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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Wallace Stevens Memorial Prize

With the everyday busyness of the semester, it has been a while since I had a chance to update this blog. I hope some of you have had a chance to "like" our departmental Facebook page, though, since we've been announcing all sorts of good things over there. If not, please join us here.

I did want to take a moment to announce an exciting new prize we will be offering to graduate and undergraduate students, starting this year. It's called the Wallace Stevens Memorial Prize and it will be awarded once a year for the best critical essay written on modern American or British poetry. Here's an announcement for the first award cycle, which will be focused on graduate students:

This award has been made possible by the generosity of a donor, Harris Hatcher. Harris Hatcher is not an alumnus of our department, but he is a lover of modern poetry--and particularly the writings of Wallace Stevens, one of the great American poets of the twentieth century. We are so lucky to have found Harris and to have had the opportunity to connect him to our faculty, which is rich in expertise on modern poetry.

Last winter, Harris came to campus, and I had the pleasure of having lunch with him and introducing him to my colleagues. Although Harris is not an academic, he has the thorough knowledge of any specialist in the criticism of Stevens and modern American poetry--and he already knew the work of such English department faculty as Tim Newcomb (author of a book on Stevens) and Cary Nelson (editor of a major anthology of American poetry)!

Here I am with Harris and Vicki Mahaffey, a leading modernist in our department…

Opportunities like this--to connect our work as scholars with an interested and knowledgeable public--do not happen every day. But they sure make our work worthwhile!

Thank you, Harris, for supporting us and our students!

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