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Graduate Student Profiles

Jay Beavers is a student in the Ph.D. program in Religion and Literature and plans to write his dissertation on Cormac McCarthy. Jay received a B.A. from Grove City College in history and English in 2001 and an M.A. in Renaissance Literature from the University of Richmond in 2004. After teaching high school English for seven years, he moved to Waco to pursue a doctorate. After graduating, he hopes to find a job back East at a college or university where he can continue to think, write, and teach and where his lovely wife and daughter can be closer to family.

Daniel Benyousky is a Ph.D. student who is generally interested in 20th-century British poetry and specifically in the works of W.H. Auden. Daniel lived in the western suburbs of Chicago before beginning at Baylor. In the Chicago area he completed an M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Wheaton College, worked as a therapist for two years, and ran a lot. Daniel then completed an M.A. in English literature at the University of Durham in the northeast of England, a place he misses and relives through British television shows. Then he moved back to the Chicago area for two years, where he again worked as a therapist and continued to run a lot.

Nicole Bouchard is a Ph.D. student interested in Victorian poetry, especially Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Nicole grew up on Whidbey Island in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and though she misses its beaches and greenery, Texas is growing on her. She graduated from Northwest Nazarene University in 2008 with a BA in English and a BS in Mathematics, an unorthodox but intellectually satisfying combination.

Emily Brower is a Ph.D. student and works at Baylor University Press. With a few notable exceptions (looking at you, Cormac McCarthy), her primary literary interests are British, specifically 20th Century. She did her undergraduate work at Baylor before staying on for her Ph.D. and has a deep love for all things Baylor and (most things) Waco. In fact, she has what you could call a ridiculous level of enthusiasm for her school and just might win the department award for school spirit if such an award existed. A native Texan, Emily has never quite managed to convince herself to move outside her home state and is glad she still lives in the land of boots, magnificent thunderstorms, and, yes, even summer heat. Emily loves to play the piano, wears bright colors on a daily basis, bakes all the time with her pink Kitchenaid (a highly prized possession), and believes that running leads to the best epiphanies.

Jordan Carson began the doctoral program in Religion and Literature in fall of 2011 and his research interests include the moral vision of Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, and Marilynne Robinson. He grew up in Texas, and earned a B.A. in the University Scholars Program from Baylor, an M.Div. from Truett Seminary, and a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Jordan is interested both in how 20th and 21st century novels function discursively in theology and ethics and in the concept of selfhood. Jordan's wife Dee Dee is an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Waco. He is a big fan of Chelsea Football Club.

David Clark specializes in medieval literature, medieval Christianity, and textual criticism. He completed his M.A. at Western Michigan University, and is writing a dissertation on the Morte D'Arthur, and teaching literature and composition and Baylor. He takes a strong interest in studying abroad; he worked in the Maastricht study abroad program in Spring 2012. David and his wife Wendy live in Austin. While the drive to work is long, he finds satisfaction in seeing his wife dance in, and direct, Austin area ballet productions. They both hail from Spokane, Washington and miss the moderate summer temperatures and (very occasionally) the winter snow.

Sarah Clark received her M.A. from Baylor and liked the program so much that she decided to stick around for the Ph.D. Her main area of interest is Irish studies. She also likes studying the relationship between space and identity construction. spent her childhood in Tennessee and her adulthood (thus far) in Chicago, Minnesota, Georgia, and now Texas. Sarah shares the wonderful Waco experience with her husband Carson.

Melinda Creech is in the Religion and Literature Ph.D. program, focusing on Victorian Studies, particularly Gerard Manley Hopkins, and she works as an assistant at the Armstrong Browning Library on campus. She hopes to focus on scholarly editing and also dabbles in poetry writing. After being a stay-at-home mom for 32 years, she returned to school in 2007, earning a MA in Humanities at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She is a native Texan and loves Texas history. She has three children and four grandchildren, and her husband teaches at Truett Seminary.

Rachel De Smith's major field of study is the English Renaissance, with particular interests in drama and early modern women's writing. She is also a member of the Fourth Cohort of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, which is well-suited to her eventual goal of teaching English at a church-related liberal arts college. Rachel is originally from Sioux Center, IA. She attended Dordt College there for her undergraduate studies, and then completed an M.A. in English at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. While at Creighton, she obtained a graduate fellowship and worked as a researcher in the office of the Center for Henry James Studies. She began her PhD studies at Baylor in the fall of 2011, where she has worked as a research assistant and as an instructor.

Christian Dickinson's current research interests include reading Charles Dickens's novels in relation to the ever-changing religious landscape of Victorian England, and the view of Dickens himself as a modern day teller of moral parables. Christian was born and grew up in Jacksonville Florida. While getting his A. A. degree in music, he was captivated by the nineteenth century novel and became a Literature major at the University of North Florida. After three years of teaching, Chris was accepted to the Master's program at Florida State University, where he continued his studies in the Victorian novel and taught Freshman Composition courses, including one which he designed around the theme of "Classic Film." He then spent one year teaching Developmental Writing at Tallahassee Community College. Chris is now thrilled to be a part of the Baylor community.

Sara Dye is a Ph.D. student who enjoys British literature--particularly the Romantic poets and Shakespeare--and interdisciplinary studies, such as the relationship between literature and religion, philosophy, and psychology. Sara graduated with a B.A. in English and Humanities from the University of Mobile in Mobile, AL. Sara won the Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Award at UM, an award which designates the most outstanding female graduate. She worked as an English tutor at her undergraduate institution, and now she tutors in Baylor's Athletic Writing Center, a job she greatly enjoys. Sara also loves theatre, sports (sic 'em!), traveling with her family, and the beach.

Lindsay Fenton is a Ph.D. student in the Religion and Literature program with research interests in the Victorian novel, the intersection of religion and literature in the nineteenth century, and literary Realism. Lindsay grew up in Fresno, CA. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and a minor in Middle Eastern and North African Studies. After graduating, she taught English as a foreign language and middle-school language arts in the United Arab Emirates.

Elizabeth Fredericks is a Ph.D. student focusing on 20th century British literature. Originally from California, she completed her BA in English at Hope College in Holland, MI, and spent three years doing graduate work in theology and the arts at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. She was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Durham from 2009-2010 and completed her MA in literature, with a thesis on Welsh poet R.S. Thomas. When she isn't reading, she's usually cooking or fooling around with music and photography, or walking her wee mongrel dog.

Wesley Garey is a Ph.D. student specializing in Renaissance literature, but is also very interested in Romanticism, theology, and hermeneutics. Besides Shakespeare and Spenser, some of his other favorite authors include the Inklings, Kierkegaard, Mary Doria Russell, and David Foster Wallace. Wesley is from Decatur, GA. Before arriving at Baylor, he received his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Covenant College, located near Chattanooga, TN. After deciding not to be a paleontologist or an avant-garde jazz musician, Wesley realized that graduate school might be the right place for him. When he is not trying to figure out how all of his academic interests are related, Wesley enjoys listening to music, spending time outside, and hanging out with friends over a good cup of coffee.

Rachel B. Griffis is a Ph.D. student who is interested in American literature, women writers, and autobiographical narratives. Rachel grew up in Michigan and completed her B.A. at Azusa Pacific University and M.A. at Chapman University, both in California.

Hannah Hanover is a first-year M.A. student whose research interests include 20th century Central and Eastern European literature and gender studies. She is also interested in theology and creative writing. Hannah graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Writing from Houghton College in New York in the spring of 2013. She has published articles on sustainability and local business on, a collaborative book review in the online journal Antler, and a human interest piece for the Houghton Magazine. Numerous poems and fiction pieces have been featured in Houghton College's student literary journal, The Lanthorn. Currently, Hannah works as a writing consultant at Baylor's Athletic Writing Center. After completing her M.A., she aspires to teach English composition or literature in Istanbul and, eventually, to teach at the university level in the US.

Perry Harrison is a Ph.D. student from Northeast Texas specializing in medieval literature. His specific research interests include representations of the body and identity in medieval culture, Germanic linguistics and philology, and medieval outlaw ballads. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from Abilene Christian University in 2008 and 2010, and he subsequently received training in Folklore Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received the 2012 Southeastern Medieval Association award for best student paper, and his first article appeared in the 2013 issue of Medieval Perspectives. When not muttering dead languages, Perry enjoys concert-going and, perhaps most of all, jovial chats with friends.

Virginia Jarrell's research interests mostly center on the Victorian period. She especially loves the work of William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, and George Meredith. She also has a deep and abiding love for the 18th century satirists, especially Fielding, Swift, and Sterne, and the work of Victorian women writers like Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell. Virginia is from Ft. Worth, Texas. She earned a B.A. in Letters from the University of Oklahoma in 2006. For many years she dreamed of being a lawyer, but at the last minute decided she wanted a career that would allow her to keep her soul. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends, baking, and making silly faces to earn a laugh from her adorable nieces Abigail, Hannah, and Olivia.

Lois Johnson is a Ph.D. student in the Religion and Literature Program, interested in the creative intersection of the human imagination and the Divine--a theology of art, so to speak--and specifically how that intersection is manifest in Post-Colonial Literature such as Magical Realism. Questions that arise from this interest include, but are not limited to, what responsibilities do human artists have to their creations? What creative responsibilities belong to humans as creatures made in the image of a creative God? In what way is the collective creation of human culture analogous to art? Who is responsible for culture-as-collective-art? A graduate of Baylor University's undergraduate program with a Masters from Aquinas College and several just-for-fun classes at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lois taught Freshman Composition, Argument and Persuasion, and Public Speaking for seven years at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. When she is not busy studying, she is painting her house various bright and occasionally hideous colors, riding her Green Lantern bicycle around campus, and taking really, really short walks in the Texas heat with her lovely, long-haired Maine Coon, Sir Basil the Foxtail, also known as Basil Spiderbane.

Sara Kelm is an M.A. student, specializing in rhetoric and composition and American literature and focusing particularly on religious rhetoric and creative nonfiction. Sara is interested in why people write the way they do and in finding ways to help others communicate more effectively. She comes to Baylor by way of Oregon after earning her B.A. in English with a concentration in Writing at George Fox University, where she also taught college writing. In her spare time, she writes for a variety of organizations, blogs, bakes, and drinks tea.

John Kloosterman is a medievalist looking into Geoffrey of Monmouth's Kings of Britain, but he also maintains a firm interest in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, including versions depicted in graphic novels. John hails from the city of Kalamazoo in Michigan, and the college of Grove City College in Pennsylvania. As a hobby, he also enjoys to doodle pictures in the margins of his notes and sketch out rough story ideas on the back of his worksheets.

Jeremy Larson and his wife Kara and daughter Kate moved to Waco from Charleston, SC, for him to pursue a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in religion and literature. About a decade ago, he earned a B.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English, both from Bob Jones University. Since his first round of graduate work, he has stayed productive by wrangling middle school students, prying class discussion out of high school students, presenting workshops for secondary educators, coaching varsity soccer, working as a university adjunct, teaching trumpet lessons, and publishing graduate papers in minor journals. His research activities include trying to understand Milton's poetry and exploring the impact of the Reformation on English literature. His wife works full-time as a physician assistant, and his family attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church, along with a teeming horde of other English graduate students.

Jeremy Leatham grew up in Carson City, Nevada, where he learned from well-meaning teachers that it was in Virginia City, just 15 miles from home, where Samuel Clemens found his pen name. A probable fabrication intended to bring some clout to northern Nevada was all it took to convert me to the ranks of Mark Twain admirers. The fact that he mastered American humor didn’t hurt either. And since Twain was so fond of Utah, Jeremy received a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Brigham Young University. As a Ph.D. student, he is examining the residual impacts of early American Calvinism on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American writers. He still somehow manages to spend plenty of time with his wife and four children: Talmage, Tennyson, London, and Emerson. (Twain and Clemens didn’t seem to fit. He is holding out for Langhorne.)

Adam Marshall is originally from Canton, OH. He is very proud of his Midwestern roots, and often finds himself scratching his head at the strange and seemingly esoteric ways of the indigenous Texan population of Waco. However, despite initial misgivings about moving to a region lacking in such unassuming comforts as Fall weather, Amish cooking, or hills, Adam has found Waco in general (and Baylor University in particular) to be a welcoming, hospitable sort of place to call “home.” His literary interests are eclectic, although his first and longest love is for anything that has a medieval flavor to it--from Beowulf to The Canterbury Tales to Le Morte D'Arthur to The Lord of the Rings. He is also interested in the intersection between literature and the pastorate, whether it's pastors who write (Donne, Herbert, MacDonald, etc.) or books about pastors (The Scarlet Letter, Gilead, many of the stories by Flannery O'Connor, etc.). He completed his M.A. in English at Baylor in 2012 and is currently working towards his Ph.D., which he hopes to finish in 2016.

Michael Milburn is a PhD student from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude from Franciscan University of Steubenville and studied French at l'Institut Catholique de Toulouse. A Presidential Scholar, Michael's interests include nineteenth-century British poetry and fiction, the history of literary criticism, and the theological implications of aesthetics. He received the Alexei Kondratiev Award for Best Student Presentation at an annual meeting of the Mythopoeic Society, and his work has been published in Tolkien Studies and Mythlore, with a more recent article set to appear in Explorations in Renaissance Culture. Michael currently serves as president of the English Graduate Student Association.

Dustin Morrow is a Ph.D. student whose research includes multi-cultural and multi-ethnic studies, women's issues in the contemporary American novel, multi-modal composition, and American roots music. He is a native Texan, but he "grew up" in the Mississippi Delta, serving two years as a Teach For America Corps Member. Dustin believes that all students can learn and want to learn when given the opportunity. Dustin also believes that reading and writing are contemplative practices essential to a meaningful relationship with the world. Before graduate school, Dustin served as a senior advisor for the National Center on Education and the Economy where he was responsible for comprehensive reforms in the 40 lowest performing schools in New Mexico. Dustin loves the Red Sox, Van Morrison, and sitting in his yard contemplating the infinite struggle of St. Augustine.

Courtney Bailey Parker is a doctoral student, and her primary research interests include English Renaissance drama (mostly Shakespeare), Early Modern women's writing, and the lovely poetry of Edmund Spenser. On a more popular level, she is interested in how women today engage with (or invert) the narratives of the Women's Movement, especially in mainstream Christian circles. She completed her B.A. in English literature at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia and her M.A. in English here at Baylor. Her writing has appeared in various places, including Christianity Today, Cahiers Elisabethains, Literature and Belief, and elsewhere. She blogs regularly at Courtney's dashing husband, B. J. Parker, is also a doctoral student in Baylor's Religion Department.

Kalani Pattison is a Ph.D. student who went to high school in Indonesia and attended college at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, where she could see the ocean from her dorm room for two of her four years. Her main area of interest is British 17th Century Literature, though she also is interested in post-colonial literature, linguistics, women's studies, and random selections of literature from many time periods. In addition, she loves travelling, listening to other people's stories and is probably more adventurous than she appears.

Christine Pyle intends to focus her Ph.D. studies on British and American seventeenth-century religious poetry. She is also fascinated by an interdisciplinary conversation about the nature and purpose of higher education. Christine grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and attended LSU, where she fell in love with the idea of a university. She graduated with degrees in English and French, after completing a senior thesis about self-examination in New England Puritan literature. Hankering for a year of travel and work, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware, to manage academic programs for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Christine enjoys adventures, Cajun food, handwritten letters, and all things Francophone.

Andrew Rasmussen is a Ph.D. student focusing on Rhetoric & Composition. Andy grew up in the woods of North Carolina wanting to be King Arthur, before moving to the Jersey Shore and to pretend he was Bruce Springsteen. After playing in rock bands throughout high school and college, he returned to academia in order to pursue his first love: knights. He adores The Faerie Queene, l'Morte D'Arthur, and anything by Sir Philip Sidney. Andrew also enjoys Kelly Sue DeConnick, Wordsworth, Neil Gaiman, Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis, and Charles Williams. He misses the ocean, but looks forward to continuing his studies at Baylor and punching holes in the sky.

Joanna Rempel-Knighten is an M.A. student interested in studying the nineteenth century novel. She earned her B.A. in English from Oklahoma Baptist University, and after some time in a master's program at the University of Oklahoma, she moved to Austin, Texas, where she taught high school English and journalism. Joanna now enjoys spending time with her husband, being involved in the musical program at her church, and attending Austin's wide variety of free events, when she isn't in class, studying, driving, or working in the Athletic Writing Center.

Sarah Rude is a PhD student specializing in medieval British literatue, and will likely write her dissertation on Malory's Morte Darthur. She is a member of the leadership council for the Medieval and Renaissance Research Seminar and serves as co-social chair of EGSA. In her spare time, she enjoys running or playing fetch with her dog (Feste Waffles).

Heidi Seelke is a Ph.D. student in English literature, focusing on the relationship between the portrayal of female virtue and the development of the novel in the eighteenth century. She grew up in Duluth, MN, and she earned her B.A. from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. She earned her M.A. in English literature from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. When she is not studying literature, she enjoys camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, running half-marathons, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers and all Baylor sports. She lives near Waco with her husband Jonathan.

David Smith is a doctoral candidate whose scholarly interests include Romantic-era literature, specifically William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He currently has an article under review for a book on race and the Southern author Eudora Welty. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Truman State University and is an incorrigible cinephile and golfer, as well as a board game enthusiast and a lover of mountains.

Travis Snyder is interested in 20th Century American Literature--particularly John Updike, who pairs quite naturally with theological and existential inquiry. His other literary interests include magical realism and Borges, poststructuralist theory, and the Midwest as a literary trope (so, Sherwood Anderson). Travis grew up in the Midwest--Kansas City, Missouri--and feels this every day he wakes up in Texas. He completed his undergraduate degree between William Jewell College and Oxford University. He spends much of his free time reconciling his equal love for both Louis Armstrong and Wu-Tang Clan and also by watching the Kansas City Royals play baseball.

Elizabeth Travers, an M.A. student, hopes to study the devotional poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and George Herbert. In 2002, she earned a B.A. from Mississippi College where she was honored with the Sarah A. Rouse Award for excellence in English. Before coming to Baylor, Elizabeth taught secondary English and Social Studies and spent two years as a copywriter for a marketing firm. She calls North Carolina home.

Ryan Womack is a Ph.D. student who is romantically interested in Flannery O'Connor and thinks she is a decent writer as well. Other interests currently include Hawthorne, Poe, Ralph Ellison, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, and Ian McEwan. He's planning to do research in religion and literature, but also race and culture, among other subjects. Ryan needed only one highway to get to Baylor from his home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After finishing his B.A. in English at Oklahoma Baptist University, he took a year off to work as an editor for a publishing house, discover the Internet (it's very interesting), and live like a king (three meals a day).