M.A. Students

Profiles of the MA students in the English Department at the University of Louisville

Kylee Auten

children's literature | American literature | contemporary fiction 

Kylee Auten, a Louisville native, is an M.A. student interested in children’s literature, American literature, and contemporary fiction. She completed her B.A in English at the University of Louisville in 2020. In her free time, Kylee enjoys reading for pleasure, cross stitching, re-watching Parks and Recreation, and spending time with her dog, Merlin.

Zoe Donovan

creative writing | writing center | short stories

Zoe Donovan is interested in pursuing creative writing and looking forward to working within the writing center to help their fellow students grow and develop as writers. Originally from rural Illinois they look forward to further exploring the city and campus. In their free time, Zoë likes hiking, reading just about anything they can get their hands on, and writing short stories with a dash of magical realism.

Cecilia Durbin

queer theory | humor studies | poetry

Cecilia Durbin is an MA student. Her research focuses on cringe comedy through the lens of queer and feminist theories. In addition to academic writing, she composes poetry, music, and is currently working on a long-form creative nonfiction piece.  

Curtis Ehrich

pre-Renaissance literature | Tolkien | linguistics

Curtis Ehrich is an M.A. student whose research interest primarily include pre- Renaissance literature, the works of Tolkien, and Linguistics. Currently, he is taking Intro to English Studies, Writing Center Theory and Practice, and Cities and Monsters. Outside his coursework, Curtis defines his personality with three things: Star Wars, video games, and table top role-playing games.

Mahde Hassan

composition studies | cultural rhetoric | digital rhetoric 

Mahde Hassan is pursuing his master’s degree in English at the University of Louisville. He is from Bangladesh and he received a B.A. in English from East West University in 2021. His research interest primarily lies in composition studies, cultural rhetoric, digital rhetoric and writing program administration. He enjoys listening to music, watching movies, and watching cricket and soccer in his free time. 

Andrew Hutto

17th-century British literature | mimetic desire | ontological rhetoric

Andrew Hutto is a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Louisville pursuing a master's degree in English. Recently he was awarded third place in the 2020 Flo Gault Poetry Prize and second place in the annual Poetry Derby hosted at Churchill Downs. In the summer of 2019, he served as a preliminary judge for the Louisville Literary Arts Writer's Block fiction prize. Presently he serves on the Pine Row Press editorial board. His work appears in Thrush Poetry Journal, The Weekly Degree°, Math Magazine, Poet Lore, High-Shelf Press, Twyckenham Notes, and elsewhere.

Ayaat Ismail

literature | creative writing | hybrid genres

Ayaat Ismail is currently pursuing her master’s degree in English with interest in 18th century British literature and creative writing. She earned her undergraduate degree in English at the University of Louisville, where she learned to cultivate her love of language. She hopes to pursue her interests in both literature and creative writing by focusing on the experimental and hybrid genres. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and loves watching baseball as an avid Cubs fan and spends the rest of her free time reading and writing about diversity and multiculturalism.


Zoë Litzenberg

children’s literature | leadership pedagogy and rhetoric | composition pedagogy

Zoë is currently working on her English Master’s degree. Though seeking to someday teach writing and composition, her background is in Humanities, so she enjoys writing, discussing, and learning about any and every academic discipline. In addition to great conversations, she is passionate about making the writing process accessible and fun. In her free time, Zoë is more than likely weightlifting at the gym, watching movies, swing dancing, or talking about any combination of those three things.

Elizabeth Megibben

Eli Megibben is an M.A. of English student at the University of Louisville. Eli graduated from Bellarmine University in 2019 with a Bachelors in English and Minors in History and Peace Studies. During her time as an undergraduate, Eli worked in the Bellarmine University Writing Center as a Writing Center Consultant, Interim Writing Center Coordinator, and Assistant Director of the Writing Center. As an undergraduate, she also completed an Honors Thesis that investigated the ways in which identity is affected when a young person becomes a refugee. In her free time, Eli likes to busy herself with antiquing, roller-skating, and art projects.

Brice Montgomery

translingual literature | writing center | multilingual writing

Brice Montgomery earned both his B.A. and M.A. in Applied Linguistics, which revealed a love for translingual literature. He also taught ESL and Civics to refugees and secondary migrants for two years, and he’s fascinated by the intersection of linguistic and spatial identity.

Derrick Neese

contemporary literature | experimental prose | fiction

Derrick Neese is a GTA at UofL focusing on creative writing and queer- centric literature. Their writing pivots toward literary and speculative fiction, with a particular fondness for the short story. With over fifteen years of culinary experience, Derrick’s stories often touch on themes of working-class struggle, morality, loss, addiction, and hope.

Benjamin Poe

Benjamin Poe is a GTA at UofL who studied Women's and Gender Studies and worked as a peer support specialist.

Justin Sturgeon

Trauma theory cultural studies | academic writing

Justin is from Horse Cave, KY and earned his BA in both Business with an HR emphasis and English from Lindsey Wilson College. His research interests stemming from previous projects on NBC’S Superstore, Collin’s Hunger Games Prequel, and Spiegelman’s MAUS includes a variety of different introspective, critical topics relating to trauma theory and cultural studies. Likewise, Justin is intrigued by classics, yet is also a firm believer in decolonizing the canon. In his free time, Justin enjoys bowling, tennis, Phase-10, and of coursereading. His favorite quote is, “The axe often forgets what the tree remembers.”

Kayla Sweeney

literature | creative writing

Kayla is currently a pursuing a Masters in English at UofL. She is a Somerset, Kentucky native who received a BA in English for Secondary Teachers from Western Kentucky University. After graduating, Kayla spent a year teaching in Perak, Malaysia with the U.S. Fulbright ETA Program and then taught high school English for three years in her hometown. Her current area of study combines her love for literature with an additional focus on creative writing. Kayla loves working with students of all ages, and hopes to incorporate her MA work into her future classroom.


Emma Turner

writing | literature 

Emma Turner is an English M.A. student. She received her B.A. in English and Women’s and Gender Studies from Lindsey Wilson College in May 2020. From 2018-2020, Emma served as a peer Writing Center Consultant in the Writing Center at her undergraduate institution and began to develop an ever-growing writing pedagogy. During this same time, Emma published several papers in undergraduate research journals on topics ranging from Greek literature, Wuthering Heights, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Dolly Parton. Her research interests have continually been a mixed bag; however, she always loves what she is studying.


Yuan Zhao

literary theory | narratology | rhetoric and composition

Yuan Zhao is a M.A. student in English at the University of Louisville. He earned his other M.A. degrees in English (literary studies) at Shanghai International Studies University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His current research interests include literary theory, narratology, rhetoric and composition.