Alumni Profiles

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Spring 2011

Justin Taylor (BA, 2004)

Among many memorable experiences as an English major, Justin Taylor particularly enjoyed his work as a student of Terry Harpold. “Dr. Harpold is a profoundly dedicated educator, and his thinking – both intensely idiosyncratic and accessible – taught me worlds,” he fondly explains, “not just about the subjects we studied, but about how to forge connections between seemingly unrelated texts or schools of thought. It was impossible to be around him without being drawn in by his enthusiasm, his sheer intellect, and his wildly eclectic taste.” Several texts that he encountered in Dr. Harpold’s courses became permanent touchstones for him such as Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, certain short stories by Borges, and Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus. One course with Dr. Harpold that was strikingly influential was “Eccentric Spaces and Spatialities.” Not only was this course intellectually engaging for Justin and considered to be the best course he has ever taken, one memory stands as a testament to his experience: “At our last class meeting, when Dr. Harpold said a quick farewell before leaving us alone to do our course evaluations, the class did something I had never seen happen before, and indeed have never again seen since at any of the schools where I’ve studied or taught. We – the whole class – spontaneously broke out into a standing ovation.” Justin worked with Dr. Harpold on his honors thesis, which was on H.P. Lovecraft...

Justin Taylor

 

Ryan Wells (BA, 2006)

Given his work at Burson-Marsteller, one of the largest public relations agencies in the world, it is no surprise 2006 graduate Ryan Wells has an intimate appreciation of the way language shapes perception of a topic. However, for Ryan, the lessons most deeply learned in the English department at UF were the ways in which his professors opened his mind to the “absolute necessity for diversity, diversity, diversity – especially intellectual diversity.” Citing his experiences with professors Greg Ulmer, Susan Hegeman, and Marsha Bryant, Ryan says they dismantled the traditional intellectual hierarchies that govern the classroom and encouraged him to consider the wider contexts of the field. By establishing a “deep human connection” with their students, his professors inspired him to resist being stuck within one mode of thinking and expand his talents into other ventures, retaining the skills they taught him while broadening their applications...

Ryan Wells

 

Fall 2010

Sarika Chandra (PhD, 2003)

Of her experience in the English Department at UF, Dr. Sarika Chandra enthusiastically notes that the “interdisciplinary nature of the department and the flexibility of study” were crucial to the trajectory of her research and growth and to the completion of her dissertation. Sarika completed her PhD in 2003 after studying at Bentley College and earning a Master’s at Northeastern University. Adopting an interdisciplinary/cultural studies approach, she focused her dissertation research on the critique of the discourse of globalization in the United States, analyzing the intellectual/cultural formations of management theory, immigrant/ethnic literary studies, travel writing and food-oriented tourist narratives in popular media. Appreciative of the great direction she received, Sarika remembers the positive experience she had working with Susan Hegeman, and other advisors who, as she states, ”really engaged with my work.” Continuing her scholarly research in this area, she recently revised her dissertation into a book titled Dislocalism: The Crisis of Globalization and the Remobilizing of Americanism, forthcoming from The Ohio State University Press in Fall, 2011...

Sarika Chandra

 

Gaspar González (BA, 1990)

Gaspar González is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His first film, Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami, chronicled the years that Cassius Clay spent in Miami in the early 1960s, essentially transforming himself into Muhammad Ali. Deemed “a surprisingly fresh take on an early chapter of the Ali saga” by Sports Illustrated, the film aired nationally on PBS in 2008. That film was followed by Nixon’s the One: How Tricky Dick Stole the Sixties and Changed America Forever (2010), which traced Richard Nixon’s political resurrection in the 1960s. “It was an odd follow-up of sorts,” says González. “Ali was a preeminent symbol of the political left; Nixon, the quintessential man of the right. But I think that’s precisely what drew me: the idea that America in the 1960s had produced such two compellingly different figures. The two films are really bookends on the era”...

Caspar Gonzalez

 

Brian Rhinehart (PhD, 2002)

Brian Rhinehart is not exaggerating when he says that he owes his entire career to the first course he took at UF, Dr. Sidney Homan’s graduate Shakespeare class. Of Dr. Homan’s class he describes that what he loved about it was that “it was not a conventional course; it was performative rather than strictly academic. We analyzed text through performance.” Soon after this unconventional and inspirational course, Brian and Dr. Homan formed a bond that resulted in eleven productions and eighteen years of collaboration. He also speaks enthusiastically of Dr. Norman Holland, who greatly influenced his education in the area of psychoanalysis and theatre. After completing his PhD examinations, and with a dissertation still to write, Brian left UF and enrolled in the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School University in Greenwich Village. Earning an MFA in Directing that ultimately informed his PhD, Brian then completed his dissertation on comedy acting entitled All Joking Aside: Comedy and the Method. He is currently working with Dr. Homan on a book publication...

Brian Rhinehart

 

Spring 2010

Chris Waldron (BA 1994, MA 1996)

As Vice President of Gaming Operations for Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network, Chris Waldron oversees the network’s digital game development studio, game production, and overall games strategy. He is the executive producer of Cartoon Network’s enormously popular “massively multi-player online game,” FusionFall, the network’s largest gaming project to date. The game has over 8 million registered users around the world and was nominated for a 2009 Webby Award. Another of Chris’ projects, Codename: Kids Next Door – Operation: B.E.S.T., was nominated for an Emmy® Award in 2004...

Chris Waldron

Fall 2009

Bob Bowser (BA, 1961)

Originally from Illinois, Bob Bowser came to the University of Florida in 1952. Now retired after a lengthy career as an educator and founder of a transformative dropout recovery program in California, Bob remembers UF as the place where it all began. Reflecting back on his life and career, he describes his classes in the English Department as the “catalyzing experiences that opened me up to the world.” He recalls that, “U. of F. was an intellectual and spiritual cornucopia for me...

Bob Bowser

 

C. Herbert Gilliland, Jr. (BA, 1964; PhD, 1976)

C. Herbert Gilliland, now a Professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, spent much of his youth in Gainesville living less than a mile from the University of Florida campus where he would eventually study. He says he has many affectionate memories of his years at UF, but one in particular still stands out: “I was taking a sophomore survey course from Prof. “Waddy” Murphree, in a classroom on the second floor of Anderson Hall, where the English Department was then located. The windows were open. Suddenly through the window next to me came the top of a palm tree, engulfing me, and I found myself parting the fronds to see Murphree at the podium. He continued lecturing from his notes – on Chaucer perhaps – as though nothing had happened...

Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Jr.

 

T. Capers Jones (BA, 1961)

Capers Jones is the current President and CEO of Capers Jones & Associates and Chief Scientist Emeritus of Software Productivity Research (SPR), the company he founded in 1984. Born in St. Petersburg and educated at UF, he has maintained his ties to Florida. During his school days in Gainesville, he enjoyed trekking through the woods to snorkel in many of the local springs that since have become state parks. He recalls seeing Steve Spurrier play for the UF football team and currently owns a vacation home in Port St. Lucie, where he enjoys playing golf...

Capers Jones

 

Marlene A. Tromp (PhD, 1995)

Dr. Marlene Tromp, now a member of the faculty at Denison University, remembers the English Department at UF as the “place where I learned what it was to be a professional in my field.” Originally from Wyoming, Marlene attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and initially planned to apply to medical school. Instead, she decided to apply to graduate school in English. She earned her MA at the University of Wyoming. She recollects that she had many options when it came time to pursue her doctorate, but after much careful thought, she knew that UF was where she wanted to be...

Marlene Tromp

Spring 2009

Chris Adrian (BA, 1993)

There was a time – not-so-long-ago – when pediatrician, novelist, and theologian, Chris Adrian roamed the halls of Turlington.  As an undergraduate, Chris was already tending to his gift for storytelling, penning fiction in creative writing classes with Padgett Powell, whom he unhesitatingly declares “the best teacher I ever had in my life.”  Chris received his Bachelor’s degree in English in 1993, the first of the many diplomas to come...

Chris Adrian

 

Dorothy Smiljanich (BA 1969, MA 1972)

Dorothy Smiljanich is fond of the English program at UF for many reasons. For one, she met her husband, Terry, while both were undergrad English majors – and they’ve now been married for forty years. Gainesville is also where she began her successful career in journalism. After graduating with an MA in English, Dorothy got a job at the Gainesville Sun as a proofreader in the classified department, while Terry continued at UF’s law school...

Dorothy Smiljanich