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Department News

PhD candidate Andrew Ferguson quoted as literary expert in The Guardian

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PhD candidate Andrew Ferguson was quoted in The Guardian speaking about the works of science-fiction author RA Lafferty. The article credits Ferguson, alongside fellow enthusiast Neil Gaiman, for rekindling interest in Lafferty, described in the article as "the most important science-fiction writer you've never heard of." Ferguson is currently writing a biography of the author for the University of Illinois Modern Masters of Science Fiction series and will chair a panel on Lafferty on 14 August at Loncon, the World Science Fiction Convention, being held at London's Docklands.

Read the full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/13/ra-lafferty-secre...

English PhD Audrey Golden wins third place in National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Audrey Golden, a recent PhD and lecturer in the English Department, has been named third prize winner in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Contestants include the winners of three dozen book collecting contests held at colleges and universities across the country. Her entry, “Pablo Neruda and the Global Politics of Poetry,” had won first place in the 50th Student Book Collecting Contest sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia last spring.

The press release from the Bibliographical Society of UVA explains further:

Golden will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Library of Congress on October 17. Her prize includes $500 and a $250 gift to the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. The national contest is sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Center for the Book, and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division (the Library of Congress), with major support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.

As Golden explained in her contest essay, Neruda’s “writings traverse borders of time and space, speaking to ideas of freedom, resistance, and the power of written speech in the face of tyranny.” Golden compiled her collection in her travels on five different continents, visiting each of Neruda’s three homes in Chile, and trolling bookstores from Buenos Aires to Prague and Moscow to Australia. The result is a very extensive collection of Neruda’s works published in seventeen different countries. As Golden describes it, “the assemblage is as diverse as the regions it represents--some books are miniatures with intricate engraved text, while others are too large for traditional bookshelves. Paper covers and inserts reflect the unique colored inks of Argentinian and Chilean presses, the woodblock printings of German and Israeli artists, and the hand-sewn care of bookbinders in Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia.” Her interest in Neruda, who “[emphasizes] the deep connections between imaginative literature and resistance,” is fueled by her academic work in international law and contemporary world literature. She looks forward to expanding the collection “to reflect Neruda’s import across the globe.”

Lisa Woolfork's 'Game of Thrones' class in the WSJ

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Professor Lisa Woolfork's recent summer class on 'Game of Thrones' continues to capture media attention. The following article in the Wall Street Journal gives an in depth look into the class, talking to students about their experiences immersing themselves in the 'Game of Thrones' world from a literary perspective. It also contains the exciting news that Professor Woolfork is considering offering the course again in different iterations, including possibly as a regular spring semester course.

Read the full article here: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/08/01/inside-that-game-of-thrones-co...

Remembering Walter Sokel

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Walter Sokel (1917-2014)

Walter H. Sokel (b. 17 December 1917, d. 21 February 2014) was Commonwealth Professor of German Literature at the University of Virginia from 1973 until his retirement in 1994. He escaped from his native Austria in 1938, the year of its annexation by Nazi Germany, and made his way to the United States where, in due time, he became a leading member of that generation of immigrant Jewish intellectuals whose impact on the American university system can be felt even today. His main focus as a scholar and writer was modern European literature. His first book, 'The Writer in Extremis' (1959), was a pioneering work, and is still a definitive work, on German expressionism. His later writing deals with the work of a great many authors, but he is best known as one of the four or five major figures, worldwide, in the field of Kafka studies, to which his principal contributions are the books 'Franz Kafka: Tragik und Ironie' (1964) and 'The Myth of Power and the Self: Essays on Franz Kafka' (2002). His courses at Virginia, as one might expect, were always authoritative and demanding. But they were also always brilliantly engaging, and he was widely acknowledged to be one of the University’s best teachers. At the end of one undergraduate course, in which he had discussed Nietzsche’s idea of “eternal return,” his students presented him with a bouquet of flowers and a note expressing hope for an “eternal return” of his courses. In the German Department (and in the English Department, with which he became officially affiliated in 1980) he was known as an exceptionally friendly and conscientious colleague and a tireless worker for his graduate students. He is still remembered by many at Virginia as a loyal friend.

Lisa Woolfork's 'Game of Thrones' class captivates students, media

Friday, July 25, 2014

Professor Lisa Woolfork has garnered a flurry of media attention with her popular 'Game of Thrones' course. The class, offered this summer as a four-week, discussion-based seminar, focuses on the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning HBO series and George R. R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' novels, on which the series is based. In their discussions, students analyzed the series in light of topics including racial and cultural allegory, gender roles and power, identity formation, and fan fiction. Woolfork says, "One of the goals behind this class was to teach students how the skills that we use to study literature are very useful skills for reading literature and TV in conjunction. 'Game of Thrones' is popular, it’s interesting, but it’s also very serious. There are a lot of things in the series that are very weighty, and very meaningful, and can be illuminated through the skills of literary analysis." The course concluded with a group based creative project, in which students created their own piece of 'Game of Thrones' fiction. Media outlets including the Telegraph, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, the Huffington Post, and others have covered the course. Read more about the class at UVA Today: https://news.virginia.edu/content/winter-coming-students-talk-murder-may....

Emeritus Professor Charles Wright named America's Poet Laureate

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Library of Congress will name Charles Wright, Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Virginia, America's next poet laureate. Wright, whose work he once described as reckoning with “language, landscape, and the idea of God,” has formerly won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Read more about Wright and his poetry at the New York Times article here.

Jerome McGann elected to the American Philosophical Society

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jerome McGann, University Professor and John Stewart Bryan Professor of English, has been elected to the American Philosophical Society. He becomes the eighth U.Va. scholar to join the ranks of the country’s first learned society, joining such previous members as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Robert Frost. Election to the society honors extraordinary accomplishments in all fields. Read the full UVA Today release, detailing McGann's pioneering work in digital humanities scholarship, here.

Andrew Stauffer lectures on Byron in Greece

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Professor Andrew Stauffer traveled to Greece as a representative of the Byron Society of America, where he gave a lecture on Byron’s poetry to approximately 200 local citizens of Messolonghi.

Rita Dove remembers the life and work of Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English, has released the following statement on Maya Angelou's life and work:

Maya Angelou was indeed a phenomenal woman – rising from the ashes of a childhood that would have rendered many of us mute and enraged, she made her way in a world that all too often despised her kind – a black woman, tall, fierce, and most fearsome of all, unafraid. 

All of this is chronicled in the six volumes of her landmark autobiography – most notably its first volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Now children read sections of it in school.  As my grandmother would have said had she met her: "Girl, you done done something!”

I have encountered so many people for whom her poetry has been a balm and even a salvation:  This is no mean feat, muttering critics aside.  And though I would not count myself among the most ardent fans of her poetry, I admired her Inaugural recitation for President Clinton, On the Pulse of Morning, as a masterful exemplar of the occasional poem.  It manages that most difficult trick: to be both simple and deep, appreciated by the person on the street upon first hearing, and yet containing riches upon closer, deeper reading – complex images, poignant litanies, a trajectory from the dinosaurs to the moment we were celebrating:  a new President, a new era. 

I first met Maya around 1990 when she came to speak in Charlottesville, where I teach at the University of Virginia. I managed to squeak past security to the green room a few minutes before her gig.  I was uneasy, unsure of my reception:  After all, I was part of a new generation of African-American poets, a “literary” aesthete in the eyes of many who had stamped out a space for Black literature in the sixties. Would she brand me a sell-out, a literary snob?  I knocked on the doorjamb and announced myself; she turned the table, smiled, and enveloped me in an embrace. 

Maya Angelou was a beacon to many – poets and artists of all kinds, those young protégées eager to make a mark, those older and perhaps already discouraged.  Her autobiographical books were startling in their honesty but most importantly, also dazzling in their artistry:  Here I am, they proclaimed; here we are, they whispered.  Being an icon is often a lonely, thankless job:   Envy and worship are two sides of the same ambivalent coin.  But Maya wore the mantle with a dignity and joy that emboldened and enlivened those who knew her story:  She understood the hunger for role models providing a window onto a world many had not been able to imagine.  She did us proud.

English graduate students become new Scholars' Lab Fellows

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The 2014-2015 Scholars' Lab graduate fellows include three graduate students from the English Department- Jennifer Foy, Amy Boyd, and Andrew Ferguson.

Jennifer Foy (English), James Ambuske (History), and Emily Senefeld (History) were awarded the three Digital Humanities Graduate Fellowships. Throughout the year, they will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with Scholars’ Lab staff to integrate digital tools and methods to their dissertation research. Jennifer Foy’s dissertation is titled “Mapping Sympathy: Sensibility, Stigma, and Space in the Long Eighteenth Century;” James Ambuske’s dissertation is titled “Scotland’s American Revolution: Emigration and Imperial Crisis, 1763-1803;" Emily Senefeld project is titled “The Cultural Programs of the Highlander Folk School, 1932-1964.”

In addition, six fellows were chosen for the Praxis Program. Under the guidance of Scholars' Lab faculty and staff, they will design and create a full-fledged digital humanities project or software tool; past Praxis teams have worked on Prism and Ivanhoe. The 2014-2015 Praxis Fellows are Amy Boyd (English), Swati Chawla (History), Andrew Ferguson (English), Joris Gjata (Sociology), Jennifer Grayburn (Art and Architecture), and Steven Lewis (Music).

Read the full Scholars' Lab announcement here.

Listen for Bruce Holsinger on With Good Reason

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An interview with Professor Bruce Holsinger will air on With Good Reason beginning May 31st to June 6th. You can find broadcast times posted here.

Doctoral candidate Anna Ioanes wins Zora Neale Hurston prize

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anna Ioanes, a PhD candidate in the English Department, has won this year's Zora Neale Hurston prize for best graduate student essay. The competition was held by the department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Ioanes's essay is titled "Disgustingly Beautiful: Affect and Aesthetics in Sula and Kara Walker's 'Silhouettes'."

Rita Dove awarded honorary doctorate from Yale University

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At its 313th Commencement on Monday, May 19, 2014, Yale University bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Letters on Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Among Ms. Dove’s fellow honorees are Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web; Daniel Kahneman, 2002 Nobel laureate in economics; Joseph Polisi, president of the Juilliard School; Michael Posner, the U.S. State Department’s top human rights official from 2009-2013; actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith; bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley; Ahmed Zewail, 1999 Nobel laureate in chemistry; and eminent medical researcher Huda Zoghbi.

English majors Matt Bollinger and Tommy Casalaspi win two national Quizbowl titles

Sunday, May 11, 2014

This year, the UVA quizbowl team consisting of Matt Bollinger (undergrad, English), Tommy Casalaspi (undergrad, English), Evan Adams (grad, law), and Dennis Loo (grad, math) performed the rare feat of uniting the sport's two national titles. On March 29 they won the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament. Then, on April 12-13, they went undefeated to clear the field at the National Championship hosted by the Academic Competition Federation. Both tournaments featured intense head-to-head competition on questions testing for graduate-level knowledge of literature, history, biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, religion, classical music, visual arts, and social science, among other categories.

Nine English majors elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Congratulations to the following English majors who have just been elected to the UVa chapter of Phi Beta Kappa!

Abigail McKenzie Meredith

Emily Rose Sullivan

Kevin Christian Hermann

Morgan Alayna Dresner

Seyed-Sassan Mousavi-Vapouri

Elizabeth Barrott Bickley

Katherine Todd Hutto

Laura Ritland Gaul

Sarah Elizabeth Angelo

As the oldest and most distinguished honor society in the country, Phi Beta Kappa offers membership to less than one percent of all undergraduates. Many of the leading figures in American history and culture have begun their careers with election to the society, including seventeen presidents of the United States. As a result, membership is a remarkable accomplishment, both for the student who achieves it and the faculty and staff whose support and guidance has led to this milestone.

Professor John O'Brien awarded Daniels Family NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship

Friday, April 11, 2014

Professor John O'Brien of the English Department has been awarded the Daniels Family National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professorship, a three-year appointment. O'Brien describes his project in part thus:

"I will use the three-year term of this award to engage students in the task of editing and annotating primary literary texts for use by other students. Over time, we will build a repository on the web of fully edited and annotated literary works that will be available for use by students and teacher around the world, who will also be invited to participate by adding additional texts and supporting materials. My project will built upon this University's well-established capabilities in the digital humanities and will bring students into contact with University resources like the Special Collections Library, the Scholars' Lab, the Digital Media Lab, and SHANTI. Most important, it will demonstrate how students can work collectively to make lasting contributions to scholarship and to the digital commons. They will learn by doing, and will create something that can be shared by others. The three years of this professorship should be long enough to bring this project to the proof-of-concept stage, establishing standards of work flow and sustainability so that we can demonstrate this to teachers at other colleges and universities."

Professor A. C. Spearing awarded Doctor of Letters from Cambridge

Friday, April 11, 2014

A C Spearing, William R Kenan, Jr Professor of English, has been awarded the Doctor of Letters (Litt.D) from the University of Cambridge, an honor conferred on those who have achieved the highest national or international prominence in their field.

Doctoral candidate Laura Goldblatt awarded Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

Friday, April 11, 2014

Laura Goldblatt, a PhD candidate in the English Department, has won the 2013-14 All-University Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in Arts and Humanities.
 

Professor Bruce Holsinger on Here and Now

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Professor Bruce Holsinger was on Here and Now to talk about his new novel, A Burnable Book. Holsinger spoke to Robin Young about the bawdiness of medieval England, what he learned about the Middle Ages from the writing process, and the endurance of medieval culture in the modern world. Listen to the conversation and read an excerpt of A Burnable Book here.

Modern Love's Dan Jones returns to UVa

Sunday, March 23, 2014

UVa alumnus Daniel Jones, editor of the popular personal-essay column “Modern Love” in the New York Times, will be in the Bryan Hall Faculty Lounge this Monday, March 24, at 10am for a talk about writing, editing, and love. Jones's new book, Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (With the Help of 50,000 Strangers), is just out. You can read more about Jones, the stories of "Modern Love," and his time with the UVa English Department at the University of Virginia Magazine.

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