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Volume 22, Issue 1

From (Under) The Chair’s Desk

During this interim year of chairing, I will keep Reading Matters on a sporadic schedule, but now that we are over the midterm hump (week 10 already!), let me share some of the exciting English Department news. Faculty achievements are captured in the second half of this number, and my apologies for those I haven’t managed to fit in. Meanwhile, the business of a thriving department continues apace. Next year’s curriculum is shaping up handsomely, with particular thanks to Hannah Rounds and Doris Witt. Recruitment of undergrads continues impressively, with thanks to Kate Torno and Phil Round for maintaining that effort and to all who participated in our You @ UI coffee hours (where I was repeatedly approached by parents expressing appreciation for the personal touch of our coffee-table conversations). And the new major in English and Creative Writing is a reality both on the books and increasingly in the classroom and in our scheduling. Indeed, the release of the Registrar’s Student Profile gives us the first glimpse of student numbers in the context of the emerging new degree.

Student Numbers Matter

The Registrar’s Office has now published the annual Profile of Students Enrolled at the University of Iowa, Fall 2016, available here, along with archived historical data. The Profile gives a snapshot of student registration at the end of the second week of the fall semester. This is slightly awkward timing for us. While it gives the first official record of enrollment in the new degree, that option was a mere two weeks old when the data was gathered, and so it is likely that further students may still be moving to the new major. With all due caution, this Profile records a probably meaningful shift in the momentum of registrations. While our total population of majors has been steadily declining for the last few years – a pattern seen at all the Big Ten schools and broadly throughout the country – this year saw that decline nearly end, with a total population of 787 majors, a mere fraction of a smidgen smaller than last year’s 794 majors. In view of the buzz around the new degree, the visibility of our recruitment efforts, and the boost in the number of entering first-years who have declared English or English and Creative Writing, I would expect that number to now hold steady or increase in coming years.

In another way of looking at the numbers, our total Student Credit Hours taught in Fall 2016 is 9,762 (taught by some 37.75 FTE), which represents a slight uptick from Fall 2015 with 9,356 SCH (taught by 39.5 FTE). In a challenging environment for the humanities, the English Department is holding its own.

Detailed breakdown of the numbers, divided between our two majors, and with a comparison for the last few years follows:

FALL 2016
787 majors
681 declared English majors
106 declared English and Creative Writing majors

of these: 588 English first majors (198 men, 386 women; 111 self-identify as minorities, 6 foreign)
93 second majors (28 men, 63 women, 2 not reported)
94 English and Creative Writing first majors (30 men, 64 women; 21 minorities, 4 foreign)
12 second majors (3 men, 9 women)
63 declared English minors
29 in English Ed.

In 2015-16 we awarded:
203 BA degrees
23 minors
11 MA degrees
13 Ph.D. degrees

Faculty numbers:
Tenure-track FTE: 37.25
lecturer FTE: 0.5

FALL 2015
794 majors
687 first majors (218 men, 467 women; 131 self-identify as minorities, 14 foreign)
107 second majors (39 men, 67 women, 1 transgender)

In 2014-15 we awarded:
216 BA degrees
25 minors
13 MA degrees
16 Ph.D. degrees

Faculty numbers:
Tenure-track FTE: 39.0
lecturer FTE: 0.5


FALL 2014
840 majors
697 first majors (241 men, 456 women; 117 ethnic minorities)
143 second majors (46 men, 97 women)

In 2013-14 we awarded:
220 BA degrees
29 minors
10 MA degrees
10 Ph.D. degrees

Tenure-track FTE: 39.75


FALL 2013
862 majors
735 first majors (260 men, 475 women; 112 ethnic minorities)
127 second majors

In 2012-13 we awarded:
227 BA degrees
30 minors
16 MA degrees
15 Ph.D. degrees

Tenure-track FTE: 39.75

FALL 2012
961 majors (350 men, 611 women)
816 first majors (123 ethnic minorities)
145 second majors 105 graduate students (43 men, 62 women; 23 ethnic minorities)
31 NWP students (10 men, 21 women; 8 minorities)

In 2011-12 we awarded:
229 BA degrees
31 minors
12 MA degrees
6 Ph.D. degrees

Tenure-track FTE: 42.25

FALL 2011
987 majors (375 men, 612 women)
827 first majors (96 ethnic minorities)
160 second majors 102 graduate students (46 men, 56 women; 24 ethnic minorities)
42 NWP students (13 men, 29 women; 8 minorities)

In 2010-11 we awarded:
232 BA degrees
38 minors
9 MA degrees
18 Ph.D. degrees

Tenure-track FTE: 45.5


Undergraduate Placement Matters

The Pomerantz Career Center now pursues information on the placement of undergraduates through a survey of students six months from graduation, which can be broken down by major. The latest data are from students graduating in 2014-15. With about half of English majors reporting, the data show 92.1% in employment or education, which compares with 92.3% for CLAS as a whole and 93.3% for the UI as a whole. Salary is also reported, although this is based on a far smaller sample (less than 6% of our graduates). The median starting salary reported for English is $32,640, which compares with $35,000 for CLAS as a whole, and $43,680 for the university as a whole. Meanwhile, there is plentiful national research indicating the financial value of a Liberal Arts degree in relation to employment, such as that of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which can be found here, or the reassuring upward trend in the report on English Salaries by Students Review, located here.

For a more nuanced account of the achievements of some of our majors after graduation, see the sections on alums on the English Department website, Alumni News and Meet our Students and Alum.

Next Generation Ph.D. Matters

As we consider what form graduate training should take in the current world of diminished tenure-track openings and what form the dissertation should take in a world of diverse platforms for the circulation of ideas, the Department of English is an active participant in an NEH Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Planning Grant, The Newly Composed Ph.D.: Writing Across Careers, led by Judith Pascoe. Click here to see the website for further details, where you will find blog postings on the recent visits by Nick Sousanis and Amanda Visconti, along with a guest post by Kate Nesbit anticipating the upcoming visit of Ivan Kreilkamp. Indeed, the site gives access to stimulating discussions and guest events that will be running throughout the year.


Faculty Matters

UI Press has released a new book by Ed Folsom and Chris Merrill, Song of Myself: With a Complete Commentary. Last summer, Ed also completed the MOOC, Whitman's Civil War.

Blaine Greteman published an article in Slate Magazine on UI alum Gene Wilder, on the occasion of his death, as seen through the materials in the UI archive. It can be read here.

Lena Hill, who is serving for the next two years as Senior Associate to President Harreld, was subject of a profile in Iowa Now, which reveals, among other things, her hidden skills on the rugby field. Click here for further reading. Her article, "The Politics of Fatherhood in Three Days Before the Shooting...", was recently published and appears in The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century (2016). The collection can be found here.

The release by UI Press of Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa During the Long Civil Rights Era, by Lena and Michael Hill, was the occasion for a three-day community event, Fields of Opportunity: UI’s Black Migration Stories. The event is described here with a full website here. Read further details on the book here.

Adam Hooks was prominent throughout the Shakespeare events surrounding the visit of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folio to Iowa. News stories about the event can be found here, here, and here.

Kevin Kopelson has published an essay on the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the June 30, 2016 issue of the London Review of Books, which can be read here. Kopelson has also just published a book on “late style” in the arts, available here.

Kathy Lavezzo delivered the Milton Seminar at the Newberry Library in October on “Milton and Readmission.” Kathy was also the recipient of a 2016 Summer Collaboration grant from the Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry for her project, “Remappings: Christians and Jews in Early England," detailed here.

Chris Merrill published a sequence of prose poem conversations with Marvin Bell: After the Fact: Scripts and Postscripts.

Jeff Porter published Lost Sound: The Forgotten Art of Radio Storytelling. More info can be found here.

Stephen Voyce published a piece on redaction in Amodern, a media and culture journal.

Graduate Placement Matters

The following is a partial list of recent graduate placement news, with a fuller list maintained on the English Department website. Please report corrections or additional news to Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp.

Congratulations to Jen Shook, who is joining the Digital Bridges in Humanistic Inquiry team at Grinnell College. Jen will still be around and collaborating with UI. 

Congratulations to Sunghyun Jang has just gotten a tenure-track job at Korea University, one of the three most prestigious universities in Korea.

Undergraduate Matters

English major Joshua Wright presented a paper drawn from his honors thesis at the “Summer of 1816” conference in Sheffield, England on June 27. The conference, which brought together European, Canadian, and U.S. scholars, marked the 200th anniversary of the famous gathering of Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori at the Villa Diodati in Geneva, Switzerland. Out of their creative interaction came Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s The Vampyre, among other iconic literary works. Joshua’s English honors thesis, which was completed under the supervision of Prof. Judith Pascoe, explored the ways in which the Villa Diodati gathering became an enduring preoccupation both of Romantic writers who memorialized it and of scholars who sought to pin down its key events. In a wonderful stroke of serendipity, Joshua completed his thesis, entitled “Have You Thought of a Story? Romantic Self-Mythology and the Villa Diodati Ghost Stories,” just in time to participate in an international conference dedicated to his research topic.

Upcoming Matters

Faculty Meeting, October 27th - 3:30 pm, Gerber Lounge (304 EPB)

Greil Marcus, November 1st, 7:00 pm, Englert Theatre

Faculty Colloquium with Miriam Thaggert: "Handmaidens for Travelers: An Archive of the Pullman Maid," November 8th, 3:30-5 pm, Gerber Lounge (304 EPB)

STUMPED! Literary Pub Quiz - hosted by ATI (International English Honors Society), November 10th from 6:30-9:00 pm, The Vine, 330 E. Prentiss St, Iowa City

Iowa Bibliophiles Present Blaine Greteman - Shakeosphere: Visualizing Shakespeare's Networks, November 9th, 6:30-8:00 pm, Main Library, 3rd Floor Special Collections Reading Room

Faculty Colloquium with Jen Buckley, "The Body in the Book: Carolee Schneemann's Artists' Books," December 6, 2016, 3:30 pm, Gerber Lounge (304 EPB)