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, February 28, 2013


I have many updates, dear reader, to present here in quick succession.  So instead of putting up several small posts, I will put up one longish one.

First up, I've just learned that the book Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times (Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2012) -- which was co-authored by Professor Emerita of English Gail Hawisher along with Cynthia Selfe and former UIUC PhD student Patrick Berry (now an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University) -- has won two impressive awards from The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and so will be honored at the next CCCC conference.  The volume will be awarded both the 2013 CCCC Advancement in Knowledge Award and the 2013 CCCC Research Impact Award.

That's quite a haul!  Congrats!

Second, there was a nice story this past weekend in the local newspaper--The News Gazette--about the publication of Steve Davenport's latest book of poetry.   The volume is called Overpass, and you can order it hereDavenport is Associate Director of our Creative Writing Program.

The newspaper story says "This gritty collection is perfect for readers who are familiar with the Illinois floodplain (across the Mississippi River from St. Louis) and will recognize names mentioned in the poems, from East St. Louis to Alton, from Miles Davis to Robert Wadlow. Even Cahokia Mounds and Sauget get a mention."  The volume's page quotes a reviewer saying: "Steve Davenport's Overpass takes us on an exuberant journey across the Illinois floodplain known as the Bottom, whose features include "factory cutbacks and closings, / refineries and strip clubs needing paint." Davenport's muse and central figure is Overpass Girl, whose cancer becomes a kind of metaphor for this "dirt cursed with industry and blood." A sequence of curtal sonnets, with a few sassy sestinas and other forms mixed in, Overpass creates a startling and delightful tension between its richly gritty content, and a craft that crashes through its own formal restraints with deft use of wordplay, syntax, allusion, and joyful sound."

So: for the gritty among you and fans of exuberant journeys: check it out!

Last but not least, Philip Graham writes to tell me that he has begun publishing a series of interviews with former UIUC Creative Writing students who have published books recently at Fiction Writers Review.  You can read the first installments of this soon to be expanded series now.  His interview with William Gillespie (a Creative Writing undergrad major in the '90s) here, and his interview with Rosalie Morales Kearns (an MFA grad from 2006) is here.  A very nice idea, and interesting interviews!

Whew!  So much to report on!  Carry on.

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