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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Congrats to our new Associate Professors!

Please join me in congratulating the following English Department faculty members who have received promotion and been granted tenure at the University of Illinois. Each of them will now hold the title Associate Professor when the new academic year begins in August. Our newly promoted faculty (in alphabetical order) are:

*Feisal Mohamed, who teaches classes in early modern literature and (especially) the poetry and prose of John Milton. Mohamed writes about Milton, early modern literature and culture, the history of liberal thought from the early modern period to the present, and (especially) the vexed history of legal and philosophical thought concerning the idea of religious toleration within the western liberal tradition. A scarily-productive scholar, Professor Mohamed's book In the Anteroom of Divinity: The Reformation of the Angels from Colet to Milton was published in December of 2008, and he is well on the way to publishing a second important book, this time using his deep knowledge of early modern thought to intervene in some of the problematics that have haunted liberalism from the seventeenth-century to the present.
***Late-breaking news: Professor Mohamed tells me that his second book--Milton and the Post-Secular Present--has just this week been accepted for publication by Stanford University Press. Readers of this blog may also want to click through to Mohamed's hot-off-the-presses New York Times Opinionator piece, "The Burqua and the Body Electric."

Alex Shakar, a novelist who teaches in our Creative Writing program. It is a treat for me be able to trumpet Shakar's writing here because--as a recreational, non-specialist reader of smart contemporary fiction--I love his work. His collection of short stories, City in Love, was first printed in 1996 and then re-issued as a Harper Perennial Paperback, and his first novel, The Savage Girl, was published to considerable acclaim in 2001. His most recent novel, Luminarium, is not out yet, but will be published by Soho books. The Savage Girl is a wonderful, thought-provoking novel, and Luminarium--which I had the pleasure of reading in a penultimate draft--is (in my view) even better: one of the best novels I have read in some time. I will of course post about it here when it is printed.

*Renée Trilling, an Anglo-Saxonist, who teaches a range of courses for us including courses in Old English language and literature, the early British literature survey, and our required introduction to literary theory. Trilling's 2009 book The Aesthetics of Nostalgia: Historical Representation in Old English Verse examines the ways that historical consciousness is encoded in Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is well known that Anglo-Saxon verse is suffused with images of a lost past; what Trilling's book does is to demonstrate that this body of literature is also engaged in a complex kind of negotiation over the meaning of the past for its present, and that this is carried on with a level of sophistication that makes these texts answerable to modes of critical analysis more typically associated with modern theorists of formalism and historical representation. In this project, and in her current projects, Trilling is establishing for herself a central, ambassadorial role linking the philological rigors of Old English literary scholarship to theoretical concerns at the leading edge of humanistic study.

Each of these scholars, as is probably clear even from these thumbnail sketches, has richly earned this promotion; by granting each of them tenure we have taken an important step toward securing a healthy future for the department and its students.

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