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The faculty in Millikin's English Department are experts in their fields and interesting, dynamic people. Get to know them.
Dr. Stephen Frech, Chair
Cindie Zelhart, Office Manager
Purna Banerjee (Ph.D. Texas Christian University)
Associate Professor of English
In the summer of 2005 Dr. Banerjee successfully defended her dissertation, "Incidental Occurences: Exchanges Between British and Indian Women Writers (1840-1940)." She continues research on intellectual exchange and the Victorian constructions of the female subject. She also has research interest in oral and prose narratives and poems produced by displaced women. She received several teaching awards from Texas Christian University, and teaches courses on international literature and CWRR at Millikin.
Carmella Braniger (Ph.D. Oklahoma State University)
Associate Professor of English
Writing Major Director
University Studies Director
Co-advisor, Collage, Millikin's literary magazine
Dr. Carmella Braniger, a native of Ohio, is a graduate of Muskingum College, Johns Hopkins University, and Oklahoma State University. She directs the University Studies Program and the English Writing Major. Dr. Braniger teaches creative writing and literature courses and co-advises the undergraduate literary magazine, Collage. Her poems have appeared in Sycamore Review, Poems and Plays, The Dirty Napkin, MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry, and Modern English Tanka, Eucalypt, red lights, Magnapoets, Atlas Poetica, and many others. Her chapbook, No One May Follow, was published by Pudding House Publications in 2009. She enjoys collaboratively writing and publishing poetry sequences with fellow English faculty and students.
Recently, Dr. Braniger, Dr. Brooks, and Dr. Zhao published a book chapter entitled “Redefining the Undergraduate English Writing Major: An Integrated Approach at a Small Comprehensive University” in the collection What We Are Becoming: Developments in Undergraduate Writing Majors, edited by Greg Giberson and Tom Moriarty and distributed by Utah State University Press. Millikin University’s English Writing Major also received outside national recognition from the National Council of Teachers of English for our curriculum design. In their scholarly article “The Undergraduate Writing Major: What Is It? What Should It Be?,” Deborah Balzhiser and Susan H. McLeod name Millikin’s English Writing Major as one of two top models for intuitions nation-wide.
Randy Brooks (Ph.D. Purdue University)
Professor of English, Acting Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
Dr. Randy Brooks, Professor of English and Acting Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, received his Ph.D. from Purdue University with a concentration in rhetoric and professional writing. His areas of research include: professional writing curriculum, rhetorical theory, web publishing, book publishing, and Japanese poetry. From 1990 until 2008 he was the director of the English Writing Major, and from 2003-2008 he was the Chair of the English department. He is a proponent of active learning and encourages all Millikin University students to perform their knowledge in public arenas.
He is a nationally recognized leader in curriculum design of English writing programs emphasizing the integration of active learning, community service, technology and publishing. He was the founder of the Media Arts Center at Millikin University, an infrastructure for innovative service learning projects, student computer publishing projects, community internships, publishing client consultations, and other student-centered publications. In 2006 he and Professor Ed Walker, Chair of the Art Department, started Bronze Man Books, a student-run book publishing company located in the Media Arts Center. See the Bronze Man Books web site at: <http://www.bronzemanbooks.com/>.
Dr. Brooks has more than 30 years of literary editing experience and has published more than 70 books, four literary journals, and several literary web sites. In 1998 he was named the Hardy Distinguished Professor of English to conduct research on haiku as a global genre. See the resulting work of his students at the Millikin University Haiku web site: <http://www.millikin.edu/haiku> or enjoy a “Haiku of Day” by Millikin students at:
<http://www.brooksbookshaiku.com/hod>. More than 800 of his poems have been published including a book of selected haiku, School's Out. His essays, workshops and presentations on technical communication, contemporary poetry, computer aided publishing, teaching writing and service learning have been offered on a regular basis at national, regional and local levels.
Judi Crowe (M.A., Illinois State University)
Assistant Professor of English & Professional Writing Tutor
Director of the Writing Center
English Advisor, College Readiness Program
Before joining the English department at Millikin in 1998, Judi Crowe earned her M.A. in writing and rhetoric at Illinois State University and was an instructor and writing tutor at Richland Community College, Lincoln Land, and Parkland Colleges. She teaches in Millikin’s First Year Writing Program at all levels and serves as Director of the Writing Center as well as coordinator of Summer Writing Assessment. Judi also teaches film/literature as well as EDGE and courses in tutoring, and is involved with writing in the Masters Program in the School of Nursing.
She was a 1991 English graduate of Millikin. As an undergraduate at MU, she won the Grace Patton Conant Writing Awards two years in a row and the Grace Patton Conant Achievement Award, and now serves as the Director of the Conant Awards Writing Competition.
In 2009 she was awarded the Alpha Lambda Delta Outstanding Teaching Award, an award honoring the faculty member for excellence in teaching, subject knowledge and presentation, student motivation, and care and concern for students in and outside of the classroom.
Judi’s other interests include the horror genre, American outsiders, gender studies, and nonfiction writing.
Stephen Frech (Ph.D. University of Cincinnati)
Associate Professor of English
, Chair of English Department
, Millikin's literary magazine
Stephen Frech has earned degrees from Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Cincinnati. He has published three volumes of poetry: Toward Evening and the Day Far Spent (Kent State University Press) won the 1995 Wick Poetry Chapbook Contest, If Not For These Wrinkles of Darkness won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, published in 2001, and The Dark Villages of Childhood won the 2008 Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Prize. He has been the recipient of the Elliston Poetry Writing Fellowship, the Milton Center Post-Graduate Writing Fellowship, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council.
With a love of literature and the visual arts, Dr. Frech founded Oneiros Press to print limited edition, letterpress poetry broadsides, combining poetry and visual image. Poets printed in the series include Albert Goldbarth, Jane Mead, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kevin Prufer, and Dan Albergotti. Oneiros Press broadsides have been purchased by special collections libraries around the world, among them the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the University of Amsterdam Print Collection.
Michael George (Ph.D. Michigan State University)
Associate Professor of English
Mike George teaches a wide range of courses, IN 150/151, science fiction, South Park and American Culture, Social Issues in Rock Music, Senior Writing Portfolio. Although he teaches a wide range of courses, Mike is a medievalist by training and specializes in teaching early literature--Classical Traditions, Shakespeare, Arthurian Tradition, and Medieval Drama. He is currently involved in several research projects that apply ecocriticism to early English literature. He also produces and edits The Guitar Hour with Manley Mallard, which airs at 11:00 (Central) Sunday mornings on Millikin's radio station, 89.5, WJMU.
Michelle Jewett (Ph.D. University of New Mexico)
Assistant Professor of English
Michelle Jewett has earned degrees from California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Dominguez Hills. Currently, she is finishing her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies from the University of New Mexico. While pursuing her doctorate, Professor Jewett received the Susan Deese-Roberts Teaching Assistant of the Year Award for her work as an English Education instructor, and successfully wrote a start up grant to bring a National Writing Project site to UNM. She served as co-director of the High Desert Writing Project for two years, working beside and mentoring K-12 teachers on literacy instruction and writing process pedagogy.
In addition to her work as a teacher educator, Professor Jewett taught middle and high school students in the Long Beach and Albuquerque area public schools for fourteen years. As a secondary teacher she has taught English/Language Arts, Filmmaking, Digital Storytelling, Developmental Reading, Creative Writing, and Humanities courses. For the last four years she instructed students considered “at risk of school failure” in an alternative high school.
Professor Jewett teaches Contemporary Adolescent Literature, Methods of Secondary Language Arts and Critical Writing, Reading and Research.
Tony Magagna (Ph.D., University of California, Davis)
Assistant Professor of English
Dr. Tony R. Magagna grew up in Southwest Wyoming and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Wyoming. In 2008, he completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of California-Davis, where he focused his research on modern and contemporary American literature, specializing in the literature and culture of the American West and in issues of space, place, and region in American literature. He has published several articles in the field and is currently at work on a book manuscript based on his dissertation, entitled Placing the West: Landscape, Literature, and Identity in the American West. As an instructor, Dr. Magagna has taught a variety of courses, including surveys of the modern American novel, ethnic American literature courses, introductions to world drama, courses on the literatures of California and the American West, and various composition and introductory literature courses. He is newly married to his wife, Juli Case, and enjoys traveling with her and keeping a watchful eye on their spastic poodle, Gromit.
Anne Matthews (Ph.D. Indiana University)
Associate Professor of English & Professional Writing Tutor
Dean of Teaching and Learning
Dr. Matthews teaches Critical Writing, Reading, and Research and British literature courses for Millikin. She brings expertise in science and literature, developmental writing, African American literature and writing centers.
Michael O'Conner (Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia)
Associate Professor of English
Hardy Distinguished Professor of English
Michael O'Conner earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He also earned his Masters degree in Rhetoric and Composition from Mizzou and his B.A. in English from Central Methodist College. He taught courses in English at Washington High School in Washington, Missouri for eight years. He has also taught college English at the University of Missouri, Central Methodist College, and Columbia College. His interests include American literature, hypertextual theory and writing, composition and rhetoric and popular culture, along with business, technical and professional writing.
He is an avid reader of ecological science fiction, a jogger, a biker and an author of numerous web pages across the internet, including American Literature On-line. He was also the creator and facilitator of one of the original academic electronic discussion list, Amlit-L. He is currently the editor of the new Digital American Literature Anthology, online at digitalamlit.com
Adjunct Faculty in the Department of English
Juli Case (M.A. University of California, Davis)
Juli Case earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of California-Davis. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in literary journals such as Quarterly West, The Pinch, Carolina Quarterly, and Descant, and a recent essay was included in the Prompted anthology published by Philadelphia Stories. She completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2006, and has been selected as a finalist for the Philadelphia Stories Marguerite McGlinn Prize for fiction, the Chiasmus Press First Book Award, and the Steinbeck Fellowship. With help from grants from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and Poets and Writers Inc. she has led creative writing workshops for teenagers and homeless women in the Sacramento Area. She is married to husband, Tony Magagna, and they enjoy hiking, travelling, cooking, and playing with their dog, Gromit.
Huey Freeman (M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Huey Freeman, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois, is a reporter for the Decatur Herald & Review. His beat includes military and veteran affairs, the park district, Millikin University, Piatt County and the Decatur Correctional Center. A Chicago native, he lives in rural Monticello with his wife and daughter. Hobbies include coaching youth soccer and softball, playing softball, reading, photography, growing vegetables and hiking in the mountains of the western states.
Dr. Vicki Gilpin (Ph.D. University of Phoenix)
Dr. Vicky Gilpin has a Bachelor's degree in Theatre and English with teacher certification in both, a Master's degree in Teaching and Learning with a concentration in curriculum and instruction, a doctorate in Educational Leadership, and is currently pursuing a Master Online Teaching Certificate. She recently returned from taking two graduate English courses at Harvard University: Adolescent Literature and Contemporary American Drama.
As well as taking classes, Vicky Gilpin enjoys presenting at conferences. Some of her favorites are the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Network for Research in Jewish Education, and the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. This year, she will also be presenting at the MLA conference and is being honored as one of the 2009-2010 class of Emerging Leaders at the Phi Delta Kappa Summit.
She has been published in Jewish Educational Leadership, HerLife Magazine, the New Scriptor, and the Illinois English Bulletin. This fall, her works will appear in Contemporary American Women: Our defining passages, After dark: A collection of haunting tales, and Online education and adult learning: New frontiers for teaching practices.
Dr. Gilpin is also the president of Decatur's synagogue, Temple B'nai Abraham.
Andy Matthews (M.A. University of Kansas)
Instructor of English
As an adjunct faculty member, he teaches Critical Writing, Reading, and Research courses and Global Studies literature courses for Millikin.
Judy Rooney (M.A., Illinois State University)
Judy Rooney earned her B.A. in English from Ursuline College and her M.S. in Education from Illinois State University. She taught high school language arts in the Decatur Public School System for 33 years, and has also taught at Millikin for the PACE Program and for the School of Education. Her hobbies include oil and watercolor painting; portraiture; calligraphy, reading, gardening, cooking, and teaching.
SH 402A (English Office)
Cindie Zelhart started at Millikin in August 1995 in the Fine Arts Department and spent time in all three of the fine arts areas (Theatre/Dance, Music, Art). She moved to the English Department in August 1996. She is married and has a son and daughter. In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time in outdoor activities. She is currently working on a B.A. in English literature.