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, December 16, 2011

Linky goodness

I'm writing today to share three links to interesting websites featuring English Department faculty members. The sites couldn't be more different, I think you'll agree. But variety is the spice of life, and in a terrific, comprehensive English department like ours there are always all kinds of things going on!

First up is an interview with Audrey Petty about her family's history and her own engagement with the project of the Southern Foodways Alliance. I personally find the cultural history of foodways utterly fascinating and it is a dream of mine someday to participate in the academic side of the Sourthern Foodways Alliance's work. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'd recommend reading this interview and then looking up all of Audrey's other published foodways-related pieces and reading them too! You can find the interview here.

Proceeding in alphabetical order, the next link is to an online article published at by Michael Rothberg. The piece offers an analysis of recent neo-Nazi extremism in Germany, placing it within the context of that country's competing discourses around immigration and the value of multiculturalism. The article, well worth reading, can be found here.

And last but not least, Alex Shakar. You didn't really think there would be a blog post here without him, did you? The widely read online literary journal The Millions is running a series called "The Year in Reading," in which various luminaries of the literary world are invited to share what they read and loved in 2011. Alex's is here.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Writing Program Certificate of Excellence (and more Alex Shakar)

I'm very pleased to be able to announce here that our undergraduate rhetoric program has this year been awarded a certificate of excellence by The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).

Here is the text of the press release issued by CCCC:

"The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), an association within the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), has awarded a 2011-2012 CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Undergraduate Rhetoric Program.

Established in 2004, this award honors up to 20 writing programs a year. To be eligible for this award, programs must be able to demonstrate that the program imaginatively addresses the needs and opportunities of its students, instructors, institution, and locale; the program offers exemplary ongoing professional development for faculty of all ranks, including adjunct/contingent faculty; the program treats contingent faculty respectfully, humanely, and professionally; the program uses current best practices in the field; the program administrator (chair, director, coordinator, etc.) has academic credentials in writing; the program uses effective, ongoing assessment; the program uses effective placement procedures; class size is appropriate; and that the program models diversity and/or serves diverse communities.

The Selection Committee for the 2011-2012 Writing Program Certificate of Excellence noted that the University of Illinois has an innovative e-text reader with on-going professional development and also has a program that is well-integrated institutionally.

CCCC supports and promotes the teaching and study of college composition and communication by sponsoring meetings and publishing scholarly materials for the exchange of knowledge about composition, composition pedagogy, and rhetoric; supporting a wide range of research on composition, communication, and rhetoric; working to enhance the conditions for learning and teaching college composition and to promote professional development; and acting as an advocate for language and literacy education nationally and internationally.

At the 2012 CCCC Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Undergraduate Rhetoric Program will be publicly announced as a recipient of the CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence on March 23, 2012."

Congratulations are in order for Catherine Prendergast, who directs the program, and for Richard Nardi and other members of the program's staff.


In other news...and stop me if you've heard this one before...

Alex Shakar's novel Luminarium has just been listed by The Washington Post as one of the notable works of fiction for 2011.

The blurb accompanying the listing describes the book as being "something like an adult version of “Sophie’s World” for readers clicking between “Mortal Kombat” and Immanuel Kant, Shakar’s metaphysical novel explores different facets of belief and the manipulation of consciousness."

Hrm. Not sure I'd have put it like that. But I certainly concur with the evaluation that Luminarium is one of the year's best novels!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mock interviews

This past Thursday, we held our annual evening of mock interviews for new and recent PhDs who are on the academic job market. Mock-a-palooza, shall we call it?

For those not in the know, the vast majority of English departments looking to hire new faculty members do so via a process that involves, as a penultimate stage, a 30-45 minute interview with a faculty search committee in December or early January. These interviews are--and I speak from experience here--somewhat terrifying. So much rides on them, and success or failure in them has only a tangential relationship to one's real ability to thrive as a faculty member. It is one thing to teach well and quite another to be able to speak glibly about teaching when asked unexpected questions by potential future colleagues; it is one thing to be a brilliant research scholar and another to be able to chat about your scholarship in a clear, thoughtful way in some hotel room somewhere while amped up on adrenaline.

Because the job interview is not really like what most of us do most of the time, even very well-trained scholar-teachers need to prepare themselves in advance. And since there are some predictable aspects of the interview process, we--like many departments--try to help our students prepare by staging role-played mock interviews. It is a very useful kind of practice.

I mention this here, though, because I always think of the evening of the mock interviews as an example of our department at its very best. Faculty participate out of a real commitment to the well-being of our graduate students, and I have never failed to be impressed by the colleagues I am paired up with or by the graduate students (in all sub-fields) whose work I learn about in this odd, stylized interaction. Almost half of our faculty participate in any given year, and that means reading candidate materials, coming up with interview-style questions, and then participating in several different mock interviews over the span of several hours late on a Thursday evening. Teams of two are located throughout the English building and job seekers go from room to appointed room. Each of them has a couple of mock interviews so that they can compare feedback, and because so many department members are in and around the building the whole thing winds up having a semi-festive feel to it.

As we head into the interviewing season, I want to wish all of this year's job-seeing grad students the best of luck. You are among the smartest and best-prepared scholars and teachers on the job market and any department that hires one of ours will be extremely well-served. I hope you take that knowledge, and the confidence it should impart, with you into your real interviews.

Also, I'd like to thank our Director of Graduate Studies, Tony Pollock, and our Placement Officer, Vicki Mahaffey, for all the work they do arranging this event and generally helping our job-seeking graduate students prepare themselves. Above all, and on behalf of the graduate students and the department, I'd like to thank all of the many, many faculty members who volunteered to participate in these interviews at what is of course a very busy time of year. I'm pleased and proud to have such terrific colleagues.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Amy Rumsey

Now that we're all back in Urbana-Champaign after a nice and much-needed Thanksgiving break, I thought I should update this blog.

The most recent piece of good news around here is that Amy Rumsey--who helps keep the main English Department office humming and who helps me with all manner of administrative tasks on a daily basis--has been awarded an LAS Staff award in recognition of her good work. These staff awards are highly competitive (there are more than 200 staff members in LAS, after all), and so winning one is a real honor.

I couldn't be more pleased since (in keeping with the seasonal theme) Amy's help is one of the things I regularly give thanks for. Since word went out a few days ago about this award, there has been a steady stream of faculty and grad students congratulating Amy. I've enjoyed hearing that, both because I share the sentiment and because the friendly exchanges I've heard exemplify the the generally upbeat and cheerful tone in our main office that Amy herself has done so much to cultivate.

So let me chime in here, too: thanks, Amy, for everything you do to help me and on behalf of everyone else in the department. And congratulations!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kevin T. Early Memorial Scholarship winners

One of my favorite parts of the seasonal business conducted in English is the process of awarding the annual Kevin T. Early Memorial Scholarship. This award is given each year to recognize and a talented Freshman poet, with the added purpose of helping to encourage talented young writers to continue pursuing their craft. What a wonderful thing that is. The award, established by William and Donna Early, honors the memory of their son, Kevin T. Early, who was himself a talented, dedicated, and award-winning young poet.

To apply, students submit a packet of their poems, which are then judged by faculty experts who do not see any identifying information and have only the quality of the poems themselves to go on. This year, as always, we received a lot of stellar application packets. In fact, our faculty judge wrote to me asking if we couldn't offer this scholarship to two winners this year since there seemed to be two exceptionally strong applicants who each deserved the award. As it happens, for this year, we were able to do just that.

I've now had the chance to meet with each of the scholarship winners, and I'm even more pleased with the decision our judge arrived at. They are both confident, interesting writers, they are both smart and engaging, and each of them has a clear-headed sense of what the craft of writing can be for.

I am very pleased, therefore, to congratulate Alli Gattari and Matt Stillwaugh as this year's winners of the Kevin T. Early Memorial Scholarship.

In case he reads this, I'd also like the thank William Early again for the enormous generosity of spirit that lies behind this particular award. And my deepest thanks, on behalf of our students, to all the other donors who made contributions to this fund this year in tribute to Donna Early as well as in memory of her son.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Best books of 2011!

As we inch our way towards December, we enter the season for 'best book of the year' lists. The leaves have changed color, so it must be time for the lists.

These types of lists are typically for fiction and trade non-fiction, so they don't tend to recognize university press books of the kind I and many of my colleagues publish. But I'm going to be following these more closely this year than I sometimes do, because I think Alex Shakar's novel Luminarium is contender to wind up on any and all lists of the best novels of the year.

And sure enough, here's one: Publishers Weekly has just issued its lists of best books of 2011, and Luminarium is one of the novels honored!


And speaking of Publishers Weekly, they also recently ran this strong, starred review of Janice Harrington's The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home, describing the poems as
"pellucid, scary, morally resonant."

Monday, November 7, 2011

LAS awards!

I could have posted this, I suppose, at almost any time during the preceding semester. But better late than never! Two faculty members in English have been awarded very prestigious and competitive awards by the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences this year.

First up, J. B. Capino was named a Helen Corley Petit Scholar for 2011-12. This is an honor given annually to exceptionally successful newly-tenured faculty members in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences in recognition of superior achievement in research, teaching, and service.

And Siobhan Somerville was named one of this year's Conrad Humanities Scholars. The Conrad Humanities Scholar program is still a relatively new honor, one made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Arlys Streitmatter Conrad. It provides recognition and research support for outstanding humanities scholars in the college if Liberal Arts and Sciences over a five year period.

These are richly deserved awards for two brilliant, dedicated, and hard-working faculty members. I am very proud to have them as colleagues. Congratulations!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More luminaries

The University of Illinois's outstanding American Indian Studies Program is holding a reading and reception this coming Friday to recognize and celebrate faculty book publications during this last year.

The event will be held on Friday, October 28, from 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm at the Authors Corner on the 2nd floor, Illini Union Bookstore.

The books being celebrated are:

Jodi A. Byrd's The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minnesota)

Vicente M. Diaz's Repositioning the Missionary: Rewriting the Histories of Colonialism, Native Catholicism, and Indigeneity in Guam (Hawaii)

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert's Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (Nebraska)

Robert Dale Parker's Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 (Pennsylvania).

Light refreshments will be served, and the event is Free and Open to All.


Readers of this blog will already be familiar with Byrd's book and with Parker's, since they each have faculty appointments in English, too. So I've posted here about their books before. They, along with LeAnne Howe and Robert Warrior (the Director of AIS), form what may be the strongest faculty cohort in American Indian Literary Studies in the country.

While we're at it, here's a link that further substantiates what I'm saying about our strength in American Indian Literary Studies. It is from the Maynard Institute, which celebrates Native American Heritage Month with profiles of, well, luminaries, including LeAnne Howe.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Two quick links today to English-related news items from elsewhere on campus.

First, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), our humanities center, just announced its slate of funded, collaborative research projects for 2011-12. I'm pleased to see that several English Department faculty members are involved. Congratulations are due to all of these groups, of course, and to English department members Justine Murison, Dale Bauer, Spencer Schaffner, Ricky Rodríguez, and Siobhan Somerville, who will be participating in the various interdisciplinary faculty teams associated with the projects.

And second, there was a nice story about Alex Shakar published in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences online News last week.

Note too: If you happen to follow both of the links in the previous sentence, you will be treated to a rare, simultaneous glimpse of two of the very different hairstyles sported upon occasion by the mercurial Dr. Shakar.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Local luminaries (and Luminarium)

For those of you who live in or around the Champaign Urbana area and have read with interest some of my posts in this space about Alex Shakar's novel Luminarium, this week is your chance to meet him and to hear him give a reading from it.

This coming Wednesday, October 5, at 4:30, Shakar will give a reading at the Authors Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union bookstore (on the corner of Wright St. and Daniel St., right across from the English building).

And later this month, Janice Harrington will reads from her terrific new book The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home. That event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, also at 4:30 pm and also in the Illini Union Bookstore.

As it happens, I've had the pleasure of hearing both of them present their work before, and you could not ask for two more captivating presenters (though their styles are in fact quite different). So come hear them both--you'll be very glad you did!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Directions

One of the more exciting developments here of late has been the fact that our own Feisal Mohamed was awarded a Mellon New Directions Fellowship. The goal of these highly-competitive awards is to foster serious, well-informed, and innovative interdisciplinary humanities scholarship.

Here is the stated objective of the fellowship program, pasted in from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation website:

Serious interdisciplinary research often requires established scholar-teachers to pursue formal substantive and methodological training in addition to the PhD. New Directions Fellowships assist faculty members in the humanities, broadly understood to include the arts, history, languages, area studies, and zones of such fields as anthropology and geography that bridge the humanities and social sciences, who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. The program is intended to enable strong scholars in the humanities to work on problems that interest them most, at an appropriately advanced level of sophistication. In addition to facilitating the work of individual faculty members, these awards should benefit humanistic scholarship more generally by encouraging the highest standards in cross-disciplinary research.

The university and the recipient's department should understand that New Directions Fellowships are primarily for advanced training in pursuit of a specific research agenda. Unlike other fellowship awards, this program does not aim to facilitate short-term outcomes, such as completion of a book. Rather, New Directions Fellowships are meant to be viewed as longer-term investments in scholars' intellectual range and productivity.

Mohamed is using this award to study law this year and next, with the ultimate goal of mastering the legal matters pertaining to his ongoing interest in the controversial nature of religious toleration.

Those of you who have already seen his recent book, Milton and the Post-Secular Present, will understand how legal study marks an appropriate new direction for Mohamed's scholarly concerns. Mohamed is a trained specialist, above all, in seventeenth-century literature and the poetry and prose of John Milton. But Milton was in his own right a sophisticated social and political thinker whose complex and sometimes conflicted writings on liberty (understood in a variety of contexts) continue to be relevant in our own era. Mohamed--committed above all to the idea that rigorous humanistic scholarship should yield insight about politics, civics, and ethics--has never been shy about carrying his historical and literary expertise into the arenas of of current debate. And in addition to his peer-reviewed scholarship, he regularly writes about current events from the perspective of a scholar, in venues such as Dissent and the New York Times. Because conflicts about religious liberty and toleration so frequently imply knotty issues of law, legal study is an apt new direction for Mohamed's multi-faceted, ongoing, scholarly research.

In addition to being a great opportunity for Feisal, this award reflects very well on the University of Illinois and on our department: Mellon-funded research opportunities are highly competitive.

I probably should have reported on this several months ago. I was not sure, when I first learned about the award, when the announcement would be made public, and then other items of good news seem to have crowded in upon me. Still, this is a very big deal, and I'm happy now to be able to offer public congratulations here to go with the private congratulations I offered Feisal earlier. Belatedly, then: congratulations!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Incomplete List for Spring 2011

It is time once again for me to congratulate the many grad students, instructors, lecturers, and professors in our department whose student evaluation scores for Spring 2011 have landed them on our Center For Teaching Excellence's latest List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students.

For those who are not familiar with these lists, they are based solely on student evaluation numbers. Each semester's list used to be called the Incomplete List (because not all classes on campus each semester have student evaluation reports), and of course anyone who cares about pedagogy knows that student evaluations are only one of many ways to evaluate effective teaching. So the list is also incomplete in that the data it is based on is incomplete as a way to assess teaching.

Still, the big block of names from English that appear on this list each semester is a direct reflection of the fact that many, many, many of our students feel exceptionally well-served by their classes. That is obviously a Good Thing. And each semester's list makes manifest the remarkable depth of teaching we have in our department: there are relatively new graduate students on this list as well as highly-distinguished senior faculty members, and people are here for teaching everything from 100-level writing classes as well as 500-level graduate. The list runs the gamut from A (Alderfer) to Z (Zink). And remember, many of the people listed here actually show up for more than one class.

Another thing I like about the periodic publication of Incomplete Lists is that each one offers the chance to recognize a bunch of teachers who have worked hard and had considerable classroom success. Strong teaching is key to who we are and what we do, so I like having the opportunity to praise it!

And so, without further ado, here are the instructors from English who appear on the so-called Incomplete List for classes they taught in Spring 2011.

Sarah Alderfer, Iryce Baron, Ben Bascom, Manisha Basu, Rebeccah Bechtold, Heather Blain, Lauren Marshall Bowen, T. J. Boynton, Sarah Cassinelli, Cody Caudill, Debojoy Chanda, Ezra Claverie, Jill Hamilton Clements, Dan Colson, Bethany Cooper, Mary Rose Cottingham, Leslie Crowell, Steve Davenport, Sarah Dennis, Norah Dick, Carrie Dickison, Lindsey Drager, Dennis Dullea, Patrick Fadely, Jill Fitzgerald, Kimberly Fonzo, Naida Garcia-Crespo, Shawn Gilmore, Philip Graham, Catharine Gray, Sarah Gray, John Griswold, Joe Grohens, Baron Haber, Andrew Hall, Jim Hansen, Gail Hapke, Ashley Hetrick, Marilyn Holguin, Ann Hubert, Sean Karns, David Kay, Brigit Kelly, Mary Lindsey, Melissa Littlefield, Trish Loughran, Mike Madonick, Vicki Mahaffey, Bob Markley, Julie McCormick, Patrick McGrath, Heather McLeer, Erin McQuiston, John Moore, Dave Morris, Justine Murison, Esther Nadolski, Tim Newcomb, Andrea Olinger, Curtis Perry, Julie Price, Paul Prior, Thierry Ramais, Franklin Ridgway, Jenica Roberts, Michael Rothberg, Vane Rouillon, John Rubins, Julia Saville, Spencer Schaffner, E. Jordon Sellers, Siobhan Somerville, Carol Spindel, Andrea Stevens, Eric Tanyavutti, Jessica Thom, Crystal Thomas, Kate Vieira, Elyse Vigiletti, Jonathan Vincent, Jason Vredenburg, Kathryn Walkiewicz, Daniel Wong, Elaine Wood, Amanda Zink.

Congratulations one and all on an important job well done.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The further adventures of Alex Shakar

Alex Shakar's novel Luminarium received a nice, positive review in the New York Times last week: "At times," the reviewer opines, Luminarium "reads like a Christopher Nolan or Wachowski brothers movie as scripted by Don DeLillo."

The book has also been written up in the AV Club, the Seattle Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post.

The Post review (which, to my delight, compares Shakar's novel to Richard Powers's terrific recent novel Generosity) opens with perhaps the best line a writer could ever dream of receiving in a review: "Days after finishing Alex Shakar’s Luminarium, I’m still stumbling around the house in a mixture of wonder and awe." So, dear reader, the moral of the story is simple: read Luminarium, but do not then try to operate heavy machinery.


And now see also this nice review in the LA Times.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Transit of Empire

The advance copies of Jodi Byrd's new book The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism have arrived! The book is published by the University of Minnesota Press, as part of an important book series called "First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies."

Last week, I wrote here about the recognition given to Robert Warrior and LeAnne Howe in the context of NAISA's prizes for the "Most Influential Books in Native American and Indigenous Studies of the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century." And now Byrd--who teaches in English and in American Indian Studies--adds to our strength and visibility in this field with a book that is likely to be enormously influential during the century's second decade.

Here is a book description, pasted in from the press' website: "In 1761 and again in 1769, European scientists raced around the world to observe the transit of Venus, a rare astronomical event in which the planet Venus passes in front of the sun. In The Transit of Empire, Jodi A. Byrd explores how indigeneity functions as transit, a trajectory of movement that serves as precedent within U.S. imperial history. Byrd argues that contemporary U.S. empire expands itself through a transferable “Indianness” that facilitates acquisitions of lands, territories, and resources.

Examining an array of literary texts, historical moments, and pending legislations—from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s vote in 2007 to expel Cherokee Freedmen to the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill—Byrd demonstrates that inclusion into the multicultural cosmopole does not end colonialism as it is purported to do. Rather, that inclusion is the very site of the colonization that feeds U.S. empire.

Byrd contends that the colonization of American Indian and indigenous nations is the necessary ground from which to reimagine a future where the losses of indigenous peoples are not only visible and, in turn, grieveable, but where indigenous peoples have agency to transform life on their own lands and on their own terms."

Congratulations, Jodi!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Poets and trustees

Two of our award-winning undergraduate poets--Rachel Mejak and Dan Klen--will read from their poetry at the University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting on September 9. Mejak and Klen were selected to read because of their successes in the Spring Undergraduate Creative Writing Contests on campus. The readings will take place in open session, beginning at approximately 1:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend, if room permits.

NAISA's Most Influential Books

At an awards ceremony held at its most recent annual conference, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) awarded prizes to the "ten most influential books in Native American and Indigenous Studies of the first decade of the twenty-first century." I am delighted--but not at all surprised--to note that two of our faculty members appear on this impressive list.

*One of these most-influential books is Robert Warrior's 2005 book The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction (University of Minnesota Press). Robert has an appointment in English, and he is also Director of our superb American Indian Studies program.

Here, pasted in, is the book description: "Much literary scholarship has been devoted to the flowering of Native American fiction and poetry in the mid-twentieth century. Yet, Robert Warrior argues, nonfiction has been the primary form used by American Indians in developing a relationship with the written word, one that reaches back much further in Native history and culture.

Focusing on autobiographical writings and critical essays, as well as communally authored and political documents, The People and the Word explores how the Native tradition of nonfiction has both encompassed and dissected Native experiences. Warrior begins by tracing a history of American Indian writing from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century, then considers four particular moments: Pequot intellectual William Apess’s autobiographical writings from the 1820s and 1830s; the Osage Constitution of 1881; narratives from American Indian student experiences, including accounts of boarding school in the late 1880s; and modern Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday’s essay “The Man Made of Words,” penned during the politically charged 1970s. Warrior’s discussion of Apess’s work looks unflinchingly at his unconventional life and death; he recognizes resistance to assimilation in the products of the student print shop at the Santee Normal Training School; and in the Osage Constitution, as well as in Momaday’s writing, Warrior sees reflections of their turbulent times as well as guidance for our own.

Taking a cue from Momaday’s essay, which gives voice to an imaginary female ancestor, Ko-Sahn, Warrior applies both critical skills and literary imagination to the texts. In doing so, The People and the Word provides a rich foundation for Native intellectuals’ critical work, deeply entwined with their unique experiences."

*Also way up on the list (and remember, these are the most influential books of a decade) is the collectively-authored 2008 book Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This book features Robert Warrior and LeAnne Howe, who is a Professor in English as well as in American Indian Studies. This semester, LeAnne is also serving as Director of our Creative Writing program.

Here, once again, is a pasted-in book descriotion: "This collectively authored volume celebrates a group of Native critics performing community in a lively, rigorous, sometimes contentious dialogue that challenges the aesthetics of individual literary representation. Janice Acoose infuses a Cree reading of Canadian Cree literature with a creative turn to Cree language; Lisa Brooks looks at eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Native writers and discovers little-known networks among them; Tol Foster argues for a regional approach to Native studies that can include unlikely subjects such as Will Rogers; LeAnne Howe creates a fictional character, Embarrassed Grief, whose problematic authenticity opens up literary debates; Daniel Heath Justice takes on two prominent critics who see mixed-blood identities differently than he does in relation to kinship; Phillip Carroll Morgan uncovers written Choctaw literary criticism from the 1830s on the subject of oral performance; Kimberly Roppolo advocates an intertribal rhetoric that can form a linguistic foundation for criticism. Cheryl Suzack situates feminist theories within Native culture with an eye to applying them to subjugated groups across Indian Country; Christopher B. Teuton organizes Native literary criticism into three modes based on community awareness; Sean Teuton opens up new sites for literary performance inside prisons with Native inmates; Robert Warrior wants literary analysis to consider the challenges of eroticism; Craig S. Womack introduces the book by historicizing book-length Native-authored criticism published between 1986 and 1997, and he concludes the volume with an essay on theorizing experience.

Reasoning Together
proposes nothing less than a paradigm shift in American Indian literary criticism, closing the gap between theory and activism by situating Native literature in real-life experiences and tribal histories."

This well-deserved recognition for Robert and LeAnne further underscores what a remarkable group of scholars we have in the area of American Indian literary studies. In addition to Robert and LeAnne, there is Jodi Byrd, whose terrific forthcoming book I will soon have occasion to highlight in this space, and Robert Dale Parker, whose publications in this area I have had occasion to kvell about in the not-too-distant past. If there is a stronger faculty in this area anywhere, I'd like to see it!

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