English Graduate Students and Alumni Receive Major Awards
English graduate students and alumni have won Stegner, ACLS fellowships and more.
Austin Smith, Wallace Stegner Fellowship
2009 M.A. recipient Austin Smith has received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in fiction at Stanford University. These unique and competitive fellowships provide fellows with a two-year residential workshop experience to practice and perfect their craft. Last year, the program received over 1700 applications for the 10 fellowships. Fellows are expected to devote their time entirely to writing and participating in weekly workshop with other fellows.
Smith grew up on a family dairy farm in northwestern Illinois, and his poems have been published by The Sewanee Review and Midwest Quarterly. In addition to the MA from UC Davis, he holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. As a Stegner fellow he hopes to complete a collection of linked, multigenerational stories about a dairy farming family, called Hagiography and plans to begin work on a memoir about growing up on a farm, called The Silo.
Smith joins current Stegner fellow in fiction and UC Davis PhD candidate Shannon Pufahl. For the duration of her fellowship, Pufahl is taking a hiatus from her PhD work on early American literature and philosophies of animality in the department of English. She is spending her time as a Stegner fellow working on a novel set in the American West, about three generations of gamblers undone by personal tragedy and national progress.
Nick Valvo, ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship
English PhD candidate Nick Valvo has been awarded a Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship. These competitive fellowships support a year of research and writing to help PhD candidates in the humanities and related social sciences in their final year of dissertation writing. Scholars are evaluated for their potential to make original and significant contributions to their fields of study, the quality of the proposal, the feasibility of the project, and the scholarly record and career trajectory of the applicant.
Valvo’s dissertation, provisionally titled "Penurious Payments: Debt, Dependence, and Communal Form in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” focuses on representations of debt in 18th century British literature. Valvo explains, “Representations of debt in British literature of this era do not square with the account of economic life we can glean from new work in social and economic history.” His dissertation takes the disparity seriously and argues that we can best understand literary misrepresentations of 18c economic life as symptomatic of broader cultural concerns — namely, concerns about religion, cultural politics, social welfare, and the changing organization of local communities. Valvo plans to use his fellowship year to complete the dissertation.
These fellowships represent just a small sample of the awards won by English graduate students in recent years. PhD candidate Sharada Balachandran-Orihuela was recently profiled for her work as a MEXUS scholar. Ryan Fong has been selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar participant. For more news on English graduate student and faculty accomplishments, see English News.