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EIU Department of English

Summer Camp: Info for Accepted Campers

Welcome, English summer campers! We look forward to meeting you (and welcoming back those who are joining us for the second time). An acceptance letter from camp director Dr. Melissa Ames will be sent to all accepted campers by May 15th, referencing important paperwork that must be completed by May 24 and uploaded online. (These forms are located below.) On this page, you can also complete the RSVP forms for the showcase brunch and campus tour/appointments. In addition, you can learn more about the camp faculty and counselors from their biographies featured on this page.

Paperwork (due May 24)

RSVP Forms (due June 7)

English Summer Camp Faculty and Counselors


Camp Director

Melissa Ames Dr. Melissa Ames is a Professor of English and the Director of English Education at Eastern Illinois University specializing in media studies, television scholarship, Internet studies, popular culture, feminist theory, and pedagogy. Her work has been published in a variety of anthologies and journals, ranging in topic from Television Study, New Media, and Fandom to American Literature and Feminist Art. Her most recent and forthcoming publications include her books,Women and Language: Gendered Communication Across Media (McFarland, 2011),Time in Television Narrative: Exploring Temporality in 21stCentury Programming (University of Mississippi Press, 2012), How Pop Culture Shapes the Stages of a Woman’s Life: From Toddlers-in-Tiaras to Cougars-on-the-Prowl (Palgrave, 2016), Small Screen, Big Feels: Television & Cultural Anxiety in the 21st Century (University of Kentucky Press, 2020), and Hashtag Activism: Case Studies on Social Justice Movements (U Colorado/Utah State Press, 2022); chapters in Grace Under Pressure: Grey’s Anatomy Uncovered (2008),Writing the Digital Generation (2010), Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, and the Twilight Saga (2010), Manufacturing Phobias (2016), Adventures in Shondaland (2018), Young Adult Literature in the Composition Classroom (2018), and The Vampire Diaries Collection (2022); and articles inThe Journal of Dracula Studies (2011),The Women and Popular Culture Encyclopedia (2012), The High School Journal (2013), The Journal of Popular Culture (2014), Pedagogy (2017), and First Monday (2021).    

Camp Faculty


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Julia Abazi is a graduate student at Eastern Illinois University majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She graduated from EIU in 2021 with a BA in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Professional Writing. She mainly writes fiction and poetry and completed an undergraduate honors thesis that focused on visual poetry as a dialogue, which included a small collection of erasure poems titled Ad Infinitum.

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Dr. Melissa Caldwell received her PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Tarheels!). She researches and writes about the English Renaissance, particularly about issues related to philosophy, religion, and literature, and about war literature (especially the Iraq War) and Adaptation Studies. Aside from reading and writing, she enjoys hiking, spending time with her daughter, trips to the beach, and playing with her dogs.



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Katie Caulkins is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University. She received her B.A. in English education and taught high school for several years. She has returned to EIU to earn her M.A. in English with a concentration in Composition and Rhetoric. Katie is currently working in the EIU Writing Center, and is excited to go back into teaching after graduation. 


Dr. Letitia Moffitt


Dr. Letitia L. Moffitt was born and raised in Hawaii. She received a doctoral degree in English/Creative Writing from Binghamton University in New York, and she taught creative writing at Eastern Illinois University for six years. She is the author of three novels: Sidewalk Dancing (Atticus Books), Trace and Vibe/Sync (Cantraip Press, Books 1 and 2 of the TraceWorld Trilogy). In her spare time she runs marathons and ultramarathons, just for fun.

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Dr. Robin L. Murray had a rather transient childhood, in a journey that began in a couple of West Virginia towns and touched on Galesburg in Illinois, Pittsburgh, PA, and a few Michigan communities, including Bay City, where she graduated high school. No matter where she lived, though, she loved nature and transformed hiking, biking, and winter sports to her scholarly focus on American regional women writers and environmental film criticism (ecocinema). She and her co-writer Joe Heumann have published seven books exploring this film criticism, looking at popular cinema, Westerns, animated films, horror, documentaries, city cinema, and comedies through various lenses of ecocinema studies. She also applies her environmentalism in her daily life, leading a Green Team and implementing sustainable food systems in her community. 


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Jagoda Szostakiewicz graduated from EIU with a BA in English Language Arts. After staying away from EIU one semester, she couldn’t be away any longer and is now pursuing an MA in Composition and Rhetoric. As a high school educator, she has taught Credit Recovery and Sophomore English. When she is not teaching Jagoda loves reading Young Adult Literature, traveling, and rewatching The Good Place.

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Dr. Elizabeth Tacke received her Ph.D. in English and Education from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2020. Her interdisciplinary research interests are situated within disability studies, life writing studies, and rhetoric; her qualitative book project explores how women navigate disability and trauma disclosure. Before returning to school for her doctoral degree, Dr. Tacke was an English middle school teacher in Oakland, California (where she was also a Panther). At Eastern, she teaches methods courses for English Education majors, composition with a social justice lens, and disability, life writing, and rhetoric courses. She also teaches EIU students working toward their Bachelor of General Studies at Danville Correctional Center.  In her free time, Dr. Tacke enjoys dabbling in new creative pursuits (like guitar or ceramics), facilitating improv workshops, binging television, reading for fun, and relaxing with her cats.


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Samantha Whiting is an English Graduate Assistant at Eastern Illinois University with a concentration in Creative Writing. She works in the EIU Writing Center and interns for Bluestem literary magazine. She earned her BA from Eureka College in 2021 before making her way to EIU. Her creative interests include novel-length projects and short literary fiction that most often incorporates themes of gender, coming-of-age and adolescence, and intersectional feminism. 


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Chris Wixson (he/him/his) has been at EIU since 2002 and teaches courses in Shakespeare and modern/contemporary drama as well as playwriting. He is the author of books and journal articles on a variety of plays and playwrights, most recently on the work of Bernard Shaw. His adaptation of Shaw's last full-length play Buoyant Billions received its first reading at the International Shaw Society Symposium in July 2020. He also teaches in the department of Theatre and often serves as production dramaturg. His spare time is filled with B-movies, yin yoga, and jelly beans.


Camp Counselors



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Nick Bays (he/him) is a Sports Media Relations and German double-major and minoring in Radio and Audio Production. He is a senior at Eastern Illinois who is staying an extra year and a half to complete his German education. Nick's plan after college is to work in sports media (radio and/or television) with a possible future in Germany or Austria. In his free time, Nick loves to play video games and listen to music while occasionally writing. He is also a big Star Wars fan. Nick also enjoys making an occasional podcast episode or YouTube video. His favorite books include I Am The Messenger and The Great Gatsby





Makenna Boyd is a senior ELA (Teacher Certification) major with a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at EIU. She is currently working on my honors thesis about diversity in Marvel fanfiction (ask her about it!). Favorite books change all the time but a current favorite is Verity by Colleen Hoover. Her hobbies include reading, swimming, snowmobiling, and keeping up with everything Marvel! She can't wait to see you all and have a great camp! :)




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McClain Homann is a local from Mattoon and senior English major with concentrations in creative writing and literary studies. McClain is also completing a minor in Premodern Global Studies. He has been a part of the English Studies Summer Camp since its first year in 2015 as a camper, until he attended Eastern Illinois University in 2018. He cannot wait to help inspire and motivate young creative minds and establish long lasting friendships, just like the program did for him all those years ago.



Young woman outside

Maddy McLaughlin is a junior at EIU, majoring in English Teacher Certification. Her hobbies include singing, going to Barnes & Noble, reading (both novels and Manga!), and volunteering at her local animal shelter. Her all-time favorite book series is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, although she has been reading various thriller and mystery books lately with the goal of reading 20 novels over the summer. 





Related Pages

Contact Information

Department of English

600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-2428
Fax: (217) 581-7209

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