The surge in sales for George Orwell’s 1984 and, more recently, for Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale suggests that there may be a hunger these days for readings relevant to the moment. Members of the UVa English Department have suggested the following texts as ones that might be helpful to students, colleagues, and other members of the community in relation to current circumstances.
We have provided links (and in one case an attachment) where appropriate. Local bookstores and libraries should have copies of others. The English Department has a small budget for purchasing single copies should individuals interested in particular texts find them beyond their means. UVa’s Center for the Liberal Arts has a separate budget, also small, for buying individual copies for K-12 teachers. To receive a book under either of those auspices, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Michael Levenson, the William B Christenson Professor, recommends Sophocles’s Antigone (play, available in various translations): “I read it,” Levenson says, “as a great refugee text.”
2. Devin Donovan, a lecturer in the writing program, recommends two readings: a) this excerpt from Kenneth Ruscio's commencement address to the 2011 class of Washington & Lee University, in which, Donovan says, Ruscio “asks his audience to approach life with an appreciation for nuance, even though he recognizes how alluring the ‘security blankets of certitude’ can be for us, and b) Rumi’s “The Guest House,” which Donovan calls “a nice meditation on how difficult it is to be human, and how we might approach that difficulty with generosity and gratitude instead of anger or fear”: https://allpoetry.com/poem/8534703-The-Guest-House-by-Mewlana-Jalaluddin-Rumi
3. Writing Program lecturer John T. Casteen IV suggests Albert Camus’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech for its depiction of the Writer as Public Intellectual: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1957/camus-speech.html
4. Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here is recommended both by Writing Center Director Patricia Sullivan and by Vanessa Braganza, recent alum and former VP of the UVa English Student Association.
5. Victor Luftig, Director of the Center for the Liberal Arts, suggests Adrienne Rich’s “North American Time,” as a way of thinking about the pertinence of poetry in a time of crisis: http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/smonte10/files/2010/08/North-American-Time.pdf
6. Professor Mrinalini Chakravorty is teaching a very timely course on “Migrant Fiction” this semester and offers two lists: “the first,” she says, “focuses on writers from the countries specifically named in the travel ban that I’ve read and have had friends recommend. I’m sure there are others that I’m not familiar with. The second list contain books that speak to the theme of the course from other vantage points.”
Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North (Arabic Novel Translated by Denys Johnson-Daviesl, Sudan)
Amal Al-Jabouri's "Hagar Before Occupation/Hagar After Occupation” (Arabic Poetry Translated into English by Rebecca Gayle Howell, Husam Qaisi, Iraq)
Adonis: Selected Poems (Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, Syria)
Nuruddin Farah, Gifts (Novel, Somalia)
Ahmed Fagi, Homeless Rats (Libya)
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (Graphic Novel, Iran)
Ghasan Kanafani, “Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories” (Hilary Kilpatrick, translator from Arabic, Syria/Palestine)
Simin Behbahani, A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems (Translated from Farsi by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa, Iran).
Ibrahim Al-Koni, The Bleeding of the Stone (Translated from Arabic by Maya Jayyusi, Libya)
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees
Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands
W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants
Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy
Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven
Teju Cole, Open City
Sam Selvon, Lonely Londoners
Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore
Fourth-year English major Ellie Sohm was invited to present the results of her archival work on William Faulkner’s letters to his daughter at the annual Center for Faulkner Studies conference. https://news.virginia.edu/content/faulkner-father-students-prize-winning-research-reveals-conflicted-portrait
Stephen Railton’s Digital Yoknapatawpha project has received a three-year, $286,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Division.
Read more aboout the project in UVA Today.
Rita Felski, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and editor of New Literary History, has been awarded a Niels Bohr Professorship from the Danish National Research Foundation. Felski is one of seven international scholars and researchers to receive the professorship, and the only recipient in the humanities. Under the terms of Felski’s professorship, she will spend her fall semesters at the University of Southern Denmark over the next five academic years. The professorship comes with a grant amounting to approximately $4.2 million in support, which will allow Felski to organize international conferences and advance her research while directing a team of professors and post-doctoral researchers at the University of Southern Denmark.
Read more about the grant and Felski’s work at UVA Today.
UVA Today spoke to graduate and undergradute creative writers who had the opportunity to learn from acclaimed writer Caryl Phillips during his stay on grounds for the Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writer-in-Residence program. Phillips led a master class for graduate and undergraduate students and held one-on-one consultations with M.F.A. and undergraduate prose writers. Read the full article here: "UVA Students Find Widsom, Motivation in Acclaimed Writer's Visit."
Phillips will give a lecture about James Baldwin on Thursday, April 21, at 5 p.m., in the auditorium of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
The English Department will welcome Caryl Phillips, the 2016 Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, to Grounds April 11 to 22. He will deliver a reading, lecture, and masterclass, as well as holding one-on-one conferences with select undergraduate and graduate students. His reading will take place April 14 at 5:00 PM, in the Special Collections Auditorium, followed by a reception. The lecture will be April 21 at 5:00 PM, also in the Special Collections Auditorium.
Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts and came to Britain at four months. He grew up in Leeds and studied English Literature at Oxford University.
He began writing for the theatre, and his plays include Strange Fruit (1980), Where There is Darkness (1982) and The Shelter (1983). He won the BBC Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Play of the year with The Wasted Years (1984). He has written many dramas and documentaries for radio and television, including, in 1996, the three-hour film of his own novel The Final Passage. He wrote the screenplay for the film Playing Away (1986), and his screenplay for the Merchant Ivory adaptation of V.S. Naipaul's The Mystic Masseur (2001) won the Silver Ombu for best screenplay at the Mar Del Plata film festival in Argentina.
His novels are The Final Passage (1985), A State of Independence (1986), Higher Ground (1989), Cambridge (1991), Crossing the River (1993), The Nature of Blood (1997), A Distant Shore (2003), Dancing in the Dark (2005), Foreigners (2007), In the Falling Snow (2009), and The Lost Child (2015). His nonfiction: The European Tribe (1987), The Atlantic Sound (2000), A New World Order (2001), and Colour Me English (2011). He is the editor of two anthologies: Extravagant Strangers: A Literature of Belonging (1997) and The Right Set: An Anthology of Writing on Tennis (1999). His work has been translated into over a dozen languages.
Phillips was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 1992 and was on the 1993 Granta list of Best of Young British Writers. His literary awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a British Council Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and Britain’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, for Crossing the River, which was also shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize. A Distant Shore was longlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize and won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize; Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Open Book Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of the Arts and a recipient of the 2013 Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence.
He has taught at universities in Ghana, Sweden, Singapore, Barbados, India, and the United States and in 1999 was the University of the West Indies Humanities Scholar of the Year. In 2002-3 he was a Fellow at the Centre for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Formerly Henry R. Luce Professor of Migration and Social Order at Columbia University, Phillips is presently Professor of English at Yale University. He is an Honorary Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford University.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon will deliver a poetry reading with commentary entitled “Rising to the Rising: Poetry and Politics in Ireland” at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 in the Nau Hall Auditorium (Nau 101). Muldoon is the featured guest and keynote speaker for the “Terrible Beauty” conference hosted by UVA’s Graduate English Students Association. The conference marks the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and invites new takes on the relation of aesthetics to politics. Muldoon’s talk is free and open to the public.
The Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University, Muldoon has been dubbed “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War” by the Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of twelve major collections of poetry as well as works of criticism, opera libretti, books for children, song lyrics, and radio and television drama. From 1999 to 2004, Muldoon served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Since 2007, he has been poetry editor for The New Yorker. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Muldoon has been awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, and the Shakespeare Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Muldoon’s most recent collection of poems, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, was published by Faber in 2015.
More information about the “Terrible Beauty” conference, including a detailed schedule of events and information about panel presentations, can be found on the GESA website.
Jeffery Allen, the newest professor in the English Department's Creative Writing Program, talked to UVA Today about writing, teaching, and traveling.
Allen is the author of three works of fiction: the acclaimed 2014 novel Song of the Shank, nominated for the Dublin Literary Prize; the celebrated novel Rails Under My Back, which won the Chicago Tribune’s 2000 Heartland Prize for Fiction; and a short story collection, Holding Pattern. He has also published two volumes of poetry, Stellar Places and Harbors and Spirits, plus a range of essays and reviews. A recent recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, Allen has an essay about the Black Lives Matter movement forthcoming in April in The Evergreen Review.
Read the full article on UVA Today.
The English Department remembers longtime professor Ralph Cohen (b. February 23, 1917, d. February 22, 2016), an eminent educator, editor, and literary critic. Cohen joined the UVA faculty in 1967 and retired 42 years later as the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of English; he founded New Literary History, the award-winning journal of theory and interpretation, in 1969 and edited it for 40 years. Cohen specialized in eighteenth-century British literature and philosophy, though his crtical work ranged far beyond these fields; he developed an original theory of genre that connected literary theory with analysis of historical change across the disciplines. Current New Literary History editor and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Rita Felski has said that Cohen "transformed the field of literary studies, thanks to New Literary History, whose extraordinary impact resonated around the globe." Read more about Ralph Cohen's life and work at UVA Today and the obituary at Hill & Wood.
Professor Bruce Holsinger has led an investigation into the origins and composition of parchment, specifically the variety called "uterine vellum." Holsinger, in collaboration with British scientists Sarah Fiddyment and Matthew Collins from the bioarchaeology department at the University of York in the United Kingdom, brought together international collaborators from several disciplines across the humanities and the natural sciences to look into what uterine vellum was actually made of. The composition has remained a mystery until recently, when the researchers figured out how to analyze the material without destroying it. They concluded that much of it could not have been made of premature or stillborn animals, nor of small mammal skins, such as rabbits or rats, as scholars have speculated; it was made of cow, goat, and sheep skin, in the medieval period anyway. Their research was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Holsinger, a medieval scholar, has been studying the history, theology, technology and science of parchment for several years, with a book on the horizon for 2016.
Read more about the story at UVa Today.
Professor Anna Brickhouse has been named the winner of the Modern Language Association's forty-sixth annual James Russell Lowell Prize for her book The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford, 2014). The prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the profession, is awarded annually for an outstanding work—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.
The prize committee’s citation for the winning book reads: "In The Unsettlement of America, Anna Brickhouse puts the close-reading skills of literary criticism to work in a skeptical analysis of stories about indigenous interpreters in the sixteenth-century Hispanophone world. The result is a forceful intervention in American studies. Brickhouse demonstrates that the motivated mistranslation practiced by native informants allowed them to pursue unsettlingly sophisticated political agendas, which were based on their shared knowledge of the devastating consequences of colonialism. Reading between the lines of historical documents, she challenges us to reconsider the power of language as used by the colonized to resist the very forces that have shaped the archive and the ways we understand it. Brickhouse tells a vivid story that speaks not only to advanced students of the hemispheric Americas but also to the common reader with an interest in history and how it gets made."
The James Russell Lowell Prize will be presented on 9 January 2016, during the MLA’s annual convention, to be held in Austin.
Read the full press release from the MLA here.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is turning 150 this year, and Professor Peter Baker, a scholar of medieval literature, has contributed to the celebration with a translation of the book into Old English. In honor of the sesquicentennial, Jon Lindseth, head of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, recruited translators including Baker to contribute to his three-volume Alice in a World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece. The collection includes a bibliography of translations and essays about many of them. Baker's translation required a few alterations, though, as UVA Today explains:
Baker, who’s been on the U.Va. faculty since 1992, set his translation in medieval England, so Alice and the other characters in the illustrations are dressed in medieval clothing. The “Mad Tea-Party” becomes a “Mad Beer-Party,” because there was no tea in England at the time; everyone drank beer, even children. Likewise, there were no watches at the time, so the White Rabbit’s watch has become an astrolabe.
Even the name “Alice” didn’t exist in Old English, nor did the word “adventure.” Baker came up with the closest equivalent, Æthelgyth, for the heroine’s name, and for “adventure” he chose “brave deeds,” so the title would be translated as “The Brave Deeds of Æthelgyth in Wonderland.”
Read more about the translation and hear Baker read an excerpt from his work at UVA Today.
President Obama last week nominated Michael F. Suarez, director of the Rare Book School and University Professor at the University of Virginia, to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The council comprises 26 distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, with each member serving staggered six-year terms. Suarez is one of four nominees.
Suarez, director of the Rare Book School since September 2009 and also a Jesuit priest, holds four master’s degrees (two each in English and theology) and a D.Phil. in English from the University of Oxford. Before coming to U.Va., he held a joint appointment at Fordham University and as a fellow and tutor in English at Campion Hall at Oxford.
He teaches in U.Va.’s Department of English and has written widely on 18th-century English literature, bibliography and book history. He delivered the annual Lyell Lectures in Bibliography at Oxford earlier this year. He was invited by U.Va. students to deliver a “Last Lecture” and participate in the student-organized Flash Seminars several years ago.
Since 2010, Suarez has served as editor-in-chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online. His recent books include “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume V, 1695-1830” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), co-edited with Michael Turner; and “The Oxford Companion to the Book” (Oxford University Press, 2010), a million-word reference work co-edited with H. R. Woudhuysen. “The Book: A Global History,” also co-edited with Woudhuysen, came out in 2013. In 2014, Oxford University Press published his edition of “The Dublin Notebook,” co-edited with Lesley Higgins, in the “Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins.”
Suarez has held research fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Rare Book School provides continuing-education opportunities for students from all disciplines and levels to study the history of written, printed and digital materials with leading scholars and professionals in the fields of bibliography, librarianship, book history, manuscript studies and the digital humanities. Founded in 1983, the Rare Book School, a not-for-profit educational organization, moved to U.Va. in 1992.
Read more at UVA Today.
Professor Anna Brickhouse has been awarded the inaugural book prize from the journal Early American Literature for her recent monograph The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford University Press). Read the full release from EAL below:
Early American Literature Announces Winners of Inaugural Book Prize
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The editors of the journal Early American Literature are pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural EAL book prize: Anna Brickhouse for The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford University Press); and Wil Verhoeven for Americomania and the French Revolution Debate in Britain, 1789-1802 (Cambridge University Press).
This year, in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, EAL launched an annual book prize to call attention to inventive and substantial scholarship about American literature in the period spanning the colonial era through the early republic. The books by Brickhouse and Verhoeven rose to the top of an impressive field of work by established scholars, and in some important ways they complement one another.
Brickhouse's The Unsettlement of America explores the phenomenon of motivated mistranslation to construct a speculative history of indigenous resistance to European colonization. Brickhouse argues that an Algonquian Indian captured by the Spanish in 1561 and christened Don Luis de Velasco deliberately unsettled the attempted Spanish colonization of his native Ajacán (now known as the Chesapeake Bay region) through his role as a translator. Spanning Spanish colonial writings from the sixteenth century through their reception in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this book offers a fascinating account of indigenous networks of resistance, conceptualized as a form of authorship. Unsettlement is both a tale of one man and his legacy across four centuries and a challenge to the field of hemispheric American studies.
Verhoeven's Americomania looks at the flip side of the settler colonial scene--that is, he explores the construction of an ideology of available land and shows how it affected political writing and imaginative literature in the age of revolution. The fruit of research that is at once capacious and meticulous, each to a rare degree, this literary history of the revolutionary Atlantic world shows how Jacobin and anti-Jacobin fiction of the late eighteenth century responded to a utopian discourse about America. Encompassing political philosophy, political and legal history, literature, economic history, print history, visual culture, popular culture, migration, demography, and more, Verhoeven's book traces how the fact and figure of American land--both as a material commodity and as a utopian ideal--operated at the center of a British debate over political identity ignited by the French Revolution.
In announcing the joint award, EAL editor Sandra M. Gustafson observed that "both Brickhouse's and Verhoeven's books demonstrate stunning research, creative methods, and compelling narrative arcs. The Unsettlement of America and Americomania will appeal to literary scholars and historians specializing in such fields as early modern and eighteenth-century literature, transatlantic, hemispheric, and colonial and postcolonial studies, and beyond."
Next year's prize will be awarded to a first book, with monographs published in 2014 and 2015 being eligible. The prize will then alternate between books by established scholars in odd calendar years and first books in even years. The prize is accompanied by a $2,000 cash award. Watch the journal's website for announcements, and contact editor Sandra M. Gustafson (Gustafson.email@example.com) with questions.
Early American Literature is published by the University of North Carolina Press. Founded in 1922, UNC Press is the oldest university press in the South and one of the oldest in the United States.
The 2015 Lyell Lectures, delivered by University Professor and Rare Book School Director Michael F. Suarez, S.J. under the general title "The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century Texts," are now available as podcasts at www.rarebookschool.org/lyellpodcasts.
The English Department mourns the loss of Martin C. Battestin, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English (Emeritus), a dear colleague, dear friend, eminent eighteenth-century scholar, and Henry Fielding specialist, who died Friday, May 15, 2015, at age 85. A service was held on Wednesday, May 20th at St. Paul's, Ivy. He is survived by his wife and research collaborator Ruthe Battestin.
His full obituary can be found at the Daily Progress.
Professor Emily Ogden has been given the Cory Family Teaching Award for her "dedicated and innovative teaching of courses in English. The award comes with a $25,000 cash bonus," and she will be honored at Fall Convocation on Friday, October 23, 2015, at 2:00 in the John Paul Jones Arena.
The English Department has awarded its annual departmental scholarships to the following excellent undergraduate majors:
Michael Wagenheim Memorial Scholarship: Elizabeth Ballou, Kelsey Becker, Vanessa Braganza, Daniel Calem, Caelainn Carney, Zoey Dorman, Alexa Hazel, Claudia Heath, Andrea Mendoza Perez, and Alex Scheinman.
Peter and Phyllis Pruden Scholarship: Emily Blase, Hillary Hylton, Charlie Micah Jones, Christine Kim, and Tanner Pruitt.
William and Charlotte Savage Scholarship: Erik Moyer, Christina Paek, and Melanie Schmidt.
In addition, this year's new Phi Beta Kappa class included the following students from English: Forrest Brown, Nader Ahmed, Therese Codd, Matthew Diem, Shane Dutta, Ashley Shamblin, Alexandra Tilley, and Joanna Currey.
These students and many other undergrads and grads were recognized for their achievements at the English Department Awards Ceremony last Friday.
Professor Lisa Woolfork has been awarded an All-University Teaching Award for her creative and rigorous commitment to student learning. She received her award alongside other teachers at a ceremony last Wednesday. Read more about the award and reflections on Professor Woolfork's teaching at UVA Today.