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, June 22, 2012

The Cambridge History of American Women's Literature

This is another of my summer posts based on a guess about the arrival date of a new book.  The Cambridge University Press website lists this book as available from June, so I'm betting that advanced copies have in fact arrived.

In any event, I am pleased to use this space to herald the publication of Dale Bauer's impressive new essay collection The Cambridge History of American Women's Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2012).  I know, from my own conversations with editors at Cambridge University Press, that volumes of this variety are meant to be more than just essay collections--they are meant to be authoritative books that map out some scholarly terrain in a comprehensive manner.  To scholars and students, books like this are immensely useful, too, because they do just that.  This book will be widely read and cited as an authoritative summation of the field of American women's literature.

Here is the book description, pasted in from the press's website:

"The field of American women's writing is one characterized by innovation: scholars are discovering new authors and works, as well as new ways of historicizing this literature, rethinking contexts, categories and juxtapositions. Now, after three decades of scholarly investigation and innovation, the rich complexity and diversity of American literature written by women can be seen with a new coherence and subtlety. Dedicated to this expanding heterogeneity, The Cambridge History of American Women's Literature develops and challenges historical, cultural, theoretical, even polemical methods, all of which will advance the future study of American women writers – from Native Americans to postmodern communities, from individual careers to communities of writers and readers. This volume immerses readers in a new dialogue about the range and depth of women's literature in the United States and allows them to trace the ever-evolving shape of the field."

To give a sense of the heft of the collection, here is the table of contents, also pasted in from the CUP website (with some hyperlinks added by me):

 Introduction Dale M. Bauer
1. The stories we tell: American Indian women's writing and the persistence of tradition Jodi A. Byrd
2. Women writers and war Jonathan Vincent
3. American women's writing in the Colonial period Kirstin R. Wilcox
4. Religion, sensibility, and sympathy Sandra M. Gustafson
5. Women's writing of the Revolutionary era Jennifer J. Baker
6. Women writers and the early US novel Andy Doolen
7. Women in literary culture during the long nineteenth century Nancy Glazener
8. Moral authority as literary property in mid-century print culture Susan M. Ryan
9. The shape of Catharine Sedgwick's career Melissa J. Homestead
10. Writing, authorship and genius: literary women and modes of literary production Susan S. Williams
11. Nineteenth-century American women's poetry: past and prospects Elizabeth Renker
12. Transatlantic sympathies and nineteenth-century women writing Susan David Bernstein
13. Nineteenth-century African American women writers John Ernest
14. Local knowledge and regional women's writing Stephanie Foote
15. Women and children first: female writers of American children's literature Carol Singley
16. US suffrage literature Mary Chapman
17. American women playwrights Brenda Murphy
18. Turn-of-the-twentieth-century transitions: women on the edge of tomorrow Stephanie Smith
19. Women's writing and naturalism: accidents and agency Jennifer Travis
20. The geography of ladyhood: racializing the novel of manners Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
21. Self-made women: novelists of the 1920s Jean M. Lutes
22. Recovering the legacy of Zara Wright and the twentieth-century black woman writer Rynetta Davis
23. Jewish American women writers Hana Wirth-Nesher
24. Women on the breadlines John Marsh
25. Modern domestic realism in America, 1950–1970 Gordon Hutner
26. Lyric, gender and subjectivity in modern and contemporary poetry Jennifer Ashton
27. Contemporary American women's writing: women and violence Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson
28. Asian-American women's literature and the promise of committed art Leslie Bow
29. Straight sex, queer text: American women novelists Lynda Zwinger
30. Latina writers and the usable past Kimberly O'Neill
31. Where is she? Women/access/rhetoric Patricia Bizzell
32. Reading women in America Susan M. Griffin

 Editing such a collection is a major undertaking, and this is a volume that will clearly make a major impact.  Congratulations, Dale!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bloomsday 2012

Happy Bloomsday, people.  Whether you celebrate with a pint, with mutton kidneys, or with "pungent mustard" and the "the feety savour of green cheese": enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Enlightened Sentiments

I have not seen Hina Nazar for a few weeks now--faculty tend to stay away from the main English office during the summer months unless they're teaching summer school--but I'm almost sure that she will already  have received copies of her new book, Enlightened Sentiments: Judgment and Autonomy in the Age of Sensibility.  Fordham University Press (to which the link above takes you) lists the book as having been printed in April even though it is still listed as available for pre-order at Amazon

The book is an ambitious one, offering up an account of the philosophical stakes of early novelistic fiction that seeks at the same time to challenge some deeply entrenched habits of thought associated with contemporary criticism.  It is lucidly written and is bound, I think, to be taken up and discussed by critics well-beyond the field of 18th-century fiction. 

Here is the book description, pasted in from the Fordham University Press website:

"Enlightened Sentiments reassesses the enlightenment's liberal legacies by revisiting the wide-ranging development of eighteenth-century letters known as "sentimentalism." Nazar argues that the recent retrieval of sentimentalism as a predominantly affective culture of sensibility elides its critical motif of moral and aesthetic judgment and underrates its contributions to the key Enlightenment norm of autonomy. Drawing upon novelists from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen, and theorists of judgment from David Hume to Hannah Arendt, the author contends that sentimental judgment complicates received understandings of liberal ethics as grounded in the opposition of reason and feeling, and autonomy and sociability and, as such, implies a powerful counter-challenge to postmodernist critiques of modernity as the harbinger principally of instrumentalist reason and disciplinary power."

Congratulations, Hina!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tenure and Promotion

I am very pleased to be able to announce here the following faculty promotions.  New titles take effect in August, 2012.

For those readers of this blog who are not in the academy, this is a big, big deal.  Promotions are based on a successful record as a teacher and scholar, and they often reflects the successful publication of research that the faculty member in question has been working on for many, many years.

In all cases, these promotions involve formal evaluation of the candidate's scholarly work by leading senior experts in his or her field, and careful in-house evaluation and deliberation concerning his or her teaching and research.  A professor on the tenure track basically has only two major promotions in his or her academic career, so each of them is a very important landmark.

The following faculty members in the Department of English have earned promotion to the rank of Associate Professor and tenure:

*Jodi Byrd, who is faculty in English and American Indian Studies.  Her book The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism, was published in 2011 by the University of Minnesota Press. 

*Janice Harrington, a poet and writer of children's books in our Creative Writing program, whose most recent book of poetry is The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home (BOA Editions, 2011).

*Melissa Littlefield, who is on the faculty in English and also in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health.  Her book, The Lying Brain: Lie Detection in Science and Science Fiction, was published by University of Michigan Press in 2011.  For good measure, another book--The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain--that Littlefield has co-edited is due to be published by The University of Michigan Press in about a month. 

*Justine Murison, a scholar of 19th-Century American literature, whose book The Politics of Anxiety in Nineteenth-Century American Literature was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.

The following faculty members in the Department of English have earned promotion to the rank of Professor (which means, per University guidelines, that they have amassed evidence of national or international stature in their respective scholarly fields and that they are leading scholars and teachers):

*Feisal Mohamed, who is an expert in seventeenth-century literature and especially the poetry and prose of John Milton, and who works on issues pertaining to law, literature, and the history of religious toleration. Mohamed's most recent book--Milton and the Post-Secular Present: Ethics, Politics, Terrorism--was published in 2011 by Stanford University Press.

*Tim Newcomb, a scholar of modern US poetry and of film, whose most recent book How Did Poetry Survive?  The Making of Modern American Verse was just published by the University of Illinois Press this Spring.   

Congratulations, one and all!

Blog Archive