English Dept. Profiles

Current Faculty

Laura Blumenthal

Laura Blumenthal, M.A.

Laura Blumenthal teaches writing and English for Speakers of Other Languages. Her courses at UP include English as a Second Language for International Students and College Writing. Her academic work focuses on the role of sociolinguistic factors in language acquisition.

Geneviève Brassard

Dr. Geneviève Brassard

Geneviève Brassard, Ph.D., specializes in 20th Century British Literature, prose narrative, and feminist criticism; her courses include English 107: College Writing; English 112: Thinking through Literature (Reading for Social Justice); English 302: British Literature from 1800 to the Present; English 338: European Literature in Translation; English 339: Studies in Fiction; English 370: Studies in Women Writers (an elective for the Gender & Women’s Studies Minor); and English 375: Studies in Irish Writers. She served as Book Review editor for the Space Between Journal from 2017 to 2020 and regularly presents her research on interwar women writers at the annual meetings of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) and The Space Between.

Her recent publications can be found here.

Cheri Buck-Perry, M.A.

Cheri Buck-Perry, M.A.

Cheri Buck-Perry teaches integrative courses in the core curriculum designed to explore the rich intersection between academic disciplines. Her courses include ENG 191 Thinking through Literature: Reading and Writing Cultures of Food, in which students investigate identity, hunger, and our complex relationship with food and the environment, and ENG 191 Thinking Through Literature: Thresholds of Resistance in the Modern World, a course that investigates the dynamic conversation between literature and key historical movements. (Both courses are designed as co-requisites with core Environmental Science and History requirements.) Professor Buck-Perry also teaches ENG 112 Thinking Through Literature: Ways of Knowing and ENG 107 College Writing. Her interests include pedagogy, food literature and studies, and literature of the American West. She has given presentations on pedagogy, early twentieth-century American women writers, and has facilitated numerous creative writing workshops for young scholars in the Portland area.

Amanda Duncan

Amanda Duncan

Amanda Duncan is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in English at SUNY-Buffalo. She has published numerous essays on Irish modern and postmodern literature, psychoanalysis, and post-humanism.  Her other interests include 17th and 18thcentury literature, modern and postmodern philosophy, Film theory and gender theory.

Patrick Hannon

Fr. Patrick Hannon, CSC (M.F.A.)

Fr. Hannon teaches writing with a focus on the personal essay, narrative, memoir, and profile writing.  His courses include ENG 107 Introduction to College Writing; ENG 112 Thinking Through Literature; ENG 311 Advanced Writing; and ENG 343 Studies in Nonfiction.  He has had published three collections of narrative essays (Running Into the Arms of God: Stories of Prayer, Prayer as Story, 2005; Geography of God’s Mercy: Stories of Mercy and Forgiveness, 2007; The Long Yearning’s End: Stories of Sacrament and Incarnation, 2009: ACTA Publications), and one collection of personal essays: Sacrament: Personal Encounters with Memories, Wounds, Dreams and Unruly Hearts (Ave Maria Press, 2014).  His essays have appeared in The Gold Man Review, Timberline Review, Notre Dame Magazine, Portland Magazine, The Utne Reader, and US Catholic.

Cara Hersh

Dr. Cara Hersh

Dr. Hersh teaches medieval and Renaissance literature and explores issues such as economics, gender, narrative theory, and politics in her medieval and early modern classes.  Her courses include English 112, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Alterity in Early British Literature, and Drama in Early British Literature.  Recent presentations have included papers on wonder, disgust, alterity, and medieval epistemology.  View her publications.
Molly Hiro

Dr. Molly Hiro

Dr. Hiro is Associate Professor of English with interests in race, genre, and feeling. She teaches courses on American, African American, and multi-ethnic American literature, as well as on the tradition of American protest literature. This year she is also teaching the department's inaugural senior capstone seminar, and she is currently the Director of the University’s Writing Center. In 2014, she taught at University of Mysore, South India, as a Fulbright Scholar. When not at work, she enjoys cooking and trail running.  View her publications.
Lars Erik Larson

Dr. Lars Erik Larson

Dr. Larson is Chair of English and teaches twentieth-century U.S. literature for its connections with mobility, space, history, and power.  His courses include ENG 112 Thinking through Literature: Mobility & Words in the World, American Lit. Survey II, Film and Lit., Northwest Lit., and City Life in American Lit.  He has given recent presentations on deep time, wonder, spatial field guides, pedagogy, and material ruins, and is a longtime member of the Western Literature Association.  Dr. Larson concentrated on American studies and literature as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Ph.D. in English at UCLA.  A 2014 Teaching Fulbright in 2014 (Mysore, South India) expanded his focus beyond America, toward India. View his publications.

Jen McDaneld

Dr. Jen McDaneld

Dr. McDaneld teaches American literature and core curriculum courses for the department. She is also a co-founder and coordinator of Public Research Fellows, a new public humanities program in the College of Arts & Sciences. She holds a Ph.D. in American literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. Her research focuses on suffrage literature, the print culture of U.S. women’s right movements, and the scholarship of teaching and learning, with essays published and forthcoming in journals like Legacy: Journal of American Women Writers, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Feminist Teacher and Pedagogy. Currently, she is working on a book project that examines the overlooked genres of U.S. suffrage literature to recover suffragism from its “bad literature” and “bad feminism” critical frameworks. She also serves as a reviewer for several journals and presses, including Broadview, Legacy, and Teaching American Literature. View her publications.
John McDonald

John McDonald, M.A.

John McDonald (M.A.) teaches Modern/Contemporary Arabic Literature, Advanced Writing, Introduction to Literary Studies, Thinking Through Literature, and College Writing. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright to teach American Studies and Early American literature at the University of Jordan (Amman). He also taught in the Writing Program at the American University in Cairo (AUC) from 1998-2000. His published work includes three poetry chapbooks: Three Poems Twice (1994), La Mancha, (1996) and Without A Scaffold (2005), and his short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in various publications, including, Troubled Surfer, HEATHENzine, Arnazella: Literary and Visual Art from the Pacific Northwest, Fireweed: Poetry of Western Oregon, Lilliput Review, Golf in Egypt, The Palestine Chronicle, The Oregonian, and The Portland Magazine. View his scholarly essays.

Kirsten Rian

Kirsten Rian, M.F.A.

Kirsten Rian’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including an essay in University of Portland's Portland Magazine. She has been awarded artist fellowships, grants, and international residencies for book projects as well as creative writing workshops in locations like northern Iceland, post-war Sierra Leone, and refugee relocation centers in Finland, using creative writing as a tool for literacy, community, and peacebuilding. Her newest book, Life Expectancy, was released as part of the Pacific Northwest Writers Series through Redbat Books. She was the poetry editor and a book reviewer at The Oregonian, and has maintained a concurrent career as a fine art and war photography curator, coordinating over 350 exhibitions, and picture editing or writing for over 80 books and catalogues. More about her work can be found at kirstenrian.com. In her free time she is a distance runner, and values time cooking and hiking and puzzle-completing with her kids, friends, and dogs.
Sara Sutter

Sara Jannette Sutter, M.F.A.

Sara Sutter is the author of the chapbooks O to Be a Dragon (Finishing Line Press 2016), Sirenomelia (Poor Claudia 2013), and the collaborative chapbook Election Day (Gramma Press 2016). Sara teaches Thinking Through Literature at University of Portland, and Creative Nonfiction and Poetry at Concordia University. Sara also offers online courses, community workshops, and helps to curate poetry readings and performances in Portland, OR. 

Joshua Swidzinski

Dr. Joshua Swidzinski

Joshua Swidzinski is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Portland, where he teaches and writes about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British literature, poetry and poetics, and the history of literary criticism. His recent publications have explored intersections between poetry and scholarship in the writings of Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray, Robert Burns, and others. He is currently working on a literary biography of the poet Abraham Cowley.  View his publications.

Michael Ward

Dr. Michael Ward

Dr. Ward teaches composition and argumentation for the University of Portland. He has taught a wide range of courses at other institutions, including American literature, Renaissance literature, film, and critical theory. He earned his PhD from the University of Oregon, where he wrote a dissertation exploring Shakespeare's theory of history. His academic interests include rhetorical theory, critical analysis of film, poetics, and classical languages. He teaches the university's basic writing course, ENG 107 College Writing.

Sarah Weiger

Dr. Sarah Weiger

Dr. Weiger is Associate Professor of English at the University of Portland, where she teaches and studies nineteenth-century British literature and environmental literature. She holds a dual appointment in the department of Environmental Studies. Her courses include ENG 112: Thinking Through Literature (Weather and Climate), ENG 363: Environmental Literature, and ENG 403: Literature and Posthumanism. She also teaches British literature survey courses from the nineteenth century to the present, featuring writing of the Romantic period. Her recent conference presentations have been on the natural history writing of Henry David Thoreau and on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s albatross.  She earned her PhD at Cornell University and her BA at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Weiger is on sabbatical leave for the 2018-19 academic year.  View her publications.

Bryan Willis

Bryan Willis

Bryan Willis serves as playwright-in-residence for the Northwest Playwrights Alliance at Seattle Repertory Theatre.  His work has appeared throughout the U.K., China, Israel, Japan, Canada and U.S., including New York Theater Workshop, Milwaukee Rep, Unseam’d Shakespeare Co., Book-It Repertory Theatre, Riverside Studios in London and Seattle’s ACT where John Langs directed the mainstage premiere of Seven Ways to Get There.  His collaboration with Kenneth Lonergan and Frank Pugliese, Woofer the Psychic Dog, has enjoyed success in many theaters on both coasts and in Japan. Bryan’s work has also been featured on NPR, BBC Radio 4 (commission for Sophie) and German Radio NDR (collaboration with novelist Peter Mountford). Bryan worked in new play development in New York at Playwrights Horizons and later worked in the literary department at Lincoln Center, serving as NYU's Playwright-in-Residence while completing his MFA in Playwriting & Screen Writing at Tisch School of the Arts.  He is a proud member of Artist Trust and received a gold medallion from KC/ACTF, where he served on the National Selection Team in 2011.

Emeritus Faculty

Dr. Herman Asarnow

Dr. Herman Asarnow, Emeritus Professor

Dr. Asarnow taught poetry, early modern British literature, Shakespeare, and satire at the University of Portland for 35 years, retiring in May of 2014. He served as Chair of English for 15 of those years. He is a grateful and proud mentor to generations of UP students and a grateful and proud colleague to the marvelous English faculty. Herman has published a collection of his poetry, Glass-Bottom Boat (Higganum Hill Books), and his poems have appeared in such venues as The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Guernica. His essays have appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, High Plains Literary Review, Iron Horse Quarterly, and Portland Magazine. And his translations of poems by Argentine/Spanish poet Noni Benegas have been published in Meridian and the Marlboro Review. Rarely on campus these days, he can be reached via his UP email.

Dr. Lou Masson

Dr. Lou Masson, Emeritus Professor

Dr. Masson spent over four decades bring the company of British Romantic, Victorian,and Modern Writers to his students and also nature writers from both sides of "the pond." In practicing what he taught, he found homes each year in little magazines and journals for poems and added three thin volumes of essays to the world of books: Reflections, The Play of Light, and Across the Quad. For those who remember him, he can still be reached at his UP email.
John Orr

Dr. John Orr

Dr. Orr taught American literature. His scholarly interests reside in late 19th and early 20th-century American literature and culture, including on-going work on Henry Adams, several women writers of the era and, most recently, the early Native American writer, Mourning Dove. In addition to American literature, Orr is a student of World War I and modern China, and he often takes students on study abroad trips that explore those topics. In the fall of 2015, Orr was a Fulbright Scholar to China, where he taught American literature at Northeast Normal University in Changchun. Dr. Orr is also Assistant Provost, in charge of the Office of Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement. Despite his administrative obligations, he continues to teach courses in the English Department and advise English majors.  View his recent publications.


Emily Hogan

Emily Hogan - Office Manager

Emily Hogan, (she/her/hers), is the Office Manager for the English, History, and International Languages and Cultures Departments here at UP. She is a 2019 UP Alum from Lompoc, CA with a B.A. in Theater. When she’s not working in the Dundon-Berchtold office, Emily is usually working on a show in some capacity, whether it be acting, writing, or stage managing. In her free time, she loves to play video games, explore the Portland nightlife with friends, and attempt to become the next big Instagram fashion influencer.