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, April 30, 2012

ESLC Colloquium

This past Friday, the English Student Leadership Council held its now-annual Spring colloquium in the English Building. In a nice twist, the event started with a brief reception, a chance for students, faculty members, and departmental advisors, and various and sundry to share a bite and a brief chat.  Then four students presented research to an appreciative audience and fielded questions.  I would imagine that it would take some courage to do this, and I was really impressed by the intelligence and poise of the students, particularly during the Q&A portion of the event which (as any conference presenter knows) is the most anxious-making part of any presentation.

The event was ably MCed by Dan Hass, president of the ESLC, and it featured presentations by four outstanding students: Maggie Su (whose paper on Paradise Lost is being applauded in the picture above), Stacey Klouda (who presented on sustainable-food narratives, and for whom the crunchy-looking and verdant lettuce heads and plated books in the image below were props), Kristin Petersheim (who spoke about Chopin, Cather, and Larsen), and Patrick McDonald (who presented on Melville).     

In addition to questions about their subjects and approaches, the presenters fielded questions about the process of doing honors-level work in English: where topics came from, how students worked with faculty-mentors, what the process of original research really entails, and so on.  This seemed valuable to me, too: hands-on information, from student to student, about what it means to take an active, shaping role in the production of knowledge!

I'd like to use this space to thank all the students who participated in so doing edified all of us.  Big thanks are due, too, to our wise Director of Undergraduate Studies, Lori Newcomb, who has played such an important role these last few years in helping the ESLC find itself, and to our exceptionally dedicated and wonderful departmental advisors, Anna Ivy and Adrienne Johnson.  Our advising office is the best: that is a truth universally acknowledged.

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