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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Introducing our new assistant professors

Classes began here this week, and there is always something energizing about the start of a new semester. The campus--somewhat sleepy-feeling in the summer--seems bustling and even frenzied by contrast. Everyone is full or purpose, busy figuring things out, not yet settled into routines.

In keeping with this seasonal spirit of renewal, I'd like to introduce here the two new Assistant Professors who have joined our department this Fall.

*Manisha Basu joins our ranks this year as an Assistant Professor in the area of postcolonial literatures and theory.

Dr. Basu specializes in Anglophone Indian and African fiction. Her work is sophisticated and theoretically informed, and her research takes up the ways that postcolonial discourse (in India and in English-language fiction by Indian writers abroad) is being renegotiated as Hindu nationalism comes into contact with pressures and rewards associated with neoliberal globalization. She is also working on a comparative project examining the literary reverberations of religious/ethnic partition in India/Pakistan and post-civil-war Nigeria.

Because Dr. Basu has been a Visiting faculty member for the past few years, she already has a very impressive teaching record at UIUC. In addition to being exceptionally versatile (she has taught introductory theory classes required by our majors, classes in post-colonial Anglophone literatures, and classes in African fiction that we cross-list with the Center for African Studies), she has been highly effective by all measures (including my own personal observation). Basu has, for instance, been on the Center for Teaching Excellence's student evaluation based List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students for every semester she has taught here.

*We are also now joined by Andrew Gaedtke, an Assistant Professor specializing in modern and contemporary British literature.

Dr. Gaedtke's research uses an archive of psychoanalytic case studies to uncover structuring idea about technologically-inflected paranoia that also loom large in modernist and postmodern novels. It studies, therefore, the cultural impact of technological innovation on the experience of subjectivity and, in doing so, offers a new framework for understanding the exploration of mental states and identity in experimental modernist and postmodern fiction.

Gaedtke's deep knowledge of leading-edge cognitive and psychoanalytic theory complements (without replicating) the expertise of our other faculty in British modernism and dovetails nicely with research agendas being carried out in cognitive/literary/cultural studies by faculty in other areas of the department (such as, for instance, Melissa Littlefield). Gaedtke, who received his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, comes to us with considerable teaching experience, too. Like Dr. Basu, he promises to be a versatile contributor to our curriculum, teaching a variety of courses in his subject area at all levels.

I am delighted to welcome Drs. Basu and Gaedtke aboard!

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