ESO Executive Council


Shari Arnold


Joanmarie Bañez

Decolonizing Initiatives Chair

Allison Harris


Sarah-Marie Horning

Publishing and Advocacy Chair

Erik Kline

Mentorship Chair

Garrett Bridger Gilmore

General Council

Micah-Jade Coleman Stanback

Pedagogy Resources Chair

Kristin Teston

Professionalization Chair

Elizabeth Gardner

Past-President Advisor

Shari Arnold is a Literary Studies Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Georgia State University and current President of the Emerging Scholars Organization. Her primary research examines how pop culture informs and complicates the intersections between race, class, and gender in the U.S. South, with a specific emphasis on stereotypes of African American women in literature, television, and film.

Joanmarie Bañez (Decolonizing Initiatives Chair) is a second-year PhD student of literatures in English at the University of California, San Diego. She is from Atlanta, Georgia, where she completed her BA and MA in English literary studies at Georgia State University. Her research interests include Indigenous and 19th-/20th-century hemispheric American literatures. Specifically, her research examines the intersections of science studies, law, narratology, and semiotics in counter-hegemonic narratives. As the Decolonizing Initiatives Chair, Joanmarie aims to help concretize ESO’s dedication to decolonization and antiracism in academic and non-academic spaces by fostering community building, responsibility, reciprocity, respect, and accountability within and beyond the SSSL community. Her work has been published in the South Atlantic Review.

Allison Harris is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her research focuses on cross-racial coalition in Appalachia and the multi-ethnic South, especially as resistance to federal dispossession. She emphasizes anti-racist pedagogy to develop radical empathy.  

Sarah-Marie Horning is currently a PhD candidate at Texas Christian University, where she works as Special Projects Editor for TCU Press. Sarah’s background is in twentieth- and twenty-first century Women’s Studies, American Studies, and Southern Studies. She received B.A. degrees in Political Science and English from UCF in 2012 as well as a Master’s degree in Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies in 2015. Sarah has been an active member of ESO prior to serving in the role of Publishing and Advocacy chair, and she also serves as a co-editor for the Emerging Souths blog. Outside of ESO, Sarah serves as President of the Carson McCullers Society, and received the Sarah Gordon Award, an accolade of the Flannery O’Connor Review, in 2017. Sarah’s dissertation, “Climate Poetics: Ecology, Storytelling, and Place in the Long Twentieth-Century U.S. South,” privileges black feminist and indigenous epistemologies of trauma and healing in its application of geographic, material, and biocultural methodologies to a small and diverse archive of women writers from and of the U.S. South whose works of literary fiction feature catastrophic climate events, storms, and hurricanes that impact the coastal southeastern United States.

Erik Kline received his PhD in English at the University of Alabama. His dissertation examines the spiritual fallout of the atomic bomb and how writers respond by turning to drugs, religion, and travel. His attention to southern literature focuses primarily on freak studies and ecocriticism, with a larger inquiry into how cultural production projects a dessicated southern land and people. His writing has appeared in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men at 75 (U of Tennessee Press) and The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review. Erik is excited to serve with this executive council as they expand ESO’s scope and impact.                                                                    

Micah-Jade Coleman Stanback is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in English at TCU, where she specializes in Black Childhood Studies. Her dissertation, “Beyond Innocence: Fostering Care for Black Children in the 19th-Century” seeks to complicate our collective understanding of innocence—a framework widely used to discuss children—and invites readings that understand Black children in more complex ways and actively advocates for their care. Other aspects of her research and pedagogy address the confluences of Black Young Adult (YA) fiction and environmental studies, as well as Black sound.

Kristin Teston is currently working as the Communications Manager for Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting locally-led conservation efforts. She is also a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Mississippi, where her research focuses on the ways in which we construct narratives about environmental issues and climate change. She is interested in how work outside the academy can better inform our research and pedagogy practices.                                                                                                                               

Elizabeth Gardner is a PhD candidate at Louisiana State University, where she is writing a dissertation that theorizes new models of community as depicted in works by southern women writers. As Past-President Advisor to the ESO Executive Council, Elizabeth is dedicated to supporting the ESO’s work of supporting emerging scholars.          

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