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Student Spotlight September 2011

Julie Wade

“Julie Wade contributes to our Humanities Ph.D. program, not only with her excellent teaching and impressive creative gifts, but also with her constant support and promotion of other students in our program. Her numerous awards bring her into the spotlight, but her humility, generosity, and amazing work ethic have brought her even deeper respect here. Her talents as a creative writer bring her increasing national attention, and we look forward to her continuing successes after she graduates in 2012.”
Dr. Mary Ann Stenger, Department of Humanities




As an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest, Julie Wade double-majored in psychology and creative writing and then headed directly to graduate school to pursue a Master of Arts in English.  Julie began teaching undergraduates in freshman composition classes at Western Washington University in 2001, and by the time she graduated in 2003, she knew she was hooked on teaching for life.  From there, she moved across the country to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at the University of Pittsburgh.  In 2008 she began her studies in the PhD in Humanities program at the University of Louisville where she teaches interdisciplinary Humanities courses like “Creativity & the Arts,” “Cultures of America,” and “Humanities Perspectives on Sex Roles in Society”.


Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

The interdisciplinary threads that inform my dissertation come from the fields of literature (particularly modern and postmodern American literature, with a special emphasis on confessional poetry and personal essays), women’s & gender studies, queer studies, and creativity studies.  I’m especially interested in the coming-of-age genre, including the many possible permutations of the traditional bildungsroman (“formation novel”), and the relationship between coming-of-age narratives and coming-out narratives written by gay- and queer-identified writers.  My dissertation explores this relationship, and the creative portion is my own memoir titled The Missing Sister & Other Stories: A Coming of Age

Awards, honors, publications:

I began publishing poetry and essays in 2004 when I was an MFA student at the University of Pittsburgh.  I actually began submitting work in 2003, and after a year of rejections, I received two back-to-back pieces of good news.  First, one of my literary heroes, Albert Goldbarth, selected my poem “Y” as winner of the Chicago Literary Award in Poetry, so that became my first poetry publication.  About a month later, another of my literary heroes—one of my greatest literary heroes of all—Mark Doty, selected my lyric essay, “Black Fleece,” as the winner of the Gulf Coast Nonfiction Prize, so that became my first nonfiction publication.  In 2009, my first collection of lyric essays, Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures, won the Colgate University Press Nonfiction Book Award and was published in 2010.  This year Wishbone won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, which was a tremendous thrill.  In 2010, my poetry chapbook Without was published by Finishing Line Press as part of the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Series.  This year, in November, my second collection of lyric essays, Small Fires, will be released by Sarabande Books, and in spring 2013, my first full-length collection of poems, Postage Due, will be published by White Pine Press as the winner of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to receive the AWP Intro Journals Award for Nonfiction, an Al Smith Individual Artist Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council, and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations.

Long term goals/ aspirations:

It may sound simple, but it’s true.  I love teaching, and I love writing, so I’d like to spend the rest of my life doing exactly what I’m doing now but as a part of the permanent faculty at a college or university.  I’d also like the opportunity to work with graduate students on their theses and dissertations in addition to developing and teaching a wide range of interdisciplinary undergraduate courses, including but not limited to creative writing.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

I think time management is always the greatest challenge for any of us, especially learning to balance your work as a student/scholar with your work as a teacher.  It’s very much like I imagine juggling flaming torches in the circus would be—a strange mix of anxiety and exhilaration, incomparable satisfaction and complete exhaustion.  The only way to deal with this challenge that I have found is to love everything you do with the greatest possible passion and dedication. 

Family life:

I live with my partner Angie Griffin, who I met all those years ago when we both showed up fresh out of college to the first day of graduate instructor orientation at the Master of Arts program at Western Washington University.  We’ve made a home together in Washington State, Pennsylvania (where we adopted our two handsome cats, Tybee and Oliver), rural Ohio, and now here in Louisville, Kentucky, so my family life centers around that great, unfolding adventure together.  Here we’re lucky to live in the same city with Angie’s sister Kim and brother-in-law Matt, who I affectionately call “my outlaws.”  So an additional perk of family life in Louisville is getting to spend time with the outlaws and with our niece Evie and nephew Nolan.


Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted: I love the sound of acoustic guitar, so I think it would be lovely to be able to play guitar—though I’m pretty happy listening to other people who play well. 

Favorite book:
Too many to name, of course, my highlights include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Firebird by Mark Doty, Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience by James Carse, The End of Beauty and Never by Jorie Graham, The Dead and the Living by Sharon Olds, The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, and The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey by Toi Derricotte.

Favorite quote:
Two come readily to mind: “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” (Anais Nin) and “For us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business” (T.S. Eliot)

Role Model:
My undergraduate professors and long-time mentors and friends, Tom Campbell and Dana Anderson.  They have both taught me, with their exceptional grace and good humor, what it means to be a good teacher and also what it means to be a good student of the world.

Pet Peeve:
Virgo that I am, nothing vexes quite like a missed deadline.

If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now?
Certainly writing, hopefully teaching—maybe working as a mail carrier, since I like walking around and am incurably nosy about what’s going on in other people’s houses.  Mail carrier seems like a good way to channel some of that energy and curiosity!


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