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Ashford University Faculty Member Pens First Book
Book-signing reception with author Dr. Chase Pielak planned for March 17

What started off as his dissertation for his Ph.D. in English has culminated in the first published book for Dr. Chase Pielak. “Memorializing Animals during the Romantic Period” was recently published by Ashgate Publishing.

“I noticed during a nineteenth-century literature class in graduate school that animals appeared in a novel by George Eliot when her understandings of the human and living together were disrupted,” said Pielak, who has been teaching English composition and literature courses at Ashford University for the past four years. “Then I started to see them everywhere operating in the same way. And I wanted people reading my favorite texts to have a way to understand the creatures that they encounter in them, and perhaps also themselves.”

A book-signing reception for Pielak will be held at the Flora S. Lowe Library at Ashford

University from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. The public is invited. During the event, Pielak will discuss his book. The works of other Ashford faculty members will also be on display.

Pielak said the writing project started as a Ph.D. dissertation topic proposal in 2010. He wrote the bulk of the text as his dissertation, completing it in 2011. “I started almost immediately to rewrite it as a book based on the suggestions of my dissertation committee,” he said. After another year – when the manuscript was nearly completed – he started sending individual chapters to journals and proposals for the whole manuscript to publishers. “Each acceptance and rejection offered suggestions to improve the text, which I worked back into it,” the author said. Finally, at Ashgate Publishing, the book’s eventual publisher, it went through several rounds of editorial and peer review to get to its final form.

Not satisfied with writing just one book, Pielak teamed with Dr. Alexander Cohen, associate dean of Ashford’s College of Liberal Arts, to co-author “State of Apocalypse: Living with Zombies.” They are seeking a publisher and the completed manuscript has been submitted to Rutgers University Press for review.

“We posit in ‘State of Apocalypse’ that humans need zombies as the masks for our real conditions of existence that are too much to face straight on. We live in a state of apocalypse, a time when law no longer seems to apply, which, therefore, makes us uneasy,” Pielak said. “We suggest that the presence of zombies, therefore, reflects both the cultural anxiety that gives rise to the undead and an attempt toward a cure in fiction, with the hope that it might translate to our real lives. The cure, however, so often fails.”

“Memorializing Animals during the Romantic Period” can be obtained from,, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.

Pielak lives in Bettendorf, Iowa with his wife and four children.


About Ashford University

Where heritage meets innovation – that’s Ashford University. At Ashford, students discover relevant degree programs, innovative technology, and cherished tradition. Ashford offers associates, bachelor’s, and master’s online degree programs, while the Clinton, Iowa campus offers bachelor’s programs. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit,,, or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.