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Allegheny College English Professor Mari Christmas Receives Prestigious Writing Award

Allegheny College Assistant Professor of English Mari Christmas is a 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award winner for her skill in fiction writing. The foundation writes that “her fierce, darkly humorous, emotionally riveting work explores and embodies today’s world reflecting our deepest anxieties and the complexities of current-day feminism, motherhood, and modern love.”

This award annually recognizes six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers. The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program was established by novelist Rona Jaffe in 1995 and has helped many women build successful writing lives by offering encouragement and financial support at a critical time.

Assistant Professor of English Mari Christmas

Christmas joined the ranks of Allegheny’s English Department faculty in January [...]
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City of Pittsburgh Honors Allegheny Graduate and Author Posthumously

It’s not every day that a city names a day after a children’s book author. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto declared December 8, 2019, Kate Dopirak Day as her fellow writers came together to hold a children’s book festival in her honor.

Kate’s Kid Book Bash, held inside the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh, was a bittersweet celebration of the late author. The event was filled with authors, books, creativity, and plenty of kids — all the things Kate Pohl Dopirak ’98 held dear. “To use her words, Kate would be ‘over-the-moon-excited’ to have an event like this dedicated to her,” said her brother Joe Pohl.

Kate Dopirak, a 1998 Allegheny College graduate, forged a successful career as a children’s book author.

He sat [...]
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Meet Doctor Sparks, an Allegheny Graduate Who Uses Stories to Teach Science to Kids

Karl Smith has a doctorate in biophysics from the University of Rochester. He also worked at Amazon as a software engineer trying to make the Alexa voice assistant smarter. But now Smith is putting his talents to better use, he says, as a children’s science storyteller. He describes his new calling as “Mister Rogers meets Bill Nye.”

Smith calls his alter ego Doctor Sparks. “Hoo boy,” he says, “there’s a story behind that. It’s not a short story though. Let me just say that I earned the name Sparks, and I earned it on a lonesome walk through the New Mexican high desert that lasted for three sleepless days.”

Allegheny graduate Karl Smith earned a doctorate in biophysics and now teaches science [...]
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Allegheny Alumna From Pittsburgh Area Receives Fulbright Award

Allegheny College’s faculty helped Lauren Ottaviani ’18 nurture her knack for learning languages, for Shakespearean studies and for singing. Now they are celebrating Ottaviani’s Fulbright award to teach English in Belgium starting in the spring of 2020.

“Lauren will make an ideal Fulbright Scholar. Prodigiously bright, mature and responsible, she graduated summa cum laude from Allegheny in only three years, earning the English Department prize for best senior project and chairing the student Honor Committee at a time it undertook a review of its policies and practices,” says Jim Bulman, Henry B. and Patricia Bush Tippie Professor of English at Allegheny.

Ottaviani will be placed at the University of Antwerp, where she will teach and assist with English literature courses. “In addition [...]
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A Gator’s View From Down Under

Editor’s Note: Allegheny College junior Joseph Merante is spending the spring 2019 semester at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He shared his thoughts on life there so far:

The first thing that hits you when you step out of the airplane on the eastern edge of the Australian continent is the heat. My experience might have been intensified, since my first step onto the tarmac was in daylight. I had one more plane to board once I got to Australia, and I had to wade through a thick curtain of heat hovering above the asphalt to get there. I’ve been to California, places like Palm Springs, and the weather there is hot and balmy. The airport in Brisbane is hot [...]
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Recent Allegheny College Graduate Awarded Fulbright to Study Medieval Literature in England

Madeline Hernstrom-Hill ’18

If you think of the Middle Ages as little more than dirt, blood and Bubonic Plague, recent Allegheny College graduate Madeline Hernstrom-Hill can enlighten you.

“Sure, all that is there, but there is also so much more — complicated medical manuals, treatises about forms of government, astrological thought, trade across incredible distances, I could go on,” says Hernstrom-Hill, Allegheny Class of 2018.

And go on she will — to England, through a year-long Fulbright award to pursue a master’s degree in medieval history at the University of Leeds beginning this fall.

When she was 12, Hernstrom-Hill (at the prompting of her mother) read The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. That work sparked her interest in the Arthurian Legends and medieval times.

“It’s [...]
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Single Voice Reading Series Welcomes Authors James Davis May, Chelsea Rathburn

Allegheny alumnus James Davis May and Chelsea Rathburn will read from their work as part of the College’s Single Voice Reading Series at 7 p.m. November 30 in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.Author James Davis May.

May’s first book, “Unquiet Things,” was published in 2016. Other poems have appeared in Five Points, The Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, and The Southern Review. In 2013, he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review, and has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Inprint, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. May, who graduated from Allegheny in 2004, is a professor of English and creative writing [...]
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MacNeill Miller Essay Published

Assistant Professor of English John MacNeill Miller published an essay, “Composing Decomposition: ‘In Memoriam’ and the Ecocritical Undertaking” in a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts comprising select papers presented at this year’s meeting of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies association. The essay uses ‘In Memoriam,’ Alfred Tennyson’s poem about his best friend’s death, to examine how representations of decay affect our ability to think ecologically.

Hart Presents Research on Women in the Military

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart presented some of her research on women in the military on the panel “Remembering Differently: Re-Figuring Women’s Rhetorical Work” at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference held in Dayton, Ohio, on October 4-7.

Hart and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Director of Speaking Jon Wiebel also presented a roundtable session titled “Collaboratively Fostering Student Voices in Writing and Speaking” at the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) conference held in Pittsburgh on October 20-21.

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