Faculty / Current Faculty


OUR FACULTY have included Pulitzer and National Book Award finalists, an editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, a winner of three National Magazine Awards, and the only American named a Life Trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Some live right here in Sewanee; others visit us from as far away as the University of Zurich, as well as Vanderbilt, Boston University, CUNY, The University of Cincinnati, Syracuse, and other campuses, bringing with them lifetimes worth of experience as writers, scholars, and teachers. They teach classes on Faulkner, Dante, and Shakespeare; on African American Literature, Modern Poetry and the Environment, Southern Literature, and the Bible. They teach Latin American and Russian Literature in translation. To make sure our students get the most out of these classroom encounters, we keep our numbers low; around 12 people in a class or workshop, with about 80 in the program as a whole. 

The makeup of faculty changes a bit each summer, with our veterans rotating in and out and some new faces appearing every June. It's our way of providing, within the scope of a small program, something of the breadth and depth of a large one. Over the course of their studies our students will get to know many distinguished teachers and hear many voices. 

2018 Faculty

Barbara Black

Barbara Black is the author of two classic studies of Victorian literature and culture: On Exhibit: Victorians and Their Museums and A Room of His Own: A Literary-Cultural Study of Victorian Clubland.  When the former appeared in 2000, critic Joseph Childers praised it for “[beginning] in very important ways to unravel the representation of culture to itself.”  The latter, nominated as Best Book of 2013 by the North American Victorian Studies Association, was lauded as “an absorbing and enlightening study” by the Times Literary Supplement and as a “beautifully conceived, thoroughly researched, and deftly argued book” by scholar Karen Chase Levenson.  Black’s essays and reviews—on Dickens, Wilde, Gissing, FitzGerald, among others—have appeared in Salmagundi, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Victorian Poetry, and Dickens Studies Annual, among other journals, as well as in the book Dickens and Gender (2012).  Barbara Black earned an AB at Bryn Mawr College and a PhD at the University of Virginia.  She currently serves as Professor of English at Skidmore College, where she was recently honored with the Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching. Barbara Black is the Review Editor for the international journal Nineteenth-Century Contexts and will be teaching this fall in her second favorite place in this world (after Sewanee)--London.




Nickole Brown

Nickole Brown received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for ten years. Her first collection, Sister, a novel-in-poems, was first published in 2007 by Red Hen Press and a new edition will be reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Her second book, a biography-in-poems called Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions in 2015 and won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. The audiobook of that collection became available in 2017. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years until she gave up her beloved position there in hope of writing full time. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places in addition to the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program, including the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA and the Hindman Settlement School. Nickole Brown lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC, where she volunteers at four different animal sanctuaries. Photo ©Gordon Hight





Kelly Grey Carlisle

Kelly Grey Carlisle is the author of the memoir We Are All Shipwrecks. Set in Los Angeles, it tells the story of her mother’s murder, possibly at the hands of the Hillside Stranglers, and Carlisle’s eccentric childhood living on a boat with her grandfather, a larger-than-life Englishman and purveyor of pornography. In a starred review, Library Journal calls it “moving and complex...an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love.” The Dallas Morning News calls it a “dazzling debut.”

Carlisle’s personal essays have appeared in journals like Ploughshares, Salon.com, The Rumpus, New England Review, The Sun, and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been cited four times in Best American Essays. She is a 1998 graduate of Sewanee, where she earned departmental honors in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She lives in San Antonio, where she is an associate professor of English at Trinity University and edits 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction. Photo: Keiko Guest Photography





Michael Dunaway

Michael Dunaway is the producer and director of the documentary 21 Years: Richard Linklater, a New York Times Critics Pick starring Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Jack Black, Billy Bob Thornton, and Keanu Reeves, and of The Man Who Ate New Orleans, which featured Morgan Spurlock, Tory McPhail, and the Rebirth Brass Band.  His most current film, 6 Love Stories, was named Best Picture of the Williamsburg Film Festival. Dunaway graduated Sewanee in 1991. He is Movies Editor for Paste magazine and Creative Producer of the Sarasota Film Festival. He is presently at work on films about Martin Luther King and Quentin Tarantino. photo by Mary Stafford







John Ernest

John Ernest has been identified as our most knowledgeable scholar of 19th-century African American literature, a judgment confirmed by the essays he has published in PMLA, American Literary History, and American Literature, among other journals, by the modern editions he has published of classic texts by William Wells Brown and William and Ellen Craft, and particularly by his books Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature and Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History. His most recent books are Chaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History and A Nation Within a Nation: Organizing African American Communities before the Civil War. He is the editor of Douglass in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates and The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative. John Ernest holds a PhD from the University of Virginia and taught at Florida International University, the University of New Hampshire, and West Virginia University, before taking up his current post as Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor and Chair of the English Department at the University of Delaware. photo by Mary Stafford




Michael Griffith

Michael Griffith's books are Trophy, Bibliophilia: A Novella and Stories and Spikes: A Novel; his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Salmagundi, Oxford American, Southwest Review, Five Points, Virginia Quarterly Review, Golf World, and The Washington Post, among other periodicals. He is completing a new nonfiction book called Windfalls in the Bone Orchard. His work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Taft Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Michael Griffith was educated at Princeton and Louisiana State University. Formerly Associate Editor of the Southern Review, he is now Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and Fiction Editor of the Cincinnati Review. He is also the Editor of Yellow Shoe Fiction, an original-fiction series from LSU Press. Photo: Mary Stafford.





Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse

Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse is a translator, poet, and teacher who has lived and worked in Iraq for the last six years. She served as the founding chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). She received her MFA at Warren Wilson and MEd from the University of Virginia. Handful of Salt (The Word Works, 2016) introduced Kajal Ahmad’s poetry to English. The Dictionary of Midnight: Selected Poems of Abdulla Pashew is forthcoming from Phoneme Media in 2018. Poems, translations, and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Epiphany, The Iowa Review, Words Without Borders, and the Poetry Society of America. She is currently co-director at AUIS’ Kashkul and a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Kurdish Studies. Photo: Buck Butler






James Ross Macdonald

A member of the Sewanee English department since 2013, Ross studies and teaches sixteenth and seventeenth-century British writers, especially Milton, Jonson, and Spenser. His essays and reviews have appeared in Studies in Philology, Spenser Studies, Christianity and Literature, and most recently in Forms of Faith: Literary Form and Religious Conflict in Early Modern England (Manchester University Press, 2017). Ross was educated at Harvard and holds a Ph.D. from Yale University. He also taught high school and at Connecticut College before coming to the University of the South. Photo: Buck Butler






Cheri Magid

Cheri Magid’s plays include The Ghost of Enoch CharltonManna, First Lady of Christmas, Playing Dog, et al The Reluctant Dragon, Post Mortem, and Hot Chicken. They have been performed at Primary Stages, New Georges, The New Group, The Women’s Project, Rattlestick and The Lark, among others.  She was a member of the Dorothy Strelsin Playwright Group at Primary Stages, was the Tennessee Williams Playwright in Residence at Sewanee in 2015-2016, a 2014 Audrey Resident at New Georges, and a 2014 Walter E Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Her erotic story She Grinds Her Own Coffee was shot as a short film starring Raul Castillo (Looking) and screened at the New York Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival. Lydia, or the Girl at the Wheel, her radio play about the earliest days of burlesque, aired on National Public Radio and her short story Yeah, We Got That, was featured on Playboy Radio.  She wrote the screenplay Story of D, about the real story behind the writing of the famous sadomasochistic novel Story of O, for Nicole Kidman and adapted the book Heart of the Game for film producer Richard Wiener (Any Given Sunday). Cheri Magid writes for the Emmy-award-winning children’s television show Arthur and is an Assistant Arts Professor in Dramatic Writing at New York University. Photo: Buck Butler





Jamie Quatro

Jamie Quatro's debut novel, Fire Sermon, was just published in 2018 with Grove Press in the U.S., Picador in the U.K., and Anansi International in Canada. The novel is an Indie Next pick and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. In the U.K. the novel is a “Foyles Five” title, as well as one of W.H. Smith's 2018 Fresh Talent picks. Fire Sermon is forthcoming in translation in The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Poland.  Her story collection, I Want To Show You More, won remarkable acclaim: it was a New York Times Notable Book, an NPR Best Book of 2013, an Indie Next pick, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. The critic James Wood, notoriously hard to please, named it a Favorite Book of the Year in The New Yorker and said this about it: “Passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable, [Quatro’s work] moves between carnality and spirit like some . . . modernized Flannery O’Connor.”  Jamie Quatro has also published critical essays and reviews—about Flannery O’Connor, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and Dennis Johnson, among others—in Oxford American, Tin House, and New York Times Book Review. Quatro’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, VICE, The New York Times Book Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She guest-edited, and introduced, Oxford American’s recent Fiction Issue.  A graduate of Pepperdine University, she earned an MA in English at William and Mary and had begun a PhD at Princeton before turning her attention to fiction.  Her MFA was earned at Bennington College. photo ©Gordon Hight