English and Modern Languages Faculty

Donna Bussell

Donna Bussell
English, Professor

Meagan Cass

Meagan Cass
English, Associate Professor

Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins
English, Writing Specialist

Lan Dong

Lan Dong
English, Professor

Scott Fenton
English, Instructor

Stephanie Hedge

Stephanie Hedge
English, Assistant Professor

Tena Helton

Tena Helton
English, Associate Professor

Ethan Lewis

Ethan Lewis
English, Professor

Jennifer Whalen
English, Instructor

Sarah Webb

English, Assistant Professor

Livia Woods
English, Assistant Professor






English Staff

Dr. Donna Bussell

Donna Bussell Professor of English
Ph.D. English, Columbia University

Phone: (217) 206-8091
Office: UHB 3072

Teaching Concentrations: Medieval and Early Modern Literature: Chaucer, Dante, Arthurian romances; devotional literature; liturgy; medieval and early modern women; linguistics; introduction to linguistics; history of the English language; sociolinguistics; digital humanities; Tolkien

“It’s a pleasure to mentor students as they explore ways of presenting their work, prepare applications for scholarships or post-graduate professional programs, or re-think their careers and educational goals.”

Selected Publications:

  • “Contexts for Pastoral Care: Magdalen Liturgies, the Cantus Database, and Cistercian Reform,” Journal of the Alamire Foundation (Brepols: Turnhout) 10:2. (Autumn 2018).
  • “Adgar/William, Le Gracial / The Book of Grace.” Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England Texts and Translations, c.1120- c.1450. Eds. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne,  Thelma Fenster, and Delbert Russell. Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer June 2016.

Learn more about Dr. Bussell.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Dr. Meagan Cass

Meagan CassAssociate Professor of English
Ph.D. English and Creative Writing, University of Louisiana-Lafayette

Phone: (217) 206-8358
Office: UHB 3073

Teaching Concentrations: Creative Writing (with an emphasis in fiction and hybrid genres); contemporary American literature; composition; women’s literature and feminist theory; print and online literary publishing

“I love teaching because I get to learn new things about writing, publishing, and literature from my students every semester.”

Selected Publications:

  • “The Parents’ Guide to Ultrasport Children.” Washington Square Review, Spring 2015. 48
  • “ActivAmerica.” Bluestem, Spring 2015. 49
  • “The All-Mutant Soccer Team.” Joyland Magazine, Fall 2014. 50
  • “American’s Home Video’s Episode 25,857: Helicopter Dad.” DIAGRAM, Issue 14.3, Summer 2014. 51
  • “Interview with the Ghost of Jaws’ First Victim.” Mojo, January 2014. 52
  • “Portrait of My Father as Foosball Man, 1975-2012.” Corium Magazine, 53 Winter 2013.

Learn more about Dr. Cass.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Sarah L. Collins

Sarah CollinsInstructor/Writing Specialist
M.A., University of Illinois Springfield

Phone: (217) 206-8477
Office: BRK 455

Teaching Concentrations: Freshman Composition; Film Studies

“I always look forward to what each new student can teach me just as much as I love instilling a love of learning in them.”

Selected Publications:

  • “Medusa’s Children.” The Alchemist Review. 2014. Print.^M“A Tragic Affair.” The Alchemist Review. 2013. Print.
  • “Elf Quest.” Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Vol. 3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 1014-15. Print.
  • “Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.” Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 1743-45. Print.

Learn more about Ms. Collins.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Dr. Lan Dong

Lan Dong

Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences

Professor of English

Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Phone: (217) 206-8334
Office: UHB 3074

Teaching Concentrations: Asian American literature and culture; world literature; comics and graphic narratives; children’s and young adult literature; women and gender studies

Selected Publications:

Learn more about Dr. Dong.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Scott Fenton

Instructor of English
M.F.A., Creative Writing, Indiana University

Phone: (217) 206-7248
Office: UHB 3017

Teaching Concentrations: First-year writing pedagogy; college composition; creative writing; contemporary short fiction

I hope to teach my students that the texts they produce aren’t just thought experiments—their writing can effect change in the real world.

Selected Publications:

  • “The Boys.” Joyland, October 2018.
  • “Amber Darling.” Split Lip, September 2018.
  • “Possible Origin Stories for an Aspiring Boy Wonder.” Black Warrior Review, Spring/Summer 2017.

Dr. Stephanie Hedge

Stephanie HedgeAssistant Professor of English
Ph.D. English, Rhetoric and Compositions, Ball State University

Phone: (217) 206-8141
Office: UHB 3071

Teaching Concentrations: Rhetoric and composition; digital literacies; freshman composition; writing pedagogies and practices

“I love that, through spreading my passion for language, rhetoric, and literacies, I can help empower students through helping them gain access to languages of power and social change.”

Selected Publications:

  • “Questing Through Class: Gamification in the Professional Writing Classroom.” with Jennifer Grouling and Eva Grouling Snider. Technical Communications and Video Games. Ed. Jennifer DeWinter and Ryan Moeller. Burlington: Ashgate. 2014.

Learn more about Dr. Hedge.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Dr. Tena Helton

Tena Helton

Associate Professor of English
Ph.D. English, Louisiana State University

Phone: (217) 206-7441
Office: UHB 3070

Teaching Concentration: American literature and culture; children’s literature; gothic; film; professional writing

“Good teaching and good learning provides students with access to power. My classroom practices and my overall goals are to empower students within and outside the classroom.”

Selected Publications:

  • “Historiography, Graphic Narrative, and Truth-Telling in David Wong’s Escape to Gold Mountain” in “Drawing (Hi)stories: Rethinking Historical Graphic Narratives” special topic of Status Quaestionis. Publication forthcoming June 2021.
  • “Why our DH Program Died, and What You Can Learn about Saving Yours.” Co-authored with Donna Bussell. Accepted for The Digital Futures of Graduate Study in the Humanities. Debates in the Digital Humanities series (University of Minnesota Press). Expected Summer 2021.
  • “Central Pacific Railroad Recruits Chinese Workers, 1865.” 25 Events that Shaped Asian American History: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic. March 2019.
  • “From Beijing Story to Their Story: Adaptation and Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu.” Co-authored with Lan Dong. Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance. 7:2 (2014). 139-53.
  • “What the White ‘Squaws’ Want from Black Hawk: Gendering the Fan-Celebrity Relationship.” American Indian Quarterly. 34:4 (2010). 498-520.

Learn more about Dr. Helton.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Dr. Ethan Lewis

Ethan LewisAssociate Professor of English
Ph.D. English, Boston College

Phone: (217) 206-7436
Office: UHB 3068

Teaching Concentrations: Shakespeare; Milton; 17th-century literature; 20th-century literature; modern and contemporary poetry

“Closely study one Shakespeare play, for instance, and you have his oeuvre at your behest for the rest of your life. What a treasure trove to enrich your days!”

Selected Publications:

  • The Shakespeare Project and Ensuing Essays (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015)
  • Reflexive Poetics (Cambridge Scholars, 2010)
  • Modernist Image (Cambridge Scholars, 2010)
  • Conundrums for the Long Week-End; England, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Dorothy L. Sayers (Kent State University Press, 2004)

Learn more about Dr. Lewis.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.

Jennifer Whalen

Instructor of English and Modern Languages

M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Texas State University

Phone: (217) 206-8206
Office: UHB 3067

Research and Writing Interests: college composition; poetry; film and television; creative writing

“I love teaching because it is a daily reminder of the immense work words do.”

Selected Publications: 

  • “The Gold Door.” Southern Indiana Review Issue 23.2, Fall 2016.
  • “Hands Full.” New South Issue 9.2, Fall 2016.
  • “Outside Rushing In.” Gulf Coast, Issue 28.2, Summer/Fall 2016.

Learn more about Jennifer Whalen.

Dr. Sarah Webb

Headshot Sarah Webb

Assistant Professor of English
Ph.D. in English, Louisiana State University

Office: UHB 3073

Research and Writing Interests: creative writing; digital media; literacy; global advocacy; colorism
“I love seeing students get excited about using language or literature as a tool for investigating the ideas and issues they’re most passionate about, and oftentimes that idea or issue is language itself.”
Selected Publications:
  • “I’ve Never Experienced White Guilt” (Teaching Tolerance, 2018)
  • “Colorism in police killings of unarmed blacks: A retrospective descriptive analysis from 1999-2014” (Western Journal of Black Studies, 2018)
  • “Mentions and Melanin: Exploring the Colorism Discourse and Twitter Culture” (Color struck: How race and complexion matter in the “color-blind” era, 2017)


Dr. Livia Woods

Assistant Professor of English
Ph.D. English, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Phone: (217) 206-8406
Office: UHB 3078

Teaching Concentrations: British literature and culture, Victorian literature and culture, genre literatures, methods and practice in literary scholarship, representations of gender in literature, composition and rhetoric, medical humanities

Selected Publications:

  • “The Victorian Ethics of Reading Pregnancy in Contemporary Bestselling Fiction” Manuscript 20 pp. Synapsis: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities. Arden Hegele and Rishi Goyal, eds. Forthcoming from Emerald Publishing.
  • “Generations in, Generations of: Pregnancy in Jane Austen.” Women’s Writing, 26.2 (Spring 2019), pp. 1-17.
  • “Not-So-Great Expectations: Pregnancy and Syphilis in Sarah Grand’s The Heavenly Twins.” Syphilis and Subjectivity: From the Victorians to the Present. M. Kari Nixon and Lorenzo Servitje, eds. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. pp 115-136.
  • “Practicing Canon-Formation in the Digital Classroom.” Article for special issue of Nineteenth Century Gender Studies on “Teaching Nineteenth-Century Literature and Gender in the Twenty-First Century Classroom,” Eds. Lara Karpenko and Lauri Dietz. (Summer 2016).
  • “Introduction to Relations: Literary Marketplaces, Affects, and Bodies of 18th- and 19th-Century  Women Writers.” Nineteenth Century Gender Studies, Issue 11.3 (Winter 2016). (With Julia Fuller and Meechal Hoffman, CUNY Graduate Center), manuscript 7pp.
  • “’What are they to do with their lives?’: Anglican Sisterhoods and Useful Angels in Three Novels by Charlotte Mary Yonge.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 37.2 (Spring 2015), pp. 147-163. Republished in Routledge Historical Resources: History of Feminism, ed. Ann Heilmann.
  • “Now You See It: Concealing and Revealing Pregnant Bodies in Wuthering Heightsand The Clever Woman of the Family.Victorian Network 6.1 (Summer 2015), pp. 32-53.

Emerita Faculty

Dr. Sara Cordell

Sara CordellAssociate Professor of English, Emrita
Ph.D. English, University of Missouri

Phone: (217) 206-7213 23
Office: UHB 3066

Teaching Concentrations: Nineteenth-century British literature; literary theory

“Literature shows us our common humanity. It enriches our lives, broadens our perspectives, and furnishes our minds with language to say that for which we have no words. The value of literature is both intrinsic and invaluable. That’s why I love it and love sharing that love with my students.”

Research Interests: “My research focuses on the intersection between literature and psychoanalysis insofar as literature itself is a symptom. Currently, I’m working on a book that argues that the novels of the Brontës provided each sister an aesthetic means of giving form and expression to unspeakable grief and loss. In addition, I’ve published peer-reviewed articles and given numerous papers on literature and psychoanalysis at regional and national conferences.”

Learn more about Dr. Cordell.
To view more selected publications, visit our faculty bookshelf.