ENGL: 1200 seeks to cultivate in every student a lifetime habit of frequent, intelligent, and satisfying reading. The course focuses primarily on “ways of reading,” asking students to become aware of themselves as readers, to learn how to deal with different kinds of texts, and to understand how texts exist within larger historical, social, political, and cultural contexts. The central concern of the course is the act of interpretation, as students use and refine their skills of reading, speaking, and writing to respond critically and sensitively to literary texts. Books taught in ENGL: 1200 give students readings of quality and breadth. They come from several genres (fiction, drama, poetry, essay, etc.), more than a single century, and more than one country. The authors students read exhibit a significant diversity of race, gender, and social background.

Students in GEL are usually NOT English majors, but this introductory course asks big questions about the pleasures and purposes of literature, and sometimes it prompts students to pursue further humanities study. 

The Textbook Committee


Jamie Chen is an English PhD Candidate and international graduate instructor at the University of Iowa. Her GEL course “The Cosmopolitan Codex: Writing Back to the Canon” considers the living conditions of reading and writing—what goes into the creation of a text, and what does it mean to read it now? Her research applies a corresponding focus on readership and materiality to contemporary Anglophone novels (she often pauses and Chensplains this as “20th and 21st century novels from Britain and former colonies”), specifically the political potential in unintended textual circulation via a cosmopolitan reader or a novel gone rogue abroad.  

Before coming to the University of Iowa, Jamie completed her BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. She considers her work in the textbook committee an important extension of working with different methodologies of reading and different readers, providing materials that intentionally span a variety of cultures, nationalities, and writing practices.  

Philip Zaborowski is a PhD candidate in English who studies Medieval literature and the History of the Book. His research primarily focuses upon how textual and material elements of medieval manuscripts intertwine in the making of meaning. His current project explores the afterlives of medieval books—how they’re reinterpreted and reconstructed in later periods—to establish what it means to “get medieval” over the longue duree.  

Philip’s GEL course, “Gods and Monsters: Inhumanity for the Public Good” examines what we can learn about the human experience through reading about the inhuman. He joined the textbook committee to advocate for the inclusion of premodern texts which aren’t written by William Shakespeare. 


Reid Dempsey is an MFA Candidate in the Translator’s Workshop and a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Iowa. Skeptical of the conflation of literary studies with the English language, his research interests include applied linguistics, discourse analysis, and the poetics of translation. His current research explores the impact of translation discourse on 19th century primary education and life writing concurrent with the rise of industrial linguistic nationalisms. His most recent course in GEL, “On Margins: Limit, Annotation, and Experience in Literature” reflects on the margin as metaphor both for 20th century social structures and for the textual function of language. 

Before coming to Iowa, Reid earned a BA in Linguistics, German Studies, and English from the University of Arizona. He joined the textbook committee to raise the profile of translators and translation in the curriculum

Riley Hanick is a writer and doctoral candidate in English at the University of Iowa. His research focuses on intersections between literature, book history, visual art, and information science in the Americas during the twentieth and twenty-first century. 

During the 2021-2022 academic year Riley's GEL course focused on shifting definitions of kinship and attachment in the work Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Grace Paley, Danez Smith, Eve Ewing, Ed Roberson, and Henry David Thoreau, among others.

Pedro Martinez is a PhD candidate in English studying in Modernism, Post– Modernism and the Avant– Garde. His literary interests include performance studies, phenomenology and its relationship with the body, as well as the dialogue between high and low art in pop culture. His research is concerned with alienation, liminality, and the depiction of pain as both a driving and depleting force in literature.

Before coming to the University of Iowa, Pedro earned his BA in English from the University of Leon (Spain). He then went on to do an MA in Advanced English Studies organized by the University of Salamanca and the University of Valladolid. Lastly, he earned his MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary’s University (Los Angeles).

Kathleen Shaughnessy is a fourth-year PhD Candidate and GEL instructor. Kathleen’s interests in 19th century British literature include medicine, crime, science, and the Gothic, and her current research revolves around depictions of caretakers in Victorian fiction. Her course “People are Strange: Troubled Identities in Literature” uses a Gothic lens to probe the establishment and instability of identity in works of fiction.

She joined the textbook committee due to her interest in both the evolution of and movements away from literary canon.

Bronwyn Stewart is a PhD student in English studying digital and multimedia performance strategies. In particular, her research focuses on the entanglement of bodies with technology in performance spaces. Her interests include the avant-garde, cyborgs, cellophane, new media art, patchwork girls, the body in cyberspace, and other realities of being a digital girl in a digital world. Bronwyn’ GEL course “Boxes” uses a common and abstract image – the box – to discuss experiences of alienation, claustrophobia, and incarceration and how literature allows a vehicle for challenging the repressive boxes that structure such feeling. She also uses this course theme to make many box puns. 

Before coming to the University of Iowa, Bronwyn earned her BA in English from the California State University Northridge. She joined the textbook committee to help GEL instructors better incorporate performance and drama into their lesson plans. 

Katherine Randazzo (she / hers) is an English PhD student, GEL Instructor, and Writing Tutor studying trauma studies, fandom studies, and speculative fiction. In particular, Katie has examined traumatological readings of works in the hurt/comfort fanfiction subgenre, while also analyzing superpowers as trauma metaphor. Katherine’s GEL course, “The Fantastic Around Us,” puts a speculative spin on the GEL syllabus, foregrounding works with fantastic, science fiction, or magical elements—while also bringing in connections to media not often considered “literary,” such as fanfiction, song lyrics, and much more. She has also written pieces for websites like Anime Feminist, bringing a lens of literary analysis to pop culture works not often discussed in academic spaces.

Before coming to the University of Iowa, Katherine received her BA in Literature, Culture, and Digital Media Studies from The College of Wooster. Katie hopes to bring in creative and fascinating ways for students to connect with material as part of the textbook committee, while also sharing resources with instructors.

Nate Ferguson: Bio coming soon

Conor Hilton: Bio coming soon

Sara Luzuriaga: Bio coming soon