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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ninth Letter 8.1

I received my copy of the new issues of Ninth Letter today. As many of you know, Ninth Letter is the award-winning literary magazine that our creative writing program produces in conjunction with Art and Design. As always, I'm struck both by the quality of the writing and by the kind of reading that its ever-evolving form and design encourages. I wind up reading each issue like an explorer, not from front to back.

This volume comes in three segments, a arresting pictorial section (featuring, on most pages, cryptic numbers), an insert with words and music (!), and a separately bound volume containing poems, stories and non-fiction pieces. The image to the left here is the third and first of these segments. I'm beginning to think that the cryptic numbers refer to page numbers in the third of these and that they are in this way illustrations as well as an interpretive puzzle. If so, this may be a spoiler. But in any event, I record my interpretive process here because it illustrates the kind of reading that the magazine elicits.

If you click through to the Ninth Letter site, you'll find a blog there too (O brave new world, that has such blogs in't!). And there are a few samples of the writing in the journal that you might want to check out. Or you could just go ahead and subscribe now and see for yourself if my theory about the correlation between words and pictures seems correct.

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