Faculty News

Lorena Russell receiving the 2016 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award.

On May 7, 2016, at UNC Asheville's spring Commencement Ceremony, Professor Lorena Russell received the 2016 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award.


In February 2019, Amanda Wray was interviewed by Blue Ridge Public Radio about collecting oral histories from members of the LGBTQ+ community. The interview is available for streaming here.

David Hopes' play, Night Music, opened at the Magnetic Theatre on February 1, 2018. Two UNCA drama students will perform lead roles. Night Music won the North Carolina Playwrights Prize for 2017.

In fall 2016, Amanda Wray was granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.

Lecturers Brian Graves and Jessica Pisano were elected to serve on the board of the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators.  Jessica will be a representative at-large for North Carolina, and Brian will serve as the organization's secretary.  The CWPA holds two conferences per year, builds panels for national conferences, and works to shape the curriculum and build community across the Carolinas.

David Hopes' play, Night Music, premiered at the 15th annual Greensboro Fringe Festival on January 19th.

Professor David Hopes was on the production team of Pierre, Natasha, and the Great Comet of 1812, a musical starring Josh Groban, which opened on Broadway on November 14.

David Hopes' oratorio, The Birth of Color, was accepted into the October 2016 Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, an annual fine-arts fringe festival held in Budapest, Hungary.

Wiley Cash's first novel A Land More Kind Than Home has been named the 2016 Common Book by the University of Alabama Honors College. In late September, Wiley will spend three days on campus at the University of Alabama meeting with classes and giving public lectures and readings.

A Land More Kind Than Home was also named the 2016 county-wide reads selection by Greenwood County, SC. Wiley spent Wednesday, October 5 speaking to local students in Greenwood County.  Throughout the month of October, local libraries will host book discussions and other programs focusing on the novel. 

The Eighth Annual Queer Girls Literary Reading - a fantastic evening of original readings by your favorite literary queer girls! - took place Sunday, August 28, at the Mothlight in West Asheville.  Professor Lori Horvitz, Director of Creative Writing and of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, started this series in 2009.

This year's lineup included:

Lockie Hunter
Meta Commerse
Lori Horvitz
Jessica Jacobs
Melanie McNair
Nickole Brown
Mandy Gardner

Professor David Hopes' play Washington Place was presented at the Great Plains Theater Conference and was chosen "best local production" in 2015 by the Mountain Xpress. His oratorio The Birth of Color premieres at the Kicelli Theater in Budapest, Hungary in October, 2016. His brief play, Waiting for the Witch, written as a class project in Readings in the Drama, has had two production on the West Coast in 2016. On stage in the past year, he has been "the bass" in NC Stage's smash All Is Calm, Finbar in The Weir, Camillo in The Winter's Tale, and Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has just finished his Asheville novel, The Lexington Tract, and is readying for a production of Uranium 235, a comedy about the atom bomb, at the Magnetic Theater.


This March, four professors will be on panels at the 2018 AWP conference in Tampa. Rick Chess will give a poetry reading on March 8. On March 10, he will moderate a panel discussion entitled, "The Ganesh in the Room: Speaking of Faith in the Literary Community." On March 9, David Hopes will be part of, "Taking up the Quill: Queer Representation through Writing, Awards, and Publication." Wiley Cash's panel, "The Gift of the Grind: Writing Your Way Through," will be on March 8. On March 10, Lori Horvitz will be on a panel entitled, "Truer Words Were Never Spoken: On the Challenges of Writing About Family in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir."

In June 2017, Amanda Wray presented a paper, entitled “Place-Based Oral History Research as Creative Writing Pedagogy," at the Conference of the International Federation for Public History, in Ravenna, Italy.

In April 2017, Amanda Wray was a workshop leader at the Multicultural Women’s Development Conference in Hayesville, NC, from April 21-22. Dr. Ameena Batada (Health and Wellness) will be co-leading the workshop.

On March 30, 2017, Evan Gurney presented at the Renaissance Society of America's annual conference in Chicago, IL.

In mid-March 2017, Kirk Boyle, Brian Graves, and Amanda Wray presented at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication.  Dr. Wray's presentation was entitled, "Cultivating Rhetorics of Interruption as Feminist Praxis in Rhetoric and Composition Studies."

On February 17, 2017, Amanda Wray, Jessica Pisano, Brian Graves, and Dee James attended the Writing Program Administrator's Meeting in the Middle Conference in Charlotte, NC.

In February 2017, Lori Horvitz gave a presentation at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Washington, DC.  The following week, Lori attended the San Miguel Writers Conference.

On November 15, Kirk Boyle delivered a lecture, "Ontological Difference and the World-Ecological Crisis of the Capitalocene," at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Boyle's alma mater.  The lecture was sponsored by the Ropes Lectureship Endowment.

Erica Abrams Locklear was on the planning committee for the 2016 Appalachian Food Summit, held at Berea College in Kentucky from September 16-17.  She also presented a paper, "Eager and Reluctant: Culinary Tourism in Appalachia."  Around 100 people attended the day programming on Saturday.  160 people attended the ticketed dinner Saturday evening.  Write-ups of the summit were published in the Lexington Herald Leader and in the Chicago Tribune.

This past July, Lori Horvitz was a writing fellow at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. In February of 2017, she will be on a panel at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, “Triggered Writing/Creative Warnings: On Writing About Trauma and Trigger Warnings in the Creative Writing Classroom and Community.” In February, she will also teach two workshops and participate on a memoir-writing panel at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival.

Professor Lorena Russell continues to direct the university's quality enhancement program (QEP) on critical thinking, the Inquiry ARC. In fall 2015, she and Judith Beck (Dept. of Physics) presented on Inquiry ARC at the "Research on Teaching and Learning Summit" in Kennisaw, GA. In summer 2016, she attended the SACS-COC Summer Institute on Student Learning.

In July, Jessica Pisano, Dee James, and Patrick Bahls (Depts. of Mathematics and Honors) presented “Transitioning Identities in WPA Work” at the 2016 Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference in Raleigh, NC.

At the Renaissance Society of America’s 2016 conference in Boston, Evan Gurney presented a paper entitled “Bad Nourishment: John Milton and Prophetic Indigestion.”


In summer 2015, Jessica Pisano presented a paper, "Enhancing Connections: Sustaining Service-Learning in Freshman Composition," at the Council of Writing Program Administrators 2015 Conference.

Brian Graves and Jessica Pisano led a panel discussion, "Supporting and Sustaining our Faculty and Ourselves," at the Fall 2015 Carolina Writing Program Administrators Conference.

In October 2015, Merritt Moseley participated in two international conferences.  From October 2-4 he was a keynote speaker at a Polish/English language conference on Scholars as Fictionists, or On-/Off-Campus Creative Writing and ‘Pictures From an Institution’: Academy Across Time and Media at the University of Gdansk, Poland.  From October 14-15 Dr. Moseley attended a conference called LOL! Comedy, Humour and Satire in the Literature and Visual Arts of the 20th and 21st Centuries in Britain, at the Ecole Normale Superieure of Lyon, France, where he presented an invited paper on novelist Jonathan Coe.

Also in October 2015, Amanda Wray and Jessica Pisano presented their LANG 120 service learning curriculum at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder, Colorado. In November, in collaboration with Dr. Elise Verzosa Hurley from Illinois State University and with Dr. Erica Cirillo McCarthy from Stanford University, Amanda presented at the National Women's Studies Association Conference, hosting a storytelling project on sexism in the academy.

Honors & Awards

Tamiko Murray was awarded the 2016 CoThinkk Community Leadership Award.  Congratulations, Tamiko!

David Hopes' play, Night Music, was selected to be the next New Play Project at the 15th Annual Greensboro Fringe Festival in Greensboro, NC, from January 19-22, 2017.  As the Festival's kick-off event, Night Music will receive a full production from the Drama Center.

Wiley Cash has been named the 2017 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence by Shepherd University. One of his novels will be named a statewide read by the West Virginia Center for the Book, and in September 2017 he will spend several days on campus at Shepherd University meeting with classes and giving public lectures and readings. Current and previous writers-in-residence include Nikki Giovanni, Charles Frazier, Bobbi Ann Mason, and Silas House.

Assistant Professor Evan Gurney was awarded a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.  The grant will be used to help fund the English Department's upcoming Faith in Literature Festival, from October 21-22.  This is the first time the department has received an Arts Council grant!  Many thanks to Evan for all of his hard work!

Professor Lorena Russell received the 2016 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, UNC Asheville’s original teaching award.  She was nominated for Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award by one of her students, who said Professor Russell “stimulates insightful discussion from everyone in the class, herself included, and is able to do so in an encouraging, not forced, manner.”  The award was presented at the May Commencement Ceremony.

Associate Professor Lori Horvitz was richly honored at the May 2015 faculty meeting, being named the 2014-15 recipient of the Teaching Excellence in University Programs Award and the 2014-15 Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award. Horvitz's book, The Girls of Usually, was published in January of 2015, by the Truman State University Press. It consists of autobiographical essays; one reviewer sums them up as "deeply intimate and wickedly funny."

Rick Chess received a $5,000 grant from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society to support the use of contemplative pedagogy at UNC Asheville.

Katherine Min was notified by the Treasurer of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation that she won the Sherwood Anderson Foundation grant for fiction writing. It's an annual award set up by his trust, worth $15,000.

Erica Abrams Locklear received the University Scholarly and Creative Activity for the 2012-'13 academic year in recognition of her many articles, conference presentations, and her book, Negotiating a Perilous Empowerment: Appalachian Women's Literacies, published by Ohio University Press.

David Hopes's short story, "Saturdays He Drove the Ford Pick-up," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The story appeared in Ruminate, a quarterly literary arts magazine described as "chewing on life, faith, and art." The story won first place in the William Van Dyke Short Story Prizes.

Recent Publications

David Hopes' short story, "Coffee at the Dortheergasse," will appear in Slippery Elm magazine.

A poem by David Hopes, "The Soul's Capacity to Bear Sadness," was published online in One magazine by Jacar Press.

Amanda Wray contributed a chapter, "STEM Histories: Complicating Dominant (Object-Oriented) Narratives," to Oral History and Education, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Amanda Wray's recent article, "Region, Race, and Ethos: One Teacher’s Story on Racism in Two Places" appeared in Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture.  The article explores negotiating racism in two different, predominantly-white, university contexts and provides strategies for teaching colorblindness as white privilege.

Two essays by Amanda Wray, "Teaching Professional Writing and Anti-Oppression Rhetorics" and "Feminist Rhetorical Praxis: Everyday Feminism as Public Agora," were published in Res Rhetorica: Polish Society of Rhetoric.  The latter essay was co-authored with Elise Verzosa Hurley.

David Hopes' short story, "In a Dark Field," has been published in Steel Toe Review, Volume 4.  The story is partially set on the campus of UNC Asheville.

This, That and The Third, a work of creative non-fiction by adjunct lecturer Abigail Hickman, was published by Grateful Steps in August 2016.

"Certain Things," a poem by David Hopes, was selected for inclusion in Scribner's Best American Poetry of 2016.

Love Nailed to the Doorpost, a new collection of poems by Richard Chess, will be published by University of Tampa Press in March 2017.

Two of David Hopes' poems, "On Surviving a Lecture on Foucault" and "To Siddhartha, While Going to the Gym," were published in issue ten of the Prairie Wolf Review.

David Hopes' short story, "Bonhanno's Death," will be published in a forthcoming issue of Yemassee Review.

In autumn 2016, Lorena Russell submitted an article co-authored with Lyndi Hewitt (Dept. of Sociology), "A Tale of Two Collaborators," on applied inquiry-guided learning. Dr. Russell's ongoing projects include work on queer identities in Virginia Woolf's novels and essays.

Jessica Pisano and Patrick Bahls (of Mathematics and Honors) co-authored a chapter, “Equity in Honors: An Academic Oxymoron?” in the recently published Challenges and Promises in the Future of Honors Education (2016).

Kirk Boyle's book, The Rhetoric of Humor: A Bedford Spotlight Reader, was published by Bedford/St. Martin's in August 2016. The single-theme readers in the Bedford Spotlight Reader Series collect thoughtfully chosen readings sufficient for an entire writing course—about 35 selections—to allow instructors to provide carefully developed, high-quality instruction at an affordable price. The Rhetoric of Humor explores questions around the central concept of humor and comedic writing: What takes place when we laugh? When might jokes be inappropriate? What is the role of humor in a democratic society? How does one write an effective comedic argument? Readings by comedians, philosophers, journalists, cartoonists, sociologists, activists and others take up these issues and more. Questions and assignments for each selection provide a range of activities for students, while the website for the Spotlight Series offers comprehensive instructor support with sample syllabi and additional teaching resources.

Evan Gurney’s article, “Going Rogue: Spenser and the Vagrants,” was published in Studies in Philology 133.3 (Summer 2016), and this summer his poems have appeared in Angle: Journal of Poetry in English, Dappled Things, and Relief.

Merritt Moseley's book, Pat Barker: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism, has been published by Palgrave Macmillan publishers in the UK.

Amanda Wray and Patrick Bahls (of Mathematics and Honors) collaborated on an article, "LaTeXnics: The Effect of Specialized Typesetting Software on STEP Students' Composition Processes," which was published in the September 2015 issue of Computers and Composition: An International Journal.

Kirk Boyle's edited collection, The Great Recession in Fiction, Film, and Television: Twenty-First-Century Bust Culture, was released by Lexington Books in October 2015.  His contribution to The Zizek Dictionary, "Historicism/Historicity," was published in February 2015 by Acumen Publishing.

Special Events

David Hopes has an art show, "Works on Wood," opening at the Flood Gallery on Saturday, March 3.  The show runs through April 7.

On February 18, 2017 adjunct lecturer Abigail Hickman read from her book, This, That and the Third, at Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe.

Wiley Cash joined his brother, comedian Cliff Cash, as the featured speakers at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County's ninth annual Authors for Literacy Dinner and Silent Auction on Friday, October 14, 2016.

On Thursday, October 17, Wiley was in-conversation with New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Lethem at Malaprop's at 7 p.m. Tickets available at http://www.malaprops.com.

On Tuesday, October 25, he was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner for the Historical Book Club of North Carolina in Greensboro.

In May 2016, along with such notable authors as Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), and Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain), UNCA faculty Wiley Cash and Lori Horvitz participated in Authors for Action: Kill the Bill, a fundraising event organized by Malaprop’s Bookstore to raise money for local organizations in their efforts to repeal HB2 and overcome the harm it has caused in our community. Authors read their responses to the same writing prompt to a packed house at the Asheville Community Theatre.