Alumni News and Notes

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on

Alumni News and Notes

Rachel Arteaga (PhD 2016), along with co-editor, Rosemary Erickson, recently published Public Scholarship in Literary Studies, (2021, Amherst College Press).  From the publisher:

"Rachel Arteaga and Rosemary Johnsen bring together accomplished public scholars who make significant contributions to literary scholarship, teaching, and the public good. The volume begins with essays by scholars who write regularly for large public audiences in primarily digital venues, then moves to accounts of research-based teaching and engagement in public contexts, and finally turns to important new models for cross-institutional partnerships and campus-community engagement. Grounded in scholarship and written in an accessible style, Public Scholarship in Literary Studies will appeal to scholars in and outside the academy, students, and those interested in the public humanities."


Greg Beatty (BA 1991) is happy to announce that his story "They Both Won the Bet" recently won the Exisle Academy Short Story Contest in the Children's category.

After graduating from UW’s English Department, Greg earned an MA and PhD in English at the University of Iowa.  Greg is a professor and writes regularly.  You can read of many his stories through his entertaining personal website Beatty Tales, and check out some of his non-fiction on Medium, where he frequently is published.


After wrapping her undergrad stint in our English department, Liezel Moraleja Hackett (BA 2001), came back to pursue an MFA (2017) at UW Bothell.  The Bothell College of Arts and Sciences recently profiled Liezel, reporting that she “never thought she would be writing about writing,” but the MFA alum has discovered both the pleasure and community-building possibilities of sharing her poetics as a contributor to the website Write or Die Tribe, an online collective that provides resources for writers of all genres seeking, in their words, “literary and creative connection.”

Hackett has penned articles about Choreography and The Mechanics of Writing and Meet Me At One: What Is Your Focus Space?, drawing on her experience as a choreographer and Filipino folk dancer. She also provides writing prompts based on the Harper's index and on using revision as a creative strategy.

Hackett wanted to communicate how much her undergrad degree with us shaped the person she is today and helped her find confidence and voice: ”my BA in English Creative Writing is something I am extremely proud to have received from UW.” We in the UW English department could not be happier for you Leizel, and could not be more pleased to have been part of your journey, which we know will continue merry and bright. 


 C.R. Grimmer’s (PhD 2019) dissertation, “Water Formations and Water Neutrality: Representations of Race, Gender, and Water Politics in Detroit from Only Lovers Left Alive to Lemonade,” appears in an edited collection from University of Calgary Press: Signs of Water: Multidisciplinary Community Perspectives on Water and Cultures (Ed. Robert Boschman and Sonya Jakubek).


Salwa Hoque (BA Communications and English 2014).  After UW, Salwa Hoque took an MA in South Asia Studies with a focus on Political Theory and History from Columbia University, and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU

Says Salwa: “UW's English department has played such an important role in my academic life and I've learned so much from my peers and mentors. My advisors- Nancy and Bridget – were so wonderful! I don't know if they are still there or not, but I wanted to express my thanks to the entire UW English department for changing my life – Thank you!”


Professor Hsinmei (May) Lin
In brand new tenure track professor news, after teaching at UW Bothell as a part-time lecturer since 2019 Dr. Hsinmei Lin (PhD 2019) has accepted a tenure track English faculty position at Edmonds College beginning in September 2022.  It's no small feat nowadays moving from part-time to tenured!  The English department warmly congratulates Dr. Lin and extends best wishes for a happy and productive career.


Sharmila Mukherjee (PhD 2016) reviewed three recent books--Azar Nafisi's "Read Dangerously," Elena Ferrante's "In The Margins" and Anna Quindlen's "Write For for Your Life"--for NPR. You can read the review here: Three female authors show us how writing can turn adversity into beauty.


Jennifer Murphy (MFA 2014) has published two novels. The first in 2014, I Love You More, won the 2015 PNWA Nancy Pearl Award for Best Book Fiction.  Of it, The Seattle Times said “Chilling and beautifully written….  Murphy has a knack for keeping us unsettled and off-kilter.” Now Murphy has published a second novel, also with Penguin Random House.  Scarlet in Blue is due out March 8, 2022, and is available for order.   The publisher blurbs Murphy’s new thriller as follow:

Picasso Lane is twelve years old when her father, Oliver, is murdered at their summer beach house in North Carolina. Her mother, Diana, is the primary suspect . . . at least until the police discover his second wife, Jewels, and his third, Bert. The new widows say they have never met–but Picasso knows otherwise. She remembers the late-night visits, the hushed phone calls, and the whispered planning.  Soon, however, it becomes clear that the “perfect murder” was not so perfect after all. Each woman pleads innocence, claiming that she backed out of the plan at the last second. And as Picasso sorts through the lies and half-truths, I Love You More speeds toward an ending that no one will see coming.

Congratulations on the new book Jennifer!


Colleen O'Brien's (MFA 2006) debut story collection All Roads, was published by Northwestern University Press in March: “The fourteen stories in All Roads explore childhood trauma, addiction, and the reckless materialism of mainstream American culture. Set mostly in Chicago, the stories range from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl intensely observing her new stepmother to a woman trying to make sense of her body after cancer surgery. The collection offers a complex and candid view of class privilege, gender oppression, and the idiosyncratic forms of refuge we take in a culture that demands our self-objectification.”

Critical reviews are glowing.  Thisbe Nissen, author of How Other People Make Love writes: “In these exquisitely crafted stories, Colleen O’Brien perfectly captures and chronicles the lives of lapsed Catholic, Midwestern families shattered by divorce, alcoholism, domestic violence, dysfunction, and—perhaps most destructive of all— love: earnest, flailing, and too often insufficient. And here is O’Brien, picking up the shards and piecing them together as if to suggest that it is only by regarding ourselves through the fractured prism we call ‘family’ that we can ever make sense of our past, and ever hope to envision a future.”  Sounds like a very good read!  Congratulations Colleen, we salute your success.


Dr. Brian Richardson (BA 1982, MA 1984, PhD 1988), a Professor at the University of Maryland, studied narrative theory at the UW under Professor Emeritus Hazard Adams, whose work delineating approaches to critical theory been a touchstone for half of a century. Richardson recently published two books:  A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-first Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives and the anthology, co-edited with Jan Alber, Unnatural Narratology: Extensions, Revisions, and Challenges (both Ohio State University Press). In addition, his co-authored book, Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates, has been translated into Chinese and Arabic. His personal website is an impressive browse – Dr. Richardson, even for an English professor, has published an enormous amount of interesting literary criticism in a variety of interests.  Cheers for checking in Brian, and thanks for making us look so good!


Ricardo Ruiz (BA, English Creative Writing 2021) has just published his first book of poetry,  We Had Our Reasons/Teniamos Nuestras Razones: Poems by Ricardo Ruiz and other hard-working Mexicans from Eastern Washington (Pulley Press). We Had Our Reasons offers a startling look into an American community of Mexican farmworkers. Centered around the town of Othello, located in eastern Washington state, this collection by University of Washington alumni Ricardo Ruiz was written in collaboration with his friends, family members and coworkers, many of whom are, or were, migrants.

The collection has UW origins. Teaching Professor Frances McCue of the English Department is the founder of Pulley Press, a new poetry publisher that celebrates poets from rural parts of the country. In the winter of 2021, she worked with a group of undergraduate interns on the project and among them was Ricardo Ruiz.


Recent PhD and current lecturer Dr. Holly Shelton published “Kairos & the Ghost of FHL: Writing in the Moment” in the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories Tide Bite newsletter.  Holly has taught in Chile, Turkey, Canada, Kazakhstan, and the US.  She has received several awards for teaching over her career.


An excerpt from T.C. Smith’s (MFA 2009) unpublished novel, No Man’s Land, has received a “Highly Commended” from the prestigious 2021 UK Bridport Short Story Prize:  “A sixth generation Texan, T.C. Smith now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest. In 2019, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, No Man’s Land, was longlisted for the Stockholm First Pages Prize. “Minotaur”, from the same novel, is forthcoming next spring in Gargoyle Literary Magazine. The Bridport Prize marks his fiction debut. Other interests include film (M.A., University of Southern California), Scandinavian Languages and Literature (M.A., University of Washington), hiking in the Cascade Mountains, and reading (classic narrative fiction, autobiography, film/world history 1900-1929). He currently works for the University of Washington Libraries.”

 Congratulations on the string of critical successes T.C.!

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