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Faculty and Staff

 English Faculty Group Photo 2017

The faculty and staff of the English Department are dedicated to serving Washburn University’s students and larger community through excellence in teaching, innovative scholarship and creative work, and by providing students from diverse backgrounds with critical reading and writing skills for their personal and professional futures.  

English Department Office

photo of vanessa steinroetter english department chair

Dr. Vanessa Steinroetter
Associate Professor & Chair

Morgan Hall, Room 237A
(785) 670-2196 

photo of michael vollbrecht senior administrative assistant

Michael Vollbrecht
Senior Administrative Assistant

Morgan Hall, Room 237
(785) 670-1441

Full Time Faculty

Karen Barron

Karen L. Barron, Lecturer

Morgan Hall, Room 131

MFA, Fiction, Bennington College; B.A., Kansas State University.

Specialties: Fiction, belles lettres, women's literature, creative non-fiction, poetry. View faculty profile

burdick-melanieMelanie Burdick, Associate Professor and Director of C-TEL

Morgan Hall, Room 204

Ph.D., University of Kansas; M.A., University of Missouri-Kansas City

Specialties: Teaching of writing in high school and college; relationship and overlap of creative and academic forms of writing; preparation of secondary English teachers; composition and rhetoric; service learning. View faculty profile


Erin Chamberlain, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 235

Ph.D., Purdue University; M.A., Ohio University; B.A., Hanover College

Specialties: Romantic and Victorian literature, especially the fiction of Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters and George Eliot; portrayals of servants, women, class, space, and working class literacy in 19th-century British literature. View faculty profile

Liz Derrington faculty photoLiz Derrington, Lecturer

Morgan Hall, Room 232

M.F.A., University of New Mexico; B.A., Boston University.

Specialties: Creative writing (fiction and nonfiction), composition, women’s literature, Queer literature, and popular culture. View faculty profile

dennis-etzel-jrDennis Etzel, Jr., Lecturer

Morgan Hall, Room 236A

MFA, University of Kansas; M.A., Kansas State University

Specialties: Experimental/conceptual poetry and poetics, feminist poetry and poetics, poetry as survival, political American poetry, ancient and contemporary mythology. View faculty profile

Andrew Farkas, Assistant Professordennis-etzel-jr

Morgan Hall, Room 115

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago; MFA, University of Alabama; MA, University of Tennessee; BA, Kent State University

Specialties: Fiction writing, playwriting, screenwriting, creative nonfiction writing, absurdist fiction, postmodern fiction, cult films, film noir, neo-noir. View faculty profile


Karalyn Kendall-Morwick, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 231

Ph.D., Indiana University Bloomington; M.A., Indiana University Bloomington; B.A., St. Olaf College.

Specialties: 20th-century British and American literature, transatlantic modernism, animal studies, environmental studies, literature and science, queer and gender studies, postcolonial and critical race studies. View faculty profile

Photo of Louise KrugLouise Krug, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 132

Ph.D., University of Kansas; MFA, University of Kansas; B.A., University of Kansas.

Specialties: Memoir, essay, experimental forms of nonfiction, hybrid forms of fiction/nonfiction. View faculty profile

Eric McHenryEric McHenry, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 113

M.A., Boston University; B.A., Beloit College

Specialties: Contemporary poetry in English, poetry in translation, literary criticism, literary journalism. View faculty profile


Mary Sheldon, Associate Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 111

Ph.D., Purdue University; M.A. and B.A., Gannon College

Specialties: World literature, Buddhism in Asian Literature, liberation theology in Latin American literature, business writing. View faculty profile

bradley-siebertBradley Siebert, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 117

Ph.D., University of Arizona; M.A., University of Arizona; B.A., Bethel College

Specialties: Composition theory and pedagogy, rhetorical theory and ethics, religious rhetoric. View faculty profile

vanessa-steinroetterVanessa Steinroetter, Associate Professor and Department Chair

Morgan Hall, Room 237A

Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln; M.A., Catholic University of Eichstaett, Germany

Specialties: Nineteenth-century American literature and print culture, especially of the antebellum era and Civil War; periodical literature; book history; women's literature; American ethnic literature; transatlantic literary studies and translation studies. View faculty profile

danny-wadeDanny Wade, Associate Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 114

Ph.D., University of Oklahoma; M.Ed. and B.S., University of Oklahoma

Specialties: English education, the teaching of poetry, adolescent literacy, trends and issues in young adult literature, and the preparation of elementary and secondary writing teachers, fictional research writing. View faculty profile

Muffy Walter

Muffy Walter, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 112

Ph.D, University of Missouri, Kansas City; MA, University of Missouri, Kansas City; BA, University of Kansas

Specialties: Rhetoric and composition, disability studies, memoirs/life writing, feminist rhetoric, composition pedagogy.  View faculty profile

Izzy Wasserstein, Lecturer

Morgan Hall, Room 134

MFA, University of New Mexico; B.A., Washburn University

Specialties: Creative writing (poetry and fiction), composition, the graphic novel, literature and film, poetics, speculative fiction, gender studies.  View faculty profile

geoff wayGeoffrey Way, Assistant Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 133

Ph.D., Arizona State University; M.A., Clemson University; B.A., Virginia Tech University

Specialties: Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Digital Media Studies, Digital Humanities, Performance Studies, Early British Literature. View faculty profile


David Weed, Lecturer

Morgan Hall, Room 233

Ph.D., Syracuse University; M.A. and B.S., University of Kansas.

Specialties: Eighteenth-century literature and culture, composition and composition theory, literary and critical theory, gender and sexuality theory, history of the novel. View faculty profile

corey-zwikstraCorey Zwikstra, Associate Professor

Morgan Hall, Room 116

Ph.D., University of Notre Dame; M.A., University of Notre Dame; B.A., University of Alberta, Canada.

Specialties: Old English poetry, Middle English (esp. Chaucer), medievalism, Old Norse language and literature, English linguistics, book history, authorship, genre and canon. View faculty profile


Emeriti Faculty and Staff

Thomas Fox Averill

Specialties: Fiction, essay, poetry on various topics; food studies, garden literature, Scotland and Scottish culture, Kansas literature and culture. 


Jean Dimmit

Specialties: English Education. 


Maureen Godman

Specialties: British Renaissance literature, especially Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Donne in historical contexts; the connection between concealment and creativity; women’s spheres of influence and authority as rulers, writers, and patrons.


Raylene Hinz-Penner

Specialties: Creative writing (poetry and nonfiction), contemporary American literature.


James Hoogenakker

Specialties: Modern novel and short story, especially the fiction of Joseph Conrad.


Thomas Kennedy

Specialties: Medieval Studies.


J. Karen Ray

Specialties: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British drama; Kansas history and literature.


Roy Sheldon

Specialties: Fantasy and science-fiction literature and film, Modern British Literature, Nineteenth-century American Literature, Advanced Composition--Business Writing Emphasis, and Individualized Instruction (Tutoring & supervising tutors).

Karen Simpson 

Karen was employed from 1993 to 2017, and during her tenure provided administrative assistance to the Kinesiology Department, and the Center for Learning and Student Success, in addition to her time in the English Department.

Robert Stein

Specialties: Chair, Honors Dean, Victorian Studies.


Margaret Stewart

Specialties: American Literature, Nature Writing.



Adjunct Faculty