2014 English department awards and scholarships

We’re pleased to announce this year’s winners of department awards and scholarships. We’ll be celebrating these formally in the Walter Harding Lounge, Welles 111, on Wednesday, May 7 at 3:30 p.m.


  • Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship – Rebecca Miller and Sean Neill
  • Rita K. Gollin Senior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature – Jessica Irwin
  • Rita K. Gollin Junior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature – Jo-Ann Wong
  • Hans Gottschalk Award – Matthew McClure
  • Joseph M. O’Brien Memorial Scholarship – Andre Doeman and Michelle Mundt
  • Don Watt Memorial Scholarship – Christina Mortellaro and Hannah Pruch
  • Bonnie Henzel Memorial Scholarship – Julianne DeSilva, Erin Koehler, Sarah Rusnak, and Eric Wegman
  • Jesse Rodgers Scholarship – Nikki Toner and Sean Fischer

Writing Awards

African American Studies

  • 1st – Nikita Rumsey
  • 2nd – Erin Beach
  • 3rd – Megan Nolan

Critical Essay

  • 1st – Jarad Sassone-McHugh
  • 2nd – Christine O’Neill and Nikita Rumsey
  • Honorable Mention – Meghan Kearns and Gregory Palermo

First Year Writing

  • 1st – Jessica Heppler
  • 2nd – John Panus
  • 3rd – Erik Mebust

Creative Non-Fiction

  • 1st – Suraj Uttamchandani
  • 2nd – Adam Camiolo
  • 3rd – Meghan Kearns


  • 1st – Kirstin Freiman
  • 2nd – Megan Nolan
  • 3rd – Katie Soares
  • Honorable Mention – Stephon Lawrence


  • 1st – Lucia LoTempio
  • 2nd – Erin Koehler
  • 3rd – Bibi Lewis
  • Honorable Mention – Devon Poniatowski

National literary society helps launch section of new course in English

Miller journal coverEarly last summer Prof. Tom Greenfield began sketching out an “Influence and Legacy of Arthur Miller” course for the first semester of the English department’s new course, ENGL 203: Reader and Text.  He knew that most students would have already encountered Miller’s most famous plays, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Adding Miller’s All My Sons 

and other plays to a preliminary reading list, Greenfield began addressing the Reader and Text learning outcome of having students “demonstrate an understanding of . .  the kinds of questions that are constitutive of the discipline.” 

For a course on Miller that meant exploring such issues as:

  • the  synthesis of Greek classicism and the 19th-century European naturalistic drama of Henrik Ibsen that informs Miller’s most important work
  • the compression of 20th-century  American  drama criticism  around Miller, Eugene O’Neill, and Tennessee Williams as well as attendant debates over inclusion, diversity, and canon
  • how relatively recent modes of criticism, such as gender studies or Reader-Response theory, generate new interpretations of established works and invite reconsiderations of their aesthetic value and historical significance

During that period, in a coincidence that arose as if dramatically contrived, Greenfield received in the mail the latest volume of the Arthur Miller Journal (AMJ), the publication of the Arthur Miller Society. “I glanced at the table of contents,” Greenfield said, “and my jaw dropped ”:

All My Sons: A Play by Arthur Miller and Henrik Ibsen

Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: The Magic Informing Both Plays

Death of a Salesman and Postwar Masculine Malaise

“Here,” thought Greenfield, “was all this new research in the field aligned perfectly with my new course outline and delivered in plenty of time for me to use it.

Intending to upload the volume to myCourses, Greenfield sought permission from Dr. Stephen Marino of St. Francis College, founding editor of the journal and a co-founder of the Arthur Miller Society. “On a whim,” Greenfield recalls, “I also asked him if he happened to have 25 additional copies our bookstore could purchase at a discount for re-sale to students as a course text.”  Marino was so delighted to learn that a class on Arthur Miller was serving as an introduction to the formal study of English, he donated 25 copies of the journal: “We can’t have your students paying $12.50 each for these volumes,” he said.  “They’re yours.”

Prof. Greenfield's class Fast forward to January 2014.  Greenfield’s students take the journals in hand (literally) and put them right to work.  Prof. Susan Abbotson’s published review of a recent production of All My Sons provided students with an early opportunity to debate who really owns the meaning of a play’s performed text:  the writer or the director (the latter being, first and foremost, a reader).  As Teaching Assistant Megan Nolan (English ’14) explains, “Miller opens All My Sons with stage directions to cloister the one-set, modest suburban backyard   ‘(with) tall, closely planted poplars which lend the yard a secluded atmosphere.’  Yet, as explained by Abbotson in  “Performance Reviews: All My Sons” (The Arthur Miller Journal, vol 8. no. 1, 2013) , ‘There are no poplars and no privacy’” in director Julianne Boyd’s staging of the play.

A 1940’s play about a prosperous manufacturer’s efforts to hide his war-time crimes, All My Sons’ newspaper-era text demands that his secluded yard visually represent the illusion that we can stave off, perhaps forever, public discovery of our secret sins.  The 2012 viral video-era production, however, will have none of that.

The students went right at the argument raised by Abbotson’s review.   Some contended that by removing the poplars and exposing the protagonist’s yard to full view, a production could shatter the false promise of private life in post-war America while maintaining the integrity of textual interpretation. Others asserted that keeping the poplars both holds faith with the author’s words and establishes the play’s visual landscape from the manufacturer’s compelling but false vision of his home as an inviolate sanctuary from public exposure and moral accountability.

In addition, the AMJ articles provided excellent models for writing literary criticism. Early on, Greenfield had the students  read through one opening paragraph after another in class.  “As the openings to these articles demonstrated,” Greenfield noted, “critical writing ‘gets down to business’ very quickly.  The specificity and sharp analytical focus of the initial paragraphs — even the first sentences — came as a surprise to many students.”

Greenfield is still discovering ways to apply the students’ journals for the class. Besides scholarly writings, the journal posts notices on Society business, information on upcoming “Miller-related” conferences and events, and other cues as to how literary associations support the professional study of literature.  “I recall from my own undergraduate and even graduate studies how remote and strange scholarly societies seemed,” Greenfield said.  “Having students in possession of their own journals should bridge some of the gaps between the classroom and the profession itself — both of which, after all, are comprised of readers and texts.”

SUNY Geneseo at the 2013 Rochester Fringe Festival

SUNY Geneseo is sponsoring three performances at this year’s Rochester Fringe Festival: on Saturday, September 28, Geneseo Bhangra (RAPA on East Avenue, 3:15 pm) and the musical revue Starting Here, Starting Now (Blackfriars, 8 pm); and on Thursday, September 19, Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries (Writers and Books, 8:30 pm), directed by Melyssa Hall, 2013 graduate, English major, and Cothurnus secretary. There will be a second performance of Starting Here, Starting Now at Blackfriars on Sunday, September 22 at 7 pm.

The cast of Starting Here, Starting Now are all musical theatre majors at Geneseo: sophomore Alex Imbrosci, juniors Megan McCaffrey and CJ Roche, and seniors Elyssa Ramirez and Jacob Stewart. Gruesome Playground Injuries stars 2013 graduate Russell Allen and senior Gabby Formica, with makeup by Kristen Leadbetter (2012).

Spring Semester Roundup

With apologies for the protracted radio silence, we offer this roundup of important events and developments from the Spring 2013 semester:




2012-13 saw the launch of SUNY Geneseo’s student-run online literary journal Gandy Dancer. Prof. Rachel Hall serves as faculty adviser to the journal, which invites submissions from across SUNY and is published twice yearly.

2012-13 Department Award Winners

Graduating Senior Awards

  • William T. Beauchamp Literature Award: Cailin Kowalewski and Yael Massen
  • Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award: Tim Caughlin and Pam Howe
  • Calvin Israel Award in the Humanities: Logan Mahlum
  • Joseph M. OBrien Memorial Award: Megan Cicolello
  • Rosalind R. Fisher Memorial Award for Outstanding Student Teaching in English: Marissa Liberati


  • Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship: Christine O’Neill and Ava Russell
  • Rita K. Gollin Senior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature: Eve Anderson
  • Rita K. Gollin Junior Year Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature: Rebecca Miller
  • Hans Gottschalk Award: Sean Neill
  • Joseph M. OBrien Transfer Scholarship: Erica George
  • Don Watt Memorial Scholarship: Bibi Lewis and James Ryan

Writing Awards

African American Studies
  • 1st: Connor Burgevin
  • 2nd: Briana Onishea
  • 3rd: Gregory Palermo
Critical Essay
  • 1st Matthew Cordella
  • 2nd Co-winners Meghan Kearns and Gregory Palermo
  • 3rd Sean Fischer
Freshman Writing
  • Kathleen Trabert
Creative Non-Fiction
  • 1st: Alexa Burkett
  • 2nd: Megan Ross
  • 3rd: Pam Howe
  • Jennie Conway
  • 1st: Suraj Uttamchandani
  • 2nd: Pam Howe
  • 3rd: James Ryan
  • 1st: Yael Massen
  • 2nd: Daniel OBrien
  • 3rd: Bibi Lewis
  • Honorable Mention: Alexa Burkett and Emily Webb

Autumn frosts have slain July

But the memories linger on…

Pictured below are the students who took Geneseo’s Humanities II course at Walden Pond last summer with Adjunct Professor Wes Kennison. They were snapped at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering dinner in July with renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, Marjorie Harding, Allen Harding, and Kay Gainer. Geneseo’s Humanities@Walden course will be offered again this summer, this time by Prof. Cathy Adams of the History department. For information about the course, and to register, visit Geneseo’s Study Abroad website. Thanks to Thoreau Society Executive Director Michael Frederick for sending along the photo.

FRONT ROW, L to R: Marjorie Harding, E.O. Wilson, Allen Harding, Kay Gainer. BACK ROW, L to R: Antonia Olveida, Sean Endress, Greg Palermo, Mattew Hill, James McGowan, Wes Kennison, Jeff Handy, Adam Lashinsky, Rory Cushman