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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature


Department Congratulates Bilinski Fellows

Three Doctoral Candidates in the Department of English Were the Recipients of Bilinski Fellowships for the 2016-2017 Year!

Derek Bedenbaugh (left), a student of 19th-century British Literature, is working on a dissertation that “complicates existing scholarly assumptions about the roles that disabled characters play in Victorian novels.” Derek's project brings to light the ways that 19th-century representations of disabilities serve as critiques of contemporary mores and how characters with disabilities could use the social expectations relating to their abilities to pursue their own goals. Regarding the Bilinski Fellowship and its support for his project, Derek says, “I am extremely grateful for the Bilinksi Fellowship’s financial aid and relief from teaching responsibilities. It was an incredible privilege to be able to devote an entire year to research and writing. Because of the Fellowship’s support, I completed a full draft of my dissertation. I am now in a better position to go on the job market and to revise one of my chapters into an article.”

Sam Lackey (middle), a student of 19th-century American Literature, explores in his dissertation the early development of the “frontier bandit” as a character in U.S. fiction; in particular, Sam's work focuses on depictions of banditry and archetypal bandit characters in published texts before 1865. Sam argues that such depictions provide complex and sometimes contradictory reflections of American audiences’ fantasies and fears about “nationhood, masculinity, and citizenship in the antebellum United States.”

Trevor Meyer (right), a student of Rhetoric and Composition, focuses his dissertation work on “the rhetorical problem of violence,” and he makes use of martial arts as a framework for a theoretical and pedagogical approach to argumentation and composition. In particular, Trevor articulates argumentation as a form of conflict that is not necessarily “fighting” or “violent,” but that can be understood more fully by considering the philosophies of various martial arts styles in relation to communication. Trevor says that, “Over this last year my project and personal life have seen several ups and severe downs, but I would not have been able to finish my dissertation without this fellowship year, having three chapters complete, one nearing completion, with two more in rough drafts, and introductory material outlined. I look forward to the job market, having a much clearer and more realistic understanding of the work of the profession I've spent my life working toward.”

Congratulations to Derek, Sam, and Trevor for their hard work and the contributions they make to their fields, as recognized by the Bilinski Fellowship committee!