Jason Clark, MA (2013)
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason began his undergraduate study at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. Originally planning to pursue a pastorate, he eventually received his BA with a double major in Biblical Studies and New Testament Greek. But during his time at Multnomah, Jason found himself irresistibly courted by the imaginative literature to which he was exposed in his English courses, taught compellingly by Professors Domani Pothen and Douglas Schaak, both graduates of ISU’s DA program. As his Bachelor’s study neared its close, Jason sought the counsel of his professors, and became excited at the prospect of pursuing literary study: here, it seemed, his interests in the life-altering potentials of language, theology, philosophy, psychology, and art intersected in near-infinite combinations of perspective and form.
In 2011, Jason came to Pocatello with his wife, Andrea, and entered the MA in English program at Idaho State. His literary interests were sustained by a desire to get back to the roots of the human, and especially the English-speaking, imagination. Poetry was, and remains, his favorite genre, and his undergraduate training lent itself to formal analysis and close reading. In his second year, Jason fell in love with Old English language and literature in a class taught by Dr. Thomas Klein, who later became advisor to his Master’s paper. In his final term, Jason completed a 68-page research project on a 53-line Old English poem known as The Wife’s Lament. During the writing process, and under the guidance of Dr. Klein, he presented a snippet version of this paper at the annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association.
After graduating from ISU, Jason and Andrea returned to the Northwest, where they had their first child, Clara. In the interim, Jason studied Latin at Portland State University in preparation of doctoral education. He was accepted into the PhD in English program at Saint Louis University last year, being awarded a four-year assistantship. Jason is now finishing his first year in St. Louis, where he has been able to teach two sections of an advocacy-centered academic composition course (Advanced Strategies of Rhetoric and Research), and where he is also working with graduates and undergraduates at University Writing Services. His coursework at SLU thus far includes Manuscript Studies and the History of the English Language. Involved in two medieval reading groups, and one in classical Latin, Jason will next year accept co-leadership of Neoxnawanga, a group which meets weekly to read Old English, Old Norse, and Middle English literature in the original languages. This summer, Jason is hoping to finish revising his work on The Wife’s Lament which began at ISU, and submit the paper for publication in a journal of medieval philology. This article will explore semantic repetitions in the poem in an effort to solve a philological crux at its close, answering the question of whether or not the rare female narrator is calling down a curse upon her lover.
After he reaches candidacy, Jason and Andrea would like to return to their beloved home in the Portland area, where they can dwell in its natural beauty and be near family, and where Jason can dissertate and navigate college teaching options. In addition to teaching university-level English, he desires to continue research in medieval English literature, and is especially interested in the collision of medieval Christianity with the Germanic heritage of the early English peoples. His long-term project goals include publishing translations of Old English poetry – for the sake of those interested in the literature but not invested in the language – and producing a user-friendly grammar and vocabulary of Old English for undergraduate students.
Robert Bird, DA (featured Fall 2015)
Robert Bird is an English professor at Brigham Young University—Idaho, where he teaches American Romanticism, literary theory, advanced writing, and introductory philosophy courses.
He earned a Doctor of Arts degree in English (with an interdisciplinary component in philosophy) from Idaho State University in 1998. He entered the doctoral program at Idaho State after completing a master’s degree from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and after having taught English at Ricks College, Utah State University, and Salt Lake Community College.
At BYU-I, Robert has served as the president of the Faculty Association from 2011-2013 and as the chair of the university forum committee from 2002-2005.
For three years, he directed an American literature travel study program through the Eastern United States, studying 19th century authors, especially the Transcendentalists in Concord, MA. He specializes in American Transcendentalism, particularly Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is writing on Aristotle’s influence on Emerson’s virtue ethics.
Currently, he is a faculty director for the British literature study abroad program to Ireland and England, leading students in the study of Shakespearean and Renaissance drama in London and in Stratford-upon-Avon. During his studies at ISU, he extensively researched and wrote a doctoral paper on the plays of the Renaissance writer Christopher Marlowe.
As part of his doctoral requirements at ISU, he also studied the effectiveness of peer evaluation in the composition classroom; subsequently, he has for two decades used peer evaluation of student writing as a means to teach critical thinking and effective, reader-based writing.
His doctoral work at ISU prepared him well for the wide variety of assignments that he has had at a teaching-focused undergraduate institution.
Kimberly Robinson, DA, (featured April/May 2015)
Kimberly Downing Robinson earned her DA (Doctor of Arts) at ISU in 2005. Before coming to ISU, she had earned a BA (English) and an MA (Interdisciplinary Studies) from the University of Houston-Victoria. Her doctoral papers included topics from eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century literature and art history (see http://interestingliterature.com/2013/10/23/guest-blog-medical-case-studies-and-nineteenth-century-literature/). Previous to entering the DA program, Kimberly worked in the following areas at two Texas community colleges as a grant writer, a grant administrator, and an advisor (Wharton County), as well as an administrator, a writing center director, and an instructor of English (Blinn).
In 2005, Kimberly joined the literature and rhetoric faculty at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, previously a community college (Westark) which, in 2001, had achieved university status. Her first collaborative duties were to assess and revise the standing rhetoric curriculum and to hire faculty sufficient to meet the growing demands of her department’s literature and rhetoric programs. Since 2012, she has chaired her college’s promotion committee, as well, viewing that work as meaningful college, program, and faculty development.
She has taught a range of general education literature courses, including the composition sequence, as well as a themed eighteenth century British literature course (e.g. The Asylum; Transatlantic Studies), along with rhetoric courses, including textual research methods, grant writing, and rhetorical textual criticism—with a huge thank you to ISU’s Dr. Nancy Legge for graciously sharing her rhetorical textual criticism syllabus and teaching materials. Kimberly remains interested in innovative interdisciplinary course design both as a means toward fostering critical thinking skills as well as effectively tapping into precious faculty resources (see http://teachingcollegelit.com/?page_id=758).
Since Fall 2010, she has been the faculty lead in UA – Fort Smith’s 2015 Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaffirmation of accreditation project. In this role, she has been part of the university’s Senior Leadership Team and has served as the faculty chair on the university’s assessment committee, a cross-disciplinary group of faculty and administrators who have implemented, led, and successfully completed an HLC Pathways Project (Fall 2010-Fall 2014). In preparation for the April 2015 HLC site visit, Kimberly co-edited the institution’s 35,000 word “Assurance Argument.” Her most recent publications and presentations have been a natural product of her assessment and accreditation activities.
Kimberly presently makes her home in Fort Smith, Arkansas, along with her husband, Joe Robinson, where, in addition to being grateful for the blessings of their combined family, they enjoy Arkansas’s beautiful national parks, as well as visiting sites of national and international literary, archeological, and historical significance.
Patti Kurtz, DA (featured in March 2015)
A graduate of the D.A. program in English (2001), Patti Kurtz is currently an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at Minot State University (Minot, ND).
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Patti received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania longer ago than she cares to admit. Partway through an MS in the Mass Communication program at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Patti was hired as TV production technician at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio. For the next 15 years, Patti worked behind the scenes in television for such stations as WVIT-TV in Hartford, KTUL-TV in Tulsa, and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh.
Patti always knew she wanted to teach, however, so she left her television work to obtain an MA in English from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where she was first introduced to Writing Center tutoring as part of her assistantship. Patti went on to teach as an adjunct for Jefferson Community College in Steubenville, Ohio before she finally came to Idaho State University in 1996 and enrolled in the D.A. (Doctor of Arts) program. Her doctoral papers focused on using creative writing to teach composition and on analyzing the differences between face to face and online discussions. She also tutored in ISU’s Writing Center.
After graduating from ISU, Patti worked as an Assistant Professor of English at Heidelberg University in Ohio for two years before finally moving to Minot State. where In addition to her work in English and the Writing Center, Patti also teaches online courses and is a firm believer in interactive and engaging online instruction. She is the Master Course designer for the English online classes at MSU and is co-adviser to The Coup, MSU’s art and literary publication for students. She also maintains the English department’s web site and teaches composition, creative writing, linguistics, and young adult literature courses. Patti enjoys teaching writing especially, because she has been a writer herself and loves to share her enthusiasm for the craft with her students.
Patti has been writing fiction for many years, but to take her craft to the next level, she enrolled in the low-residency MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University in 2014. Her thesis (still in progress) is a young adult novel about a 16 year- old female race car driver who must cope with the risks of the sport she loves. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Patti is actively pursuing publication in the field of contemporary young adult fiction. Several of her short stories have won awards over the years, and a historical novel manuscript was awarded a Letter of Merit from the SCBWI's WIP Grant program.
Patti’s interests include writing fiction for both adults and teens, photography, and auto racing. Patti enjoys living in Minot with her husband and two fur children, but Pittsburgh will always be her true home town.
Waveney Olembo, DA (featured February 2015)
Waveney Olembo earned her DA (Doctor of Arts) degree at ISU in 2006. Prior to that, she had earned a BA (English) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the University of Guyana and an M.A. E. degree from Ball State University in Indiana.
Before coming to ISU, Waveney had taught English at secondary schools in her native Guyana for nine years and held the curriculum development (English) desk for one year at the Ministry of Education, Guyana. Later, in 1974, after marrying a Kenyan, she relocated to Nairobi, Kenya, where she taught English at Kenya Polytechnic for one year and then Literature at Kenyatta University, a Kenyan state university with a student population of over seventy thousand students.
After completing her D.A., she returned to Kenyatta University, where she has served as substantive or acting head of the Literature department for five years. She teaches classes in Caribbean Literature, European Literature, Poetry, and Literary Language and Presentation. She also serves on the Curriculum Committee for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. This semester, she is teaching a course online through the university’s Digital School.
At the national level, Waveney is in her fourth year as a jury member for the Burt literary award for young adult fiction – a competition sponsored annually by a Canadian philanthropist, William Burt, through the National Book Development Council of Kenya, which seeks to promote reading by young people. Her short story anthology, When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories (co-edited with Prof. Emilia Ilieva) is a set text for secondary schools countrywide. Her current research is on the writing of prisoners of conscience.
Waveney has four grown sons, three daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. She enjoys those times when they all come home. She also gains much satisfaction from encounters with the many alumni of her department who serve in teaching, publishing, and other sectors of Kenyan life. As an alumna of the ISU English department, she also feels appreciation for the faculty and staff who taught her, especially Professors Jennifer Attebery and Curt Whitaker who supervised her work and whom she remembers with fondness.