Writers present at Modern Language Association Conference

Matt Salvia and Isaac Payne
Matt Salvia and Isaac Payne

A cadre of Pitt-Bradford writers and instructors - including a student -- attended and presented at the Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Convention held April 12-15 in Pittsburgh.

Isaac Payne, a sophomore English and writing major from Kane, presented a paper as part of a roundtable discussion organized by Pitt-Bradford composition instructor Matt Salvia.

The roundtable discussion, “Imagined Worlds, Material Nationalisms: Cultural Politics in American Speculative Fiction,” included presentations by Payne and Salvia as well as academics from Rutgers University, University of Maryland Baltimore County and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Speculative fiction is a term broadly applied to fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements, such as fantasy, horror and science fiction.

As chair of the roundtable, Salvia presented “Speculative Fiction, Colson Whitehead, and the Quest for Transformative Empathy.” Payne presented, “Distinctions between the Work of Ken Liu and Patrick Rothfuss.”

Salvia, a doctoral student at SUNY Binghamton, mentored Payne in drafting and revising his paper. Payne applied for and received an undergraduate research grant from Pitt-Bradford.

“It's decidedly rare for an undergraduate to present at this professional literary conference. Isaac's fellow panelists were clearly impressed with his work and engaged with him as an equal on the panel,” said Dr. Tracee Howell, assistant professor of English and director of the composition program at Pitt-Bradford.

Howell and Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing and director of the writing program, also presented their work at the conference.

Howell served as chair of a special session, “Writers in Hollywood: Film Industry and Imagined Communities of the Literary.”

McCabe presented her paper, “Writing Disability: Pushing Past Stereotypes in 'Following Disasters,'” as part of a roundtable on taking risks in writing fiction.

Other composition instructors attending the meeting as a professional development opportunity were Karen Bell, Barbara Kelley, Angela Kim, Marlene Lang, and Catherine Kula, visiting assistant director of the writing center.