English faculty receive numerous honors

Faculty in the Department of English recently have received numerous honors.

Associate Professor of Literature Susan Harlan won first prize for the 2017 Mark Twain House & Museum Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest for her series of literary humor pieces entitled “Great House Therapy,” currently available on The Toast. Sponsored by the Mark Twain House and Museum, the annual contest specializes in humor writing. An expanded series of Harlan’s columns will be published as a book called Great House Therapy by Abrams in October 2018. To read more of Harlan’s humor writing, see her posts for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Assistant Teaching Professor of Writing Eric Ekstrand has been awarded a Tulsa Artist Fellowship by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The Foundation awards fellowships to between 20 and 30 national and Tulsa-based visual artists and writers each year, offering them “creative freedom to pursue their craft and contribute to a thriving art community.” Fellows work in residence on public art, education, and community projects in addition to producing other original work during the fellowship year. The program provides housing, studio space, and a stipend to support artists and their families for a year. As a TAF Fellow, Ekstrand plans to continue working on a second collection of poems that is already underway and studying the global lyric tradition. His husband Danny and their dog Ella will travel with him.

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Joanna Ruocco will spend the winter of 2018 at Yaddo, one of the nation’s oldest and most established artist colonies. Ruocco was awarded a Yaddo residency fellowship to work on a new novel-in-progress. This honor puts Ruocco in distinguished company among Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Fellowship, National Book Award and Nobel Prize recipients. Ruocco also will travel to read at the University of British Columbia for the official launch of her most recent book, The Weekand will travel as well to the University of Maine—Orono and Eastern Michigan University to read as part of their visiting writer series.

In late September, Assistant Professor of Literature Sarah Hogan gave an invited lecture at the Matters of Invention symposium, sponsored by the University of Cyprus. This small, two-day conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, brought together international scholars devoted to the study of utopian literature and early modernity.  Her talk, “Narrating the Novum: Utopia and the Question of Origins,” considered how Thomas More’s Utopia has the potential to shape contemporary historical narratives about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, in ways that acknowledge its immanent, multiple, contested, geographically displaced, and crucially, cultural (as well as social) origins. Hogan is the author of the forthcoming monograph, Other Englands: Utopia, Capital, and Empire in an Age of Transition (Stanford UP, 2018).

Categories: Faculty News

Thonhauser named 2017 American Physical Society Fellow

The American Physical Society has elected Associate Professor of Physics Timo Thonhauser among its 2017 APS Fellows.

The APS Fellowship Program recognizes members who have made exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise, including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.

APS Fellowship is a distinct honor as every Fellow is nominated by his or her peers. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society’s membership is elected to the status of Fellow.

The APS recognized Thonhauser for his contributions to include van der Waals interactions in density functional theory.

Thonhauser’s research group at Wake Forest conducts research in theoretical and computational condensed-matter physics and materials science with a focus on the development of ab-initio electronic-structure methods and their application to bio-, nano-, and energy-related materials. These theoretical studies go hand-in-hand with experimental research and provide the necessary framework to understand the behavior and characteristics of materials. Such knowledge is the basis for the design of new, improved, and advanced materials with direct applications to all areas of technology.

His most recent research includes a new method for capturing radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, this technique is cheaper and more effective than current methods, and may be a potential boon for the energy industry. Read more at

Categories: Faculty News

Wake Forest University Press to host housewarming reception

This is a guest post from the Wake Forest University Press:

Wake Forest University Press is hosting a housewarming reception on Friday, Nov. 3, to celebrate a new office space at 2518 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106. The press will be open to the public for a come-and-go gathering from 4:30–6:30 p.m., and light hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served. Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson will open the reception with a poem, Celtic duo CandelFirth will provide festive live music, and memorabilia from 40 years of WFU Press history will be on display. RSVPs are appreciated by Oct. 27. Email or call 336-758-5448.

Wake Forest University Press has made its name as the premier publisher of Irish poetry in North America. The press was founded in 1975 by former Professor of English Dillon Johnston with the help of then Provost Ed Wilson and the university administration. It has published some of the most distinguished poets from Ireland, including Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, among others, and brought many a poet to Winston-Salem for readings over the years.

The WFU Press office has been located on the Wake Forest campus throughout its 40-year history, most recently in the basement of Tribble Hall. In spring 2017, the university granted the press a new space just off the Reynolda campus. The new building accommodates all of the WFU Press staff, as well as warehousing space for books and a room for small events and poetry readings.

For more information, contact press manager Amanda Keith at or telephone 336-758-5448.

Categories: EventsInside WFU

National leaders gathering at Wake Forest to "Rethink Community"

For three days in October, Wake Forest is bringing together national thought-leaders across the ideological spectrum to discuss what it means to live in a society that is more diverse, polarized, global and virtual than at any time in the past.

Called the Rethinking Community Conference, it will take place Oct. 19-21.  Registration details for the conference are available at its website.  The website offers information on the conference schedule, dates and times of events, as well as locations.

Hosted by the Eudaimonia Institute and the Pro Humanitate Institute, the conference will feature timely discussions about free speech and safe spaces, the fight to end or defend DACA, a conversation about free press and fake news, and the powerful interplay of politics and sports today.  Journalists, politicians, scholars and public intellectuals will participate in the discussions.

A University news release about the conference is available here.  A separate news release focuses on a conference panel discussion that will explore the role of sports in community and address related tensions.

Categories: EventsInside WFU

Remembering Trustee John Medica

With great sadness, President Nathan Hatch has informed the Board of Trustees of the passing of University Trustee and dear friend John Medica. He died peacefully Friday in Reston, Virginia, surrounded by his wife, Megan, and his family and friends. He was 59 years old.

Medica received his MBA from Wake Forest in 1983, and enjoyed a dynamic career in the high tech industry at the leading edge of innovation. John met the love of his life, Megan Salzman (MA ’83), at Wake Forest and they were married in 1985. He joined the Business School Board of Visitors in 2001, and became a member of Board of Trustees in 2009.

“We are all stunned and suddenly bereft of someone who, in his unique way, formed a special friendship with all of us. John Medica has made deep and lasting contributions to every cause with which he has been associated, and certainly to Wake Forest. He will be dearly missed,” Hatch said.