Welcome!

Welcome to the official blog for Villanova's Graduate English Program! Come back often for updates on conference opportunities, guest speakers, student accomplishments, alumni news, and more. Also be sure to check out our Facebook page for more updates.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Matthew Ryan

Matthew graduated from the University of North Texas in 2016 with a BA in English, concentrating in Rhetoric and Composition. He moved to Philadelphia in June of 2017, and has been loving every minute of it. For the past two years, he has worked as a Technical Recruiter with various companies in Texas and Philly. It was reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a sophomore that convinced him to go to grad school. His senior year, he took classes in Victorian Literature and Modernist Literature, and he is particularly interested in studying those periods in graduate school, especially the latter. When he’s not reading, you can find him looking for new places to eat, or spending time at some of Philly’s best coffee shops. His favorite book of all time is WG Sebald’s Austerlitz.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Caitlin Phillips


Caitlin graduated summa cum laude from Drew University, double majoring in English and
Environmental Studies & Sustainability. Her undergraduate work helped fuel her passion for 19th Century literature and themes of nature, the Gothic, and Romanticism. One of her favorite classes was an independent study she crafted to learn more about the Language of Flowers across time and culture. Her environmental capstone included a discussion of agriculture's influence on the honeybee population decline. The English major capstone resulted in her essay of authors' various uses of nature to express societal values and fears of the time. She worked at a number of places in her college town, including the local museum, as a research assistant, and in the municipal building, where she helped write the recycling grant for the town for three years, as well as directed the nearby nature camp. Her favorite activities include photography, baking, hiking, finding even more plants to fit on her windowsill, and over-enthusing about symbolism in movies. Caitlin's favorite books are the complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes and, more academically, Dracula.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tom Higgins

Tom Higgins received his BA from Temple University in 2017. While at Temple, he studied as a double major in English and Classical Languages, and wrote for Hyphen, the university’s undergraduate literary magazine. Since then, he has worked as a writer and editor on print and marketing industry magazines at a Philadelphia-based media company. In his free time, he plays guitar, travels, and goes to as many concerts as are physically and fiscally possible. He is also a poet, and regularly submits work to print and online publications. Some of his academic interests include poetry, nature writing, travel literature, postcolonial literature, and Caribbean and Latin American literatures. He looks forward to continuing his studies at Villanova.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sarah Beth Gilbert


Sarah Beth Gilbert received her BA in English Literature with a Minor in Spanish from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA only a couple of hours away from her hometown of Augusta, GA and her favorite city Atlanta, GA. After graduation she moved to Newark, NJ to spend a year of service (that turned into two) for AmeriCorps working at Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School. At Great Oaks she began as an English tutor and Teaching Assistant and eventually transitioned to Lead ELA Tutorial Curriculum Writer and Coordinator. She hopes to continue to help make reading and writing fun (or at least bearable) by aligning her students’ interests with the nuances of studying Literature. In undergrad Sarah Beth wrote a thesis on Gender and Sexuality in Doctor Who which focused on the role of the companion and how it has evolved since the 2005 reboot in both terms of representation and character depth. She also served as The Peacock’s Feet Co-Editor in Chief for GCSU’s student run literary journal while tutoring at a local high school. Sarah Beth’s academic interests involve the intersection of Gender and Sexuality, popular culture, Sci-Fi, film theory, and literature. When she isn’t consuming books, TV, or movies she is often listening to 2000’s Emo and Classic Rock while drinking obscene amounts of coffee and planning her next concert. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Avni Sejpal


Avni Sejpal received a BA in English from St. Xavier’s College in Bombay, India. Before coming to Villanova, she spent several years in New York working in scholarly and independent publishing as well as nonprofit media production. Most recently, she was an editor at Boston Review, where she commissioned and edited critical essays on literature, race, and global feminisms. Her academic interests lie at the intersections of colonial and postcolonial literature, feminist and queer theory, and histories of South Asia. Beyond her academic pursuits, Avni is interested in food cultures, South Asian music, film, and popular genres of fiction. She is looking forward to calling Philly home for a while.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Daniella Snyder


Daniella graduated cum laude from Gettysburg College in 2018 with a Bachelors degree in English and Art History. During her time at Gettysburg, she served as the editor-in-chief of the award-winning student run newspaper, The Gettysburgian. Daniella also worked for the Women's & LGBTQA Resource Center, as well as the on-campus art gallery, Schmucker Art Gallery, where she assisted with curation, installation, and giving tours. Her love for both visual art and literature guided her academic pursuits throughout her undergraduate career. 
Daniella's senior thesis focused on the poetry of Frank O'Hara and the ways in which his poetry works in conversation with the contemporary art movements of that moment: Abstract Expressionism, The New York School, and Pop Art. Working at the intersection between the two disciplines inspired her pursuit for graduate research, as she hopes to continue to study the ways literary and visual analysis work together. Daniella's literary interests also include 20th and 21st American fiction, gender & sexuality studies, poetry, and graphic novels. 
Outside of academic pursuits, Daniella loves doing typical Art History/English major things, like sitting in coffee shops, visiting used bookstores, walking around art museums, and making art of her own.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ashley DiRienzo

Ashley graduated summa cum laude from Widener University in May 2017. In addition to receiving her BA in English, Ashley also recieved a Teacher's Certificate in English Secondary Education. Ashley completed Student Teaching in an eighth grade English classroom for her final semester; the experience was both the most challenging yet rewarding experience of her educational career thus far. While at Widener, Ashley worked as a textual scholarship research assistant in which she studied and worked in the area of British Romanticism. The most exciting part of the research (by far) was attending the annual Wordsworth Summer Conference in Grasmere England: Wordsworth's home and the location of where his original manuscripts are housed. Ashley completed a senior thesis on James Joyce's Ulysses examining how, through a cognitive lens, Leopold Bloom's exterior social interactions collide with his interior thoughts about his family. Aside from academics, Ashley spent much of her involvement at school with Widener's Student Life extracurricular activities including volunteering and being a tour guide; she even got the chance to travel domestically and abroad to Belize for service trips. Ashley is extremely excited to start the next phase of her educational career at Villanova. When Ashley is not studying English, you can find her coaching youth field hockey, running, drawing, teaching at a tutoring center, spending time with her younger sisters, and eating ice cream.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Brian Borosky

Brian graduated in 2014 from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. He took a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing. While a student at Muhlenberg, Brian served as prose editor and, later, editor-in-chief of MUSES art and literary magazine, and he served as a jockey on WMUH, as a helplessly devoted writing center tutor, and as other things. It was at Muhlenberg Brian became interested in studying the poetry of George Oppen and other “Objectivists” as well as in studying comic theory and Irish drama. He was surprised and happy to graduate salutatorian. Upon graduating, Brian began working as the Assistant Director of the Muhlenberg College Writing Center, and he held that post for the three years between his BA and attending Villanova. In that position, he was fortunate to work with writers of all academic backgrounds and pursuits, from first-year students perusing majors, to seniors policing their theses, to faculty parsing their syllabi. Now he is excited to meet people at Villanova who are likewise interested in thinking with others about interesting things. Brian likes to ride his green bicycle and make music with The Savories, who keep saying they will put out an EP soon. He hopes to keep finding neat pieces of the Philly music scene.

Angela Christaldi

Angela graduated cum laude from Saint Joseph's University in May, where she majored in English and Communications Studies, with a concentration in journalism, and a minor in gender studies. Over the course of her undergraduate career, Angela served as Managing Editor of The Hawk, SJU's Pacemaker Award-winning student newspaper, and was given a Summer Scholars grant to work on a collection of essays inspired by Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. She wrote an honors thesis investigating the potential connections between the founders of Saint Joseph's University and the institution of slavery. Angela's research interests include 20th century women authors, and how the various social movements of the century impacted their writing. Outside of academic pursuits, Angela loves reading and writing (obviously), going to concerts, and drinking coffee.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nick Manai

Nick graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA, where he played baseball and majored in English. He studied Russian Literature and Contemporary Fiction, but the curriculum was expansive and holistic, not suggesting a genuine ‘focus.’ After college he took up remote work, teaching English to South Koreans with an internet phone and used the opportunity to backpack through Asia, South America and Europe. At Villanova he will be a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Access
Success and Achievement (CASA), but will spend most of his work-hours in the Academy at Palumbo, a public high school in South Philly. He is interested in the way the Contemporary American Novel might be read as an Identity Plot, and the ways that structure might differ or imitate previous conceptions of the novel, such as The Marriage Plot. He enjoys reading Marilynne Robinson’s non-fiction essays and watching Iranian Cinema, as well as, listening to the Mountain Goats and exploring Philly’s DIY music-scene. Nick continues to Trust the Process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Christian Leithart

Christian Leithart was born in Alabaster, Alabama, and was raised in the northern part of Idaho (wheat not potatoes), so not only does he know how to drive in the snow, he understands that if you go to a real BBQ expecting a hamburger, you're crazy. He graduated from New Saint Andrews College in 2012, where he received a BA in Liberal Arts, which included studying everything from logic trees to Latin swear words. As a junior, he began directing student theater productions and organized an improv group, though organized may be too strong a word. He also earned an MA in Theology from New Saint Andrews in 2014, for which he wrote a critical thesis on time in the work of TS Eliot and a creative thesis (a novella called "The Bright City").
  Christian has worked as a waiter, a surveyor, a copywriter, a cleaner of carpets, and a video producer, and once even got paid to play a video game. His greatest claim to fame is that M. Night Shyamalan once told him he had ruined everything. His research interests include anything that makes academic study relevant to the life and imagination of non-academic people. Right now - seriously, right this minute - he is trying to think of a way to do that for the sixteenth-century poet Edmund Spenser.
  Christian writes fiction and creative nonfiction whenever he has a spare moment. He also writes poetry that he is too embarrassed to read to anyone but his wife. He and his wife have an infant daughter, who, in true sacramental faith, does her level best to experience the world primarily by eating it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sarah Lynch

Sarah graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in literary studies and a minor in political science from Wesley College in her home state of Delaware in 2017. Sarah has particular interest in the interconnection between American culture, film, history (both domestic and transatlantic), literature, media, music, and politics. As a member of the Honors Program, she developed a thesis about the prevalence of Milton's Lucifer archetype in American pop-culture and presented her work during Wesley's Scholars Day event during her senior year. In 2016, Sarah presented a thesis about the importance of fan-fiction at the 27th Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Conference and plans to present again this year about the way in which television shows affect Americans' perceptions of vigilantism. Aside from academia, Sarah loves to read and write, attend baseball games, and binge-watch series on Netflix.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Joe Alicea

Joe Alicea earned his Bachelor of Arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis with two majors, the first in Philosophy and the second in History of Science and Mathematics, and two minors, one in Comparative Literature and the other in Classical Studies. Joe took three semesters of Ancient Greek in translation and an additional three semesters of French in translation; during this time he translated the first book of Euclid’s Elements, excerpts of Aristotle's Politics, Derrida’s Feu la cendre, and several of Molière’s plays. Joe’s principal interests during the beginning of his studies at St. John’s were in the philosophies of Descartes and Spinoza, St. Augustine’s Confessions, and the plays and poetry of Shakespeare. His absorption in these areas would lead to an award for the best written essay by an undergraduate in 2012 for his sophomore thesis - an analysis of the mutability of identity in King Lear with a thorough discourse on theories of relationalism. This thesis and its methods of critique and analysis are precursory to Joe’s current interests in phenomenolgy, philology German hermeneutics, and modernist literature. At the moment, Joe is primarily reading the later journals of Wittgenstein, the later works of Derrida, the prose and poetry of Wallace Stevens, and the early prose and poetry of David Foster Wallace. The time between his philosophizing in college and now was spent with friends and family as an onsite mathematics tutor for students at LVL High School in la Villita of southside Chicago.

Lia Mrozinski

Lia graduated with her BA in English in 2014, and has since worked as the director of content at a marketing agency in Maine. During her time as an undergrad, she studied sociopolitical themes in Irish American drama and honed in on her interest in modernism, achieving a high pass on her comprehensive exams and graduating as the top student in the department. Lia is a nerd and writes with enthusiasm on topics ranging from Imagism to ductless mini-splits. She is particularly interested in the unreliable narrator and how literature reacted to and was shaped by Victorian forms. Her recent travels have been shamelessly centered around stalking Saint-Exupéry (in Casablanca) and Hemingway (in Havana).

Christie Leonard

Christie graduated from Villanova University in 2017 with a B.A. in English and minors in French, History, and Classical Studies. In 2017, she presented her first major conference paper on Mary Wilkins Freeman at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies National Conference in Philadelphia. She is interested in the Gothic tradition and intersections of literature and medicine in the long nineteenth century. For a few years, she co-taught architectural modeling at the Wallingford Community Art Center and is currently working as a PhD dissertation editor. In her spare time, she is a multimedia artist, and enjoys knitting, cooking, Netflix, Jeopardy! and looking up etymologies. She has a toad named Edgar, a red betta fish called Galahad, and several potted plants.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Angeline Nies-Berger

Forever trapped between twos, foreigner and citizen, francophone and anglophone, and thus forever feeling a little awkward, the only element that's never swayed for Angeline is literature. The interest became official while studying Voltaire and Rousseau in high school and discovering the not-so-subtle intertwining of literature with politics. Today, this curiosity mainly takes roots in feminism, and the daily leitmotiv is to challenge the system. She just graduated from la Sorbonne (Paris, France) with a BA in French Literature and Media, and hopes to pursue with a PhD in Comparative Literature after her MA of English at Villanova. However, she also declares that if she ends up being a published author living on a small ranch with a bunch of horses, that is as great an option as the other similarly ambitious but also exhausting, revolutionary one.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Joe O'Brien

Joe came to Villanova after earning a B.A. in Literature, Language, and Culture from Virginia Tech in 2006, and a Secondary Education Certification in English from West Chester University in 2012. He teaches high school English at his alma mater, Salesianum School in Wilmington DE. He enjoys playing the guitar and the harmonica, as well as coaching--and occasionally playing--rugby. Joe spends the rest of his free time watching Netflix and the Eagles with his pit bull, Ambrosia. His primary literary interests are mainly contemporary, such as Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, and Roddy Doyle. Joe was excited to join the Villanova community just in time to feign allegiance during the National Championship run.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Elizabeth Wood

Liz graduated from Bucknell University too many years ago to remember, with a BA in Geology. It was an erstwhile pursuit, and she’s done nothing with Geology since. Looking for what might fuel her passion more thoroughly, Liz spent the next decade living in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and finally Philadelphia, where she’s now a full-time staff member with Villanova. In her heart of hearts she would have been an English major as an undergrad, and is attempting to rectify that grievous error by joining the VU Grad English department as a student. Still exploring all genres, Liz is reluctant to say what her focus will be, but at the moment she finds the relationship between the interior and exterior self, and how that relationship is addressed in novels, intriguing. Having already hiked Alaskan glaciers and sipped wine in a 16th-century french hamlet, Liz’s free time is now spent with her husband and two boys, finding the briefest respites in a glass of wine or a walk through the park.

Sara Kolojejchick

Sara earned her B.A. in English with her Secondary Education Certification from Immaculata University in 2010.  Since then Sara has been pursuing her career as a teacher, currently teaching high school English at her alma mater.  A New Jersey native but a Winter baby, Sara prefers the snow and the cold to the beach and the heat.  Sara spends her time ringing in two Handbell Ensembles, one of which is the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble (www.phillybells.org). Sara enjoys reading the twisted works of Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, and Chuck Palahniuk but when she has a rare free moment, she enjoys spending it with her "fur-baby", Bacardi, and her friends and family.

AJ DeBonis

A Pennsylvania native, AJ earned his BA in Philosophy from Eastern University in 2010. After working for three years as a sexton at a lovely church in Wynnewood and studying theology at Villanova, he moved to New Haven, CT to complete an MA degree in religious ethics at Yale Divinity School. He is currently interested in the intersections of literature and moral philosophy, meaning and literary form, and values in American literature; Dante, Eliot, and Adam Zagajewski are proving to be lasting companions. He’s married to Patti.