Meet the Faculty

Kate Aspengren

Kate Aspengren

Adjunct Assistant Professor

B.A., The University of Iowa
M.F.A., The University of Iowa, Playwrights Workshop
Email: kaspengr@coe.edu

Kate Aspengren's plays include Flyer, Rule of Nines, Too Fast to Fall, Adrift and Blue Yonder. Her work has been published by Samuel French, Inc. and has been produced throughout the United States and Canada, including productions by Actors Theatre of Louisville, The New American Comedy Festival, Three Graces Theatre Company and Six Figures Theatre Company. She is the author of a middle grade novel Ashley Templeton is Ruining My Life.

Jen FergusonJenny Ferguson

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

B.A., York University
M.A., University of Windsor
Ph.D., University of South Dakota


Jen Ferguson (she/her) is the author of three novels, and many short fictions and essays. Her debut young adult novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, is an NPR Best Book of 2022, an Indigo Best Book of 2022 So Far and earned six starred reviews. Métis (on her father's side) and white Canadian settler (on her mother's side), Jen is an activist, a feminist, an auntie and an accomplice armed with a PhD in English and Creative Writing. Her next YA novel, Those Pink Mountain Nights, is forthcoming Fall 2023. She is interested in storytelling broadly conceived.


Gina Hausknecht

Gina Hausknecht

John William King Professor of Literature and Creative Writing
Coordinator, Film Studies

B.A., Oberlin College 
M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan

Phone: 319.399.8417
Email: ghauskne@coe.edu

Dr. Hausknecht teaches early modern British literature, including Shakespeare, British Renaissance poetry and Milton. She also teaches courses on non-fiction graphic narrative and on incarceration. She has published and presented on Shakespeare, Milton, 17th century literature and culture, pedagogy and higher education, graphic novel memoir and gender studies. She teaches and volunteers with Liberal Arts Beyond Bars, the University of Iowa's college-in-prison program. Her ongoing research on the textual history of stage directions in editions of Shakespeare is reflected in the interactive online learning tool All the World's a Stage Direction.


Margaret LeMayMargaret LeMay

Assistant Professor of English

B.A., Barnard College 
M.F.A., University of Iowa 

Email: mlemay@coe.edu

Margaret LeMay teaches creative writing. Her poems have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, the Asian Pacific American Journal, Better, The Cortland Review, Little Village, and elsewhere. Her work has served as title and six movement subtitles for a piano quintet commissioned by and performed at the Library of Congress, and it appears in the Telepoem Booth, a multi-state installation art project. It has been shortlisted for the 92Y Discovery award and the Four Way Books Levis prize. Margaret’s courses focus on poetry and short forms. She is also a faculty co-director for the Coe College Center for Health & Society.

Amber Shaw

Amber Shaw

Associate Professor, Chair
National Fellowship Advisor

B.A., Rhodes College
M.A., Ph.D., The University of Georgia

Phone: 319.399.8058
Email: ashaw@coe.edu

Dr. Shaw teaches courses at Coe on early and nineteenth-century American literature, American women writers, travel literature and transnationalism across the long nineteenth century. Her recent essays have appeared in ESQ, Symbiosis and Women’s Studies. She has held fellowships at Winterthur Museum and Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia/Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and she has served as an Associated Colleges of the Midwest Faculty Fellow at the Newberry Library. Her current research focuses on mid-nineteenth-century transatlantic literary interest in the Lowell, Massachusetts textile mills. Dr. Shaw is also the faculty advisor for students who apply for prestigious national awards such as Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Rhodes and Marshall Fellowships.

Melissa Sodeman

Melissa Sodeman


B.A., University of Washington, Seattle
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Phone: 319.399.8696
Email: msodeman@coe.edu

Melissa Sodeman teaches courses on eighteenth-century and Romantic literature at Coe. Other interests include women writers, the history of the novel, book history and (increasingly) environmental literature. Her book, Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History, was published by Stanford University Press in 2015, and her essays have appeared in SEL, ELH and Modern Philology. Her current research, which grows out of her interest in the intertwined histories of books and affect, investigates how books mediated an intensifying love of nature in the later eighteenth century.

Emeritus and Retired Faculty

Charles Aukema

Professor of English, Emeritus

A.B., Calvin College
M.F.A., University of Iowa, Iowa Writers' Workshop

Email: caukema@coe.edu

In addition to teaching creative writing, Professor Aukema taught computer applications in writing. These applications included writing hypertext fiction. He is the founder of The Coe Review, the college's nationally known literary magazine.

Robert D. Drexler

Whipple Professor of English, Emeritus

B.A., Amherst College
M.A., University of Iowa
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Email: rdrexler@coe.edu

Author of two poetry chapbooks, Dr. Drexler was the director of the ACM Japan studies Program, director of the India Studies Program at Puna, and a Fulbright Lecturer at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. His primary areas of focus are Early Modern British, Medieval English, 20th Century British, Irish and Asian Literature.

Terry Heller

Howard Hall Professor of English, Emeritus

A.B., North Central College 
A.M., Ph.D., University of Chicago

Dr. Heller is author of The Delights of Terror and The Turn of the Screw: Bewildered Vision, and editor of Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Fiction. He has written reference articles, short fiction, and literary journal essays. He is the manager of the on-line archive, the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project.

Gordon Mennenga

Professor of English

B.A., University of Northern Iowa 
M.F.A., University of Iowa, Iowa Writers' Workshop

Email: gmenneng@coe.edu

Professor Mennenga is a fiction writer whose short story, "Peepers" won a Nelson Algren Award. He has written monologues for Garrison Keilor and a film based on a monologue was released in 1999. Professor Mennenga teaches film and creative writing and is the academic advisor for Coe's nationally circulated magazine, the Coe Review. His academic interests include hip hop music and popular culture.

Ann Struthers

National Fellowship Advisor (retired)

B.A., Morningside College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Iowa

Email: astruthe@coe.edu

Dr. Struthers is the author of two chapbooks and two collections of poetry. She has published numerous book reviews, articles in literature reference books, academic essays and short fiction and was Writer in Residence at Coe for many years. She was a Fulbright Fellow in Syria and in Sri Lanka, and was the faculty advisor for students and faculty who apply for Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Rhodes and Marshall Fellowships.