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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Now with pictures

As promised, here is a picture of the cover of the latest issue of Ninth Letter.  You can find more information about the new issue here, at the 9L website.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

9L 9.2!

In a few days, when the new picture is uploaded to the Ninth Letter website, I will adorn this post with a picture of the cover of the new, hot-off-the-press issue.  For now, let me just say: it's here, it's here!  I've been reading the poems first, which I usually do, and loving them.  

Ninth Letter--as you surely know--is the award-winning literary magazine that we produce under the stalwart leadership of Jodee Stanley and in collaboration with Art + Design.  The special premise is that in addition to being a top quality literary magazine, each issue of 9L is also a work of art in its own right.  For example, this issue has a section called "animated bestiary" that... well, you'll have to check it out for yourself.

There is a preview of the intriguingly titled piece "Piaf and Roadkill" on the magazine's website, here.  If you don't know the magazine, you can read more about it at the blog on their website, and you can subscribe (which of course you should do!) here

Oh and: you can "like" them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, too.  O brave new world!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mockapalooza 2012

Last night, in administrative and faculty offices all throughout the English Building, we held mock interviews for job-seeking graduate students.  Since the job search, for students seeking tenure track jobs at least, typically hinges on a terrifying 45-minute interview, we try to help our students prepare by practicing.  These interviews are not unpredictable, and practice really does help.  To do this, pair faculty up into teams of 2 and and hold 30 minute sessions trying to approximate the real thing via role play.  It's sort of like speed dating, I guess: students get some different interview experiences and instant feedback, likely from faculty who have read their application materials but don't otherwise know their work.  

The whole event is arranged by our job placement officer--this year, that's Justine Murison.  And it is kind of wonderful all around because a significant portion of the department comes together to help each other out.  That automatically makes for a great vibe. Also, it is exciting to read the materials of the extremely talented grad students one meets, and to glimpse in this way the range of fantastic work going on here.  This year, I made up a team with Bruce Michelson, and we interviewed students in US literature, early modern British literature, Theatre, and Anglo-Saxon studies.  Last year, I was teamed up with Andy Gaedtke.  The year before, I was paired with Eleanor Courtemanche

I want to use this space to say thank you, on behalf of the department, to Justine and all of the faculty volunteers.  And also to send the best and most optimistic good wishes to all of our talented and dedicated grad students.

Monday, December 3, 2012

LeAnne Howe wins USA Artist Fellowship

United States Artists is a philanthropic organization, started in 2005, with the mission of supporting arts and artists in the USA.  The 'about' page of their website explains that their mission is about making it possible for artists to support themselves, and one very direct way that they do that is by giving out 50 USA Fellowships each year to artists in range of artistic fields including dance, theater, architecture and design, music etc.  

And literature, which is where we come in.

I am delighted to announce that LeAnne Howe--of English and American Indian Studies--was just awarded one of the USA Fellowships for 2012.  If you click through to the list of 2012 fellows and then click the literature tab to the left of the page, you can see her there amongst the august company of other USA Fellowship winners in literature. 

Anyway, this is pretty exciting--congratulations, LeAnne!

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