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, July 17, 2009

Faculty books: Multidirectional Memory

I am happy to call to your attention the recent publication of Michael Rothberg's new book, Multidirectional Memory Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization, in Stanford University Press' "Cultural Memory in the Present" book series.

Here is the book description, from the press' website: "Multidirectional Memory brings together Holocaust studies and postcolonial studies for the first time. Employing a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, the book makes a twofold argument about Holocaust memory in a global age by situating it in the unexpected context of decolonization. On the one hand, it demonstrates how the Holocaust has enabled the articulation of other histories of victimization at the same time that it has been declared "unique" among human-perpetrated horrors. On the other, it uncovers the more surprising and seldom acknowledged fact that public memory of the Holocaust emerged in part thanks to postwar events that seem at first to have little to do with it. In particular, Multidirectional Memory highlights how ongoing processes of decolonization and movements for civil rights in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere unexpectedly galvanized memory of the Holocaust.

Rothberg engages with both well-known and non-canonical intellectuals, writers, and filmmakers, including Hannah Arendt, Aimé Césaire, Charlotte Delbo, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marguerite Duras, Michael Haneke, Jean Rouch, and William Gardner Smith."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Unit

I have been remiss about posting here of late. The summer is comparatively slow in EB 208, and (to tell the truth) I've been trying to do some scholarly reading and writing of my own in the gaps between administrative responsibilities and so haven't taken the time to write here. This is likely to continue through mid-August, though I will try to post from time to time.

I couldn't let this pass without comment, however: I am happy to announce that (pending approval of the Trustees) Lauren M. E. Goodlad, who did a terrific job as interim director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory last year, has graciously agreed to serve a full term as Director beginning in August. The Unit is not formally affiliated with the English, but its directors have typically been from our faculty and it has been, for more than 25 years, an important source of intellectual and scholarly excitement for faculty and graduate students in English as well as in other humanities fields on campus. Goodlad, whose work perfectly embodies the very best of the kind of historically and materially grounded theoretical work for which the Unit is known, is the perfect person to lead the Unit going forward and I'm very happy that she has agreed to do so.

Now would also be an appropriate time to thank the outgoing Director, Michael Rothberg, for his brilliant work with the Unit during his term. In addition to his tireless administrative work-- planning countless talks, conferences and other events that have been instrumental in fostering our lively culture of interdisciplinary exchange--Rothberg is to be lauded for making a concerted effort to include graduate students in English and other humanities fields in all of the Unit's activities. Rothberg was on leave in 2008-09, and will be working this coming year in English as well as in The Program in Jewish Culture and Society, where he will be the Director of a new initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.

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