Sean P. Connors, Ph.D.
Institute Co-Director and Lead Faculty
Dr. Connors is Associate Professor of English Education at the University of Arkansas, where he works with pre-service and in-service English teachers in the context of a graduate secondary teacher licensure program. His research and scholarship focus on young adult literature, new literacies, and multimodality, and he has written extensively about comics and graphic novels. Prior to earning his doctorate from Ohio State University, Dr. Connors taught high school English for twelve years. In that time he worked with students in a range of diverse settings, including a suburban high school in upstate New York, an urban high school in Arizona, and a charter high school on the western Navajo Reservation. As a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Connors has been active in providing professional development opportunities for middle school and high school English language arts teachers.
Lissette Lopez Szwydky-Davis, Ph.D.
Institute Co-Director and Lead Faculty
Dr. Szwydky is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas, where she teaches and publishes in the areas of Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Culture, Adaptation Studies, and Gender Studies. At the University of Arkansas, she regularly teaches “Frankenstein: A Multimedia Cultural History” covering the novel’s historical and literary contexts as well as its cultural legacy via adaptations. She primarily publishes on the topic of stage adaptations in the nineteenth century, including the forthcoming essay “Frankenstein’s Spectacular Stage History and Legacy” in Adapting Frankenstein: The Monsters Eternal Lives in Popular Culture (edited by Dennis Perry and Dennis Cutchins, 2018) and an essay in The Routledge Companion to Adaptation Studies. Her current book project traces the rise of an adaptation-driven entertainment industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is co-recipient of the 2014 NASSR/Romantic Circles Pedagogy Award for using blogs and wikis in the classroom. Dr. Szwydky is also affiliate faculty in Gender Studies as well as in the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies program.
Onsite Instructional Staff
Erin Daugherty is a doctoral student in the English Department at the University of Arkansas. Her coursework and teaching experience have given her opportunities to utilize diverse learning tools and adapt more traditional ones, including resources for digital storytelling, composing video essays, creating book review podcasts, and using blogging and social media for learning rhetorical dexterity. Her research focuses on the ways that spaces and places—physical and virtual—and materiality are active participants in public rhetorics and literacy-related activities, and how student knowledge of these networks of meaning can be valued in writing and literacy education classrooms. When she graduates, Erin plans to teach English in the secondary public school system and learn from students about the ways that their home has shaped their literacy, lives, and identities.
Arts Integration Specialist
Hung Pham is Director for the Center for Children & Youth (CCY), an endowed initiative of the University of Arkansas’s College of Education and Health Professions. Through CCY, Pham designs and implements programs that work with students, teachers, and community partners to foster creative, vigorous learning that address the needs of underserved populations. Pham has extensive experience in the fields of arts integration and service learning/community-engaged learning, and has collaborated with leading arts and educational institutions such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Teachers College, Columbia University; and Facing History & Ourselves. A graduate of the University of Arkansas’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Pham was a recipient of the 2015 Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship for his fiction. Before coming to Arkansas, he worked with educational and youth-related nonprofits in Colorado and New Hampshire.
Administrative Assistant and Event Coordinator
Katie Voss is a second-year M.A. student in the English Department at the University of Arkansas, where she also completed a B.A. in English. In graduate school, she has gained experience teaching English Composition to undergraduates, developed her writing skills, and cultivated an enthusiasm for digital texts and multimedia documents. Her interests include the context of content writing, both in and out of the classroom, as well as visual rhetoric, and how both of these combined create an effective, engaging discourse. After finishing her degree, Katie plans to continue pursuing her interests in communication, content creation, and visual rhetoric in the workplace.
Thomas Leitch, Ph.D.
Visiting Faculty and Plenary Speaker
Dr. Leitch is Professor of English at the University of Delaware. He trained as a literary scholar at Columbia and Yale, but drifted into cinema studies when he discovered a love of storytelling that transcended literature. Since coming to the University of Delaware to direct the Film Studies program, he has continued to travel back and forth between literature and cinema studies. In addition to Perry Mason and Crime Films, which was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 2003, he has written two books on Alfred Hitchcock and coedited a third. For the past ten years, most of his work especially Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ (2007) has focused on adaptation and its broader implications for the teaching of English. His most recent books are Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age (2014) and the edited collection of essays The Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies (2017). He is currently working on The History of American Literature on Film. Leitch serves on the editorial boards of Literature/Film Quarterly, Adaptation, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, Hitchcock Annual, and Studia Filmoznawcze. He regularly reviews mystery and suspense fiction for Kirkus Reviews, where he is Mystery Editor.
P. Craig Russell
Visiting Artist and Plenary Speaker
A graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in painting, Russell is an experienced comic book artist who specializes in the craft of adaptation. After establishing a name for himself at Marvel on Killraven and Dr. Strange, he went on to become one of the pioneers in opening new vistas for this underestimated field with, among other works, adaptations of the following operas: Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Strauss’s Salome, and Wagner’s The Ring of The Nibelung. Russell is also known for his Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde series as well as his graphic novel adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Coraline, Murder Mysteries, and American Gods.
Guest Faculty and Artists
Glenn Jellenik, Ph.D.
Dr. Jellenik is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas (Conway, Arkansas) where he teaches courses in 18th– and 19th-century British literature as well as film. His research approaches adaptation from an historical perspective, one that acknowledges a thriving history of adaptation long before the advent of cinema. He primarily focuses on long-Eighteenth-century adaptation and the productive intersections between literature and mass culture. His recent essay, “The Origins of Adaptation: the Birth of a Simple Abstraction” (The Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies, 2017) traces the rise of our current cultural notions of adaptation to the late-Eighteenth century. He also has essays forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to Adaptation and Adaptation in Visual Culture: Images, Texts, and Their Multiple Worlds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). He is the national chair for Adaptation Studies for the Popular Culture Association (PCA), and he sits on the Board of Advisors for the Palgrave Studies in Adaptation and Visual Culture series. At the center of all of his work is the desire to complicate our cultural assumptions about adaptation and originality.
Kassie Miciewicz, M.F.A.
Ms. Misiewicz is a professional Theatre for Youth director and educator. In 2008, she founded Trike Theatre, a professional theatre for youth located in Northwest Arkansas, where she continues to serve as Artistic Director. Through the theatre, she develops and teaches residencies integrating arts and literacy in area elementary and middle schools, leads professional development workshops for teachers, and develops and directs new plays for youth. After earning her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Theatre for Young Audiences from Arizona State University, Kassie taught and/or directed at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Arizona State University, and professional theatres for youth in Sea le, Milwaukee and New Jersey. Kassie is an education consultant with Focus 5, a national arts integration company.
Oppel is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Airborn, which won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature, and was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association. Half Brother won both the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children as well as Book of the Year for Young Adults. Oppel’s Silverwing trilogy, told entirely from the point of view of bats, has sold over a million copies worldwide, and was adapted as an animated television series as well as a stage play. His latest books are The Nest (which won the 2016 CLA Book of the Year for Children Award and Every Hidden Thing. His novel This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein is a featured book on our reading list. Our NEH Institute will host Oppel via Skype to discuss This Dark Endeavor and answer questions from Institute participants.
Still on the Hill
Kelly and Donna Mulhollan are Still on the Hill, an award winning duo of “story telling-song writers.” This national and international touring group from Arkansas has been described as “Ambassadors of the Ozarks” for their work preserving a rich culture that combines folk music, local stories, and hand-made instruments. Still on the Hill gathers stories from real people and places in their region and fashions them into songs. Then they embellish the songs with a host of unique instruments, many of which were hand-made by old-timers and have amazing stories that go with them as well. The duo also has a penchant for turning classic poetry and literature into songs. In 2005, Kelly produced a solo CD called The Never Ending Conversation, which is a collection of poems by Wallace Stevens, William Blake, e. e. cummings, Langston Hughes (and other notables) set to music and sung by the duo. Still on the Hill enjoys performing for students of all ages because they believe that stories and poetry are much more accessible and go to a deeper place when they are sung.