Student awards for 2019-2020 were announced in the Spring 2020 newsletter this year. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we were not able to hold our annual awards reception to celebrate their achievements, but the department offers our heartfelt congratulations to these exceptional students.
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS 2019-2020
Bashir El-Beshti Prize in Renaissance Studies
The late Bashir El-Beshti was for many years one of the most beloved and esteemed members of our department. He was noted for his high standards in teaching and scholarship. A fund was established in his name to recognize distinguished students who fulfilled his ideals of learning.
Recipient: Chris Verrill
Professors wrote: Chris’s work in Sixteenth-Century English Literature this past fall was truly exceptional, both in the classroom and on the page. Every class he showed up brimming with ideas and questions that often sparked presentist conversations that connected the course’s early modern texts to contemporary concerns and crises, whether putting Thomas More into dialogue with current debates about immigration reform or reading Edmund Spenser through the vantage point of the “Me Too” movement. For instance, in his final essay on Richard II, he explored the way representations of nationhood in the play rely on subtle suggestions of ecological mismanagement that give speech to a subversive rhetoric in favor of rebellion against monarchy. But he didn’t stop here: Chris finally argued that “Alienation from power is inversely correlated with an affiliation with earth in Richard II,” and he explored how this often continues to be the case in our own era of climate change and resurgent nationalism. In consistently approaching early modern texts in a way that was both historicist and presentist, Chris helped opened them up for class debate and discussion, and he breathed new life into older readings of early modern culture.
Jerry B. & Callie Irene Stone Award Honoring Professor Alonzo Kenion
Alonzo “Al” Kenion taught at Wake Forest University from 1956 until 1983. He taught courses in 18th-century English literature and was a frequent teacher in our Interdisciplinary Honors program. The award is given to a student excelling in an English course formerly taught by Professor Kenion.
Recipient: Allison Mae Curley
Professors wrote: Allison was an exceptional student in the Eighteenth-Century British Fiction course in fall 2019, where she wrote outstanding essays on early British novels, participated in mounting an exhibit of 18th-century books in the Z. Smith Reynolds Rare Books and Special Collections exhibit space, and was an essential contributor to class discussions and thus to her peers’ developing knowledge of early novels.
D.A. Brown Award for Excellence in Creative Writing
The late D.A. Brown was a member of the English department for many years. He was noted for his high standards, and on his retirement, a fund was established to recognize excellence in writing. The Creative Writing program began offering awards in his honor in 2016 to students who show talent in the art of creative writing.
Recipient: Carson Markland
Professors wrote: Carson is a writer with a serious “wow” factor. She’s a remarkable prose stylist, with an ear for language and an eye for the cinematic detail that will make a scene come to life. Her writing is always vivid, convincing the reader through the senses that story is something to be experienced. But she doesn’t stop there! Carson doesn’t show readers what they already know, but constructs models of worlds they can’t know, worlds that feel simultaneously impossible and eerily familiar. A girl dragged down into the depths by an alligator becomes an alligator. Robert Kennedy, ready to do anything for his family, becomes his brother’s zombified surrogate. Carson’s honors thesis, a novella titled Men Like Us, is a tour de force, an extraordinary accomplishment. The Creative Writing Program and the Department of English very much look forward to her future work, both on the page and on the screen!
Recipient: McKenzie Baker
Professors wrote: McKenzie writes in every genre and makes deft use of both narrative and poetic techniques. In her extraordinary fiction, she experiments with form, shifts time and perspective, and juxtaposes unexpected images, creating textured, urgent, often surreal, portraits of contemporary life. Her meditative, philosophically rich poetry often demonstrates a focused attention to the sonic dimensions of language, using quiet yet dense phrasing that is effective in building immersive environments for her readers. She is a thoughtful and supportive participant in class workshop discussions on the writing by her peers. She reads her poetry and fiction regularly at the Creative Writing student literary salons, and the Creative Writing Program is the richer for her talent and energy.
Bynum G. Shaw Prize in Journalism: Elizabeth Maline, with finalists Natalie Alms and Katherine Laws
The Bynum G. Shaw Prize in Journalism honors Bynum Shaw, a 1948 Wake alumnus and professor of journalism. At his retirement in 1993, friends, colleagues, and former students contributed to a fund to endow a graduation prize in his name. They wanted to memorialize a man who encouraged his students to think of themselves as writers and to try to publish inside and outside the college community.
Beulah Lassiter Raynor Scholarship
This award is named in honor of Beulah Lassiter Raynor, who taught in the English department from 1946 to 1979. The award has been endowed by her friends and former students, and recognizes outstanding rising senior majors from small towns in North Carolina.
Recipient: Crista Wyrocki
Professors wrote: I have had the happy luck to have Crista in multiple classes over her years at Wake Forest so far, and I would have called her things like “organized,” “collaborative,” and even “no-nonsense.” And she is all of those good things. As I got to know her a little better over the years, I learned that she is passionately and intensely committed to both Wake Forest and her education, she is open to new ideas and honest about herself in her engagement with those ideas, and she is a student and person who will take risks in order to learn and to expand her world.
Recipient: Andrew Killebrew
Professors wrote: Andy is easily one of the most engaged readers I have ever taught. He frequently seemed visibly excited to dive into difficult texts, from Plato and Cicero to Montaigne and Nietzsche to Joan Didion and Ta-Nehesi Coates. In general his enthusiasm for reading in and out of the classroom is refreshing and remarkable, and the fact that he participates in local book groups around town really shows in both the range and style that he brings to class discussions. His writing, similarly, reveals a mind always at work, trying out new ideas and testing new writing strategies, and he demonstrates incredible skill at reframing complex ideas with remarkable clarity. Barry Maine adds that Andy was a stalwart standout in his Faulkner seminar and everybody’s favorite student in his Worrell House group last fall, and notes that he is that rare student who drops by to lend you books!
Emily Crandall Shaw Scholarship in Liberal Arts
Emily Crandall Shaw and her husband Bynam Shaw, who was a professor of Journalism at Wake Forest, were Wake Forest alumni. After Mrs. Shaw’s death, Mr. Shaw set up this scholarship in her memory to recognize outstanding rising senior English majors who show talent in arts as well as in literary study.
Recipient: Emma Szuba
Professors wrote: Emma is an eager, down-to-earth student. Her interests are broad and ambitious, but she has the generosity of spirit that brings a treasure trove of ideas to class. Her penetrating analysis goes beyond class discussion, where she shines, and is brought into her writing with a careful eye and warm heart. She is tireless and thorough both in her work during class sessions as well as in her beautifully written and argued essays. Barry Maine wrote, “Emma was the undisputed academic star of my Worrell House crew in London last fall. She literally could have taught my classes if I would let her. As a serious aspiring stage actress, I believe that Emma may have set the record for the number of plays attended in London by a Wake Forest student in a single semester—over 40! Look for her in a regional or national stage production soon, putting all that study to good use!”
Justus and Elizabeth C. Drake Scholarship
Justus Drake was a professor of English at Wake Forest for a number of years. He taught American and Victorian literature. His wife Elizabeth was the administrative assistant to President Scales. The Drakes’ sons were Wake Forest alums, and they set up this scholarship in their parents’ memory to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our rising senior majors.
Recipient: Cassie Ball
Professors wrote: Even as a first-semester, first-year student in Writing 111 in the fall of 2017, Cassie established herself as a humane, curious, and careful thinker. She was generous with her compassionate critique of her classmates’ writing, and courageous in her own work and research, particularly in her very fine and very honest autoethnography of a first-generation college student. She was prepared, sharp, and analytical In her American Literature Gateway class, where she showcased her talent as a storyteller and reflective essayist. She is a fine scholar, an excellent person, and a non-traditional student who proves why we should bring such students among us.
Recipient: Natalie Bradford
Professors wrote: Natalie can be quiet, but when her work starts rolling in, you can’t help but take notice. It’s clear that she’s been more than paying attention to class discussion, for her writing is sharp, full of insight, and comprehensive. The idea of an “engaged listener” can feel cliche, but then you are with Natalie in the classroom and you remember that energy and focus an actual engaged and active listener brings, how that changes the dynamic of the entire room and group for the better. A smart and eloquent writer and thinker, she sees beyond the edges of classrooms and institutions. She has a marvelously active brain beneath a calm exterior. A joy to teach!
H Broadus Jones Awards
H. Broadus Jones was professor and chair of English for many years. He taught Shakespeare, Romantic poetry, and Victorian poetry at Wake Forest for much of the first half of the 20th Century. We offer several prizes in his name: The Shakespeare Prize award recipient is a student whose oral and written work shows the greatest insight into Shakespeare; the Memorial Scholarship was set up in 1972 by his family in his memory to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our rising senior majors; and each year a graduating senior and a Master’s student whose work exemplifies Jones’s spirit of scholarship and dedication to the study of literature are chosen to receive the H. Broadus Jones awards for Excellence in English.
H. Broadus Jones Senior Award for Excellence in English: Grace Franzese
Professors wrote: Grace is superbly successful in both of her majors, English and Biology, and she produces deeply researched original scholarship for both. In class, Grace articulates complex ideas about literature with refreshing clarity, and she is especially adept at listening to and coordinating her responses with ongoing class discussions, making her a model student. She produced an outstanding paper on race and space, disambiguating citizenship and racial identity, and examining where and how those two vectors cross, in several texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. And anyone who has worked with Grace knows that she is a joy to have in class—upbeat, full of energy, exceptionally open-minded, and deeply thoughtful.
H. Broadus Jones M.A. Student Award for Excellence in English: Laura Caicedo
Professors wrote: Laura is the author of a brilliant master’s thesis on the temporality of queer Latinx memoir. Her thesis is theoretically complex and intellectually inventive, while remaining grounded in solid analysis of canonical literature. Laura was also an excellent and original interpreter of Chaucer: a smart, independent-minded student, with the talent to match her ambition. Her rock-steady persistence and deep passion for a wide range of academic fields and areas will bring her success when she begins her PhD in English at Cornell in the fall. Furthermore, Laura is a kind-hearted, gracious, fun and funny student—a true pleasure to have in class and across campus.
H. Broadus Jones M.A. Student Award for Excellence in English: Delanie Harrington
Professors wrote: Delanie is an exceptional thinker. Her master’s thesis examined the blinding of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s King Lear and the rape and dismemberment of Lavinia in Titus Andronicus, delineating (as she put it) “the ways in which their disablings function less as a narrative symbol than a lived and real trauma of social and physical inability widely impacted by notions of labor.” This project was initially almost a dissertation, and although her chapter-in-progress on Caliban in The Tempest and her extensive research on the English Poor Laws were not included because of length restrictions, she hopes to return to this material in the future. Delanie worked tirelessly, even in a global pandemic, and her thesis makes an important contribution to disability studies. She was also a valued member of ENG323: Shakespeare; as the only master’s student, she always introduced ideas that made us all think in a different way. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at UC Davis in the fall, and they are very lucky to have her.
H. Broadus Jones Memorial Scholarship: Cassie Ball and Natalie Bradford
H. Broadus Jones Shakespeare Prize: Ellen Gunn and Ellis Schmitt. Honorable mentions: Chase Woods, Bruce Haywood, Charlotte Clark, and Tut Gregory
Ellen Gunn and Ellis Schmitt’s outstanding written work on Shakespeare and in class shows imagination, maturity, and exceptional commitment to learning. Ellen’s paper on King Lear and Edgar’s recovery of masculinity exposes the play’s underlying logic of “legitimate” rule. As she notes, “Drawing upon Edgar’s final revelations in the play, if conception determines a subject’s will and fate, it appears that the trials, figures, and grievances Edgar faces throughout the play merely serve as a means to condition Edgar into the ruler he is born to be.”
Ellis’s papers on the histories Richard II and 1Henry IV likewise show fine attention to detail and a grasp of questions Shakespeare raises about what constitutes legitimate rule in a time of crisis. Showing exceptional receptivity to his fellow classmates, Ellis’s contributions to class discussion also anchored us, clarifying and helping us all to think about issues of power and aesthetics in new ways.
While all students in this course performed admirably under stress, Chase Woods, Charlie Clark, Tut Gregory, and Bruce Haywood deserve a special commendation. Their exceptional work ethic and fascination with Shakespeare’s words and themes shone through days of “sunshine and rain at once.”