University of Minnesota
Department of English
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Department of English

Video Interviews

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is an Edelstein-Keller Professor in Creative Writing. He has published works in criticism, poetry, and most extensively in fiction. He is the author of many novels, including Saul and Patsy, Believers, and his most recent novel, The Soul Thief.  His novel The Feast of Love was a National Book Award Finalist in Fiction in 2000. He has also received numerous fellowships and awards, including the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. His other notable accomplishments include the Award in Literature from American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares magazine for best essay, the Daniel A. Pollack-Harvard Review award, The Gettysburg Review award 1994 in nonfiction prose, the Michigan Author of the Year Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation Fellowship, the Lawrence Foundation Award (twice, in 1982 and 1991), the Arts Foundation of Michigan Award, the Michigan Council for the Arts Grant, and the National Endowment for the Arts Grant. He teaches a seminar in fiction during the spring semester.

Michael Dennis Browne (Emeritus)

Michael Dennis Browne received his MA from the University of Iowa and was a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor in the English Department. He is a librettist and the author of seven books of poetry, including Things I Can't Tell You (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005) and Panthers (Indulgence Press, 2007). His grants and awards include two NEA Fellowships, two Minnesota Book Awards, a Bush Fellowship, and others. In 2005-2006, he held the University of Minnesota's Fesler Lampert Professorship in the Humanities. The oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, music by Stephen Paulus, with text by Browne, which was commissioned by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to commemorate Jewish liberation from the concentration camps, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in music by the Minnesota Orchestra in 2006 and recorded by them (BIS, 2009). Carnegie Mellon published What the Poem Wants: Prose on Poetry in 2009.

Maria Damon

Maria Damon received her PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and is a Professor in the English Department. She is also affiliated with the following departments: American Studies; Gender, Women, and Sexuality; Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature; Theatre Arts and Performance; and the Center for Jewish Studies. She specializes in contemporary poetry and poetics, cultural studies, American poetry from 1940, and diaspora studies. She has published extensively on contemporary poetry. Her book The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry examines the lives and work of modern American poets to argue that the American avant-garde is located in the experimental literary works of social "outsiders." She has also published three books of collaborative poetry with mIEKAL aND. She co-edited with Ira Livingston Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Bagel Shop Jazz: Essays for a Post-literary "America” is forthcoming. She received the University of Minnesota Award for Distinguished Contributions to Post-Baccalaureate Graduate and Professional Education in 2006-07. She teaches courses in modern and contemporary poetry.

Maria Fitzgerald

M. J. Fitzgerald received her MA in English from York University and is an Associate Professor in the English Department. Her areas of expertise include creative writing (fiction), Dante Alighieri: The Divine Comedy, British literature, world literatures, Italian twentieth century literature, and modern and contemporary European writing. She is the author of several works of fiction including Concertina, Rope Dancer, and The Placing of Kings. Her graduate courses include Reading Across Genres and a novel writing seminar. Her undergraduate courses include fiction writing, Reading as Writers, Modern British Fiction, and James Joyce.

Shirley Garner

Shirley Nelson Garner is Professor of English and on the graduate faculties of Gender Women and Sexuality Studies and Early Modern Studies and an Associate Dean of the Graduate School. She received her BA degree in humanities from the University of Texas and her M. A. and Ph.D. degrees in English from Stanford University, where she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Her fields of specialization include Shakespeare, feminist studies in literature, feminist psychoanalytic literary theory and criticism, and women's autobiography. Her edited volumes include The (M)other Tongue: Essays in Feminist Psychoanalytic Interpretation (with Claire Kahane and Madelon Sprengnether), Interpreting Women's Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narratives (edited by the Personal Narratives Group), Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender (edited with Madelon Sprengnether), Antifeminism in the Academy (edited with VèVè Clark, Ketu Katrak, and Margaret Higonnet), and Is Feminism Dead? Theory in Practice (edited with the Social Justice Group at the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies). She has published articles and chapters in books on Shakespeare, feminist psychoanalytic criticism and theory, and women writers. She is a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor. She received the President's Award for Outstanding Service and the Muller/Spector/Truax Women's Leadership Award.

Ray Gonzalez

Ray Gonzalez received his MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and is a professor of English. He is the author of 10 books of poetry including Faith Run (University of Arizona Press, 2009) and Cool Auditor: Prose Poems (BOA Editions, 2009); Consideration of the Guitar (2005); The Religion of Hands (2005), which received the 2006 Latino Heritage Award for Best Book of Poetry; The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (2002), winner of a 2003 Minnesota Book Award; Turtle Pictures (2000), winner of a 2001 Minnesota Book Award; and The Heat of Arrivals (1996), a winner of a 1997 PEN/Josephine Miles Book Award. He is the author of three books of nonfiction: Renaming the Earth: Personal Essays (University of Arizona Press, 2008), Memory Fever (1999), and The Underground Heart (2002), which received the 2003 Carr P. Collins/Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Book of Nonfiction. He is also the author of two books of short stories: The Ghost of John Wayne (2001) and Circling the Tortilla Dragon (2002). His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry. He is the editor of 12 anthologies including Sudden Fiction Latino: Short Short Fiction from the U.S. and Latin America (W.W. Norton, 2010) and No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 Poets (2002). He has served as Poetry Editor of The Bloomsbury Review since 1980. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Literature from the Border Regional Library Association in 2003.

Patrica Hampl

Patricia Hampl received her MFA from the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, and has worked as an editor and freelance writer. She is a Regents Professor, and teaches in the Department's Creative Writing Program. Her poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction including travel pieces, book reviews and essays, have appeared widely. Her primary focus is memoir and the personal essay. A Romantic Education (1981) and subsequent works such as Spillville (1987) and Virgin Time (1992) have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 30 years. I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory (1999) was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction in 2000. Her most recent books are Blue Arabesque (2006) and The Florist's Daughter (2007), winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Memoir. She co-edited the anthology Tell Me True: Memoir, History and Writing a Life (2008). Her poetry collections are Woman before an Aquarium and Resort and Other Poems. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Bush Foundations, and National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry and prose). In 1990 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She serves on the permanent faculty of the Prague Summer Program. Currently, she is working on The Art of the Wasted Day, about leisure and Michel Montaigne.

Josephine Lee

Josephine Lee received her PhD in English from Princeton University and is a Professor in the English Department. She is currently the director of the Asian American Studies Consortium for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an academic consortium of twelve major teaching and research universities in the Midwest. Her most recent book is The Japan of Pure Invention: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, published 2010 with the University of Minnesota Press. She is also the author of Performing Asian America: Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage and co-editor of Re/collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History, and has published numerous essays and reviews on modern drama, theater history, performance, cultural theory, and Asian American Studies. She received the University of Minnesota Award for Distinguished Contributions to Post-Baccalaureate Graduate and Professional Education in 2008-09. Her graduate seminars include Asian American Cultural Criticism and Race and Performance. Her undergraduate courses include Asian American literature and drama, modern and contemporary drama, and Shakespeare.

Nabil Matar

Nabil Matar received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Cambridge. He taught at the University of Jordan and the American University of Beirut. In 1986, he moved to the Florida Institute of Technology where he became Professor of English in 1988 and Head of the Department of Humanities and Communication between 1997 and 2007. In fall 2007, he began his tenure as Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. He has published on Thomas Traherne, Peter Sterry, and Restoration religious literature. In the early 1990s, he began exploring the archives of Anglo-Islamic history in England, Tunisia, and Morocco and completed a trilogy on Britain and the Islamic Mediterranean: Islam in Britain, 1558-1685 (Cambridge UP, 1998); Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia UP, 1999); and Britain and Barbary 1589-1689 (UP of Florida, 2005). A project on the image of Europeans in early modern Arabic thought resulted in In the Lands of the Christians: Arabic Travel Writing in the Seventeenth Century (Routledge, 2003) and Europe through Arab Eyes, 1578-1727 (Columbia UP, 2008). Forthcoming are Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713 (Oxford UP, 2010) with Gerald MacLean; The Holy Land in Early Modern Imagination, co-edited with Judy Hayde (Brill, 2011), and an annotated edition of Henry Stubb's The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism (Brill, 2011).

Julie Schumacher

Julie Schumacher graduated from Oberlin College and from Cornell University with an MFA in fiction. She is a Professor of English and has directed the Creative Writing program numerous times. Her first published story, "Reunion," written to fulfill an undergraduate writing assignment, was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories were published in The Atlantic, Ms., Minnesota Monthly, and Prize Stories 1990 and 1996: The O.Henry Awards. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her other books include a short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and four novels for younger readers: Grass Angel, The Chain Letter, The Book of One Hundred Truths, and Black Box. She teaches fiction workshops, Dystopian Literature, Contemporary U. S. Short Stories, and Child Narrators/Children in Fiction.

Geoffrey Sirc

Geoffrey Sirc received his Ph.D. in Composition Theory from the University of Minnesota and is a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English. He specializes in composition theory and pedagogy, technology/writing, visual arts and art theory, hip hop, and the modernist era. His published works include topics in composition theory and teaching composition. His most recent work Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition was awarded the Outstanding Book Award by Computers and Composition in 2004. He teaches a graduate seminar in Language, Rhetoric, Literacy, and Composition and undergraduate courses on University Writing and Critical Reading, Literature of Public Life, and Hip Hop.

Madelon Sprengnether

Madelon Sprengnether received her PhD from Yale and is Regents Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. She has published widely and influentially on Shakespeare, contemporary women writers, feminist psychoanalytic theory, and Freud. Her edited volumes include The (M)other Tongue: Essays in Feminist Psychoanalytic Interpretation, Revising the Word and the World: Essays in Feminist Literary Criticism, and Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender. Her book The Spectral Mother: Freud, Feminism and Psychoanalysis was nominated by Cornell University Press for the MLA James Russell Lowell prize. She has also published two books of poetry, The Normal Heart and The Angel of Duluth, two books of creative prose, Rivers, Stories, Houses, Dreams, and Crying at the Movies, and a co-edited anthology of travel writing by women, The House on Via Gombito. The Normal Heart won the Minnesota Voices Competition. She has received awards from the Bush Foundation, The Loft Literary Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts. At the University of Minnesota, she has received the Scholar of the College award, the Distinguished Women Scholars Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate and Professional Education, and the Fesler-Lampert Chair in the Humanities. She teaches courses across a wide range of disciplines—including film, memoir, psychoanalysis, and contemporary neuroscience. Her work in progress includes a collection of prose poems titled Body of Mourning and a memoir titled Great River Road.

John Watkins

John Watkins received his PhD in English from Yale University and is a Professor in the English, Medieval Studies, and Italian Studies departments. He specializes in historiography, sovereignty and queenship, medieval and early modern diplomacy, premodern political culture, and classical and medieval origins of the Renaissance. He has published works on medieval drama and history, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Elizabeth I. His 2009 book Representing Elizabeth in Stuart England: Literature, History, Sovereignty is the first book to examine Elizabeth I's lasting impact on the Anglo-American historical imagination. Most recently, he co-authored Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds with Carole Levin (Cornell UP, 2009). His graduate courses include Queenship in Medieval and Early Modern France and England, Renaissance Lyric, Spenser, Epic, and Elizabeth I. His undergraduate courses include Cultures of the Italian Renaissance: Florence, Rome, Venice, Shakespeare, Survey of British Literatures and Culture, Milton and Tasso, Stuart England: The Century of Revolution, Families in Epics and Novels, and Early Modern Literature and Culture.