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Department News

Professor Alison Booth receives major NEH grant

Friday, April 10, 2015

Alison Booth has received a highly competitive Level-II Startup Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities, to support a project entitled Cohorts of Women in Biographical Collections (CWBC). Beginning in 2015, CWBC builds upon the common ground of Booth’s ongoing experiments on biographical narratives and networks documented in 1200 biographical collections published since 1830, in the Collective Biographies of Women bibliography and database (CBW), and Daniel Pitti’s Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), which mines 2.6 million archival descriptions in 3,000 repositories (and growing). CWBC sustains Booth’s collaboration with Worthy Martin, Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and Project Manager Rennie Mapp, Lecturer in English, with a distinguished international advisory board. The project will improve the biographical records of women in many contexts, model biographical-archival data exchange, and create Cohort Analysis Prototype (CAP), a tool widely useful for sharing and maintaining unique biographical records and visualizing textual, archival, and social cohorts and networks.

Read more about the NEH grants at their website here.

Lisa Russ Spaar selected finalist for national Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Professor Lisa Russ Spaar has been selected as one of three finalists for Baylor University's 2016 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching.

As Cherry Award finalists, each professor will receive $15,000, as well as $10,000 for their home departments to foster the development of teaching skills. Each finalist will present a series of lectures at Baylor during fall 2015 and also a Cherry Award lecture on their home campuses during the upcoming academic year. The eventual Cherry Award winner will receive $250,000 and an additional $25,000 for her home department and will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2016 or spring 2017.

Professor Spaar adds this award to her other numerous recognitions for outstanding teaching, including a Jefferson Scholars Foundation Faculty Award for 2013-15, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2010, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009.

Read more about Professor Spaar and the award at UVA Today and Baylor's Media Communications page.

Rita Dove Pays Homage to Toni Morrison at National Book Critics Circle

Friday, March 20, 2015

Former U.S. Poet Laureate and Commonwealth Professor Rita Dove paid homage to Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison at the March 12 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) annual awards ceremony at The New School in New York City. Professor Dove introduced Ms. Morrison as this year’s recipient of the NBCC’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can read the full text of Rita Dove’s tribute to Toni Morrison on the National Book Critics Circle website, here.

The same text, with an introduction by NBCC vice president Karen Long, also appeared on the website of the Cleveland Foundation, together with the video of the entire awards ceremony, here.

UVA chosen to host Shakespeare's First Folio

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A committee of English professors were instrumental in attracting William Shakespeare's "First Folio" to the University of Virginia. Eighteen of Shakespeare's plays are known today only because they were included in the “First Folio,” among them “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night,” “Julius Caesar,” “As You Like It” and “The Tempest." One of the most famous books in the world, the collection of plays will be on view at U.Va. – the only location in the commonwealth – as part of a 2016 national traveling exhibition, “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” The Folger Shakespeare Library Association, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is taking the tour to all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in 2016, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

A committee of U.Va. English professors submitted the successful proposal to host the exhibition for the commonwealth of Virginia. Katharine Maus chairs the group, which comprises Victor Luftig, Michael Suarez, David Vander Meulen, and Paul Cantor. The committee worked with Eliza Gilligan, Debra Guy, Hoke Perkins, Mercy Procaccini, Molly Schwartzburg, and David Whitesell of the U.Va. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, plus U.Va.’s Center for the Liberal Arts and the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, to land the exhibit.

Read more at UVA Today.

UVA English Department ranked among top 10 in nation

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

USA Today College ranks the University of Virginia’s English Department as one of the top ten places to get an English degree in the country. Citing outstanding programs and faculty, USA Today notes that students at UVa “have the opportunity to develop their understanding of their chosen field through cross-disciplinary coursework and discussion-based classes […] The classes expose students to the literary classics, while strengthening critical reading and writing skills.” Graduates of the English Department continue to succeed after college as well: they "are proficient in analyzing and interpreting a variety of texts and have the ability to express themselves thoughtfully and concisely. UVa English majors have gone on to find positions in government, business, law and more."

Read the full article here.

The Winter Read Wednesday at 7pm

Monday, January 26, 2015

The English Department will host a community reading and discussion event this Wednesday at 7:00pm in the Bryan Hall Faculty Lounge. The Winter Read will bring together undergrads, graduate students, and professors to discuss Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Professors Clare Kinney, Stephen Cushman, and Victor Luftig will start off the event with a panel discussion, then participants will break into groups to discuss the book over pizza. Come one and all! For more information or questions about the event, email Jesse Bordwin at jeb2sm@virginia.edu.

Lisa Russ Spaar finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Professor Lisa Russ Spaar is one of five finalists for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. These awards are some of the most prestigious American literary awards and are judged by a panel of critics and book review editors. Read more about the awards and other nominees here.

Professor Stephen Cushman receives 2015 Outstanding Faculty Award

Friday, February 20, 2015

English Professor Stephen Cushman has received the state's highest honor for professors, the Outstanding Faculty Award, given by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Dominion Resources. The award recognizes superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service. Cushman joins UVA biology professor Sarah Kucenas among 13 faculty members selected this year from a pool of 88 nominees from institutions statewide. Cushman received his award on February 19 in Richmond.

English Department chair Cynthia Wall writes in response to the award, "The consensus of faculty and students year after year is overwhelmingly consistent. Stephen Cushman’s teaching changes lives and lasts lifetimes. He is what we all want to be: intellectually rigorous, philosophically challenging, deft in directing discussion, and memorably effective teaching writing, close reading and argument. (Oh, and hilarious)."

Read more about Cushman and the award at UVA Today and see the full list of recipients here.

  

James Salter in residence at UVA

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Author James Salter spoke to UVA Today recently about his time in residence with the UVA English Department's Creative Writing Program. The Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program, established last year in the tradition of William Faulkner’s legendary residencies at the University in 1957 and ’58, aims to bring writers of international stature to Charlottesville for one semester to teach and engage with U.Va. students and the literary community.

Salter, the inaugural writer to hold the post, is spending the fall semester at UVA, teaching a graduate workshop on fiction. He gave three public talks last month related to the art of fiction and will read from his work Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. in Nau Hall, room 101, to be followed by a book signing.

Read Salter's full interview with UVA Today here - and watch a video about the Kapnick Residency, including excerpts from Salter's interview, here.

 

Rita Dove Receives 2014 Weinstein Prize

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is the recipient of the 2014 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. The prize was awarded at the 17th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration on October 18 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Established in 2005, the prize is awarded each year to a poet with strong connections to the commonwealth of Virginia. The $10,000 annual prize recognizes significant recent contribution to the art of poetry and is awarded on the basis of a range of achievement in the field of poetry.

Read the full press release below:

 

Rita Dove has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and consultant to the Library of Congress (1993-1995) and as Poet Laureate of Virginia (2004-2006). She holds honorary doctoral degrees from 25 American universities. She won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Thomas & Beulah and numerous other literary awards and honors, including the 2008 Library of Virginia’s Literary Lifetime Achievement Award.
 
Now another prestigious literary honor is going to the multitalented poet. Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is the recipient of the 2014 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. It will be awarded at the 17th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration on October 18 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.  Established in 2005, the prize is awarded each year to a poet with strong connections to the commonwealth of Virginia. The $10,000 annual prize recognizes significant recent contribution to the art of poetry and is awarded on the basis of a range of achievement in the field of poetry.
 
Dove was selected by the current curators of the Weinstein Prize—Elizabeth Seydel “Buffy” Morgan, David Wojahn, Ron Smith, and Donald E. Selby Jr.—who wrote, “For more than four decades, Dove has been a vital presence in American verse, both by virtue of the ambition and resonance of her verse, and for her role as a public spokesperson for poetry during a time when its potential audience has never been larger. We are delighted to honor a poet of such accomplishment, sensitivity, and music. Rita Dove eschews the narrow and embraces the human. She speaks to all of us.”  Previous recipients of Weinstein Prize include George Garrett, R. T. Smith, Henry Hart, Elizabeth Seydel “Buffy” Morgan, Ron Smith, Kelly Cherry, Eleanor Ross Taylor, Charles Wright, and Lisa Russ Spaar.
 
In addition to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Thomas and Beulah, Dove is the author of eight other collections of poetry including Sonata Mulattica, American Smooth, Mother Love, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, Grace Notes, Museum, Selected Poem, and The Yellow House on the Corner.  She has also published a collection of stories, Fifth Sunday; a novel, Through the Ivory Gate; a collection of her Poet Laureate lectures, The Poet's World; a verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth; and, as editor, The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.
 
Other notable awards and honors that Dove has received are the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama, the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University.

The Great English Exposition Wednesday at 7pm

Monday, October 27, 2014

If you are an English major or potential English major, come out to The Great English Exposition this Wednesday at 7pm in Bryan Hall 229. This information session, sponsored by the English Department and UVa College Council, will include faculty sepakers, an introduction to our new specialist in Career Services, and exciting new updates about the major, including:

The New Undergraduate English Association
New Tracks in the Major
Spring Courses
The UVA Winter Reading Project
The Honors Program . The London Program . The BA/MA Program
…and more!

Snacks will be provided. For more information, email jeb2sm@virginia.edu.

Gregory Orr on Here & Now

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Professor Gregory Orr spoke to Robin Young on Here and Now about living after an accidental shooting death. Orr reflects on the recent incident in which a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor at an Arizona firing range, as well as his own tragic experience: when he was 12 years old, he killed a younger brother in a hunting accident. Orr reads from his own poetry and discusses finding meaning after an incomprehensible tragedy.

Listen to the interview here.

 

 

Professors John O'Brien and Brad Pasanek on 'Notes on the State of Virginia' app

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Professors John O’Brien and Brad Pasanek spoke to UVA Today about their new web application for Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia. The application – developed by O’Brien and Pasanek, with the help of students and the University Library’s Scholars’ Lab – includes two versions of Jefferson’s encyclopedic volume: one of the first 1784 printings, which he gave to the Marquis de Lafayette, and a 1787 copy whose pages are full of his handwritten annotations, revisions and personal thoughts. The web app presents the third edition in a high-quality, readable, searchable form that can be used on any electronic device.

Notes is “the single most important book written by an American in the 18th century,” O’Brien said, and with this application, says Pasanek, it has the potential to reach many more people, allowing students and scholars to consider the changes Jefferson made and why. Both Pasanek and O'Brien have used or will use the app in their classrooms, and Professor Jerome McGann, an award-winning pioneer in digital humanities, is currently using it in a graduate class.

Read the full article here.

 

Emeritus Professor Charles Wright on USA Today

Saturday, September 27, 2014

USA Today interviewed current Poet Laureate of the US and Emeritus Professor of English Charles Wright. You can listen to the story here.

 

Professor Andrew Stauffer discusses Book Traces on CBC Radio

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Professor Andrew Stauffer spoke to CBC Radio about Book Traces, his crowd-sourced web project to find drawings, marginalia, photos and anything else in copies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books. The interview airs this week in Canada and is available for streaming online here. Read more about Book Traces below:

Book Traces is a crowd-sourced web project aimed at identifying unique copies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books on library shelves. Its focus is on customizations made by original owners in personal copies, primarily in the form of marginalia and inserts. Sponsored by NINES at the University of Virginia and led by Andrew Stauffer, Book Traces is meant to engage the question of the future of the print record in the wake of wide-scale digitization. The issue is particularly urgent for the materials from the long nineteenth century. In most cases, pre-1800 books have been moved to special collections, and post-1923 materials remain in copyright and thus on the shelves for circulation. But college and university libraries are now increasingly reconfiguring access to public-domain texts via repositories such as Google Books. As a result, we are now anticipating the withdrawal of large portions of nineteenth-century print collections in favor of digital surrogates. However, our legacy print collections in many cases came to university libraries from alumni donors and bear marks of use by their original nineteenth-century owners.  These books thus constitute a massive, distributed archive of the history of reading, hidden in plain sight in the circulating collections. Marginalia, inscriptions, photos, original manuscripts, letters, drawings, and many other unique pieces of historical data can be found in individual copies, many of them associated with the history of the institution that collected the books in the first place. These unique attributes cannot be located by any electronic catalog. Each book has to be open and examined. Book Traces aims to be a point of reference in developing a national triage system for preserving the future of the nineteenth-century book.

Once-a-decade Furious Flower conference dedicated to Rita Dove

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Furious Flower Poetry Center’s once-a-decade conference is dedicated this decade to Professor Rita Dove. This gathering of poets and scholars, held at James Madison University, features readings by many of the best established and emerging African American poets writing today—and all of these readings are free and open to the public. The conference began September 24 and continues through Saturday, September 28, with readings, open mics, lectures, and concerts.

More information about the conference and the full schedule of events can be found here: http://www.jmu.edu/events/furiousflower/2014/09/24-furious-flower-poetry....

On October 1, Professor Dove will be recording an NPR show about the conference at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
 

Professor Gregory Orr reflects on fatal gun accident

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Professor Gregory Orr reflects in The New York Times on the recent incident in which a nine-year-old girl shot and killed her instructor at an Arizona gun range. Professor Orr, author of 12 books of poetry and a memoir titled The Blessing, accidentally killed his younger brother in a hunting accident when he was 12 years old. Professor Orr meditates poignantly on the position of children who suddenly find themselves living out the consequences of a fatal accident and trying to comprehend their part in it.

Read the Times piece here.

Professor Orr also talked to Jeffrey Brown on the PBS NewsHour about the incident; you can watch the video and read a transcript of the interview here.

Shakespeare and Politics website launched, featuring Professor Paul Cantor

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Professor Paul Cantor explains what Shakespeare can teach us about politics on a new website in the Great Thinkers series. The centerpiece of this website is a set of 25 lectures given by Cantor on Shakespeare and politics, covering eight of Shakespeare's plays. Check out the website, facebook page, and twitter feed!

Emeritus Professor E. D. Hirsch in Politico

Sunday, September 7, 2014

UVa Emeritus Professor of English E. D. Hirsh, writes Politico, can be credited with the foundation of the Common Core teaching standards, currently adopted in 43 out of 50 American states. Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association to better prepare students for the demands of college and the workplace, the Common Core spells out learning goals for grades K-12. According to David Coleman, who is often called the “architect” of the Common Core, Hirsch’s research showing the fundamental connection between knowledge and literacy “is absolutely foundational.”

Read the Politico article here.

Author James Salter to take up Writer in Residence position

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This fall, American author James Salter will teach and lecture for the semester as the University of Virginia’s Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writer in Residence. The residency, which begins with Salter’s visit, exists to create an open, unconstrained conversation between students and a literary master. Salter takes up a position first held by William Faulkner, who came to the College to consult, speak, reflect and write for the spring semesters of 1957 and 1958 - advising the library staff on American literature and working on his novel The Mansion. “With Faulkner, it was this notion of a significant person of letters coming and spending time, with maximum engagement with students. I picture a similar tone with Salter,” says Chris Tilghman, director of the Creative Writing Program. Along with other English department faculty, Tilghman has envisioned a program that’s purposeful in not prescribing specific topics or a particular approach, allowing Salter and future distinguished guests the freedom to reflect upon their art and experience. Salter, too, is keen on the idea of exploration. “I’m excited, really, about discovering [the writer-in-residence experience]. I expect interesting students,” he says.

Read the full article on Salter and the residency here.

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