English Research Area

Dr. Sarah Ficke studies popular romance fiction and the way it forges connections between the past and the present. One branch of her research focuses on historical romance, examining how these popular novels represent history and engage with or deflect topics like colonialism, racial discrimination, and women’s legal rights. A second branch of her research focuses on steampunk romance in the context of both 19th century discourses of technology and industrialization, and 19th century fascinations with the supernatural.

With publications on embodied performance art and teaching 18th-century women’s fiction through technology, Dr. Tonya Howe’s research interests are broad. Current work focuses on an open education digital platform that has received grant funding from the NEH. This practice-based research seeks both to lower barriers of access to the classroom and to theorize novel approaches to information literacy in a world increasingly inundated by data. Her approach to teaching is motivated by the deep belief that we must all become more critical consumers and producers of web-based material, an approach she brings to her courses in the Digital Writing and Narrative Design program.

Dr. Leigh Johnson’s research focuses on identifying ways that Latinx writers use their status as artists and creators in order to make change in their material, political, and community environments. Through multiple publications on women’s friendships, contestatory rhetoric, and feminist activism, I have delineated ways that this aesthetic becomes a mode for literary activism. As a corollary to that thread of research, I have developed several publications on pedagogy and the creative and complex ways of teaching this kind of literary scholarship and activism.

Dr. Holly Karapetkova is currently serving as Arlington County Poet Laureate and working on an Anthology of Arlington Young Poets, a project sponsored by an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. She is the author of two books of poetry, Words We Might One Day Say, winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Award, and Towline, winner of the Vern Rutsala Poetry Contest from Cloudbank Books. Her current poetry manuscript projects, Dear Empire and Planter’s Wife, grapple with the deep wounds left by our history of racism, slavery, and environmental destruction.