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, 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!

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