and culture, so it’s been great to be able to teach writing through that material.

 As a first-year instructor what has been most helpful to know?

For me, one of the most helpful experiences this semester was the Visual Rhetoric Seminar in November. A lot of really good ideas for lesson plans came up in those discussions. I’ll definitely use some of them next semester. It was also a great way to meet some more folks in the Writing Program.

Gavin Benke teaches writing through a focus on the history and culture of capitalism. Much like his teaching, Dr. Benke’s research examines how language and culture shapes business practices and institutions. His work has appeared in journals such as American Studies, Enterprise & Society, and Storytelling. His current book project uses the Enron scandal to explore these issues and is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press. Before arriving at BU, Dr. Benke held postdoctoral fellowships with Southern Methodist University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies and at the University of South Florida as a part of the Provost’s Global Change in a Dynamic World initiative.

New Faculty 2015-16: Seth Blumenthal


Seth, congratulations on your full-time appointment in the department! How are you finding the change from part-time to full-time?

I have had a pretty soft landing since I was lucky enough to have worked in the WP as a GWF, part-timer and temporary full-timer for several years.  For me, after transitioning to a three course schedule, I’ve become more attentive to how different classes can be from one section to another–learning to anticipate that with different approaches has been a new wrinkle in teaching WR courses.

What have you found especially helpful during your transition?

People here have solutions for just about every problem; I always find things on the WPNet.  But, the strength of the program is the warm, helpful environment that makes it so easy to talk about “issues” during conversations in the hallways, meetings or while working in committees. 

Can you tell us a little about the course(s) you are teaching?

As a historian of the 1970s and 1980s, the “history of now,” I teach classes that have more obvious connections between contemporary and historical issues. I’ve taught a class on Vietnam since 2009, called Imagining Vietnam: The Big Muddy in American Culture.  This course explores different interpretations of the war, through television, films, literature, memorials and music. Another class I am teaching is Marijuana in American History, that’s been interesting, we’ll leave it there.  Last, I am teaching a WRX this spring, The Educated Electorate, a course that requires students to work in political campaigns for a service learning approach to teaching writing.  Should be fun!

Seth Blumenthal completed his PhD in American history at Boston University in 2013. His dissertation, “Children of the Silent Majority: Nixon, New Politics and the Youth Vote, 1968-1972”, examines Richard Nixon’s youth campaign, Young Voters for the President.  Seth has taught in the Writing Program since 2009 as a GWF and part-time lecturer.

New Faculty 2015-16: Jessica Bozek


Congratulations on your full-time appointment in the WP, Jessica! Could you tell us a little about your experience at BU so far?

Before moving over to the WP full-time this fall, I was the Writing Coordinator for the Sargent Writing Initiative. I taught one WR class each semester and my office was in Sargent, so I didn’t have as many opportunities for casual conversation around the office. It’s really wonderful to be here full-time now, concentrating on teaching. I can also devote more energy to building (with Carrie Bennett) the Creative Composition cluster, which came out of a WRX pilot course, Poetry Now.

Do you have an interesting story from one of your classes or engagements with our colleagues?

Marisa Milanese & I are informally competing for lightest, warmest winter coat.

How do you like to teach as an instructor of first-year writing?

One thing I find invaluable is putting students at the center of their own learning and creating many centers within the classroom. 

In Poetry Now, we use an MFA model to workshop students’ essays and poems (which respond formally, thematically, or linguistically to books of poetry we’ve been discussing), then work in small editorial groups to select and publish revised versions in the final class project, an online journal of poetry and criticism called The First Experiment.

This semester in Reading Disaster (a #FergusonSyllabus experiment course), students pitched preliminary Elevator Stories for their final essays and got really involved in responding to one another’s stories. This was a great way for me to see how students had interpreted the concerns of the course and for students to nurture their peers’ ideas.

Jessica Bozek is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, The Tales (Les Figues, 2013) and The Bodyfeel Lexicon (Switchback, 2009), as well as several chapbooks: Squint into the Sun (Dancing Girl, 2010), Other People’s Emergencies (Hive, 2009), Touristing (Dusie, 2009), and correspondence (Dusie, 2007). Winner of the 2012 NOS Book Contest, The Tales is based largely on the Reading Disaster seminar she taught at BU from 2007-2012. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Another Chicago Magazine, Everyday Genius, Tarpaulin Sky, and The Volta. Recent non-fiction appears in A. Bradstreet, American Microreviews and Interviews, and Zoland Poetry. Jessica currently runs the Small Animal Project Reading Series, which was awarded a project grant from the Cambridge Arts Council and Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2012. With her Poetry Now classes, she has created an online poetry journal called The First Experiment.

New Faculty 2015-16: Tridha Chatterjee


We’re happy to have you in the WP, Tridha! How are you finding your move from Michigan?

I moved to Boston from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is a relatively small college town so I’m still getting adjusted to different aspects of living in a big city. But I’m gradually finding myself falling in love with the conveniences this city has to offer: great public transport and living a stone’s throw away from some of Boston’s best eateries.

 What courses are you teaching this semester?

I’m teaching two sections of WR 98 and a WR 100 ESL course on language, identity, and culture. I’m really excited about the WR 100 course because it connects very closely with my research interests in language and society and I hope to discuss linguistic issues that are salient for the students as well.

Could you tell us a bit about your research?

My research examines language change in the context of bilingualism: that is, how two languages in a bilingual setting influence and lead to changes in each other. In conjunction, I also examine the social aspects of language use, which includes issues such as bilingual speakers’ use of their languages in different settings to index different aspects of their identity, motivations for code-switching between languages, and changes and development in language proficiency. My specific area of interest is the complex multilingual situation in India. I’m very glad that my research has meaningful connections to the linguistic backgrounds of the students I teach, and this helps me in being a more sensitive teacher. 

New Faculty 2015-16: Pary Fassihi


Pary Fassihi

Welcome, Pary! How are you finding your move to the BU WP?

My move to the BU WP couldn’t have been smoother! Being born in Boston and living in Massachusetts for most of my life, I didn’t need to get accustomed to the environment. Being a BU alumnus also helped in making the transition much easier. I’m just really excited to be back in such a familiar environment.

My classes have also been going very well. Having taught ESL for many years, I’ve always focused on teaching a variety of skills. This is the first semester in which I am only teaching writing courses, and I couldn’t be happier, since my passion lies in teaching academic writing.

What courses are you teaching?

I am currently teaching all WR097 courses. I will be teaching all WR098 courses in the Spring semester.

What have you liked the most from this first semester teaching in the WP?

My first semester at the BU WP has so many highlights that I don’t even know where to begin!

First off, I have to say that we have some of the best students compared to many area colleges/universities. Having experience teaching area colleges, I’ve noticed the great motivation our students have here. I go into class everyday, knowing that they are going to keep me on my feet, and I absolutely love it!

I have also found that everyone in the program has been so helpful! The WPNet resources have been so informative and necessary for someone who is just starting in the program and becoming familiar with the curriculum, and I really appreciate all contribution to the WPNet. I’ve also found all the open discussion and emails about classes, methods, etc. very beneficial in helping me understand different instructors’ styles and suggestions.

We also have some of the best technology at BU. Having interest in using technology to facilitate language learning in classes, I am very impressed by the resources accessible to us. I have had the opportunity to test a variety of methods because of this great access to technology.

Once again, there are so many aspects of my semester I’ve enjoyed, that I wouldn’t be able to mention them all here. Thank you all for making this semester such a pleasant one for me!

Prior to coming to BU, Pary was a faculty member at Showa Women’s University. She also has experience teaching at other area colleges, and institutes such as CELOP and Bunker Hill Community College. Pary received her B.A. from Northeastern University as a dual major in English Literature and Linguistics. She then obtained her M.Ed. in TESOL and her Ed.D. in Language Education from Boston University’s School of Education. Pary’s passion in teaching comes from twenty years of teaching experience and interaction with students from all over the world. Her mission in class has been to promote positive learning, spark learner enthusiasm for learning, and to provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning.


New Faculty 2015-16: Jessica Kent


Congratulations on your full-time appointment in the department! How are you finding the change from part-time to full-time?

When I taught only one section at a time, I found it incredibly rewarding to develop a unique relationship with each student and to trace the progress of each over the course of the semester.  I worried that teaching three sections would mean less personal engagement, and less of a sense of the students as individuals.  I’ve been pleased to find that isn’t the case.  After a few conversations with colleagues early in the semester I decided to add more individual paper conferences, which have allowed me to get to know all of my students well and to offer targeted feedback.  It has been interesting to observe each section developing its own chemistry and tone as well – one group is full of skeptics, for example, and another is full of sharp close readers.

What have you found especially helpful during your transition?

Shared wisdom from WR faculty (old and new) has been incredibly helpful.  Comparing notes with my office-mates has proved inspiring and encouraging, and I’ve been grateful for the advice of my faculty mentor, Stephen Hodin, throughout of the semester.  The faculty seminar on visual rhetoric was a particularly great opportunity to hear about new pedagogical strategies, many of which I plan to try!

Can you tell us a little about the course(s) you are teaching?

This semester I’m teaching three WR100 sections on “The American Family I,” in which we discuss ideal and troubled families in the first half of the twentieth century by way of modern fiction by Chopin, James, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Larsen.  In the spring I’ll teach three sections of WR150, “The American Family II,” which will trace the institution from 1950 through the present.  We will continue to study fiction, but will also explore television, advertisements, films, a memoir and a graphic novel.

Jessica Kent received her PhD in English literature from Boston University.  Her dissertation, which she defended this spring, is entitled “Novelizing Henry James: Contemporary Fiction’s Obsession with the Master and his Work.”

New Faculty 2015-16: Michael O’Mara Shimek

Michael O´Mara Shimek-2

Welcome to the BU WP, Mike! How are you finding the move from Spain?

Being in Boston is wonderful. It is such a vibrant place with so many textures. The move with the whole family feels like it is still going on, actually: new schools for the children, new language, neighborhood, and friends. We moved from Valencia, Spain, and there are a lot of things that change when you cross “the puddle,” as they say in Spanish. For example, in Valencia, you could walk wherever you needed to go because everything was so close by. Our children’s school was just three houses down the street! We miss all the fresh produce that you could find at the Central Market, and it’s taking some getting used to having to have to use the car so much. I find myself having to have to ask a lot of questions about trash days, oil heating, and health care.

Can you share an interesting story from one of your classes or engagements with our colleagues?

Last semester, I had a student who studied music. We had talked on and off about the kinds of music he likes to play and what instruments. One day, out of the blue, he brought a beautiful Taylor acoustic guitar to class. I think it’s great when students feel comfortable enough to bring their lives into writing and writing class in such illustrative ways that help students from so many different backgrounds appreciate some of the things that give their lives meaning.  

As a first-year instructor what has been most helpful to know?

For me, at least, more than anything specific to my first year experience, I’ve found it useful to keep close at hand the lessons I’ve learned in teaching over the years that help me to stay flexible and adjust to new circumstances.

Faculty Seminar: “Visual Rhetoric in the Writing Classroom”

From the NYTimes: “What’s going on in this picture? Look closely at the image above or view it in a larger size, then tell us what you see by posting a comment. On Friday, we will reveal more about the image and its origins at the bottom of this post. Credit Anastasia Vlasova/European Pressphoto Agency”

In the Fall 2015 term, Somy Kim and Anna Panszczyk led the faculty seminar, “I See What You Mean: Visual Rhetoric in the Writing Classroom,” where they shared how to use visual media to teach writing. You can access the readings and assignment sheets here.

For some ideas for using images online, we recommend NYTimes’s “What’s Going on in this Picture?” (pictured above), which is updated weekly. For a repository of daily images, check out “Pictures of the Day,” images captured by photojournalists that are based on current events and world news.

Faculty seminars are faculty-motivated and held throughout the year in order to inform the teaching that we do in the classroom. By organizing the seminars around recent pedagogical scholarship we are able to base our practices on principles grounded in actual case studies and rigorous scholarship. Indeed, engaging in these scholarly discussions has allowed us to question the way we understand our teaching practices, learning assumptions, and writing goals.

Participants earn research funds if they attend all meetings. Typically, a seminar meets four times in one semester. Alternatively, seminars are offered as an all-day session.