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Volume 23, Issue 3

From Planet English: Winter Omnibus

Warm wishes for happy holidays to English Department faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. As the semester draws to a close, faculty and instructors, please remember to submit your grades no later than 5 pm on Monday, December 18. And please lower thermostats and power down electronics and appliances before decamping.

Finally, some news that’s fit to print: Interim Provost Sue Curry has authorized a search for a Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.This was a welcome announcement for many DEOs, as well as CLAS Faculty Assembly and Executive Committee representatives, who were concerned about previous statements indicating that the search would be launched only after the conclusion of the 2020 process. Provost Curry has outlined a CLAS decanal search timeline that features preliminary interviews over the summer and campus visits in the fall. In light of this announcement, the reorganization of the College no longer appears imminent, though the 2020 Phase II committee continues to consider the administrative structure of the University.

The timeline of the Phase II information gathering process under the leadership of Tom Rice has now been extended through the spring semester. Through its web portal and a series of open meetings, the committee is soliciting “big ideas” that could shape the university over the next 20 years. Some ideas that I’ve heard aired at several recent meetings include: creating a first-year college for all UI undergraduates; reimagining the faculty portfolio and the role of professors of instruction; and, advancing particular interdisciplinary areas or strengths (e.g., rural communities; global affairs; climate change; diversity; creativity/the writing university).

EPB 4th Floor4th Floor EPB

More on bathroom remodeling: As the third- and fourth-floor EPB bathrooms undergo remodeling over winter break to make them ADA-compliant, I bid a fond adieu to the three stickers affixed to the south stall interior door in the fourth-floor women’s room. No one has succeeded in removing them in over twenty years. What perseverance! One sticker celebrates the twenty-year anniversary of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, which took place in 1993. Another offers a cogent definition of sexual abuse, while the third advertises the now defunct Women’s Transit Authority. For the thousands who’ve used this stall over the decades, this space is a reminder of the long history of women’s rights activism on the UI campus.


Undergraduate Matters

Matt Brown (as Director of Undergraduate Studies) and Lauren Haldeman (as webmaster extraordinaire) are teaming up to help profile some of our sterling undergraduates for the Writing University. These are known as “The 5Q Interview.” Intrigued? Hie thee to this profile of Austin Hughes and to this one of Eilidh Spery. Bravo Austin and Eilidh!

Claire Fox is quoted in the College Magazine article, “Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Wasting Your Time as an English Major.”

Anne Stapleton reports that the ATI food drive was a huge success: "Contributions were generous and well appreciated by the Free Lunch Program." 

ATI member Alex Chasteen

Pictured: ATI member Alex Chasteen helped box up donations for the Free Lunch.

ATI food drive, 2017

On December 7, the Department of English and ATI celebrated the English and English & Creative Writing majors graduating in December 2017. Congratulations to the following graduates: Katherine Boyd, Robert Brod, Celeste Crowell, Seth Dolan, Beth Halverson, Amanda Hargis, Sierra Kome, Maria Kyllingstad, Tanner Lafever, Madison Laing, Wen Ying Lee, Alexandra Lemoine, James Morey, Paige Netzel, Rachel Noe, Henry Parizek, Sara Sanchez, Lindsay Schwab, Christopher Scott, Joseph Sheridan, Ariel Steusloff, Andy Sun, Maxwell Tourt, Chitoka Webb, MacKenzie Wernimont, Shannon Wright, and Tanvi Yenna.

Cheyenne Puetz of the English Honor Society ATI, presides over the reception in honor of December graduates held on December 7, 2017.

Pictured: Cheyenne Puetz of the English Honor Society ATI, presides over the reception in honor of December graduates held on December 7, 2017.





Faculty Matters

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies has named Jen Buckley (Assistant Professor of English) and Joyce Tsai (College of Education and UI Museum of Art) as co-directors of the 2019-2020 Humanities Symposium, "What Can the Museum Become?" Over the next two years, they will work with faculty, students, and community members across the University and experts at other institutions to develop a series of conversations in which participants will discuss how museums -- including the UIMA, which is scheduled to open in 2020 – can serve not just as repositories of artworks, but also as incubators of new ideas and artistic practices, and as sites of community-building. These events will include class visits, town hall discussions, and public talks, culminating in a two-day symposium to be held on campus in Spring 2020.

The November issue of Iowa Alumni Magazine features an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Life and Adventures of Jack Engle (ed. Zachary Turpin, UI Press, 2017), with commentary by Ed Folsom, and an article about Kristen Radtke’s graphic novel, Imagine Writing Only This, featuring notes about Eula Biss (NWP MFA 2006), John D’Agata (Writers’ Workshop MFA 2006, M.F. Carpenter Professor in English, and spring Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program), and Robin Hemley (Writers’ Workshop MFA 1982, former UI Professor and former Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program).

A paper Eric Gidal co-wrote with Michael Gavin of the University of South Carolina, “Scotland’s Poetics of Space: An Experiment in Geospatial Semantics,” has now appeared in the online open access Journal of Cultural Analytics. Gavin will be visiting the University of Iowa on February 22-23 and giving a sequence of talks and workshops on computational humanities and geospatial analysis. See more details about his visit here.

Loren Glass recently interviewed Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program, for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Read “Cultural Diplomacy: An Interview with Christopher Merrill” here.

Blaine Greteman has an article in the forthcoming December issue of the Cultural Analytics, coauthored with James Lee of Grinnell/University of Cincinnati. Greteman reports: “It is called ‘Linked Reading: Digital Historicism and the Case of Shakespeare’s Othello,’ and combines topic modeling with network analysis to provide what (we think) is a fascinating discussion of race and national identity in Othello. The article grew out of the Digital Bridges Partnership with Grinnell and the Obermann Center.

Congratulations to Kerry Howley who has received a Flexible Load assignment in spring 2019 to work on her book project, Wildwood: Sabotage and Surveillance in an American Forest.

Marie Kruger and Miriam Thaggert, both of the Departments of English and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, were named DSHB Faculty Scholars. Kruger will use the funding to return to her primary research site at Constitution Hill (Johannesburg), a former prison turned into a memorial site, and complete research for her book on South African visual culture and its representation of women’s traumatic experiences with racially motivated violence in apartheid South Africa. Thaggert will use the award to complete her second single-author book, Riding Jane Crow: African American Women and the Railroad, a social and literary history of African American women and nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century train travel in the United States. And thank you also to David Soll in the Department of Biology for donating the proceeds of his Hybridoma Bank to create the DSHB Fellowship, which supports humanities research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Thank you to Kiese Laymon, the Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Nonfiction Writing Program this fall, who delivered a fantastic reading from his forthcoming book, Heavy: A Fat Black Memoir (Scribner), to a large audience at Shambaugh Auditorium earlier this semester.

Congratulations to Garrett Stewart who has been invited to be a Visiting Fellow in the Council of the Humanities and the Department of English at Princeton University in Spring 2019. 

Doris Witt hosted a conversation with combat veterans Robert J. Konrardy and Bill D. Campbell, who visited her ENGL 4001 (Honors Seminar in 20th-21st Century American Literature: Writing and War) to speak about their experiences serving in Vietnam and the impact of those experiences on their lives thereafter—including Konrardy’s decision to embed in 2007 in Iraq with the same platoon he had commanded in Vietnam.


Staff Matters

Welcome to Hannah Sorrell, who joins the Department this month as Curriculum Coordinator and Assistant to the DEO of English.

Alumni Matters

2017 English BA​ Sophie Katz discusses creativity and collaboration in the IowaNow story “New UI class challenges students to meld technology, performance.”

Lucas Mann and Cutter Wood, both alumni of the Nonfiction Writing Program, were awarded 2018 NEA Fellowships in Creative Writing (Prose). Mann is the author of the books Lord Fear and Class-A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere. Wood's book Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime is forthcoming in 2018.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences named 2002 PhD graduate James Tweedie one of two Academy Film Scholars for 2017. With the $25,000 award, Tweedie will work on his book about the history and theory of Hollywood production design.


Upcoming Matters

EPB Staff Appreciation Lunch - December 13, 2017, noon, Gerber, EPB 304

Spring Semester Classes Open - January 16th, 2018, The University of Iowa

NWP Visiting Writers Series: Durga Chew-Bose (NWP alumna) - February 8th, 2018, 7:00 pm, Prairie Lights Books

Dada Futures Symposium - February 16-17, 2018, more details here

Michael Gavin (University of South Carolina) - Talk, Workshop, and Seminar on Network Analysis - February 22-23, 2018, more details here

NWP Visiting Writers Series: Patricia Foster - February 28th, 2018, 7:00 pm, Prairie Lights Books

Click here to visit the News and Events on the English Department website for more details.