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 29, 2013


I am pleased to announce here that two faculty members from English have received Fulbright awards for the coming academic year.

If you are reading this, you probably know what Fulbrights are, but just in case you do not the wikipedia essay on the program and its history is here.  The program has been funding international scholarly exchange since the 1940s and is dedicated to the sensible proposal that scholarly exchange and intercultural understanding enriches everyone involved.  Fulbright awardees teach and conduct research abroad, so receiving such a grant is typically the start of an adventure!

Bruce Michelson, as of January 2014, will be Fulbright Professor of American Literature for a term at the University of Antwerp.

...and Zohreh Sullivan (Professor Emerita) will be a Fulbright Scholar for 2013-14 at the University of Jordan, where she will also be working on a project dealing with the ways that contemporary Arab writers think through problems of location, dislocation, and historical loss.


Friday, April 26, 2013

IPRH humanities awards etc.

IPRH, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, has announced the winners of its 2012-13 prizes for Research in the Humanities.  These prizes, awarded annually, honor excellence in humanities research by faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students at UIUC.  And since we have a deep pool of talent across the humanities here, winning one (or even receiving an honorable mention) is a nice feather in one's cap.  

As you can see, if you click though the link above, two of the three prizes awarded to faculty and grad students  have been awarded to member of our department, and two of the three recipients of honorable mentions are also from our department.  

Andrew Gaedtke is our faculty honoree, for the essay "Cognitive Investigations: The Problems of Qualia and Style in the Contemporary Neuronovel,” which was published in NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, 45.2 (Duke University Press, 2012).

Michael Rothberg (who some of you will remember from this blog post), received and honorable mention for his essay "Progress, Progression, Procession: William Kentridge and the Narratology of Transitional Justice,” which was published in Narrative 20.1 (January 2012): 1-24.

Our graduate student honoree is Kathryn Walkiewicz, and Ben Bascom received an honorable mention. These awards are about Walkiewicz and Bascom, both of whom I know personally to be exceptionally talented scholars, but it may also be worth mentioning here that both wrote their prize-winning essays in the context of dissertation research supervised by Trish Loughran, to whom the campus just awarded recognition for graduate teaching earlier this week.

The journal Narrative, in which Rothberg's aforementioned essay was printed, is published by the International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN).  I mention this because Rothberg has also just received an award from the ISSN honoring the essay for being the best of the year's publications in Narrative.  This award will be conferred in June at the ISSN conference in Manchester, and announced in the ISSN newsletter as well as in Narrative itself. 

The IPRH awards, meanwhile, will be conferred and recognized at an award ceremony held next Wednesday, which I hope to be able to attend!

Congrats to all, and thanks as always to the IPRH for all it does to recognize and foster humanities scholarship on our campus.

English Student Council Colloquium

This afternoon, in EB 108, the English Student Council is holding its Spring Colloquium featuring student Writing, Research, and Critical Analysis.  If you are in the area, come on down!  There will be a reception from 4:00-4:30 and then four student presentations beginning at 4:30.  I will probably have some photos of the event to post after the fact.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shakespeare's birthday and a return to blogging

This has, I think, been the longest I have ever gone without updating the blog since its inception.  The problem has not been that there is nothing going on--there is ALWAYS plenty going on--the problem has simply been that there have not been enough hours in the day for me to be able to write.  This short post is being composed in a brief window of time before I head off to a faculty meeting (my last as dept Head!), which will be followed by a student-run celebration of Shakespeare's birthday, and then in turn by a campus level Celebration of Teaching Excellence event at which Trish Loughran will be honored.  Whew!

Actually, the English Student Council is holding its Shakespeare's birthday celebration in the English Building later this afternoon, and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is holding their own Shakespeare's Birthday event at the same time!  Apparently, Shakespeare really loved cake.  We are, however, leaving "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" to the great metropolis up north, at least as far as I know.  Verily.  Shakespeare may or may not have been born on the 23rd, actually: he was baptized, we know, on the 26th.  But custom prevails, and we treat the 23rd as the official birthday.  Shakespeare did die on April 23, 1616, but that may not be quite as festive.

Anyway, this is just my way of re-entering the blog: look for more regular updates from me in the future. 

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