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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

News , news, and more news

My time in this office is running low, and I have several BIG news items that I need to post about here.  Normally, these are the sort of things to which I would dedicated individual posts--because each is pretty significant in its own right--but I'm hearing time's winged chariot coming up rather quickly behind me and I do want to make sure I get all this posted!  So here goes.


The first item is that Bruce Michelson, who has been a wonderful teacher and scholar for many years here--and who is also a supremely generous colleague--is retiring in a week or so.  As you can see from his profile page, Michelson has been a highly productive scholar for a long time.  He has also been Director of our wonderful Campus Honors Program, and if you look here you can see his own brief statement about retirement.

Bruce has published in a number of areas--including poetry, humor studies, and cognitive approaches to criticism--but he is best known for his work on Mark Twain.  He was, for instance, just named as the inaugural recipient of the Louis J. Budd Certificate of Merit given at the recent International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies. And since Twain is probably the US writer most strongly identified in the popular imagination with the Midwest, that means a steady round of invited and public lectures in the area and beyond.  This means that--in addition to all of the accolades and productivity and so on, Bruce has been a terrific ambassador for our program.  

Bruce just received a Fulbright, and so he will be in Europe for much of the upcoming year.  But I know we all hope that he will still be part of our departmental community in the years to come.  Speaking personally, I cannot think of anyone in the department who has been more readily willing to lend a hand or contribute his time and talent to worthwhile efforts: he hosts departmental events, he steps in to help relive overburdened colleagues, he organizes scholarly working groups etc. etc.  One of the great privileges of being a department head is that you are allowed to be privy to the  extraordinary generosity with which some colleagues handle everything, and I have to say that there is nobody who is kinder or more generous than Bruce.


A second BIG news item deserving its own post (not to mention a a rousing fanfare) is that our department's candidates for promotion and tenure have all been successfully promoted.  

As of August 16, Christopher Freeburg will be an Associate Professor with tenure.  Chris works in 19th and 20th century US literature and in African American literature, and his recent book Melville and the Idea of Blackness was published by Cambridge University Press. 

Likewise, Andrea Stevens is about to become Associate Professor with tenure.  Andrea  is a scholar of early modern drama and performance studies with an emphasis on Shakespeare, and her recent book Inventions of the Skin was published by Edinburgh University Press.

Last but not least, I am pleased to be able to announce that Lauren M. E. Goodlad has been promoted from Associate Professor to Professor.  Lauren is a Victorianist by scholarly training, and a leading one at that, but she has also developed a strong scholarly publication record concerning various aspects of contemporary cultural production that she comes to out of a deep engagement with Victorian studies.  For instance, her shaping role in the development and publication of  Man Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s (Duke University Press) stems in part from an interest in serial forms of storytelling popular in the Victorian period.  In addition to being a Professor in English, Goodlad is Director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, where you can find a more detailed academic bio for her than on the English page.  You can also read more from Lauren herself on Kritik, the Unit's blog, which she also moderates

Congrats all around!


Finally, I am delighted to be able to announce here that José B. Capino has been awarded one of LAS's Conrad Humanities Scholar Awards in this year's competition. The Conrad Humanities Scholar program (made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Arlys Streitmatter Conrad) provides recognition and research support for outstanding humanities scholars in the college if Liberal Arts and Sciences over a five year period.  

This is a highly competitive award, since there are a great many deserving faculty members in the various humanities departments in LAS.  So I'm very pleased.  But I'm not surprised: JB is an award-winning scholar and a terrific teacher, and he is richly deserving of this recognition.  

No comments:

Blog Archive