English department announces 2022 student awards

We’re excited to announce our 2022 scholarship and senior award winners, as well as the winners of our 2022 writing contest.

It’s been an especially challenging couple of years, so the perseverance of these students—maintaining a love for learning even in difficult circumstances—has been a great example to the departmental faculty.

2022 Scholarship awards

Scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year have been awarded to the following students.

Bonnie C. Henzel Scholarship

Joseph Morgan

Rita K. Gollin Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature

Jessica Marinaro and Sarah Sharples

Jesse M. Rodgers Memorial Scholarship

Elizabeth Roos

Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship

Isaac Schiller

Hans Gottschalk Memorial Scholarship

Nevaeh Tucker

2022 Senior awards

Senior awards honor graduating students on the basis of input from departmental faculty, and making these decisions is always difficult. The following students are recognized for their exceptional achievements.

Calvin Israel Award for an outstanding academic record and strong support of the Humanities

Sophie Schapiro and Olivia Clare Schmidt

William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus

Amina E. Diakite, Cassandra Pepe, and Georgia Katharine Ludwig VanDerwater

Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise

Juliet Rose Wenzel

Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award for a demonstrated record of academic excellence and a spirit of volunteerism

Jose Romero and Hannah Sullivan

2022 Writing contest winners

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105

Wyatt Hargrove, “Why Hemingway Is Relevant”

Honorable Mention: Iliana Papadopoulos, “I CAN. I WILL”

Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies

  1. Matt Keller, “A Not so ‘Swift’ Fix: Gulliver’s Travels Destabilizes the Fiction of Supremacist Standardized Language”
  2. Elizabeth Roos, “The Publishing of African Women’s Literature”
  3. Shawna Smith, “Review Essay: Aromantic /Asexual Representation in Media”

Research Paper

  1. Madyson Gillanders, “Shockwaves: America through the Eyes of a Non-American Black”
  2. Alissa Moeller, “The ‘Ugly Truth’ in A Burial at Ornans

Honorable Mention: Kathryn Sirianni, “Teaching Our Children the America We Never Knew”

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay

Joseph Morgan, “Emotional Hyperbole in Aphra Behn’s The History of the Nun

Honorable Mention: Lauren Silverman, “Rape of the Lock and the Language of Rape Culture”

Self-Reflective Writing

  1. Patricia Figueroa, “The Game of Life: The American Dream House”
  2. Thalia Maynor, “Why She Talking Like That? Beauty and Brilliance in Black Language”

Creative Non-Fiction

  1. Joseph Morgan, “Fathers and Sons”
  2. Mollie McMullan, “Complications of Motherhood”
  3. Jason Ray, “Records”

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting

  1. Patricia Figueroa, Don’t Go (Breaking My Heart)
  2. Anna Lynch and Susan Romance, Korea’s Sweetheart

Honorable Mention: Erika Powers, [title?]

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction

  1. Hannah Lustyik, “Have You Ever Told Anyone You’re Rotting Inside?”
  2. Matt Keller, “A Submission”
  3. Alison DiCesare, “The Quiet Ones”

Mary Thomas Award in Poetry

  1. Jenna Murray, “she is not ready to tell me he is dead”
  2. Kayla Eyler, “I’m old, I’m so fucking old”
  3. Susan Romance, “Birth of Venus”

English department inducts 2022 Sigma Tau Delta students in person

On April 14th, thirty-nine students were inducted into Sigma Tau Delta’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society at Geneseo. It was the first in-person induction hosted in three years, since the start of the pandemic, and there was an additional Zoom livestream for those who could not attend, or to enable family and friends to watch.

Current President Georgia VanDerwater welcomed the inductees before incoming President Hannah Lustyik introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, English and Black Studies professor, poet, and translator Dr. Lytton Smith. Taking a little time off from organizing GREAT Day, Dr. Smith gave heartwarming comments linking acclaimed YA series Wings of Fire to forming a community through shared experiences that unite us across differences. Students and faculty alike have faced adversities throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: through hardships we often find ourselves drifting apart from one another, but Dr. Smith’s speech reminded us how we can come together as a community—of students, scholars, and educators—to support and uplift one another. His message resonates particularly with Sigma Tau Delta’s mission of creating a friendly and inclusive literary community on campus.

In the annual business section of the meeting, the e-board members described their positions and their collective efforts this past year. Georgia spoke of Sigma Tau Delta’s continued efforts towards diversity and outreach, including this year’s lecture series on the topic of “Exploring Black Voices in Contemporary Media”; Public Relations Chair Rebecca Perry followed up by announcing the final lecture in the series, which will be delivered by Dr. Beth McCoy on April 20th in the Harding Lounge under the title “Yes, and Joy: Black Improv.” Rebecca also mentioned the many panels at GREAT Day that will feature English students and faculty, and reiterated the honor society’s commitment to being a hub for advertising all English-related activities. Grace Lawrence talked about her work as Treasurer, which included collecting dues and donations, marketing and organizing the English department’s new merch, and selling honors cords. The Academic Co-Chairs Isaac Schiller and Elizabeth Roos wished the new inductees well and promoted the recent annual Sigma Tau Delta Convention, which was held in person for the first time since 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place in Denver, Colorado in 2023. Matthew Keller, who was inducted in this year’s ceremony, discussed his recent experience as the Community Service Chair and the ease of joining the e-board at the same time as joining the society; along with his efforts to facilitate an English community via Discord, he also endorsed our involvement with The Arc’s membership drive, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Finally, Hannah extolled the friendship and fellowship forged by the e-board, encouraging new inductees to apply for the positions, as everyone is welcome to participate in society affairs and events.

To officially induct our new members, Dr. Gillian Paku, Sigma Tau Delta’s advisor, explained the history and goals of the organization in the context of SUNY Geneseo, noting that 2022 is Iota Lambda chapter’s 50th birthday and that Geneseo has a particularly strong and active community. She praised this year’s e-board and members for “building back better” after so many projects were stalled by the pandemic, and ended the ceremony with a call-and-response of Sigma Tau Delta’s pledge. Certificates, refreshments, and congratulations went out to the new members listed below: we welcome them and look forward to working together.

  • Sarah Bryk
  • Jesper Chitsaz
  • Francheska Colon
  • Danielle Crowley
  • Bridget Cunningham
  • Hannah D’Accurzio
  • Margaret Doty
  • Marlee Fancett
  • Nina Fichera
  • Julia Grunes
  • Travis Johnson
  • Hayley Kahnis
  • Jillian Kavanaugh
  • Matthew Keller
  • Ashley Kupiec
  • Griffen LaBianca
  • Kathleen McCarey
  • Emily McIntosh
  • Samantha Miller
  • Joseph Morgan
  • Diana Morley
  • Jenna Murray
  • Amanda Neri
  • Laryssa Olsen
  • Ella Pearcy
  • Elliot Pecora
  • Sarah Pleines
  • Kya Primm
  • Natalie Putnam
  • Susan Romance
  • Kerstyn Sage
  • Sarah Sharples
  • Casey Sherman
  • McKinley Skala
  • Jordie Slobodow
  • Hannah Smith
  • Bryanna Spaulding
  • Madelyn Tavernier
  • Ben Timmons
  • Cassandra Walters
  • Mandy Xiang

Sigma Tau Delta students present their work in Atlanta

On Wednesday, March 30, six Geneseo English majors departed for the 2022 International Sigma Tau Delta Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. This convention, unlike last year’s, was held in person, allowing for a variety of roundtable and panel events. Carly Burgio, Matthew Keller, Hannah Lustyik, Elizabeth Roos, Isaac Schiller, and Georgia VanDerwater all presented works both creative and analytical throughout the three days of the convention.

On the first day, Isaac presented his paper on “Dante’s Domestic Responsibility as a Holy Mission,” and Hannah read her poetry collection “Burn & Breathe & Bleed.” On the second day, Georgia presented her thoughtful piece titled “African Diaspora: Generations of Loss and Love,” Carly presented her “Redefining the Image of Emily Dickinson,” and Matthew presented his argument on “Assimilation Through the Eyes of Gulliver.” On the third and final day, Elizabeth read from her prose piece titled “Hen Feathers.” Many of the attending students acted as chairs for the other panels, introducing the presenters and facilitating the Q&A portion, while chapter advisor Dr. Gillian Paku served not only as the esteemed trip leader but also as the moderator on many panels.

Geneseo student presenting a paper at STD conference
Georgia VanDerwater presents her paper at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel

The students had the pleasure of hearing keynote speakers Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for former President Barack Obama, and Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin, a novel set in Atlanta that features a protagonist trying to make sense of contemporary racial injustice by corresponding with Martin Luther King, Jr. The students then visited the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. It was not only a wonderful time for the attending students to spend getting to know each other and listening to peers from all over the country, but also to enjoy some of Atlanta’s attractions, food, and weather 40° warmer than in Geneseo!

This opportunity is available annually to all members of Sigma Tau Delta, and acceptance is competitive. The cost of travel, accommodation, and attendance is typically offset by the English Department and an undergraduate travel and research grant from the college. Next year’s convention location is Denver, Colorado; look for advertising and deadlines in September and October, 2022.

Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring (on April 14 in 2022), and most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo, please contact the incoming student president, Hannah Lustyik, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.

Group portrait of Geneseo students in Atlanta
The whole group in Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Photos: Gillian Paku

English department students present at Sigma Tau Delta international convention

On Saturday, March 27, five members of the Geneseo chapter of Sigma Tau Delta participated in the annual convention available to all members of the English honor society. Nicole Callahan, Jordyn Costello, Sara Devoe, Isabella Higgins, and Emma Mandella presented a panel titled “Change it Up: Diversifying Humanities” over Zoom. Their presentation discussed the overt lack of representation in most canonical works considered to be a part of the “great books” tradition, a list that Geneseo Humanities I and II courses are required to follow. They touched on efforts — including their recent, popular student petition — to alter the Humanities requirement at Geneseo, with the goal of making it a course that includes perspectives and representation of groups outside of the predominant white male norm. Black Humanities was presented as one innovative approach, and the panelists suggested other texts or productive pairings of texts that would meet the goal. A lively question and answer session held after the presentation was attended by students and faculty from around the country and was an illuminating conversation about the benefits and challenges of these efforts, and how they are addressed at our peer institutions. The panelists and audience members agreed that more than finding one answer to this complicated issue, diversifying Humanities requirements should be addressed through a variety of methods.

The format of roundtables only, coordinated via Zoom from Colorado, was a function of the COVID-19 pandemic. It worked surprisingly well, but we look forward to a return to an in-person convention in next year’s location, Atlanta, GA. Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring, but most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo, please contact the incoming student president, Georgia VanDerwater, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.

English department announces 2020 student awards

We’re excited to announce our 2020 senior award winners and the winners of our annual writing contest.

2020 English Department Senior Awards

The end of spring semester traditionally is a time to honor, in person, the hard work and accomplishments of our graduating seniors. As believers in metaphor, the English Department won’t allow separation or measly screens to become an obstacle to celebration — for as Walt Whitman wrote, “a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” In this spirit the faculty recognize sustained excellence in literary studies through our senior awards. A couple of months not seeing these students in person remind us how much they have contributed to the vitality of our department during their time at Geneseo. Our congratulations!

William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus.

Winner: Sean McAneny

Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise.

Winners: Clio Lieberman, Margaret Pigliacelli, Brianna Riggio

Calvin Israel Award in the Humanities

Presented annually to a senior with an outstanding academic record and a strong support of the humanities.

Winners: Claire Corbeaux, Abigail Ritz, Helen Warfle

Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award

Presented annually to a senior English major who has exhibited those attributes exemplified in the life and career of our colleague Joe O’Brien: a demonstrated record of academic excellence, a spirit of volunteerism, and a sterling moral character.

Winners: Sandy Brahaspat, Julia Merante, Don Rothwein

2020 Geneseo Writing Contest

As physical journeys have narrowed during the coronavirus epidemic, many of us have become reacquainted with the power of writing to open up new spaces. The English Department has the pleasure of recognizing excellence in student critical, creative, and self-reflective writing though its annual writing contest. The contest is open to the whole campus, and this year’s winners, ranging from first-year students to graduating seniors, represent the following programs: the English Literature and Creative Writing tracks, Women and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, the Film Studies minor, Adolescent Education certification, the Edgar Fellows program, French, Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Communication, Geography, Psychology, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics. The winning entries were written for classes with ANTH, AMST, ENGL, FMST, HIST, HONR, and INTD 105 prefixes, and sometimes also produced by students writing outside class for the sheer love of language. Congratulations to all!

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105


Sarah Fadlaoui, “Carlisle in the Great War”

Second place

Maria Pawlak, “Conformity in the United States and its Effect throughout the Twentieth Century”

Third place

Madisyn Pausley, “Parable of the Sower as a Warning for Climate Change”

Honorable mention

Nicole Lallier, “Human Migration: Displacement from Disaster”

Jérôme de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies


Brianna Riggio, “Can He See the Forest for the Trees?: The Eagle Tree

Second place

Sean McAneny, “Approaches to Teaching Age in King Lear

Research Paper


Rachel McLauchlin, “Maternal Horror: Women’s Bodies as Monstrosity in Macbeth

Second place

Claire Corbeaux, “The Threat of Greed and the Cultivation of Community”

Third place

Shannon Curley, “Space, History, and Tourism in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Honorable mentions

  • Ashton McCormack, “Benefits of Entomophagy”
  • Alissa Moeller, “American Slavery and Historical Silences in the Journal of Women’s History

Self-Reflective Writing


Sean McAneny, “Addressing Slavery’s Legacy at the Academy”

Second place

Emma Short, “Fame, Fandom, & The Woman in the Spotlight”

Third place

Abigail Ritz, “This Is Paratext”

Honorable mentions

  • Claire Corbeaux, “Realizing Service Learning”
  • Brianna Riggio, “Ableist Constructions of Communication Disabilities and Identity”

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay


Sean McAneny, “Against the King’s Two Bodies: Richard’s Corporeal Authority”

Second place

Claire Corbeaux, “Wuthering Heights, Quantum Entanglement, and Loving One Dead”

Third equal

  • Rosa Mesbahi, “Dismantling Dualisms: Exploring Agency and Victimhood in Purple Hibiscus
  • Abigail Ritz, “Disability as Doozy: Kurt Vonnegut’s Use of Disability as Metaphor in ‘Harrison Bergeron’”

Creative Non-Fiction


Aliyha Gill, “Sisters”

Second place

Kyle Navratil, “Into Base Camp”

Third equal

  • Hannah Fuller, “Promises”
  • Rosa Mesbahi, “October”

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting


Patrick Donohue, “The Masque of the Red Death”

Second place

Ben Michalak, “FOLLOW THE PATH: A Twelve Day Immersive Theater Piece”

Mary A. Thomas Award in Poetry



Second place

Aliyha Gill, “Ruminations”

Third place

Sparrow Potter, “On the Slowing of the Universe”

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction**


Laura Gikas, “Not Greek”

Second place

Brianna Riggio, Selection from “Elodie May”

Third place

Elizabeth Roos, “The Archeologist”

English department 2019 writing contest winners

The English department has announced the winners of its annual writing contest.

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing

Winner: Alissa Moeller

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay

Winner: Katelyn Sullivan
Honorable mention: Sean Welch

Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies

Winner: Autumn Piletz
Honorable mention: Elyse Manosh, DongWon Oh

Research Paper

Winner: David Beyea
Honorable mention: Victoria Cooke

Self-Reflective Essay

Winner: Sean Welch
Honorable mention: Katelyn Sullivan

Creative Non-Fiction

Winner: Torie Wiley
Honorable mention: Grace Gilbert, Sean Welch

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting

Winner: Autumn Piletz
Honorable mention: Kristopher Bangsil, Brittany Pratt

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction

Winner: Jen Galvao

Mary Thomas Award in Poetry

Winner: Grace Gilbert
Honorable mention: Natalie Hayes, Isabella Higgins

Green New Deal Exhibit Opens May 2 in Mount Morris

A collaboration between SUNY Geneseo and the New Deal Gallery in Mt. Morris is updating a collection of more than 200 paintings from the 1930s, and seeing new relevance for the ecological challenges of our own times. The project, called “The Green New Deal: Art During a Time of Environmental Emergency,” is taking the form of a gallery show that opens May 2, along with a digital exhibit created by students of Associate Professor of English Ken Cooper.

Postcard for Green New Deal exhibit

The gallery’s collection owes its existence to the Federal Art Project, which “allocated” paintings to the state tuberculosis hospital on Murray Hill. They seem to have been chosen for their restful associations, however, and weren’t always typical of the artists’ more experimental or political work—an important context recovered by the project. For the past year, junior English major Abigail Ritz has been re-photographing and researching the collection thanks to an Ambassadorship through the Center for Integrative Learning. Students in Cooper’s OpenValley course this spring have continued that work and developed a series of linked online exhibits to re-evaluate paintings now approaching a hundred years old.

Why a Green New Deal? Americans already know how the Dust Bowl intensified the social crisis of the Great Depression. But new “attribution studies” by climatologists suggest that a series of record temperatures during the late 1930s probably were the first to have some Anthropogenic dimension. In other words, those past events have a direct lineage to climate change today and our own efforts to mobilize an effective response.

Leah Christman wins Fulbright

English major Leah Christman (’19) has won a prestigious U.S. Student Fulbright Award for 2019-20. Leah will travel to India, where her award will enable her to serve as a Fulbright-Nehru English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in either a middle or secondary school in a community to be determined by the United States-India Educational Foundation. The Fulbright Program is the highly competitive flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

More in this SUNY Geneseo News story.

Cui and LoTempio named finalists for anthology

Geneseo English major Jasmine Cui ’20 and recent English alumna Lucia LoTempio ’16 have been named finalists for Sundress Press’s Best of the Net 2017 anthology; they are on a short list of 31 poets, including several well-established writers with numerous books published. Congratulations to Jasmine and Lucia! They are included for their poems “When They Tell Me to Imagine the American Dream” from Breakwater Review and “Facsimile of a Bedroom in the Wheatfield” from Quarterly West respectively.

English major alum Chloe Forsell featured in Boston Review

English major alum Chloe Forsell is the featured poet for the November 2017 “Poet’s Sampler” series at the Boston Review. Her six featured poems, take on themes of social justice and finding one’s identity in America today. Forsell graduated in May 2017 as an English (Creative Writing) and French double major. She was published several times in Gandy Dancer, the SUNY-wide literary and art magazine based at Geneseo. She also completed a prestigious Ambassadorship sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, Discovery, and Development. Her poetry selection in the Boston Review appears beneath a brief introduction written by poet and Assistant Professor of English Lytton Smith.

Chloe Forsell, via Boston Review