Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grad studies

Yesterday evening I attended a session of our department's Early Modern Workshop (a.k.a. EMW, or, if you're a fan of animal mascots, the emu)—a regular forum in which graduate students and faculty in English working in the many sub-fields of early modern studies meet to discuss work in progress. Last night we discussed a graduate student's paper on Jacobean Lord Mayor's pageants, and in a few weeks we will meet again to discuss a faculty member's work in progress on Milton's Areopagitica. Then, a week or two later we'll assemble once more for an end-of-semester potluck that'll be hosted this time by Lori Newcomb (thanks, Lori!).

As an early modernist, I'm especially involved in the EMW, but this is only one of many departmental forums in which graduate students and faculty exchange ideas—you can find information on the British Modernities working group on our webpage and if you look at the Center for Writing Studies site you will see that they too have active colloquia and work-in-progress forums in which graduate students and faculty share their work. Our grad student association (EGSA) likewise has an ongoing colloquium series. This series will hold a meeting this week at which (quoting from the announcement) a number of graduate students will be "discussing how their dissertations theorize and analyze imperialism, empire and colonial narratives in British and U.S. Literature" and which "English grads at all stages in their coursework and research are encouraged to attend!" This is necessarily a partial list, since there are all kinds of formal and informal intellectual exchange going on all the time here, both in the English department and under the aegis of other units, centers, and interdisciplinary humanities departments. Because the University of Illinois has a critical mass of superb scholars in English and in the humanities in general, and because we all live and work in relatively close proximity to one another in a comfortable little city, there is always (at least in my experience) more going on than one can manage to take in.

I say all this for a simple pragmatic reason: this is the time of year when prospective graduate students are deciding where to apply, putting their application packets together, and reading through departmental webpages looking for places that might be especially hospitable or stimulating. My point, in a nutshell, is that we are both.

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