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, June 2, 2009

Peter Garrett

The end of this Spring semester brings the retirement of Peter Garrett, a much-admired member of our department who first came to Champaign-Urbana in 1975. Professor Garrett, a specialist in narrative theory and 19th century British fiction, is the author of (among other things) several important studies of narrative structure and form including his 2003 book Gothic Reflections: Narrative Force in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Cornell UP). He is also a former director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory here at Illinois, and was co-editor (with Michael Rothberg) of the book Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University which was published by SUNY Press this past Winter.

The pictures pasted into this post (of Peter being toasted by Cary Nelson and presented by yours truly with a gift on behalf of the department) are from a retirement party that we held in Peter's honor a week or so ago. You can't really see it in the photos (which were taken from the part of the room where most people were standing), but the the event was crowded and very, very convivial--evidence, I'd say, of the generally-held admiration for Peter's achievements as well as of a shared appreciation for his level-headed good sense. Peter is teaching this summer and will almost certainly teach for us again as an emeritus faculty member. And he will definitely continue to write and publish. So, I'm happy to say, he's pretty clearly going to remain active, as a member of our departmental community and as a trusted colleague. He'll just have more time for things like skiing and martial arts! Still, in an era when faculty members in English departments have become increasingly peripatetic, it is great to have a chance to pause over and celebrate a career like Peter's, one during which he has made such a deep and sustained contribution to everything our department is and does.

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