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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two more!

Two more faculty books emerged into print this past week, just in time for the annual MLA book expo. So, to continue our own in-house book expo, I thought I'd post announcements here.

The first (alphabetically speaking) is by Gordon Hutner, who directs The Trowbridge Office for American Literature, Culture, & Society here and who is also the founding editor of the journal American Literary History (link to the journal on Project Muse here). Since Gordon does so much to foster and facilitate the work of others in the venues he runs, it is especially gratifying to announce the publication of his newest book What America Read: Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920-1960 (The University of North Carolina Press).

Here is the book description provided by the press: "Despite the vigorous study of modern American fiction, today's readers are only familiar with a partial shelf of a vast library. Gordon Hutner describes the distorted, canonized history of the twentieth-century American novel as a record of modern classics insufficiently appreciated in their day but recuperated by scholars in order to shape the grand tradition of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. In presenting literary history this way, Hutner argues, scholars have forgotten a rich treasury of realist novels that recount the story of America's confrontation with modernity.
Hutner explains that realist novels were frequently lauded when they first appeared. They are almost completely unread now, he contends, largely because they record the middle-class encounter with modern life. This middle-class realism, Hutner shows, reveals a surprising engagement with the social issues that most fully challenged readers in the United States, including race relations, politics, immigration, and sexuality. Reading these novels now offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness debates about what kind of nation America would become and what place its newly dominant middle class would have—and, Hutner suggests, should also lead us to wonder how our own contemporary novels will be remembered."

The second new book I want to announce is by Feisal Mohamed, an Assistant Professor here who specializes in Milton and Seventeenth Century British literature. If you've been reading this fledgling blog, you'll have met the exceedingly industrious Dr. Mohamed before--as conference organizer and radio personality. Now meet him as author. Feisal's new book, hot off the press, is called In the Anteroom of Divinity: The Reformation of the Angels from Colet to Milton (University of Toronto Press).

Here is the book description: "In the Anteroom of Divinity focuses on the persistence of Pseudo-Dionysian angelology in England's early modern period. Beginning with a discussion of John Colet's commentary on Dionysisus's twin hierarchies, Feisal G. Mohamed explores the significance of the Dionysian tradition to the conformism debate of the 1590s through works by Richard Hooker and Edmund Spenser. He then turns to John Donne and John Milton to shed light on their constructions of godly poetics, politics and devotion, and provides the most extensive study of Milton's angelology in more than fifty years. With new philosophical, theological, and literary insights, this work offers a contribution to intellectual history and the history of religion in critical moments of the English Reformation."

Oh and: happy new year to one and all!

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