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Volume 19, Issue 7, Feb 27, 2014

From (Under) The Chair’s Desk

As week 6 comes to an end, an overwhelming sense of work in progress on many fronts may not be a surprising impression. The job offers are now in the hands of our two chosen candidates in the nonfiction/undergraduate creative writing search, while our hiring requests for next year have just been delivered to the College. Our own advanced Ph.D.s are busy with Skype interviews and fellowship applications (ably assisted in a challenging environment by Kathleen Diffley and the job placement committee). The Ph.D. admissions committee has made its selections (with thanks to Garrett Stewart and the team), and Claire Fox as finances director is working out financial packages that will make their attendance at Iowa possible, working with a budget that is all too tight, but with imagination and energy just about suitable for our purposes. The NWP has selected its next MFA class (with thanks to John D’Agata and his committee) and Brooks Landon is spearheading efforts to work on funding them, a task made a little easier after a successful appeal to the Dean’s Office for additional funding to counteract earlier cuts (with thanks to Deans Curto and Armstrong). Our request for visitors to fill in for colleagues on leave in 2014-15 just went to the College, even as Justin has launched his request for descriptions for fall courses.

Faculty reviews of probationary faculty are similarly in progress, with thanks to Brooks Landon, Alvin Snider, and their committees, and upcoming meetings listed in the calendar below. Meanwhile, thank you, all, for submitting your CVs as the annual review time comes around. As yet, I have seen or heard no hints as to the likely percentage available in the budget for salary raises this year, but the process is beginning to gear up. On the undergraduate front, with thanks to Doris Witt and Megan Gioielli for keeping the operation running smoothly in all its complexity, expect discussion soon of the increased faculty role in facilitating undergraduate admissions. In addition, as we try to convey a sense of our strengths to a broader constituency, we are looking at an English Department presence at Hawkeye Caucus Days in Des Moines in early April. More soon.

As all this progresses, let me end by sharing in visual form some of the numbers I was describing in the last Reading Matters. The charts below were provided by CLAS for inclusion in our hiring requests. CLAS currently gives us an official count of 39.75 TT/tenured FTE, and 0.67 lecturers teaching some 8,000 student credit hours (SCH). As always, there are fallacies and occasional downright errors that creep into such figures. In these charts, ignore the recent count of graduate students, where the huge increase for 2013-14 simply reflects a coding error in the data that has suddenly conflated the Writers’ Workshop with English. Apart from that, though, I think the data here is broadly accurate. You will see that our somewhat diminished SCH closely mirrors our somewhat diminished faculty count, such that last year’s proportion of teaching to faculty (SCH/FTE on the last chart) was slightly up from our five-year average. While that is such a crude metric we would never want to live and die by it, I hope that it may gently contribute to our case for next year’s hiring requests – along with the excitement and effectiveness of our teaching and the intellectual vitality of our research and writing!

Concerning which, faculty colloquia and guest lectures provide welcome moments to reflect upon the intellectual foment of our group endeavor. Blaine Greteman’s recent presentation demonstrates just how far digital humanities is redefining the way we present our areas of study, featuring an animated representation of strong and weak ties around Milton that looked like some sophisticated mapping of molecular action, while Laura Rigal led a two-session reading group that allowed us to critique within a context of semiocapitalism what us humanist scholars do. See the calendar for upcoming excitements amid our continuing works in progress!


Faculty Matters

Congratulations to Bluford Adams. His new book, Old and New New Englanders: Immigration and Regional Identity in the Gilded Age, is out from the University of Michigan Press. Expect celebrations soon.

This year the Office for the Vice President for Research and Economic Development initiated an annual award for Creative Distinguished Achievement in Research in the Arts and Humanities. Ed Folsom has been selected as the initial recipient of the Creative Distinguished Achievement in Research Award. Ed will be honored at a dinner and awards ceremony at the Hotel Vetro on April 3, 2014.

Ed Folsom and Chris Merrill have recently launched the UI’s first MOOC, examining the poetry of Walt Whitman. For an account, read more here.

Graduate Student Matters

Congratulations to Katherine Bishop, one of the winners of the RMMLA's 2013 Charles Davis Award for Best Student Convention Presentation. Her award will be announced on their website and her paper will be published in their E-Review in the fall.


Placement Matters

This is a cumulative list of placements that we know of so far this year.  Please report any placement news to Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp

Kelly Franklin has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at Hillsdale College, Michigan. Kelly’s dissertation, “Out of Place: Walt Whitman and the Latin American Avant-Gardes” (dir. Ed Folsom) will be defended in May 2014. 


CCC Conference Matters

Miriam Janechek & Annmarie Steffes, English Department graduate student organizers of this year’s Craft Critique Culture conference, report:

The CCC conference is coming quickly - we are only 5 weeks away! We need faculty members to support our event, which will make this a success for the grad students in the department. There are 3 ways you can personally help build a strong scholarly community among our department and show your personal support for the work of the graduate students. These are:

1) Mentor a panel chair
2) Assess papers for submission to the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies
3) Attend keynote talks - Marah Gubar, Colleen Theisen, Jennifer Teitle

Our schedule of events is here.

Mentoring: Of our 15 panel chairs, 14 of the graduate student chairs have not had the experience of chairing a panel at a conference. As graduate student mentors, we are asking faculty willing to spend a few minutes (15?) with the graduate student at the panel for which you volunteer to answer questions and give expert tips. This advice can include how to introduce someone, how to keep the panel on schedule, and how to facilitate discussion. Faculty mentors will then attend the panel and, as part of the audience, help the panel chair navigate discussion.

Assess papers: The IJCS will have a special CCC-themed issue this Fall. We need faculty members to attend panels and provide feedback to journal editors about strong papers and research to help the ICJS begin the process of building a strong special issue, edited by graduate students in our department.

Attending talks: We are bringing in three excellent speakers to add to the conference experience. You can read about each of these speakers on our website. We want to thank Garrett Stewart, Jon Wilcox, and Loren Glass for graciously agreeing to introduce these speakers on behalf of the department. Also, Dean Keller from the Graduate College was very enthusiastic about our speakers and has indicated he might be joining us! We are thrilled with this support, and want to thank everyone who helps build the graduate student intellectual community and the CCC by attending these talks.

Angela Toscano is our Participant/Faculty Coordinator and is the contact person for volunteering for either assessing papers or mentoring graduate students. Please email her to let her know which panels you will attend in one of these capacities. 

Also, take a moment to look through the schedule and see who of your students is presenting at the conference. Please consider attending these panels because your role as mentor/advisor/teacher is invaluable, and showing support through your attendance is not only a way to help the CCC be a success for our department, but is also an important way of creating a sense of support for the graduate student cohort.

Don't forget the party! All faculty are invited to join us for a reception at the Clinton St. Social Club on Friday, April 4, to celebrate our intellectual community. This event, 5:30-7:00pm will follow immediately after Dr. Marah Gubar's talk, and we hope you'll both attend her talk and follow us up the hill for good food and conversation. Also, they have an excellent cocktail list. 

Thank you for your time and support - we know that the department is invested in having the CCC be a successful experience for our intellectual community.


Upcoming Matters

Prashant Sinha lecture, "India Dramatized: Representation of India in Western Drama from 1580s (Marlowe) to 1960s (Osborne)." March 4, 2014 at 4:00pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

English @ Work: Opportunities in Book Publishing, Marketing, and Retail. March 5, 2014 at 2:00pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Reading by NWP Visitor Yiyun Li. March 5, 2014 at 7:00pm. Prairie Lights.

Faculty Meeting about undergraduate recruitment. March 6, 2014 at 3:30pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

DCG Meeting (all tenured faculty). March 6, 2014 at 4:00pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Reading by NWP Visitor Bonnie Brennen. March 7, 2014 at 7:00pm. Prairie Lights.

Reading by NWP Visitor Kathryn Davis. March 10, 2014 at 7:00pm. Prairie Lights.

DCG Meeting (all tenured faculty). March 13, 2014 at 3:30pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Reading by NWP Visitor Julene Bair. March 13, 2014 at 7:00pm. Prairie Lights.

Reading by NWP Visitor Gina Frangello. March 13, 2014 at 7:00pm. Prairie Lights.

Reading by NWP Visitor Terry Wahls. March 15, 2014 at 2:00pm. Iowa City Public Library

Pedagogical Lunch: The Teaching of Writing in English & Rhetoric. March 24, 2014 at 12:00pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.

Faculty Colloquium with Lena Hill titled "Jean-François Millet's Peasants and the Idea of New Negro Labor." March 25, 2014 at 3:30pm. Gerber Lounge, 304 EPB.