The candidates' biographies and statements of purpose follow. Please vote online before February 1, 2020, 11:59 PM Eastern.

Second Vice President

Joseph Valente


Joseph Valente is Distinguished Professor in English and Disability Studies at the University at Buffalo. He is the author of James Joyce and the Problem of Justice: Negotiating Sexual and Colonial Difference, Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness and the Question of Blood, and The Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922 and co-author of The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature: Writing the Unspeakable, forthcoming from Indiana University Press. He is also the editor of several volumes, including Quare Joyce, Urban Ireland, Disciplinarity at the Fin de Siecle (with Amanda Anderson), Ireland in Psychoanalysis (with Sean Kennedy), and Yeats and Afterwords (with Marjorie Howes). In addition, he has published more than 60 essays in Irish and Disability Studies, and his work has appeared in Critical Inquiry, Diacritics, Novel, ELH, Modern Fiction Studies, Narrative, The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability, The Journal of Modern Literature, The James Joyce Quarterly, and The Journal of Religious and Critical Theory. His current monograph, Against Type: The Emergence of an Autistic Literature, looks at the formation as a new autistic canon modern narrative art.

Statement of Purpose

My agenda as second Vice President of NeMLA will be to foster and support ever increasing opportunities for graduate students to participate in the scrum of scholarly discourse at the highest level, to develop ways of rewarding excellence in the junior members of our organization, and to mentor them in the ways of providing a like service to their junior colleagues as they themselves ascend the ranks. Because newer additions to any project make their most significant contributions by introducing new things—new ideas, new angles of vision, new critical paradigms—bolstering participation and, by extension, their professional prospect requires us to maintain a studied openness to innovation in the technology of intellectual exchange. To this end, I will be looking to affirm and assist in NeMLA’s commitment to experimental program design and to extend its implementation thereof, in particular its efforts to develop platforms for bringing creative and critical work into the conversation.

As the Treasurer of the International Yeats’ Society, I am especially attuned to the importance of smaller, topic-specific academic groups to the endeavor of knowledge production and with this in mind, I want to explore means for widening NeMLA’s network of allied organizations. 

Finally, I intend to work with the Director of NeMLA, Carine Mardrossian, in establishing the physical, social, technical, and intellectual conditions for a truly galvanizing and memorable conference here at the University at Buffalo in the near future. 

British and Anglophone Studies Area Director

Dewey W. Hall


Dewey W. Hall is Professor of English at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, where he teaches courses about English Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian writers. He is the author of the monograph Romantic Naturalists, Early Environmentalists: An Ecocritical Study, 1789-1912 (Routledge 2014), featuring a discussion about literary origins behind the National Parks in America and National Trust in England. The work for the study was supported through a short-term fellowship at The Huntington Library. He has published two edited collections: Romantic Ecocriticism: Origins and Legacies (Lexington 2016) and Victorian Ecocriticism: The Politics of Place and Early Environmental Justice (Lexington 2017). For the past two years, he has been part of a research cohort, featuring an interdisciplinary program in Literature and Art through St. Catherine's College, Oxford University. Currently, he is co-editor of Gendered Ecologies: New Materialist Interpretations of Women Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century forthcoming from Clemson University Press in late fall 2019. He has been involved avidly in the NeMLA conferences chairing and/or presenting annually since 2011 and will be chairing the New Materialist panel and presenting at the 2020 conference.

Statement of Purpose

As Anglophone/British Literature Director, I aim to be current and inclusive in the planning, coordination, and placement of panels in the program at annual conferences. I will seek to work with the Board of Directors in shaping a vision for the direction of the NeMLA and the preparation involved for the annual conferences. I will help to vet panel proposals and work with panel chairs with approved proposals to facilitate relevant panel topics with rigorous research from the respective presenters. I hope to continue to build upon the success of previous directors in expanding the panels to include more women writers through ecocritical and new materialist approaches to their literary and non-literary discourses. As intersectionality is an important domain, I hope to engage in expanding panels to cover this area of research. Thank you for your consideration.

Thomas Lynn


Dr. Thomas Jay Lynn is Associate Professor of English at Penn State Berks. His teaching and scholarly interests include African, Anglophone, postcolonial, and ancient literatures, composition, and the music of the Beatles. At Penn State Berks Tom is Coordinator of the Associate Degree in Letters, Arts and Sciences and is a Global Studies faculty member. His book, Chinua Achebe and the Politics of Narration: Envisioning Language, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. Tom’s writing on African literature has been published in several books and in numerous refereed journals, including Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literature, College Literature, English Studies in Africa, and Matatu. Anglophone and British authors on whom Tom has focused include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, E. M Forster, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, and Amos Tutuola. Tom has presented papers at a wide range of national and international conferences, including at universities in England, France, and South Africa. He has given five different NeMLA convention presentations and has organized three NeMLA convention panels focused on the portrayal of women in West African literature. Presently he is organizing for NeMLA’s 2020 convention in Boston a panel recognizing the 60th anniversary of Achebe’s second novel, No Longer at Ease. Tom has mentored numerous graduate students and a post-doctoral student through NeMLA initiatives. He served for five years on the Reading Public Library Board of Trustees and has moderated a wide range of book and current events discussions at Berks County libraries. He also has volunteered with numerous humanitarian groups.

Statement of Purpose

My purpose, if elected as NeMLA’s Anglophone/British Director, is to contribute conscientiously and effectively to NeMLA’s own mission of building a humane intellectual forum distinguished by diversity, inclusiveness, and scholarly excellence. I would work to ensure the continuation of NeMLA’s multi-cultural ethos while promoting broad-minded dialogue among scholars at varied career stages. The Anglophone/British Director is responsible for guiding the organization in two prominent literary areas. The Anglophone world continues to expand its literary offerings as well as the number of authors who have attained global recognition, while British writers, who are studied globally, have influenced generations of Anglophone writers. In many cases contemporary British authors confront the legacies of British colonialism in their work, so the relationship between Anglophone and British writing is complex, vital, and evolving. The Anglophone/British Director has the important responsibility of ensuring that varied perspectives on these literatures be given opportunities for expression and recognition. As one who has organized three NeMLA panels on African writing and its portrayal of women, I appreciate, too, that incorporating diverse voices on these global literatures is limited by financial challenges faced by many international scholars. On multiple occasions, proposals that I had accepted for these panels did not develop into NeMLA presentations because the international scholars, including graduate students, did not have the financial wherewithal to attend. So, as Anglophone/British Director, I would endeavor to expand resources available to these scholars and to ensure the promotion of additional accommodation options to make participation more affordable for them.

Diversity Caucus President

Maryann DiEdwardo


Maryann DiEdwardo was the Vice President of the Northeast Modern Language Association's CAITY Caucus, 2014-2016. She teaches English composition and literature for the University of Maryland Global Campus and acts as a Writing Coach in Research Methods for Lehigh University Graduate School of Computer Science and Engineering. Her recent publications include Spatializing Social Justice: Literary Critiques; The Significance of the Writing of Thomas Merton, Cultivating Peace; American Women Writers, Poetics and the Nature of Gender Study; Teaching Writing Based on Journaling Concepts of Thoreau; and Rhetorical Analysis and Metacognitive Pedagogy. Author of the memoir The Legacy of Katharine Hepburn, DiEdwardo was also interviewed by Bertrand Tessier for the documentary Les couples mythiques du cinéma - Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (2017). 

Statement of Purpose

My passion is to speak on diversity, and I have been doing that for the last 25 years. I have written books on American women writers. I am currently writing a book on hermeneutics Metacognition and Writing that has a diverse number of scholars who are participating and contributing. This book is a result of my speaking at the NeMLA conference in 2018 on diversity. In 2015, I also spoke on diversity at the NeMLA conference and was granted a book contract by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The essays address a number of issues concerning the LGBTQA community, the African-American community, feminism, and other issues such as immigration. I’ve been teaching immigration issues at Lehigh University for the past 12 years and currently I am hired at Lehigh University as a teacher of diverse PhD candidates in research.

Jennifer Mdurvwa


I currently work in the University at Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences as a Graduate Enrollment Coordinator for our programs in the arts and humanities, and am also our lead coordinator for diversity recruitment. I graduated from Loyola University Maryland with my BA in Spanish Language and Literatures, and from the University at Buffalo with my MA in Spanish Literature and an Ed.M. in Higher Education Administration. I currently serve as the chair for NeMLA’s Undergraduate Research Forum.

Statement of Purpose

I first heard of NeMLA as a graduate student in UB’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, studying Spanish Literature. As a student in the department, my research interests focused on the North African immigrant experience in Spain, and the clash between cultures and religions as it echoed Spain’s invasion and colonization of Northern African counties in previous centuries. I did not have a chance to present my research at NeMLA then, but was re-introduced to the organization when I met Carine Mardorossian at a recruitment event for UB’s Department of English. We met again a few weeks later, where Carine proposed the idea of creating an Undergraduate Research Forum for NeMLA’s 50th Anniversary Convention last year. This initiative is close to my heart because I never had such an experience as a Spanish Literature undergraduate student, and wasn’t even aware that these opportunities might exist for me. Thanks to Carine’s support, I chaired NeMLA’s 1st Undergraduate Research Forum, and presented on two panels. I was honored and moved to also have been able to attend the talks by Homi Bhabi and Imbolo Imbue. I’m very much looking forward to attending the 2020 convention and chairing the 2nd Undergraduate Research Forum, and hope to be able to do it as Board Representative for the Diversity Caucus.

Prior to coming to the University at Buffalo, I worked for a non-profit where the main component of my job was to deliver cultural based programs in the Baltimore area. I worked extensively with after school programs like the Boys and Girls Club, to teach underserved youth about the importance of cultural sensitivity and learning to work and get along with people that were different from them. Though I worked with a diverse group of students, their understanding of the world around them ended at the Baltimore city line. Seeing the excitement in their eyes as they learned about cultures completely different from their own, while also creating art that represented their own neighborhoods solidified my passion for both cultural and diversity education, and for working with underrepresented groups.

As a recent graduate of UB’s Graduate School of Education, my research interests have shifted to the unintended consequences that governmental policies have on underrepresented groups, such as prison reform and policies like the “Three Strikes Rule.” My experience in the humanities and in higher education have culminated in the position I currently hold as a Graduate Coordinator in UB’S College of Arts and Sciences for our programs in the arts and humanities. I love being able to tie in my own training in critical theory and experience as a graduate student in the humanities with my passion for working in students affairs, and my background provides me with a certain authenticity when speaking with prospective graduate students. I also work on our diversity outreach and recruitment, which focuses a lot on undergraduate research programs like the McNair Scholars program and the California Diversity Forum. As a person of color, I am also uniquely qualified to speak to these students about what it is like being a student of color pursuing a graduate degree at a research university. I hope that my background and previous experiences in the humanities and in diversity recruitment and education demonstrate my commitment to continuing such initiatives within NeMLA, and I welcome the opportunity to serve as the Board Representative for the Diversity Caucus.

German Studies Area Director

Thomas Herold


After studying German Literature, Theology, and Philosophy in Berlin and Zurich (MA 2002), Thomas Herold moved to the United States, where he taught German at Brown University, interned at Berghahn Books in New York City, and then studied at Harvard where he received his PhD in 2010. His first book deals with time and narrative in 20th century novels by Hermann Broch, Thomas Mann and Uwe Johnson (Zeit Erzählen, Rombach 2016). He has published articles on Gryphius, Goethe, and Friedrich Kittler, among others, and co-edited a volume on Uwe Johnson. He is currently working on a book on religion and Thomas Mann, as well as a project on the concept of Heimat.

Statement of Purpose

My name is Thomas Herold and I am an Associate Professor of German at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where I have reintroduced the German Major, grown the German Minor, and helped launch a new interdisciplinary Language, Business & Culture major. Language pedagogy and program building have always been of special interest to me and complemented or overlapped with my research agenda. Since 2006, I have participated in, organized, and co-organized numerous panels and roundtable discussions at NeMLA conventions on both German literary and cultural studies as well as pedagogy and program development. As Area Director of German studies, I would like to further strengthen the ties between language learning and great literature, as well as between curricular development and cultural studies, and I would promote and develop panels that emphasize interdisciplinary approaches. It is my conviction that undergraduate education today, especially in the modern languages, requires new ideas and approaches, and I believe that this necessity should be reflected in the discussions and contributions at the NeMLA conventions.

Charles Vannette


Charles Vannette is an Assistant Professor of German at the University of New Hampshire, where he teaches all levels of language and culture courses and directs a summer study abroad program in Berlin. Prior to New Hampshire, Charles spent four years at Ferris State University in Michigan. He has published pedagogical papers as well as articles on Robert Walser and Heinrich von Kleist. His primary research focus is on the writings of Robert Walser and in the field of cognitive studies. Charles received his degree in German from Ohio State University in 2011.  

Statement of Purpose

I seek the position of German Studies Director out of concern for our discipline. My career has been in small German programs and I live the daily struggles that many of us face. Decreasing enrollment. Restrictive budgets. Time to degree. These challenges aren’t going anywhere, and I am deeply concerned about international education in the North American university. Our job, above all else, is to teach.  

As director, I would continue NeMLA’s tradition of promoting challenging panels and of providing opportunities to a diverse body of scholars. But I would also like to see an increased focus on curricular innovation in our organization. 

If elected, a primary focus will be on creativity within our programs and classrooms, with an emphasis on creating opportunities for growth. By this I mean student growth, as well as growing our enrollment. The two go hand-in-hand. I will reach out to the other languages to seek discussions from which we all benefit. And I will promote panels that discuss issues like funding, internships, study abroad, and dual degrees. Lateral as well as vertical growth on our campuses is required if we are to thrive.  

NeMLA is the perfect venue for these talks. Its regional focus allows us to explore the particular challenges and resources of where we live and work. And as a multi-disciplinarily body, we can benefit from the ideas of colleagues who teach in other languages. Currently there are many cultural and political forces moving against our brand of education. I would like to see NeMLA become increasingly focused on organizing a counter-momentum.

Italian Studies Area Director

Tiziano Cherubini


Dr. Tiziano Cherubini is Lecturer of Italian at Baylor University. He holds a Laurea in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the Università della Tuscia (Viterbo, Italy), an MA in Italian Language and Literature from the University of Virginia, and a PhD in Italian from Rutgers University. His research interests range broadly from coming-of-age narratives in postwar Italy to masculinity studies. He has taught at colleges, universities, and private institutions, in Italy and in the United States. His teaching experience has greatly contributed to strengthening his interest in innovative teaching methodologies and second language acquisition practices. Tiziano has co-authored two reference books: The Ultimate Italian Review and Practice (2013) and Italian Vocabulary Drills (2015), both published by McGraw-Hill. The second edition of The Ultimate Italian Review and Practice is expected to be published soon. 

Statement of Purpose

I have been a member of NeMLA since 2011. I have chaired panels on Italian masculinity and coming-of-age narratives, and presented papers on various authors including Umberto Saba and Mario Soldati. I have enjoyed these experiences immensely and it is with great anticipation that I seek to be the NeMLA Italian Language and Literature Director. My diverse cultural background, academic profile, and professional experience are well aligned with this role. As a director, I intend to expand the already vital field of Italian studies and to actively promote interest and involvement in the study of language, literature, visual arts, media, and culture of Italy. My guiding principle is that the Italian area of inquiry should reflect the nation’s current multiculturalism. Therefore, I will ensure that panels represent a wide diversity of topics and perspectives. Furthermore, I plan on selecting and inviting national and international colleagues that are eager to collaborate and share their knowledge. At the same time, I welcome the opportunity to work with other language-specific area directors to identify crucial areas of interest and growth for the annual convention and the study of modern languages.

Irene Lottini


Irene Lottini is a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Iowa. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Studies from the Università degli Studi di Siena in 2007. Her main research interests focus on Italian silent cinema, contemporary cinema, and the relationship between film and the other arts. Her most recent publications include essays on Italian contemporary film, 1910s cinema, and early 20th century popular culture. She has presented papers on silent, modern, and contemporary cinema, popular literature, and the relationship between film and the other arts. At the University of Iowa she teaches Italian language, literature and culture and she serves as a language level supervisor. 

Statement of Purpose

I would be honored to be a member of the NeMLA Board of Directors and serve as Italian Language and Literature Director. I have been attending the NeMLA annual convention since 2016. I have presented papers at panels, participated in round tables, chaired sessions, and attended lectures and special events. These annual meetings have always offered me valuable opportunities of intellectual exchange and have been significantly stimulating for my research and my teaching. For this reason, I would like to be actively involved in the organization and promotion of future NeMLA conventions. 

While the humanities and, in particular, the study of foreign languages are experiencing evident “unpopularity”, it is necessary to reaffirm the value of literary training in the transnational, transcultural and diverse context that we inhabit. I believe that the productive intersections fostered by the NeMLA conventions represent an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of the humanities in facing the challenges of globalization.

As Italian area director, I would like to promote an active exchange of ideas on how the field of Italian studies can meet the needs of contemporary research and education. I would welcome the proposals of panels, seminars, roundtables, workshops, and creative sessions that encompass all areas of Italian studies and language pedagogy. Although my research interests primarily focus on Italian cinema, I teach a variety of courses, such as classes of Italian language, a course on Dante’s Inferno, a course on post-unification history and culture, and a course on Italian American culture. My experience has taught me that the diverse sessions at the NeMLA conventions provide ideas and resources for scholarly research and teaching development. As Italian area director, I would help the organization of sessions that cover the broad spectrum of Italian studies and I would propose sessions that introduce new topics and perspectives.

As a member of the board of directors, I would also like to facilitate the connection between Italian studies and other disciplines. I would like to collaborate with colleagues and co-organize special events that intersect different fields of studies and stimulate a discussion on the value of interdisciplinarity in the humanities.