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Profiles Archives

November 14, 2012

Jessica Berman

Many professors within the English Department are involved in exciting research projects, including former Department Chair Jessica Berman. Her research focuses on modernism and politics, and her upcoming book explores the connection between narrative and world politics. Professor Berman also teaches English 401 at UMBC, which discusses theory and methods to think about how literature works in the world. She has loved reading and writing since high school, and has been hooked ever since she first read Virginia Woolf in the 11th grade. Although her undergraduate degree is in history, her PhD is in comparative literature and she draws on both for her teaching and research.

In addition to independent research, Professor Berman also collaborates with other professors. She is currently co-editing a book series for Columbia University Press with Professor Paul Saint-Amour from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Berman says that the collaborative experience is “very different, but exciting.” Independent research can be isolating, so she likes how collaboration allows for the possibility of challenging and expanding her own ideas. She also says that “teaching is like collaborative research,” explaining how the ideas a student explored in a paper for her Virginia Woolf seminar got her thinking and inspired an idea for her own paper. Because of her positive experiences with her research, Professor Berman is an avid supporter of any undergraduate that wishes to carry out their own project: “Any student who wants to do research should just ask! I love to help them explore, read, and learn.” If you have an idea that you want to investigate, Professor Berman will be sure to point you in the right direction.

-Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012

January 30, 2012

Raphael Falco

Professor Falco teaches courses in early modern literature and culture at UMBC. His own research has allowed him to explore cultural genealogy in early modern discourse.

Professor Falco is also Director of the English Honors Program. UMBC strives to provide its undergraduates with unique research opportunities. The English Honors Program pairs its students with a faculty advisor who guides them while they pursue an independent capstone research project. Professor Falco discusses research interests with the students and ensures that they have a strong plan to develop their project.

In addition to a major GPA of 3.5 and a non-major GPA of 3.0, students interested in applying to the program must submit a current transcript and two college-level essays. After review by the Honors Program Committee, all admitted students are required to enroll in English 399. At this stage, the students will produce an annotated bibliography under the direction of their faculty advisor. The next course, English 499, is a continuation of previous work and requires the writing of a 25-50 page research paper. If interested in this opportunity, students can email Professor Falco at for additional information.

January 29, 2012

Lucille McCarthy

A group of students hops out of a UMBC Shriver Center van one evening, animatedly talking about the adults they have tutored. These students have just come back from the Learning Bank, a center where adults can receive tutoring in reading, writing, and math in order to get their GEDs. Every other spring, this service learning opportunity is offered with English 386: Adult Literacy Tutoring taught by Lucille McCarthy. English 386 is currently the only service learning class offered within the English Department. The class is made up of two parts: a lecture given each week by Dr. McCarthy and two hours of individual service, also done weekly, at the Learning Bank. Dr. McCarthy particularly likes teaching this class, explaining that “it’s an eye-opener that there are people out there who struggle with literacy.” As students in a university, sometimes this is easy to forget.

Work at the Learning Bank is always interactive and hands-on, from administering tests to leading students in drills and exercises. The classes range from adults who are just beginning to learn how to read and write, to adults who are about to sit for their GED test. Each English 386 student is assigned to a different class, and comes away with a unique experience. In the classroom portion taught by Dr. McCarthy, the students are asked to write about their experiences and thoughts about literacy. “It’s interesting to see what they learn and what the issues are in regards to literacy,” Dr. McCarthy says. She also likes to watch and learn about literacy and examine the learning process of others. So if you’re looking for a rewarding, unique service opportunity at UMBC, be sure to check out English 386 with Dr. McCarthy!

-- Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012

January 27, 2012

Sally Shivnan

If you’re in the English Department during free hour on every other Monday, you won’t be able to miss the steady hum of voices coming from the conference room. For one hour, the students of Bartleby, UMBC’s creative and literary arts journal, take over to discuss fundraising, publicity, and the upcoming publication of the new journal. Sally Shivnan, Bartleby’s faculty sponsor, says the journal is “a little miracle” each time it’s published. “You get to see a side of writing where the written word is transported into print,” she explains. “It’s a side that’s different than just writing itself.” This is important to Professor Shivnan because she already spends a lot of time with the process of writing in the classes that she teaches. She sees Bartleby as an opportunity to get a taste of a different aspect of writing.

Every year, Bartleby publishes fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and art. The 2011 edition features 170 pages of student work, all carefully combed through by dedicated staff members. The journal is entirely student run, from the selection and editing of student pieces to the designing of the journal itself. Professor Shivnan believes that it’s special to be in the position of choosing what goes into the journal, and she encourages all students to check it out. “Bartleby is a great way to get involved in the creative community at UMBC. It’s a welcoming group, and both fun and serious. You can learn a lot from working on the staff.” So no matter if you’re interested in being part of the publication process, or would like to see your work in print, be sure to check out Bartleby! It’s an experience you won’t forget.

-- Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012

January 26, 2012

Jody Shipka

Jody Shipka, an Associate Professor of English who teaches courses in the Communication and Technology Track has always been a strong believer in learning. Even after receiving her B.A. in English from Loyola University, Chicago and her Ph.D. in English/Writing Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign she still has a passion for learning. She has recently finished her book, Towards a Composition Made Whole which provides the reader with ways of reworking existing and current theories of writing, learning, and multimodal production. Some of her other work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Computers and Composition, Kairos, Text and Talk, and Writing Selves/Writing Societies. Her work dealing with her field of research and interests can be located here. Another passion of Jody Shipka is her photography; she is intrigued and interested in the idea of representing words with an image. She wants her students to be able to have questions, to wonder about communication and the world, and to be flexible in communicating. She wants students to be able to be comfortable with taking risks and asking the questions of “What am I here to learn?” and to ultimately feel good about the work that they accomplished. When asked what the most rewarding thing she gets from teaching she said: “seeing students proud of the work they do and invested in what they are producing.”

January 25, 2012

Carol Fitzpatrick

Carol Fitzpatrick, a Senior Lecturer in English and Associate Director of the Writing and Rhetoric Division of the English Department, started teaching for the love of learning and the appreciation for language and literature. She received a B.A. in English (with Honors) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Some of her proudest accomplishments at UMBC is bringing more writing intensive class to the curriculum, helping support and develop more writing and rhetoric courses to the English Department, and helping her students further develop their skills in her courses and their other English courses. When walking away from her class, Carol Fitzpatrick would like her students to have developed their critical thinking skills, to realize the depth of research that they are capable of, and develop their appreciation for grammar and their ability to see and use structures of English. Reading and research are her favorite past times, which explains her recent book, The Complete Sentence Workout Book with Readings, 5ht ed. (Boston, MA: Longman, 2004), which was co-written with Marybeth Ruscica and Vince Fitzpatrick. She is also interested in research in Composition and Rhetoric, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American and British Literature, and Southern Literature. When she isn’t reading or working on research, another interest of hers is biking. She recently went biking on the Northern Central Trail.

January 24, 2012

Mary Hickernell

There’s a cozy little alcove on the first floor of the AOK Library, right past the atrium and study room. On any given afternoon, you can see pairs of students talking and laughing with pens in hand—this is UMBC’s Writing Center, a free service offered to any student seeking help with a paper, resume, or even a job application. “The Writing Center is what I love most,” says Mary Hickernell, a current professor and the Learning Resource Center’s writing coordinator. “I enjoy seeing students become more strong and confident writers.” Professor Hickernell is involved in every aspect of the Writing Center’s function, from organizing the workspace to training the tutors who work there. “Our tutors are not just English majors,” she boasts. “Many come from the sciences and math.” This is important to Professor Hickernell because it shows how important writing is, regardless of one’s background and discipline. She strongly believes that those who write well will have an advantage after graduating and entering the job market, since prospective employees with strong writing skills are always in high demand. She therefore also advocates pursuing a writing minor at UMBC, no matter what one’s major is or his or her future plans.

Professor Hickernell’s 11 years with the center show that she is completely dedicated to improving the writing of UMBC students. “I do it because I love working with people, and it’s wonderful to know we’ve had a part in the growth and accomplishment of student writers,” she says. Despite the long hours, Professor Hickernell makes herself available to her students and the Writing Center. She can even sometimes be found in the Center during working hours, setting out a bowl of candy for the tutors and tutees hard at work. I don’t know about you, but the writing resources available here at UMBC sound pretty sweet to me.

-- Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012

About Profiles

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to English in the Profiles category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

News & Notes is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.