Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

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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,
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Changing is not vanishing

I am delighted to ring in the new year by announcing the publication of Robert Dale Parker's important new book Changing is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I've been waiting for this book to come out ever since I heard it was in the works. It strikes me as a really major, field-changing piece of scholarship. Here is the book description, pasted in from the U Penn Press website:

"Until now, the study of American Indian literature has tended to concentrate on contemporary writing. Although the field has grown rapidly, early works—especially poetry—remain mostly unknown and inaccessible. Changing Is Not Vanishing reinvents the early history of American Indian literature and the history of American poetry by presenting a vast but forgotten archive of American Indian poems. Through extensive archival research in small-circulation newspapers and magazines, manuscripts, pamphlets, forgotten rare books, and scrapbooks, Robert Dale Parker has uncovered the work of more than 140 early Indian poets who wrote before 1930.

Changing Is Not Vanishing includes poems by 82 writers and provides a full bibliography of all the poets Parker has identified—most of them unknown even to specialists in Indian literature. In a wide range of approaches and styles, the poems in this collection address such topics as colonialism and the federal government, land, politics, nature, love, war, Christianity, and racism. With a richly informative introduction and extensive annotation, Changing Is Not Vanishing opens the door to a treasure trove of fascinating, powerful poems that will be required reading for all scholars and readers of American poetry and American Indian literature."

This is BIG, people. It is not everyday that a scholar gets to publish a book that is absolutely guaranteed to reshape its field.

This book extends the recovery project inaugurated by Parker's 2008 book, The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, which made available for the first time the complete oeuvre of the earliest known American Indian literary writer.

Since I expect this book to make major waves in the field of American Indian literary studies, I'd also like to take its publication as an occasion to brag for a moment about our depth in this scholarly field. With Parker, Jodi Byrd, LeAnne Howe, and Robert Warrior (who is also director of Illinois's excellent American Indian Studies Program), we absolutely have one of the very best faculties in this area in the country. So: if you are thinking about where to do graduate work in American Indian literary studies, or if you are a faculty member at some other institution and you find yourself advising somebody with an interest in this field, we should definitely be on the short list of places to apply.

Happy 2011, y'all. And congratulations, Bob, on the culmination of so much hard work.

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