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2024 Villanova Lit Fest Lineup: Begins Feb. 15

Announcing the 2024 Villanova Literary Festival featured speakers: V. V. Ganeshananthan, Thursday, Feb. 15 in Falvey’s Speakers’ Corner; Tracy K. Smith, Tuesday, March 12 in the Connelly Cinema; Emilie Pine, 2024 Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies, Thursday, March 14 in the President’s Lounge, Connelly Center; and Carolyn Forché, Wednesday, April 3 in the Driscoll Auditorium.

These ACS-approved events are co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, Center for Peace and Justice Education and Falvey Library, and are free and open to the public. All events begin at 7 p.m.



Villanova Literary Festival Speaker Donika Kelly Visits Campus

By Lauren Picard 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Picard.

This past Thursday, poet Donika Kelly read her work to a captivated audience in Falvey Library Speakers’ Corner as part of the 25th Annual Villanova Literary Festival 

After being introduced by two Villanova students, Kelly took to the podium, where her warm and lighthearted presence immediately set the audience at ease. Before diving headfirst into the first poem from her published book, Bestiary, Kelly asked the audience if they knew what a Centaur was. After some chuckles and nods from the audience, Kelly began reading, “Love Poem: Centaur”. Her use of repetition and visual language in the poem not only brought the audience into the mystical land in which a Centaur might truly exist, but also personified the thoughts of a Centaur in love: “Nothing approaches a field like me. Hard / gallop, hard chest—hooves and mane and flicking / tail… Love, / I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth” (Kelly, p. 41). Love and legendary creatures fill the pages of Bestiary, and it was a pleasure to have Kelly take us on a tour. 

Kelly also read from her most recently published book of poetry, The Renunciations, which, as described by the students who introduced her, asks: can experiences be unremembered, and feelings unfelt? In both The Renunciations and Bestiary, Kelly explores love in its many different forms (even through certain poems dedicated to her partner which she fondly describes as “macaroni art”), and engages readers with her vivid language and storytelling.  

The Q&A session following her readings offered the audience a chance to learn more about Kelly’s writing and editing process, to which she had a sundry of candid advice for the aspiring poets in the audience. After the event’s conclusion, Kelly stayed behind to sign books and talk more with audience members.  

Kelly’s was the third event of the Villanova Literary Festival, and both of her books, Bestiary and The Renunciations are available through Falvey Library. The fourth and final Lit Fest event is coming up on Tues., April 18 at 7pm in Falvey Library Speakers’ Corner, and will feature Steph Cha, the author of Your House Will Pay. We hope to see you there!

Lauren Picard ’23 CLAS, is Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.


Dig Deeper: Steph Cha

By Julia Wagner

Photo courtesy of

Villanova University’s 2023 Literary Festival will be featuring novelist Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay, for a reading and talk on Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner. Cha was born in San Fernando Valley, California and is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her family.

Your House Will Pay is a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the California Book Award. She is also the author of Follow Her Home, Beware Beware, Dead Soon Enough, and Treasures in Heaven. Her work has made appearances in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She also served as noir editor and is the current series editor of the Best American Mystery & Suspense anthology.

This ACS-approved event—co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, the Honors Program, Africana Studies, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, and Falvey Library—is free and open to the public.

Dig deeper and explore the links below for more on Cha’s work:

Julia Wagner ‘26 CLAS is a Communication major from New Hampshire (Go Patriots!). She works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.





Dig Deeper: Donika Kelly

By Julia Wagner

Photo courtesy of

Villanova University’s 2023 Literary Festival will be featuring poet Donika Kelly, author of The Renunciations (Graywolf) and Bestiary (Graywolf), for a reading and talk on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner. Kelly was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University. She currently resides in Iowa City with her wife.

The Renunciations is a winner of the Anisfield-Wolf book award in poetry, and Bestiary is a winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Kelly’s poems have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review. She is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World. She has also received a Lannan Residency Fellowship and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. Her work has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Publishing Triangle Awards, the Lambda Literary Awards, and longlisted for the National Book Award.

This ACS-approved event—co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, the Honors Program, Africana Studies, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, and Falvey Library—is free and open to the public.

Dig deeper and explore the links below for more on Kelly’s work:

Julia Wagner ‘26 CLAS is a Communication major from New Hampshire (Go Patriots!). She works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.

“I am personally so excited that The Renunciations is part of my Moderns curriculum, and I can’t wait to hear Kelly speak!”




The 2023 Lit Fest Begins Tonight!

Lit Festival 2023 Lineup

Faculty, staff, students, and friends are invited to join us for the 2023 Literary Festival! Through this annual series, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming major poets and fiction writers on campus to give readings and meet with students.

The Literary Festival officially kicks off tonight with a reading by the Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair for Irish Studies, Mary O’Donoghue, an award-winning poet, fiction writer, editor, and translator. A reception will start at 6 p.m. in the Presidents’ Lounge in Connelly Center prior to the 7 p.m. reading! In addition, we are delighted that the new Ambassador of Ireland Geraldine Byrne Nason will personally congratulate our 2023 Heimbold Chair, Mary O’Donoghue, at 6:45 p.m.

See the full line-up of Literary Festival speakers, below.

Feb. 23: Mary O’Donoghue
The President’s Lounge, Connelly Center

March 16: Tsering Lama
Speakers’ Corner, Falvey Library

March 30: Donika Kelly
Speakers’ Corner, Falvey Library

April 18: Steph Cha,
Speakers’ Corner, Falvey Library

All events take place at 7 p.m. and are ACS-approved!

You can learn more about the 2023 Lit Fest speakers and enjoy recordings of past events here.



Upcoming Book Talks at Falvey Library

How to Do Things with Dead People: History, Technology, and Temporality from Shakespeare to Warhol

Alice Dailey, PhD.

Please join us on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Room 205 for an event titled “Alice Dailey’s How To Do Things with Dead People: History, Technology, and Temporality from Shakespeare to Warhol, A Conversation and Celebration.” You can also REGISTER HERE to join virtually on the evening of the event.

Together Alice Dailey, PhD, Professor, Department of English, Villanova University;  Peter Holland PhD, McMeel Family Professor in Shakespeare Studies, University Of Notre Dame; and Melissa Sanchez, PhD, Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania will discuss Alice Dailey’s recently published book, How to Do Things with Dead People: History, Technology, and Temporality from Shakespeare to Warhol (Cornell University Press, 2022).

How to Do Things with Dead People: History, Technology, and Temporality from Shakespeare to Warhol studies human contrivances for representing and relating to the dead. Dailey takes as her principal objects of inquiry Shakespeare’s English history plays, describing them as reproductive mechanisms by which living replicas of dead historical figures are regenerated in the present and re-killed. Considering the plays in these terms exposes their affinity with a transhistorical array of technologies for producing, reproducing, and interacting with dead things—technologies such as literary doppelgängers, photography, ventriloquist puppetry, X-ray imaging, glitch art, capital punishment machines, and cloning.

This ACS-approved event is co-sponsored by the Department of English and Falvey Library. Light refreshments will be served.

Drama and Civility: James Shirley in the Age of Charles III

Please join us for the 2022 Outstanding Faculty Research Award Lecture featuring recipient Lauren Shohet, PhD, on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. in Falvey Library’s room 205.

Dr. Shohet, Professor, Department of English, will give a presentation that highlights the extensive research that led her to win the coveted Outstanding Faculty Research Award in 2022. Her talk is titled “Drama and Civility: James Shirley in the Age of Charles III.”

Lauren Shohet, PhD.

James Shirley (1596-1666) was a dramatist who lived through much drama. Working first in the opulent orbit of King Charles I and in Ireland, then in civil spaces after the king was beheaded, then in the revival of London playhouses after the Restoration of Charles II, Shirley consistently explored ways that writing, performing, and reading plays could promote inclusive, good-humored conversation across sometimes bitter social, economic, and political divides.

Following the talk there will be short Q&A and light refreshments. This ACS-approved event, co-sponsored by Falvey Library and the Office of the Provost, is free and open to the public. Be sure to join us to honor this remarkable awardee!

You can learn more about the Outstanding Faculty Research Award here:

Speaker Information:

Lauren Shohet, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of English at Villanova University. She earned a BA at Oberlin College, a BMus at Oberlin College Conservatory, an MA and PhD at Brown University.

Dr. Shohet’s teaching areas include Early-Modern poetry and drama, Milton, Shakespeare, History of Material Texts, Digital Humanities, Adaptation and Genre Studies.

Some of Dr. Shohet’s recent publications include: “Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and the Idea of the Interface.” (Routledge Companion to the Interface, ed. Paul Budra and Clifford Werier, 2022); “Mediation, Media, and Milton’s Eve” (Milton Studies 63.1, 2021); Gathering Force: Early Modern British Literature in Transition 1557-1623 (co-editor with Kristen Poole, Cambridge University Press, 2019); and Temporality, Genre, and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare: Forms of Time (ed., . Bloomsbury/Arden, 2018).

See Dr. Shohet’s Website for a full listing of her publications and other accomplishments:

T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”

In 1922, The Dial magazine published a strange new poem called “The Waste Land.” Join us on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 4-5:30 p.m. in Falvey Library’s room 205 to celebrate 100 years of T.S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece. Villanova English professors Kamran Javadizadeh, PhD, and Megan Quigley, PhD, will give the poem a dramatic reading and toast it with tea and sheet cake! Tarot readings, games of chess, and existential angst will be served.

This ACS-approved event is co-sponsored by the Department of English and Falvey Library.






Villanova English Faculty Offer 2022 Summer Reading Recommendations

For the past nine years, Villanova’s English Department faculty have offered summer reading recommendations to the campus community. The department has kindly allowed Falvey to reprint the list on the Library’s blog and share it with our patrons. Check out this summer’s features below and explore prior recommendations here.

Kimberly Takahata, Assistant Professor

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong.

For me, summer is a time to slow down, and Ocean Vuong’s recent collection of poetry demands all the time we can give it. Hauntingly beautiful, these poems weave together worlds of feeling in just a few pages. In one, entitled “Amazon History of a Former Nail Salon Worker,” Vuong collects lists of objects, leaving us as readers to fill in the gaps. I’ll be thinking about that record of orders every time I receive a package.

Book cover of Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong.


Crystal Lucky, Professor of English and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Two books are at the top of my summer reading recommendations, one that I just finished and one that I just started. The first, Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature (WW Norton, 2021), is a beautiful blend of memoir and cultural criticism. Written by Columbia University comparative literature professor, Farah Jasmine Griffin, the book begins with her memories of her father’s last hours on earth, suffering at the hands of insensitive and misinformed Philadelphia police officers. It then moves readers through a series of important American texts—literary, musical, and visual—to consider the ways Black people have always participated in and contributed to the American democratic project, even when they have been denied its basic freedoms and liberties. Dedicated to TM, the book pays tribute to the late Toni Morrison in each of its ten chapters and offers insight into the work of a wide range of Black artists and thinkers. The book’s title, taken from a note her father left her in one of his many and precious books, invites readers on a journey through the quest for Black freedom, justice, rage, resistance, and death, upwards to love, joy, beauty, and grace. Griffin’s beautiful writing made me cry, laugh, and hope.

Book cover of Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature by Farah Jasmine Griffin.

The second book, Moon and the Mars (Penguin Random House, 2021), is a novel by Kia Corthron. Set in New York’s impoverished Five Points District in the 1850s through the 1860s, the novel is told from the perspective of a young Black and Irish girl named Theo. She is beloved by both sides of her family and lives between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. “Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformation ally—as the nation divides and marches to war.” The audiobook is a wonderful companion to the written text and is masterfully read by narrator and actor, Robin Miles. Both the reading and listening experiences are a treat!

Book cover of Moon and the Mars by Kia Corthron.


Alan Drew, Associate Professor of English; Director, Minor in Creative Writing

In his New York Times Book Review rave of Mercy Street, the novelist Richard Russo says he was “gobsmacked” by the time he finished reading. Haigh’s last novel, Heat and Light took on fracking, and managed to produce a nuanced portrait of rural Pennsylvanians caught in the grip of big corporate exploitation. Here she wades into one of the most fraught issues in American politics, particularly in our current moment: Abortion. If you’ve ever read Haigh before, you know this novel will be intellectually insightful, emotionally compelling, and will have a lasting impact long after you’ve read the last page.

Book cover of Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh.


Evan Radcliffe, Director, English Graduate Program; Associate Professor

I’ve been reading modern-day creative responses to Homer, most recently David Malouf’s Ransom (which turns Priam’s journey to the Greek camp at the end of the Iliad into a novel) and Madeline Miller’s Circe (which develops the Circe episode from the Odyssey into a full account of her life from her own perspective). So one of my books this summer will be Miller’s The Song of Achilles. As she does in Circe, Miller draws on other ancient stories of her characters, and in this novel she expands the story of Achilles and Patroclus, telling it from Patroclus’s point of view and as a love story. In 2012 it won the Orange Prize for Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction).

Book cover of Ransom by David Malouf.


Travis Foster, Associate Professor, English; Academic Director, Gender and Women’s Studies

Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain.

I listened to the audiobook when it first came out, fell in love with it, and plan to reread it in print this summer. It’s a novel bursting in feelings, a coming-of-age story about a working class gay Scot, and a beautiful representation of the relationship between a boy and his alcoholic mother. If that’s not persuasive enough, it also won last year’s Booker.

Book cover of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.


Mary Mullen, Associate Professor

I highly recommend Louise Erdrich’s The SentencePart ghost story, part narrative of Minneapolis in the midst of the summer of 2020, this novel celebrates independent bookstores and communities forged through reading (there’s even a reading list at the end) as it thinks about prison sentences, Indigenous remains, policing, memory, and history. Much of the action takes place at Erdrich’s bookstore, Birchbark Books, which is haunted by an annoying customer who just won’t leave. I never thought I’d like a novel that represents the outbreak of COVID-19, but I couldn’t put this one down and am still thinking about it.

Book cover of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.



Christoforos Sassaris Joins Falvey as Distinctive Collections Coordinator

My name is Christoforos Sassaris, and I recently joined Falvey Memorial Library as a Distinctive Collections Coordinator. In this position, I take part in the Distinctive Collections and Digital collections, lovecraft, joyce, Engagement department’s efforts at preserving rare books, archives, and artifacts. This position is a perfect fit for me, as it nicely combines my interests in cultural heritage and digital technologies. I am particularly excited to digitize sources in the Scan Lab and make them accessible to students, researchers, and the public through Falvey’s website.

I was born in Athens, Greece (where I still visit as often as possible) and moved to the US in 2011. I got my BA in English literature at West Chester University (WCU), where I was both an intern and a research fellow at Francis Harvey Green Library’s Special Collections. These experiences imbued me with a passion for heritage librarianship, which I pursued through additional internships at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Just before joining Falvey, I was a Graduate Assistant in Villanova’s Writing Center and English department while I completed my MA. I also volunteered in two digital projects at Falvey, the Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Bibliography and Honoring the Fallen: An Interactive Memorial Map. During the past two years, I developed a deep appreciation of Falvey’s collections, which I consulted during my studies.

When I was introduced to these collections, one item that immediately drew my attention was a journal of astronomical observations belonging to horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, whose fiction I examined in my MA thesis. Interestingly, the journal possibly contains the real-world inspiration for the short story “The Colour Out of Space.” I was also drawn to Falvey’s extensive holdings in Irish and Irish-American literature, such as an original copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This 1922 modernist novel was the focus of my final capstone paper at WCU, titled “‘A Last Attempt to Retrieve the Fortunes of Greece’: Joyce, Hellenism, and Addressing Arnoldian Attitudes in Ulysses.” I am enthusiastic about preserving and facilitating access to treasures such as Lovecraft’s journal and Joyce’s novel through my work at Falvey.

I look forward to working with the Falvey team and continuing my involvement in the Villanova community in the coming years. Feel free to visit me at my desk in Access Services on the first floor of Falvey, or contact me at!


Introducing the 2022 Villanova University Literary Festival Lineup

The lineup for the 2022 Villanova University Literary Festival is listed below. All events will take place at 7 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner, except for the Emma Dabiri talk, which will take place in the Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center. These ACS-approved events, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, and Falvey Memorial Library, are free and open to the public.


 Thursday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Jericho Brown is author of the The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition, won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.

For more information on Brown, please visit his website:

Livestream link:


 Tuesday, March 15, at 7 p.m., in the Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center

Emma Dabiri, the 2022 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair in Irish Studies, is an Irish writer, academic, BBC broadcaster, and social media influencer who has written two very successful non-fiction books: Twisted (published as Don’t Touch My Hair in Ireland) and What White People Can Do Next. Her work in the arts, fashion, and the media are complemented by her academic teaching and research in African Studies and Visual Sociology. She is currently completing her PhD at Goldsmiths University, London.

For more information on Dabiri, please visit her website:




 Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Camille T. Dungy’s debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019. She is a professor in the English department at Colorado State University.

Livestream link:





Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Tiphanie Yanique is a novelist, poet, essayist, and short story writer. She is the author of the poetry collection, Wife, which won the 2016 Bocas Prize in  Caribbean poetry and the United Kingdom’s 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for a First Collection. Tiphanie is also the author of the novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award for Pan-African Literature, and the American Academy of Arts   and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, and was listed by NPR as one of the Best Books of 2014. Land of Love and Drowning was also a finalist for the Orion Award in Environmental Literature and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. She is a tenured associate professor at Emory University.

For more information on Yanique, please visit her website:

Livestream link:

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.





Villanova English Faculty Offer 2021 Summer Reading Recommendations

For the past eight years, the faculty of Villanova’s English Department has created summer reading recommendations. The department has kindly allowed Falvey to reprint the list on the Library’s blog and share it with our patrons.

Once you’ve explored this one, you can click on the link at the end to see the previous lists on the English Department’s web page.

Alan Drew, MFA, Associate Professor of English

Since we’ve been mostly confined to our homes this last year, I’m in need of escape to start the summer. I’ve surfed only a little, but I grew up body surfing in Southern California and have had a long running fantasy to travel the world, riding waves wherever you can catch them. William Finnegan lived my fantasy, wrote a memoir about it, and won a Pulitzer for that memoir. (I’m very jealous of him.) I’ll live vicariously through him and his book, at least for a few days.


Joe Drury, Associate Professor of English

I’m currently about halfway through and very much enjoying Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, a kind of anti-Kerouac road trip novel about a journalist who sets off across the US with her husband and two children. Her husband wants to explore the history of the Apache, while she plans to search for two immigrant children who have gone missing at the southern border. Once I’m done with that, I will be picking up Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a satirical novel about an English missionary on a remote volcanic island. The maggot in question is not a bug but “a whimsical or perverse fancy.”


Travis Foster, Associate Professor of English

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. A stunning coming-of-age novel primarily about the experiences of queer people in the US from the 1940s through the 1970s. I read this almost a year ago and still think about the protagonist, Jess Goldberg, several times per week.


The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice. An epic fantasy adventure that reimagines North America in the 18th and 19th centuries from the perspective of Cherokee people and history. It is a truly amazing novel with world building on a vast scale; multiple different cultures, all fully realized; unforgettable characters whose sexualities and genders far surpass any simple binaries; and a plot with the very highest of stakes. This one kept me up late into the night.

Daisy Fried, Adjunct Faculty Member 

Derrek Hines’ contemporary retelling of Gilgamesh, the world’s first book. In translation, Michel Houellebecq‘s controversial novel about French politics and ethnic/religious divisions, Submission.


Karen Graziano, Adjunct Faculty Member 

This summer, I plan to revisit my legal roots: environmental law and policy. I’ve been exploring local parks and open spaces throughout the pandemic and thoroughly enjoying my frequent walks. You can expect to find me at one of my local parks this summer rereading Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring that helped galvanize the environmental legal movement. Next, I’ll be carried away to life on a Nebraska farm looking at the connections between agricultural and environmental policy, community and family, and business in Ted Genoways‘ This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm. I’m looking forward to reading a book that plants “seeds of hope as the next generation prepares to inherit the family land and all of the joys and challenges that come with it,” as Willie Nelson, president of Farm Aid, describes it. I want to become more aware of and appreciate what Tom Colicchio, chief and cofounder of Food Policy Action describes as “farming, family, and good” converging to show readers “what it takes to work on this blessed earth.”


Heather Hicks, Chair and Professor of English 

As I am always dipping into new fiction related to my scholarly interest in the apocalyptic tradition, I recently read Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel Leave the World Behind.  This is a page-turner set in the Hamptons, which effectively intermingles class and racial politics with a looming sense of mystery and dread.


Jill Karn, PhD, Adjunct Faculty Member 

I plan to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I know, I know, it’s so incredibly long; but I like the idea of having a massive book to accompany me wherever I go this summer. It feels like a huge commitment to read this novel, and, truly, it’s a book I’ve always been meaning to read. Already, I’ve dipped into it and have been pleasantly surprised by its accessibility and richness. The characters—if you can keep track of who’s who—are fascinating and real. This book will be my companion on the train, on visits to family, on the beach. And if I want to hide behind it sometimes, that’s what one needs in the summer months too.


Yumi Lee, Assistant Professor of English 

This summer, I’ll be reading The Essential June Jordan, just published this month. June Jordan is one of the great political poets of our time, and her work touches on so many of the issues that have been at the front of my mind this year: the violence of policing, the intersections of racism and sexism, how to be and act in solidarity with oppressed peoples the world over. Reading her work, I’m reminded that the struggles we’re engaged in today aren’t new by any means—a fact that’s depressing and enraging, and yet somehow oddly comforting to me at the same time. Jordan is at once a brilliant political thinker, an unswerving moral guide, and a genius of poetic language. (She also has amazing comic timing: as you read, you’ll be moved to tears and you’ll laugh out loud in the space of the same poem.) If you’ve never read her before, I highly recommend picking up this new collection.


Crystal Lucky, PhD, Associate Professor of English

This summer, I am planning to read the debut novels of two immigrant writers, one old(er) and one brand new. The first, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), was the debut novel of the late Paule Marshall, novelist, short story writer, memoirist, and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner. The coming-of-age novel reveals the inner workings of a close-knit community of immigrants from Barbados and their complex relationship with World War II era American society. The second, Of Women and Salt (2021) by Gabriela Garcia, tells a transgenerational story of migration, addiction, betrayal, and perseverance. I received the novel as a Mother’s Day gift and discovered it comes highly recommended by our colleague, Dr. Yumi Lee.

I also want to recommend Cicely Tyson’s Just As I Am: A Memoir (2020), which I just finished reading. Released just days before the extraordinary actress’ passing at age 96, the autobiography is not only an engaging recounting of Tyson’s life, career, and long relationship with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It deftly guides readers through the 20th and early 21st century—the exciting days of Harlem in the 1920s, the Depression and Second World War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Age of Obama—right up to our current Pandemic moment. I loved every page!


Adrienne Perry, PhD, Assistant Professor of English 

This summer I’m looking forward to setting up the hammock and spending many days reading a few of the books that friends and former students have given to me. The first is N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy. Each book in the series won a Hugo Award. (By the way, Jemisin won the Hugo three years in a row for these books!) I enjoy the immersive experience of reading science fiction and am eager to get to know about the people and land of Stillness. On the short story front, I’m looking forward to reading Kingdom’s End, a Penguin Modern Classics edition of Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories, translated here from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan. Manto was a prolific writer who (apparently) revised little, and yet is considered “one of Urdu’s great stylists.”


Megan Quigley, Associate Professor of English

Ulysses by James Joyce!

As I prepare to teach Ulysses on its 100th birthday next spring, I’m thinking about why this book matters still, from humanist, theoretical, religious and political perspectives. Some ideas though, maybe first you should read, “The Dead,” a short story from Dubliners, to get your Joyce feet wet. Then try out A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, if you are in the mood for a more Romantic story of young Stephen. But then, tackle the big blue book! Some suggestions: join an online reading group! It’s more enjoyable with friends. Check out Robert Barry’s Ulysses Seen or the Joyce Project for a graphic novel or multimedia approach. Is it a book about a divided nation? About marriage? About the body? About the impossibility of writing a novel? Have fun….


Evan Radcliffe, Associate Professor of English 

Alison Bechdel has just published a new book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. It’s a graphic memoir like her previous books Fun Home and Are You My Mother, but in this book you get not only Bechdel herself but also Romantic or Transcendentalist writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Emerson, and Margaret Fuller, who explored (as Bechdel puts it) “Self! Nature! Spirit!” All that, and (in contrast to her earlier work, which is black-and-white with a single-color wash) colors too! I’ll be reading it, and I also recommend a book I just finished listening to, Anna Burns’s 2018 novel Milkman, as read by Brid Brennan. A lot depends on the distinctive language of the central character, who is also the narrator of the story; Brennan gives her a compelling voice that brings out her particular Irish tones and rhythms, and I loved listening to it.


Lara Rutherford-Morrison, Adjunct Faculty Member 

My rec for summer reading is Madeline Miller’s 2018 novel, CirceCirce is a minor deity in Greek mythology, who is probably most famous for her role in Homer’s Odyssey, in which she turns a bunch of sailors into pigs. Miller’s version, told from Circe’s point of view, recounts Circe’s life from her childhood among the gods to her banishment on a remote island. It’s a fun and extremely absorbing book; I loved it. If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, you’ll enjoy cameos from a variety of Greek gods and monsters and Miller’s reimagining of a number of famous myths.


Lisa Sewell, PhD, Professor of English 

I am starting off the summer with Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. The novel is set in the near future, when global warming has wiped out the food and habitat for most animals and a majority are endangered or already extinct. It tells the story of Franny Stone, who travels to Greenland to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what may be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat and the plot moves between her experiences with the motley crew on board the ship and her memories of her troubled past, which includes a passionate romance, missing parents and a violent crime. The New York Times describes it as a reimagining of Moby Dick. It’s beautifully written (though she’s no Melville), an ode to a disappearing world, but it’s also a page-turner, so a good, though depressing, summer read. Other books on my list include Brenda Hillman’s book of poetry, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, the final book in her tetralogy on earth, air, water and fire and Cathy Park Hong’s essay collection/memoir, Minor Feelings, which is apparently being made into a TV show.


Lauren Shohet, Professor of English 

First, my senior seminar students chose for our class Margaret Atwood’s novel Hagseed, which adapts Shakespeare’s Tempest, setting it in a prison. It’s an engaging read on its own terms, and offers some interesting ways to think about the Tempest as well. Second, I plan to read Maggie O’Farrell‘s Hamnet, a novel about the death of the historical Shakespeare’s son. Third, I recommend Nina MacLaughlin’s Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung, which offers a range of feminist voices retelling the tales from Ovid’s Metamorphosis (many of which concern sexual violence).


Tsering Wangmo, PhD, Assistant Professor of English

I’ve been thinking about form a lot lately, and about Carmen Maria Machado‘s work. A while back responding to a question about genre and her use of form in her stories, Machado said something about how she thinks of the world as a “liminal fantasy”, and how she’s interested in messing with genre. I’m returning to Her Body and Other Partiesfor form and for the stories she tells. Her recent memoir In the Dream House was among books removed from school reading lists by Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas, partly because of parents who opposed including LGBTQ+ books on the reading list. In the Dream House is on my reading list.

Last summer I said I was going to read An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine, and I did not read it. The novel is a portrait of a reclusive translator in Beirut who, once a year, translates a favorite volume into Arabic but they’re only for herself. I hope to get to it this summer.



Read the English faculty’s prior summer reading lists.


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Last Modified: June 15, 2021

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