Duke University Linguistics Program

The English Department congratulates Michael Moses as this year's recipient of the  Robert B. Cox Teaching Award.

This is one of four Trinity College Awards that recognizes outstanding teaching in the college.  Recipients are selected by a faculty committee on the basis of their ability to encourage intellectual excitement and curiosity in students, knowledge of a field and ability to communicate it, organizational skills, mentorship of students, and commitment to excellent teaching over time.

"The Letters Project," a collaboration by Deborah Pope, Raquel Salvatella and Merrill Shatzman, is an interdisciplinary art  work using original poetry and digital media to move beyond traditional models of words paralleling images and static illustrations.  Reflecting an interactive, individual and collective dynamic, its focus is to enact and celebrate the essence and process of artistic creation itself.  The Letters Project was recently on exhibition as part of the Collaboration of Humanities, Arts and Technology (CHAT) Festival.  You can view it here.

Priscilla Wald's presidential address to the American Studies Association meeting available on iTunes

Professor Wald's presidential address to the American Studies Association meeting in October is now available via audio podcast. Click here to access the audio.

The Archive Literary Magazine

Students and faculty came together for an evening of poetry and jazz February 3, 2012, in Perkins Library to celebrate the literary legacy of "The Archive" magazine. 

Fall 2011 - Prof. Holland's class at the OccupyDuke site

    • OccupyDuke lesson

Congratulations!  Writing Awards and Scholarships

Graduate Student teaching: the Stephen Horne Award

Congratulations to Magdalena Zurawski and Astrid Giugni, winners of the 2011 Stephen Horne Award.

    • Michael Moses

Good Question: An Exploration in Ethics is a series presented by the Kenan Institute for Ethics.  Michael Valdez Moses explores the question "Can novels and films make us better people?"


During the 1970's and 1980's, the U.S. Army instituted a program designed to improve the quality of instruction at the Military Academy, West Point.  That program selected likely candidates from line officers on active duty, sent the to graduate programs for two years to earn a master's degree, and then assigned them to teach for three years in the several academic departments at the Academy.  This department was one of those chosen nationwide to receive and prepare such candidates.  two of that group, both of them four-star generals  now, have achieved notable distinction in the military. 

Eric Shinseki (M.A., 1976) served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, 1996-2003; now retired, he has been appointed United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 

Martin Dempsey (M.A, 1984) served briefly this spring as Chief if Staff before being chosen by President Obama to be Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

General Jack Capps, former Chairman of the English Department of West Point, and a Faulkner scholar, writes: "Three cheers for the faculty at Duke."

WUNC:  Host Frank Stasio talks with Maureen Quilligan about women in history, literature and everyday life.

Read and listen here!


Sunday, July 17, 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St.

Dr. Karla FC Holloway, James B. Duke professor of English at Duke University, will read from her book, Private Bodies, Public Text: Race, Gender and a Cultural Bioethics. Using historical examples, from the Tuskegee Study and Henrietta Lack to the more contemporary examples of Terri Schiavo and those hospitalized during Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Holloway demonstrates how race and gender play pivotal roles in medical research and treatment. A book signing will follow the reading.

    • Modernist Cultures Journal

Editorial -

Modernist Cultures began as an electronic journal, jointly edited at the University of Birmingham (UK) and Duke University (USA). Five years down the line we are delighted to move to both electronic and hardcopy publication with Edinburgh University Press. The relaunched Modernist Cultures, expanded to include book reviews and longer essays, will appear twice per annum in the first instance: a themed issue in Spring (May), and an open issue in Autumn (October).

We are delighted that the first that the first issue of the relaunched journal is 'Modernism and Cinema', edited by our joint editor Michael Valdez Moses, and including essays by Genevieve Abravanel, Nicholas Allen, Thomas Elasaesser, Schott Klein, Michael Levenson, Laura Marcus, Susan McCabre and David Trotter. Our next themed issue will be devoted to 'Modernism and the Middlebrow' (2011). Modernist Cultures continues in its aim to focus on the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of both modernism and contemporary modernist studies. We welcome proposals for future themed issues and individual essay submissions for the open issues. We invite anybody with suggestions for topics to contact us.

Please note that back issues of the first Modernist Cultures series will be available online at: http://www.euppublishing.com/loi/mod

                                                                                 Andrzej Gasiorek

                                                                                 Deborah Parsons

                                                                                 Michael Valdez Moses


Three Duke Seniors Win Marshall Scholarships

Mon. Nov. 22, 2010

The scholarships are awarded each year to a maximum of 40 “talented, independent and wide-ranging” young Americans for graduate level studies in the United Kingdom.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Three Duke University seniors -- Nicolas Altemose, Katherine Buse and Alessondra (Allie) Speidel -- have been awarded Marshall Scholarships to continue in their respective fields of study after graduation.


Buse, from Chapel Hill, N.C., is an English major studying the role of catastrophe in contemporary fiction. She will pursue a degree in science fiction and contemporary literature at the University of Liverpool.

Read more!

Towerview Feature Story:

Fred Moten

A look at Duke's preeminent poet

-Ryan Brown

Ask Fred Moten where his career as a poet began and he’ll tell you—at a nuclear test site.

It was the early 1980s, and the future Duke English professor was 19. After nose diving out of Harvard as a freshman, he’d come home to Las Vegas for a year and taken a job as a janitor at the infamous Nevada Test Site, where the U.S. government set off hundreds of nuclear explosions over the course of the Cold War. He describes the gig as a daily three hours of work and five hours of hiding to avoid more work, time he used to jot down poems and “read a lot of Dante.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize for Literature

For more about Mario Vargas Llosa, see Prof. Michael Moses' Novel and the Globalization of Culture, a chapter of which is devoted to MVL's major novel, The War of the End of the World.

Prof. Moses has also reviewed Vargas Llosa's Feast of the Goat.


Michael Valdez Moses
Associate Professor of English
Editor, Modernist Cultures

Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, performed by Prof. Maureen Quilligan's English 173, From Medieval to Renaissance.

    • Troilus and Criseyde

Tom Ferraro: 2010 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (ADUTA)

Read the story here.

Oscar Hijuelos' Beautiful Maria of My Soul reviewed in the New York Times:

‘Mambo’ Author Returns to His Muse

By Damien Cave

July 2, 2010

"Reviewers have described the novel as a stylistic counterpoint to “Mambo Kings,” but it also explores a contrast in geography and identity: what it means to be Cuban in Miami, and what it means anywhere else."

WUNC -- 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird

Frank Stasio interviews guests:

  • Karla FC Holloway, James B. Duke Professor of English and professor of law, Duke University
  • Michael Malone, celebrated novelist and screenwriter; prof. of Theater Studies and English, Duke University
  • Minrose Gwin, professor of English and creative writing, UNC-CH
  • Jay O’Berski and Regina Rouse, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
  • Henry Walker, Carolina Friends School 

Congratulations! (Spring 2010)

Tom Ferraro: the 2009-10 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

Priscilla Wald: elected President of the American Studies Association

Catherine Beaver, Department Business Manager:  Presidential Recognition Award



Faculty in the news (Spring 2009)

Priscilla Wald, professor of English at Duke University and author of the book Contagious, spoke about the media coverage of "emerging infections" and the H1N1 virus.  Her comments were included in several news programs including a Canadian radio show, The Current, and Al Jazeera's Inside Story.

Student Writers (Fall 2009)

Ken Ilgunas, a student in Christina Askouonis' "Writing Travel' class,  published an essay he wrote in class on Salon.com.  Prof. Askounis says, "It ran in early December as the cover story & got a tremendous response.  He's had offers from literary agents and publishers and articles about him have appeared in The Raleigh News and Observer, the Buffalo News and on the CBS news website.  He's been interviewed by Ron Reagan on Air America and has another interview coming up with Dick Gordon ("The Story") on NPR."

Another of Prof. Askounis' students, Bronwen Dickey, had her essay "The Last Wild River" selected for inclusion in Best American Travel Writing 2009 edited by Simon Winchester. Bronwen's work has also appeared in the Oxford American, the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek and The New York Review of Books.

Faculty in the News (Fall 2009)

Humanities professor Cathy Davidson says Internet Age requires adaptation

And since we're on the subject, here's an interview one of our students did earlier!

HASTAC Scholars  (orig. posted in Fall '08)

At its conception in the 1960s, the internet’s great aspiration was innocent enough: it sought to facilitate nerd-to-nerd connection, information sharing at its most erudite and least user-friendly.
But today’s internet occupies a whole new frontier.
It could be said that on its pages plays out a duel of divergent imperatives: the noble educational intentions of yore must duke it out daily with siren-song sites like Juicy Campus and Facebook—just ask any professor who has allowed laptops in his classroom only to have his teachings eclipsed by the Twittering of his students.
Enter: “HASTAC,” the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, a band of renegade intellectuals who are exploring uncharted territory, searching for new and creative ways to harness the potential power of the wild wild web.

According to HASTAC’s co-founder Cathy Davidson, a Ruth F. Devarney Professor of English at Duke, the initiative has “three intertwined goals: creative, innovative design and development of technology; critical thinking about the social and ethical implications and applications of technology; and participatory learning (using digital technologies to share ideas and research, collaborate, create art, or design and implement goals together).”
In short, HASTAC hopes to bring computers into the classroom in more than the physical sense.

“HASTAC wants to spur interaction between internet and learning,” said Duke English graduate student Patrick Jagoda.
“The internet changes who we are, how we think, and how our brains work,” said Jagoda, who is one of fifty HASTAC Scholars chosen this year in recognition of their commitment to innovative technological work. Through his association with HASTAC, Jagoda will spend the year as part of a virtual community of good guys. According to the Scholars’ website, the group’s prerogatives include, “creating, reporting on, blogging, vlogging, and podcasting events related to digital media and learning for an international audience.”
Both the internet and the concept of the internet are integral to Jagoda’s personal research, which concerns the relationship between networks, connectivity and terrorism as depicted in literature and film (to put it oversimply.) Being online for him is both a tool and an object of analysis.
“With Google and Wikipedia at my disposal, I am constantly and frantically connected at super speed.”
It is this super-connection that HASTAC and its allies are trying to funnel into the classroom, championing the concept of “participatory learning” that has already been embraced by user-generated content sites like YouTube and Wikipedia.
In 2006, one of these allies, The MacArthur Foundation, launched a five-year, $50 million digital media and learning initiative with aims of, as put on its website, “changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.”
Together with HASTAC, the foundation hosts a yearly Digital Learning and Media Contest in hopes of rooting out the technology of tomorrow.
Its latest winner, the Virtual Peace project, was created Duke’s own Kimberly Jenkins Chair for New Technologies and Society, Tim Lenoir, and has the potential to turn the digital gamefront on its head.

Let’s just say the good guys have put up their dukes.

Virtual Peace is a video game, but not just any video game. It is HASTAC’s answer to the popular mass-destruction post-doom video game model. The game’s format will look familiar to fans of other virtual simulation games like World of Warcraft, but make no mistake: there is a plot twist in store. Instead of blowing up innocent bystanders or stealing their cars, users are assigned to the task of disaster relief and challenged to virtually manage the after effects of natural disaster.
“This is an example of gaming being used for more complex purposes,” Jagoda said. “How great would it be if we could refocus the interest in games like Counterstrike and apply them to productive peace generation?”
Although the effects of Virtual Peace are yet to be seen–the program is still in its initial testing phases—Jagoda seems confident that this and all of HASTAC’s efforts will ultimately greet the dawn of a new internet era.
“Today the internet is phenomenal—I can instantly satisfy any passing curiosity or intellectual itch with one click on Wikipedia,” he said. “Something about that model is really promising.”

– Anne Rhett, ‘09



(Aug. 2009)

During the summer months, it might seem like things are quiet here. But we’re always busy with “backstage” work to make sure the rest of the year goes smoothly. Usually it’s not the sort of work that makes for interesting reading, but this lighthearted bit of email exchange about office moves was so delightful that we thought we’d share (with permission, of course).

On an office move from the basement of Soc. Sci. to temporary lodgings elsewhere…
… June 4 your bunker will be invaded by uniformed men with strange accents and rolling carts. they will pack and remove everything. do nothing to stop them. change is inevitable. should you return to said bunker after this date, it will be as though you never existed there. you have thus been forewarned.
strange to say, whenever I’m there, in the shadowy cavern beneath the auditorium, my office, across the hall from and not to be confused with what can only be the most desolate men’s room in the state of North Carolina, which is what I have for a view, the men’s room door, to the extent that I can see it, given the quality of light in the room, spilling in from the drainage gate at the top of the cement cylinder that the window looks out on, if looks is what it does, if window is what it is, now and then a shadow passes by, maybe a student who’s been lost for decades, looking for the office hours of some long dead prof, somebody who everybody thinks retired to Costa Rica but in fact died and turned to dust in one of the other offices, strange to say, there in my office, with my bright little notepad before me, I already feel like I never existed, I’m either not there when I’m there, or anywhere else I am, I’m also there, only there, in my office, my bunker, my home, home at last!!! O joy! How can I bear to leave it?

 Voicing Women and War    (Fall 2008)

English Major Chelsea Allison won the Middlesworth Award, given by the library for the best paper based on work done in Special Collections. Chelsea won for her wide-ranging research on letters, journals, diaries, and other records written by women during periods of war, out of which she produced a remarkable manuscript of poems.

Chelsea carried out her project as an Independent Study with Prof. Deborah Pope, who emphasized that winning the Middlesworth for a creative work is especially noteworthy since the prize almost always goes to an academic paper.

Paula Rosine Long, Jane-of-all-Trades  (Fall 2008)

A Sit Down With English Major and Faculty Award Winner

It is hard to believe that someone laden with as many laurels as Paula Rosine Long could get away with any degree of self-abasement. Long is a senior English Major and the recent recipient of one of this year’s University Faculty Awards, an honor that was established with the aims of recognizing academic excellence and encouraging students to undertake serious scholarship and is, as its website proclaims, “the highest award given by faculty to undergraduates.”
 So, in addition to being a Benjamin N. Duke Leadership Scholar, nonprofit founder, passionate advocate, world traveler, accomplished poet, painter, sorority girl and southern belle, Long can now add “Seriously Excellent Scholar” to her list of taglines.
But even an accolade as prestigious as that will need to vie for resume real estate with stiff competitor credentials like “Polka Dance Troupe Social Chair,” and “Non-Violent Jordanian Gang member.” How, you might ask, does the same woman polka her way into the hearts of both erudite Duke faculty members and foreign gangsters, violent or otherwise?
Therein lies the exact essence of Long: scary smarts wrapped in enigmatic quirks.
But, despite her many accomplishments, Long maintains that being selected for this honor is “just hilarious.” And, as she recounts the details of her interview, you almost believe her. (Almost.)
 “There I was trying to respond to a professor in Arabic when I realized I was wearing giant fake eyelashes I forgot to take off from the night before,” she said. “I was totally thrown.”
For all her self-deprecation, Long certainly carries and articulates herself with ample confidence.
She tempers her impressive aptitude with charm befitting a well-taught North Carolina debutante, which, by the way, she is. But it would be inaccurate to assume that her southern upbringing was all moonlight and magnolias.
“I grew up Carrboro, a little hippie town” she said. “It was great in the sense that I didn’t learn a lot of indoctrinated views.”
She adds that on the homefront she was introduced to blurred gender lines by a mother who signed her younger brother up for ballet while insisting she play football.
“Santa brought us both types of gendered gifts,” said Long. “I guess you could say she overcompensated a bit.”
In her recent intellectual career, Long has begun to address the latent gender-related inquiries she inherited from her childhood. These are the subject of her current project, a thesis a surrounding a concept she terms “The Female Sublime,” a reworking of gender-based aesthetic philosophy.
“I realized that all along I’ve had this affinity for things that were sublime rather than beautiful,” she said.
In her work, she plans to traverse both time and space, tracing this “Sublime” across international and historical trajectories, drawing on everything from her obsession with the 1980s British punk performer Poly Styrene, to her own decision to buzz the back of her once-long locks.
This haircut proved more consequential than Long expected last summer, when she visited Jordan as part of the International Summer component of her B.N. Duke Scholarship.
Jordanian women criticized Long’s appearance, saying her short hair and refusal to wear kohl around her eyes was man-like and equating her grooming choices with her gender. Furthermore, she found that her assertive and loud nature flew in the face of many tightly-clung cultural practices.
 “To them, I didn’t fit either gender standard,” she said.
But this hardly held her back.
“Since they heard I acted like a man, I was allowed to not act like a woman.” Normally, she said, the neighborhood men would hang out after hours on the rooftops smoking. Because she acted like a man, they invited Long to join them. Listening to her description of the views from atop the house, one can only imagine the sublimation that took place on that smoky rooftop.
  “They named me black olive,” she said. “They told me that on the roof, I was man, not woman.”
As an American woman, Long said it was difficult to adjust to Jordanian expectations. Perhaps the most notable of these shifts was wardrobe-related: because women in Jordan customarily wear all-covering burkas, Long was forced to trade in her signature zany outfits in favor of a more somber dress code, a telling cultural distinction. Long said one female Jordanian compared her lot in life to being a lollypop—she was always obliged to wrap herself beautifully.
“It seems that they dress themselves in this finery so that people will want to buy them, but really it’s to keep the flies off,” she said. “To avoid men’s advancements women must consumerize themselves.”
This experience has left Long determined to go back. After graduation, she hopes to return to Jordan to work on carving out a place for women in Jordan’s labor market, and said she thinks her English degree will serve her well in her endeavors.
“Being an English major has taught me to see things in different ways, not just texts but also real life.”

— Anne Rhett, ‘09

    • SteppingStones

Stepping Stones
(Spring 2008)

English graduate student Patrick Alexander was awarded a 2008 Samuel Dubois Cook Award for his work creating “Stepping Stones,” an educational program that acquaints (or reacquaints) men who are incarcerated at Orange Correctional Center in Hillsborough with the unique experience of the college classroom. He taught a seminar in African American literature and creative writing there and will be teaching further courses in literature and writing seminars at OCC in the summers to come.

You can read more about the class and hear recordings of the students reading their essays and poems here.

The Samuel Dubois Cook Award is an honor granted to members of Duke’s community who demonstrate the goals of the Cook Society: “to translate the promise and potential of African Americans into fulfillment and actuality, and to seek to improve relations among persons of all backgrounds.”

Patrick was accompanied at the award ceremony by Dean Jo Rae Wright, Associate Dean Jacqueline Looney, Dr. Tomalei Vess, and by “my advisor, Dr. Maurice Wallace; my pastor, Rev. Kenneth Ray Hammond of Union Baptist Church (who has financially and verbally supported my work), and Kathy Alberter and Mary DesHarnais, a dedicated administrator and my teaching assistant, respectively, from the Orange County Literacy Council (they are my liasions to OCC and huge supporters of my work). I also had the privilege of meeting the distinguished Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook personally that evening.”