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, August 23, 2013

Greetings and ... Good News!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll notice that there’s a new name listed. It’s been exactly one week since I took over from Curtis Perry as department head. Curtis has done such a great job over the last five years—both on- and off-line—that it’s not going to be easy to live up to his example. Luckily for all of us in the department, though, he is serving this year as Interim Associate Dean for the Humanities and Interdisciplinary Programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, so we will have the opportunity to benefit directly from his wisdom and experience. He’s already been a great help to me and I know I’ll be calling on him frequently in his new role!

I plan to build on many of the positive steps Curtis has taken in the past years—working with alumni, supporting the efforts of the English Student Council, and maintaining this informative blog that he started. Like Curtis, I look forward to hearing from—and meeting—alums of the department.

I’ve been at Illinois for twelve years now and I’ve had experience directing the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, but I suspect that becoming head of English is going to be a new kind of challenge—and opportunity. After three days of orientation and five days in the office I feel like I’ve learned more about how the university works than in the previous dozen years.

Classes are about to start, there are lots of new faces around the department (and more to come), and we’re fortunate to have two searches getting underway—in Writing Studies and in African American Literature—that we hope will bring us some great new colleagues, so I think it’s going to be an exciting year.

I feel privileged to work with the faculty, staff, and students of this department. This is a department dedicated to high quality research, teaching, and service, and I’ll have plenty to report over the coming months about achievements around the English Building. To get us started I just want to mention two things:

First, the college announced this week that Ted Underwood has been named a Centennial Scholar. Ted is one of ten faculty members who have been given this prestigious, three-year named position in honor of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In the words of our interim dean, “These scholars represent the best of the liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois.” Congratulations, Ted, for this well deserved honor!

It’s also the time of year when the Center for Teaching Excellence announces its List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent for the previous semester. As always, the Department of English is extremely well represented. I’m very proud of the dozens of instructors from our business and technical writing, creative writing, literature, and rhetoric courses who appear on this list. Here they are:

Laura Adamczyk, Iryce Baron, Rob Barrett, Jensen Beach, Michael Behrens, Michael Burns, Jodi Byrd, Martin Camargo, JB Capino, Alexandra Cavallaro, Erin Chandler, Kendra Chapman, Mary Rose Cottingham, Esteher Dettmar, Carrie Dickison, Dennis Dullea, Patrick Fadely, Jill Fitzgerald, Stephanie Foote, Shawn Gilmore, Lauren Goodlad, Catharine Gray, Joe Grohens, Andrew Hall, Jim Hansen, Gail Hapke, Mary Hays, Erin Heath, Marilyn Holguin, LeAnne Howe, DeAvery Irons, David Kay, Susan Koshy, Mary Lindsey, Michael Madonick, Vicki Mahaffey, Robert Markley, Kaitlin Marks-Dubbs, Calgary Martin, Michelle Martinez, Heather McLeer, Erin McQuiston, Erica Melko, Jessica Mercado, Natalie Mesnard, Matthew Minicucci, John Moore, Dave Morris, Andrew Moss, Justine Murison, John Musser, Katherine Norcross, Valerie O’Brien, Michael Odom, Robert Dale Parker, Alexandra Paterson, Curtis Perry, Julie Price, Thierry Ramais, Scott Ricketts, Ricky Rodriguez, Michael Rothberg, John Rubins, Stephen Runkle, Lindsay Rose Russell, Sarah Sahn, Ted Sanders, Jordon Sellers, Alex Shakar, Michael Shetina, Siobhan Somerville, Carol Spindel, Derrick Spires, Andrea Stevens, Eric Thomas, Debora Tienou, Wendy Truran, Jason Vredenburg, Jeremy Wear, Rebecca Weber, Sara Weisweaver, Timothy Wetter, Zack Williams, Gregory Wilson, Jessica Wong, Elaine Wood, Charlie Wright, David Wright, Amanda Zink.

Have a great semester, everybody, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any news for this blog!

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