News and Events

BCALA names Genevieve West's 'Hitting a Straight Lick' among 2021 Literary Award winners

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) announced the winners of the 2021 BCALA Literary Awards during the virtual Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association. The awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2020.

"Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories," written by Zora Neale Hurston and edited by TWU ESFL professor and chair Genevieve West, PhD, was named an Honor Book for Fiction. Recipients will receive awards recognition during the 2021 virtual National Conference of African American Librarians.

TWU alumna Jordan Dokupil to teach English in South Korea


TWU alumna Jordan Dokupil has accepted a position teaching English at a private school in Namyangju City, South Korea. Following a mandatory two-week quarantine, Dokupil will begin teaching kindergarten and elementary students March 2. Dokupil earned a bachelor's degree in English literature in 2020 and was a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success.

ESFL's Gray Scott, PhD, quoted in 'Dallas Morning News' story about shifting SAT requirements

The SAT is dropping parts of its exam. What does that mean for Texas students? After going test-optional last year, some Texas universities consider suspending standardized test requirements altogether after the pandemic.

“It makes it less tempting for institutions to subscribe to or require a product that, from my perspective ... has always been a problematic test,” said Gray Scott, Ph.D., who is the assistant director of academic assessment at TWU.

Assistant professor Johnathan Smilges' essay, 'Bad Listeners,' appears in 'Peitho'

TWU ESFL assistant professor Johnathan Smilges' essay, "Bad Listeners," appeared in a recent volume of "Peitho Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition." The essay explores rhetorical listening, disability and neurodivergence.

Genevieve West's Zora Neale Hurston collection makes The Guardian's Best Books of 2020 list

"Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick," the critically acclaimed collection of Zora Neale Hurston works posthumously gathered, edited and published by TWU ESFL professor and chair Genevieve West, PhD, has been selected for The Guardian's best books of 2020 list. Naoise Dolan, author of "Exciting Times," chose the book for its "fluid, polymathic voice."

Associate professor Gray Scott nominated for 2021 Pushcart Prize

Graham "Gray" Scott, PhD, associate professor of English at TWU, has been nominated for the 2021 Pushcart Prize. His short story, ‘A Parable of Things that Crawl and Fly’, was co-authored by Wallace Cleaves and appears in Pulp Literature's 25th issue

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is one of the most honored literary projects in America.

Paranormal frequencies: TWU graduate investigates spooky sounds in media

By merging her passion for music, writing, rhetoric and film, TWU graduate student Regan Dianne Campbell developed an extremely unique area of research: Sonic rhetoric and the use of sounds and music in horror movies and TV shows.

In Memoriam: Dr. Mary Turner S. Kobler (1930-2020)

Former ESFL faculty member Dr. Mary Turner S. Kobler passed away Friday, Nov. 27. Dr. Kobler taught for many years at TWU and retired in 1996. Because of the pandemic, Dr. Kobler's family is not planning a memorial at this time. She is survived by her daughters, Laura and Linda, who also works at TWU. Visit Dr. Kobler's obituary page to read her full bio or share a memory in the guest book.

To make a donation in memory of Dr. Kobler, please visit the League of Women Voters website.

Johnathan Smilges wins Coalition of Feminist Scholars dissertation award

Assistant professor Johnathan Smilges' dissertation, "Queer Silence: Rhetorics of Resistance," recently won the Presidents Dissertation Award from the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, the premier organization of feminist rhetoricians. The award is presented biennially to the "doctoral dissertation that makes an outstanding contribution to our understanding of feminist histories, theories, and pedagogies of rhetoric and composition.” One judge wrote the following of Smilges’s project:

“Smilges’s work savvily moves between theory and analysis, offering up important insights in the ways that silences work in queer and trans rhetorics. Their chapter on ex-gays is compassionate, smart, aware of its limitations, and deftly ties together queer theory and disability theory.”


In Memoriam: Dr. Ninfa Nik (1946-2020)

Former faculty member Dr. Ninfa Nik was born on December 19, 1946 and passed away on November 13, 2020. She taught Spanish and French for the TWU Department of English, Speech and Foreign Languages, and she will be greatly missed. She is under the care of Fairhaven Memorial Services. Because of the pandemic, no public service is planned at this time. 

To share a message in memory of Dr. Nik, please visit her Mission Viejo obituary page.

Doctoral candidate and alumna Angela Johnson receives Modern Language Association fellowship

TWU ESFL doctoral student Angela Johnson has been named a Modern Language Association (MLA) bibliography fellow. She will serve until 2022. 

Bibliography fellows work with approximately 100 field bibliographers, from all parts of the world, who cover subject areas, journals and languages that cannot be indexed in the New York office. Each spring, five to ten fellowships are awarded to field bibliographers who, on completion of their fellowships, receive a stipend of $500 and a certificate during the awards ceremony at the MLA convention.

Johnson earned both her MLA and MA at Texas Woman's University and currently works as a school librarian. 

Write Site hosts annual North Texas Writing Center Association Conference

The TWU Write Site hosted the annual North Texas Writing Center Association Conference, which was held fully online this year due to COVID. The event was organized by Write Site Tutor Coordinator Jennifer Phillips-Denny, PhD, and all presenters were TWU faculty, staff or students. The North Texas Writing Centers Association is a subset of the South Central Writing Centers Association, which includes member schools from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. 

Jackie Hoermann-Elliott, PhD, gave the key-note presentation, "Under (Good) Pressure: The Diastolic Effects of Writing Center Work on Tutors' Career Trajectories." Her presentation wove professional anecdotes into relevant research findings to argue that the writing center serves as an important site for fostering workplace readiness in tutors, particularly for those interested in careers in editing and publishing. 

Two ESFL graduate students were honored with awards during the event. Daniel Stefanelli and Desiree Thorpe won the Mary Nell Kivikko Excellence in Scholarship Award for their paper, "(Re)imagining Writing Centers: Strategies for Multimodal Tutoring." The Mary Nell Kivikko Excellence in Scholarship Award is designed to recognize outstanding scholarship in writing center theory and practice. They received an honorarium and presented their findings at the conference.

Learn more about the Write Site>>


Gray Scott's micro and speculative fiction earns industry accolades

Gray Scott, Ph.D., associate professor of English and self-described "writer of occasional truths and recreational falsehoods," is making a name for himself in micro and speculative fiction.

TWU ESFL remembers Professor Emeritus William Tanner 1937-2020

Professor Emeritus William Tanner, Ph.D., passed away at the age of 82 on August 24, 2020. Tanner enjoyed a long and fruitful career in the TWU Department of English, Speech and Foreign Languages. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Glenda Tanner Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center, Baylor Scott and White Hospital, Foundation Office, 2401 S. 31st St., Temple, TX 76508.

U.S. Department of State awards $35,000 grant to Benner, Phillips

The U.S. Department of State has awarded a $35,000 grant aimed at increasing education abroad opportunities for minority students to William Benner, PhD, an assistant professor of Spanish, and Annie Phillips, PhD, executive director for International Affairs.

ESFL's Phyllis Bridges discusses TWU's new pandemic collection with KRLD radio

To help chronicle the impact of COVID-19 and add rich context to its ongoing challenges, Texas Woman’s University is embarking on a project to collect writings in multiple forms. It's a new collection called Voices of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Chancellor Carine M. Feyten Collection. KRLD's John Liddle talked with Phyllis Bridges, Cornaro Professor of English at TWU about the project.

Phyllis Bridges, PhD, appointed to board of Texas Folklore Society

Phyllis Bridges, Ph.D., Cornaro Professor of English, has been unanimously elected to a three-year term on the Board of the Texas Folklore Society and has been appointed to the search committee for the secretary-editor of the society. The Texas Folklore Society is in the process of moving from Stephen F. Austin State University to Tarleton State. Bridges has served as President of the Texas Folklore Society and has published numerous articles in their publications and proceedings.

Em Ramser receives TWU Alumni Association's Outstanding Student Award

Em Ramser headshot


The Awards and Honors Committee of the TWU Alumni Association has selected Em Ramser to receive the 2020 Outstanding Student Award. Ramser graduates in May 2020 with two degrees, the M.A. in English and the M.A. in Teaching with a concentration in English. 

"Em embodies the dedicated, fearless spirit of a Pioneer... She is a talented poet, accomplished teacher, and a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. In the very short time that Em has been at TWU, she has published numerous poems in professional creative journals and been featured in an installation at the Dallas Museum of Art; she has progressed from substitute teacher and library aide to full-time teacher at Braswell High School, earning a number of awards and two grants; and served the community as a volunteer for organizations like Spiderweb Salon, OUTreach Denton, and Casa of Denton County. She has presented (and will present) her research on-campus at the TWU Experiential Education Symposium (as an ELL scholar) and the ESFL department SmartTalks event, and off-campus at conferences like the Southwest Pop Culture/American Studies Association. Her thesis fills a critical gap in poetry studies, offering the first comprehensive history of the blackout/erasure poetry movement.

"As her advisor, I am delighted (and astounded, really) by her ability to consciously weave her creative and scholarly passions into her teaching and service to at-risk communities. We are extraordinarily proud for Em to represent the ESFL department as a poet, scholar, and teacher – we are thrilled for her to receive recognition at the university level as well," said Gretchen Busl, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and graduate program coordinator.

Rhetoric doctoral student Margaret Williams wins William Tanner award for best paper

TWU doctoral student in rhetoric Margaret Williams won the William Tanner Award for Best Rhetoric Paper by a Graduate Student at the 2020 meeting of the Conference of College Teachers of English (CCTE).  Her paper, "Vir Bonus, Hortensia: A Good Woman Speaking Well in Ancient Rome," grew out of her History of Rhetoric I class at TWU. She argues that in Hortensia’s 1st-century BCE speech in which she convinced the three post-Julius Caesar rulers to refrain from over-taxing 1,400 of her fellow widows, she was a good woman speaking well (a feminist play on the good-man-speaking-well trope). This award comes with a $100 cash prize and publication in the next issue of the CCTE Studies Journal

TWU receives top national ranking for best bachelor's degrees in English

The undergraduate English program at Texas Woman's University is featured at #13 on the 2020 GradReports Best Colleges list. Rankings are based on median early-career salary data of over 5 million graduates from the U.S. Department of Education.

ESFL professor and chair's Zora Neale Hurston collection hits shelves, tops 2020's most anticipated book lists

Congratulations to TWU ESFL's Genevieve West, Ph.D., editor of Zora Neale Hurston's short story collection, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick. The collection, which hits shelves today, includes 8 "lost" Harlem Renaissance tales and has already received a rave review from The New York Times. It is one of Forbes' and Newsweek's most anticipated books of 2020, and the Miami Herald and Seattle Times, among many others, also listed the book in their "5 most highly anticipated books of 2020."

A new edition of our newsletter is now available!

Download your copy of the ESFL 2019 Newsletter today

Our annual newsletter will keep you up to date on departmental activities and events as well as student, faculty, staff and alumni awards and achievements.

For additional archival copies of the ESFL newsletter, or to submit a faculty, student or alumni story, please contact us via email at

Poet Laureate educates and inspires at writing workshop, poetry reading

2020 Texas Poet Laureate Emmy Pérez visited Texas Woman’s University on Wednesday, Nov. 13, to lead a daytime writing workshop followed by an evening poetry reading. Pérez draws much of her inspiration from her personal relationships and natural surroundings. Her experiences working with Native American reservation communities, female prison inmates and young people in juvenile detention centers have shaped her work. Her travels along the Texas borderlands and Rio Grande Valley informed her most recent collection, "With the River on Our Face."

Texas Poet Laureate to lead TWU writing workshop, poetry reading Nov. 13

Texas Woman’s University will host a writing workshop and poetry reading led by the 2020 Texas Poet Laureate, Emmy Pérez, on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Both events will take place in Administration and Conference Tower Building room 301 on TWU’s Denton campus.

In Memoriam

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Texas Woman's University community for their support as we mourn the passing of our beloved family member, Dr. Katie McWain. We also send our deepest sympathies to her family, friends, colleagues, and students. Katie was an extraordinarily bright presence among us, a gifted teacher and a brilliant scholar. We will strive to honor her kind, generous spirit in our words and deeds. She leaves a lasting legacy not only with her research, but through the example she set as a leader, educator, and friend.

Katie was a passionate advocate for graduate students and contingent laborers. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to the TWU Foundation and will be used to support these communities with a named scholarship or award in her memory.

We will never forget you, Katie.

Alumna Jocelyn A. Chadwick pens touching tribute to the late Toni Morrison

"Neither of us knew then that this long-distance correspondence—Morrison from her longtime post at Princeton University, us from Boston and Cambridge—would add building blocks to the foundation of our relationship and extend to my other graduate students, present and future, and to young students in middle school classrooms," says Jocelyn A. Chadwick, Ph.D.

Chadwick is an English teacher and scholar who works with K-12 students and teachers around the country, focusing on literature, writing and curriculum development. She was a full-time professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and is now lecturing and conducting occasional seminars there. She has worked with Ken Burns, PBS, WGBH, BBC Radio and was invited to the White House as a panel member for the series Celebrating America’s Authors.

Rhetoric doctoral candidate Meredith Martin's publication solicited by academic journal


“I am a Trekkie, I love science fiction and fantasy,” said Meredith Martin, a TWU graduate student pursuing her doctorate in the history and theory of rhetoric. “I have always wanted to write a paper on the character Data from Star Trek, and after taking a film studies class as part of my doctoral coursework, I finally decided to do it." 

It is very rare for publishers of journals to actually approach a writer asking for an article. Most writers and researchers submit unsolicited articles to journals in hopes that they will be accepted. The Journal for Strategic Innovation and Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary publication that addresses the many challenges of managing innovation and sustainability. 


TWU ESFL alumna named Ada County public information officer

The Board of Ada County Commissioners has announced that Elizabeth Duncan joined Ada County as its new public information officer. Duncan has 15 years of experience in public information, most recently as the public information officer for the Idaho Office of Emergency Management. Prior to her career in public information, Duncan was an award-winning television anchor and news director, and worked in various markets around the country, including Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and the Treasure Valley. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from Texas Woman’s University

PhD in Rhetoric candidate Selena Parker selected for Bedford New Scholars Advisory Board

Bedford/St. Martin's, an imprint of Macmillan Learning, named TWU doctoral candidate Salena Parker one of ten new graduate students chosen to become part of the 2019 Bedford New Scholars program, an advisory board of graduate students for English Composition. Parker is pursuing her Ph.D. in Rhetoric with a concentration in World Literature in the TWU Department of English, Speech and Foreign Languages. She currently teaches Composition I and II while serving as an English professor at Collin College.

TWU alumna Rochelle Gregory: 'Best path forward for teen parents? A college degree'

"I have seen firsthand the transformative power of education. Despite the overwhelming challenges, I completed my bachelor’s degree and graduated magna cum laude in 2001, a master’s degree in 2003 and my doctorate from Texas Woman’s University in 2009," writes Rochelle Gregory, who earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric at TWU and now serves as chairwoman of the English, Speech and Foreign Language department at North Central Texas College.

TWU alumna Helen Benjamin named Interim Superintendent-President for Santa Barbara City College

The Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees has announced the selection of Helen Benjamin, Ph.D., to serve as interim superintendent/president. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in English from Texas Woman’s University.

TWU alumna Elaine Cho, PhD, to present research in Seoul, South Korea

Elaine Cho, Ph.D., TWU alumna (M.A. in English and Ph.D. in Rhetoric) and professor of English and director of Asian American studies at Eastfield College, has been invited to present her research in Seoul, South Korea in June of 2019. Her paper is titled Digital Bojagi: Unwrapping Korean American History and Culture. Cho recently completed a study internship at the Smithsonian. She is also serving as chair of the Asian American section of the Southwest American Culture Association and last week chaired three panels at the conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Elaine serves on the council for the English Alumni Chapter.

Doctoral student Salena Parker to participate in Bedford New Scholars program

Ph.D. in Rhetoric student Salena Parker has been selected to participate in the Bedford New Scholars program. The designation comes with professional responsibilities, a stipend and a fully covered trip to Boston for a seminar/meeting. Parker was nominated by assistant professor Katie McWain, Ph.D.

Each year the Bedford editorial team asks program directors from ten leading graduate programs to nominate one of their outstanding graduate TAs to serve on an advisory board for the calendar year. Selected board members from across the country have the opportunity to connect with other graduate students, to learn a bit about how publishing works, and to provide feedback on the direction of new books and projects in the pipeline.


TWU alumna and husband donate to expand local food center

TWU English, Speech and Foreign Languages alumna Raquel Hutchens Schmitz (MA '94) and her husband, Eric Schmitz, recently donated $250,000 for construction and provisions for a new and expanded Denton Community Food Center. The food center provides provisions for approximately 14,000 persons per year.

Mujer Del Mundo: Angela Mooney

Teacher, student, linguaphile, book-lover, journalist, wife and mother – these are just a few of the roles Angela Rodriguez Mooney has taken on in her lifetime.

Mooney, an adjunct Spanish instructor at TWU and a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese literature at Tulane, is making a name for herself as a versatile, international scholar. Whether it is teaching Spanish to underclassmen or working on her dissertation on Brazilian intersectional-feminine authorship, Mooney has made education her life’s work.

Three ESFL doctoral program alumni publish edited collections in October


Michele Lockhart’s edited collection President Donald Trump and his Political Discourse: Ramifications of Rhetoric Via Twitter is now in print. This is her fourth such project. At the same time, Lei Zhang and Carlton Clark have edited a collection titled Affect, Emotion and Rhetorical Persuasion in Mass Media. Both are published by Routledge.

Professor emerita receives lifetime achievement award

Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, presented Judith Mattson Bean, Ph.D., with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor emerita at Texas Woman's University in the department of English, Speech and Foreign Languages, Bean retired in 2011 after teaching and serving as an academic administrator for 17 years. During her tenure, she spent nearly a decade as an associate vice president for Academic Affairs, retiring as Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies. She was the founding co-chair of the statewide Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee.

Genevieve West, Ph.D., interviewed for Zora Neale Hurston story in Norway's 'Morgenbladet'

Genevieve West, Ph.D., professor and chair of the TWU Department of English, Speech and Foreign Languages, was recently interviewed by Norway's biggest newspaper, Morgenbladet, for a story about Zora Neale Hurston's controversial, posthumously published new book, Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo". 

"'There was a thrill inside the Harlem Renaissance at that time, about how the artist's ideal should be and how to create a new and more accurate image of African Americans
in public,' says Genevieve West, who wrote the book Zora Neale Hurston and American Literary Culture."

Alumna interviewed for a BBC podcast on Mark Twain

TWU alumna Jocelyn A. Chadwick (M.A., Ph.D.) was featured in a July 14 BBC program titled "American Writer Mark Twain." Chadwick is a Twain scholar and has taught at the University of North Texas as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she now serves as a consultant, educator and president of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Two-time TWU alumna promotes bilingualism through children's books

In addition to her distinguished career in academic leadership and research, two-time TWU alumna Dr. María Alma González Pérez has authored and published three children's books: ¡Todos a Comer! A Mexican Food Alphabet Book, An Angel from Above / Un ángel desde arriba, and Hello, Zapata! ¡Hola!, as well as a collection of poems in Spanish titled Cantos del Alma y del Corazón. ¡Todos a Comer! won the 2017 International Latino Book Award for Best Latino Focused Children's Picture Book.

"Alphabet books develop literacy skills and help prepare children to begin the process of learning to read. So it is important to have abecedarios that are fun, colorful, and engaging. ¡Todos a comer! does just that,” said Monica Olivera, a freelance education writer and founder of the blog Mommy Maestra.

Pérez attended Texas Woman’s University, where she obtained both a bachelor of arts degree - with a double major in English and Spanish and a minor in education - and a master of arts degree in Spanish. Pérez served as full-time professor of bilingual education with The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, and then served as director for The University of Texas-Pan American at Starr County campus in Río Grande City, Texas for 14 years. 

ESFL faculty ready to ‘go global’ with national grant

As part of an initiative to support and enrich humanities education and scholarship at minority-serving institutions, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently awarded two Texas Woman’s University faculty members a grant to incorporate global perspectives and experiential learning into the university’s undergraduate humanities courses. This highly competitive grant, totaling $99,803, is the first of its kind to be awarded to TWU.

Assistant professor Gretchen Busl presents program on 'Odyssey'


Gretchen Busl will discuss adapting Homer's Odyssey at the upcoming meeting of Professor's Corner at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Denton's South Branch Library. Busl, a Texas Woman's University professor, will discuss the classic text of the famous work, and how translations influence popular, collective understanding of the material. 

ESFL faculty present at TEDxTWU

Assistant professors Gretchen Busl, Ph.D., and Gray Scott, Ph.D., participated in the first annual TEDxTWU event on March 4, 2016. Their presentations, titled "Whoever controls the narrative has the power" and "Can we really teach writing?", respectively, are now available on Facebook and YouTube. 

Gretchen Busl

Gray Scott

The new Write Site is now open

2 students work at computers in the Write Site

The newly redesigned and relocated Write Site is now open in Blagg-Huey Library, room 235. This space has been specially designed to strengthen student success at Texas Woman’s and support the continued development of the TWU Libraries as a hub of learning. For more information, including hours of operation and appointment scheduling, visit The Write Site.


Weina Dai Randel headshot

Alumna Weina Dai Randel launches two new books

Author and English M.A. graduate Weina Dai Randel launched her book, The Moon in the Palace, at the Crow Collection of Asian Art on March 1, 2016. Randel then launched the sequel, The Empress of Bright Moon, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at the Southlake Barnes & Noble. Visit Weina Dai Randel's website to learn more.

Page last updated 5:14 PM, February 8, 2021