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

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pumpkinification of English

Classicists among us will perhaps recognize an allusion here to a Roman satire called Apocolocyntosis divi Claudii, which is typically translated as The Pumpkinification of Claudius. But I actually mean this literally, not as an allusion or a satire: we've been pumpkinified. That is, we've just finished holding our annual staff pumpkin decorating contest, which means that the main administrative office of the English Department has been home, for the last several days, to an impressive array of remarkable, elaborately decorated pumpkins:

Visitors to the office have been invited to vote for their favorite, and today we tallied the votes and declared a winner. In order that you, dear reader, can experience some of the suspense attendant upon our pumpkinification, I'll leave this picture of the entries here and post a photo of the winner as a late update to this blog entry at some point next week. I can't vouch for this as direct first-hand knowledge, but I'm told that one of the pumpkins pictured above is a tribute of sorts to a member of our creative writing faculty.

The office has been pretty festive here all week, truth be told, and not only because of our pumpkinification. We've had things set up for trick-or-treaters, so for the last couple of days there has been a fairly steady stream of kids in their costumes sauntering or toddling in and out of the office. And even my esteemed Associate Head has been carrying out his duties in partial costume, sporting horns that will, he says, make up part of the satyr costume he plans to wear out and about on Hallowe'en. Sadly, he refused to allow me to take his picture, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Update #1: the winner of the pumpkin decorating contest is... Deb Stauffer, whose creation was the hatching pumpkin-chick in the center of the picture above. This is the second year in a row that Deb has won this contest.

Update #2: it turns out that the Associate Head, Rob Barrett, is shy only about displaying partial costumes. He sent me a picture of himself in full Silenus costume to post here, and, well, I can't resist:

We work hard here (even if we do have Bacchus's sidekick on staff). So it is nice every now and again to have the chance to be just silly. Happy holiday season to one and all! And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

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