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 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!

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