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Professor Stephen Railton wins NEH digital start-up grant for Digital Yoknapatawpha

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A team including Professor Stephen Railton were recently awarded one of the NEH's new Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants.

University of Virginia -- Charlottesville, VA
HD 51774, Digital Yoknapatawpha
Rafael Alvarado, Project Director
Jama Coartney, Project Director
Worthy Martin, Project Director
Stephen Railton, Project Director
Outright: $59,084
To support: The development of an expanded prototype that allows for the mapping and study of William Faulkner's fiction that took place in the imaginary county of Yoknapatawpha.

For more information, visit the NEH's website at: http://www.neh.gov/divisions/odh/grant-news/announcing-23-digital-humani...

Announcing 23 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant Awards

Professor Paul Cantor Featured in UVA Today Daily Report

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Professor Paul Cantor's article was recently featured in UVA Today's Daily Report. You can read the full article at: http://beforeitsnews.com/gold-and-precious-metals/2013/03/fsn-the-walkin....

English department ranked in top ten by U. S. News and World Report

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This year, U.S. News also conducted new peer surveys and published new rankings for Ph.D. programs in economics, English, history, political science, psychology and sociology – all parts of U.Va.’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Those programs were last ranked five years ago.

The U.Va. English Ph.D. program is ranked No. 10, tied with the University of California-Los Angeles and Duke University. Several English specialties ranked highly, including American literature after 1865 (No. 4 tie), American literature before 1865 (No. 5), and 18th- through 20th-century British literature (No. 2 tie).

See the whole thing at http://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-graduate-schools-programs-excel-2014-us-news-rankings. You can check out the rest of the rankings at http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/....

Announcing Songs of the Victorians

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Monday, March 11, English PhD student Joanna Swafford will launch the pre-release of Songs of the Victorians, an archive of parlor and art song settings of Victorian poems, and also a scholarly tool to facilitate interdisciplinary music and poetry scholarship.

It will ultimately contain four songs: Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud" and Sir Arthur Somervell's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (both based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's monodrama, Maud), Sir Arthur Sullivan's setting of Adelaide Procter's "A Lost Chord," and Caroline Norton's "Juanita," although for this limited release, it only includes "Juanita."

The archival portion of this site includes high-resolution images of the first edition printings of each song integrated with an audio file so that each measure is highlighted in time with the music. The scholarly component for each work includes an article-length analysis of the song's interpretation of the poem. Whenever this analysis references a specific section of the piece, the reader can click to view the score and hear the audio for this excerpt, again with the measures highlighted in time with the music. In this way all scholars, regardless of their ability to read music, can follow both the score and the thread of the argument.

Joanna has been developing this project with the generous support of a Scholars' Lab Fellowship. To learn more about the creation of this site or to receive updates on its development schedule, please visit and subscribe to her development blog, "Anglophile in Academia".

Songs of the Victorians

Upcoming 18th-century symposium featured on UVa Today

Monday, February 25, 2013


Professor Alison Booth awarded an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship

Friday, February 1, 2013

The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and related social sciences. It is hoped that projects of successful applicants will help advance digital humanistic scholarship by broadening understanding of its nature and exemplifying the robust infrastructure necessary for creating such works.

ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowships are intended to support an academic year dedicated to work on a major scholarly project that takes a digital form. Projects may:

  • Address a consequential scholarly question through new research methods, new ways of representing the knowledge produced by research, or both;
  • Create new digital research resources;
  • Increase the scholarly utility of existing digital resources by developing new means of aggregating, navigating, searching, or analyzing those resources;
  • Propose to analyze and reflect upon the new forms of knowledge creation and representation made possible by the digital transformation of scholarship.

ACLS will award up to six Digital Innovation Fellowships in this competition year. Each fellowship carries a stipend of up to $60,000 towards an academic year’s leave and provides for project costs of up to $25,000.

And here is our Fellowship Winner's project:

                                                The Practice and Theory of Digital Prosopography:

Collective Biographies of Women and Biographical Elements and Structure Schema

The ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship (January-December 2014) supports ongoing development of the Collective Biographies of Women project, a collaboration with IATH (UVA) and Suzanne Keen (Washington & Lee).  Our database and online bibliography of 1271 books collecting some 13,000 short biographies of women demonstrate ways to study what we call documentary social networks of historical women.  Our XML markup schema, Biographical Elements and Structure Schema (BESS), applies narrative theory to nonfiction and experiments with large-scale, team interpretation of narrative, between big data and the techniques of textual editing and close reading.  During the fellowship, we will extend BESS analysis to biographies of four disparate personae types, Frances Trollope, Caroline Herschel, Cleopatra, and Charlotte Corday, to amplify our current work on the networks surrounding Sister Dora (saintly nurse) and Lola Montez (adventuress).  In addition to work on web design, functionality, and visualizations of the site, I will be beginning a book related to the project, tentatively called “Facebooks: Prosopographies in Print and Online.”


Charles Wright Wins $150,000 Bollingen Prize for His Poetry

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Charles Wright, professor emeritus of the English department’s Creative Writing Program in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, has won the 2013 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. Wright taught at U.Va. for almost 30 years, retiring in 2011, and is one of America’s most celebrated poets.

The Bollingen Prize in American Poetry is among the most prestigious prizes given to American writers. Established by Paul Mellon in 1949, it is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. The prize includes a cash award of $150,000.

The judges awarded Wright the Bollingen Prize for his 2011 book, “Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems,” describing it as “an extended meditation in which we sense ‘splinters of the divine’ in the phenomena and cyclic changes of the natural world, and in the elusive reaches of memory, myth, and history.”

“A poet of remarkable scope and ambition, Wright’s lyrics are like verbal scroll paintings, considering a vast landscape but exploring every aspect in exquisite detail, a stylistic combination that properly figures both the significance and insignificance of the human,” the three-member judging committee noted. “In poems that render the poignancy of moving time, the constancy of the landscape, and the mystery of the invisible, Wright binds the secular and the sacred in language charged with urgency and grace.”

While stationed in Italy during four years of service in the U.S. Army, Wright discovered the work of Ezra Pound and began to write poetry for the first time. His first collection of poems, “The Grave of the Right Hand,” was published in 1970.

Wright said he was delighted to have won the award. “I always fantasized about winning the Bollingen Prize because it's the only prize Pound ever won,” he said. 

Wright’s recent books include “Outtakes” (2010); “Sestets: Poems” (2009); “Littlefoot: A Poem” (2008); “Scar Tissue” (2007); “The Wrong End of the Rainbow” (2005); and “Buffalo Yoga” (2004). His two volumes of criticism are: “Halflife” (1988) and “Quarter Notes” (1995). He has translated the work of Italian poets Dino Campana and Eugenio Montale.

Wright, the Souder Family Professor Emeritus of English, has received numerous awards during his career, including the National Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Prize, the American Book Award in Poetry, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

The Bollingen Prize has honored the literary accomplishments of poets whose work continues to be a force in shaping contemporary American letters. Early Bollingen Prize winners –Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and e.e. cummings – are widely considered writers whose work defined a new American literature of the 20th century. More recent winners – John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück, John Hollander, Gary Snyder, Jay Wright and Adrienne Rich – represent “exciting stylistic diversity in American writing,” note the prize organizers.

This year’s judges were poet Susan Howe; poet, critic and editor Geoffrey O’Brien; and literary scholar and cultural critic Joan Richardson.

# # #

After it’s over, after the last gaze has shut down,
        Will I have become
        The landscape I’ve looked at and walked through
        Or the road that took me there
                                                        or the time it took to arrive?

            — excerpt from “Sprung Narratives” by Charles Wright

UVA’s Rita Dove Speaks at The Peace Ball in Washington January 20

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Rita Dove was one of numerous luminaries to briefly speak at The Peace Ball on January 20, 2013, one of Washington, DC’s more creative big parties over the weekend to celebrate the presidential inauguration. The Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance took place in Washington DC’s historic Arena Stage at The Meade Center For American Theater.  This event paid tribute to the continuing struggle for peace and justice here in the United States and throughout the world.  After a few initial comments, Dove entertained the large crowd by reading two of her poems particularly well suited to the event, “Umoja” and “Lady Freedom Among Us.” (Watch the reading here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiYenuchOAg)
Joining Dove, other artists, activists, speakers and organizations participating in the evening’s comments, musical entertainment, dancing, and other festivities were: Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), noted journalist Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation), TransAfrica, The National Council of Negro Women, Institute for Policy Studies, The Pacifica Foundation, Progressive Democrats of America, Julian Bond, Alice Walker, Sonia Sanchez, Dick Gregory, Marian Wright Edelman, Farai Chideya, Ralph Nader, Van Jones, Dave Zirin, Etan Thomas, Barbara Ehrenreich, Medea Benjamin (Code Pink), Danny Glover, Rev. Lennox Yearwood (Hip Hop Caucus), and Zainab Salbi (Women for Women International), among many others. Musical performances were by Mos Def and Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Four years ago hundreds of peace loving activists gathered at the first Inaugural Peace Ball in Washington, DC to celebrate the election of the first African American President of the United States and to wave the banner of peace during that historic moment.  The times are different today, but the commitment to ensure that peace and justice remain on our national agenda has not wavered.
Rita Dove is a former U.S. Poet Laureate and currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia where she teaches poetry writing.

Professor Tony Spearing's New Book Featured on UVA Today

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yesterday, the announcement about Professor Spearing's new book, Medieval Autographies was posted on UVA Today.


Professor Tony Spearing's New Book Featured on UVA Today

Professor Gregory Orr Featured in Special Issue of Cortland Review

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The winter special issue of the Cortland Review focuses on UVA poet Gregory Orr's work, including a video interview and visit to his home. The issue features poets associated with Orr and includes work from our very own Charles Wright, Paul Guest, Debra Nystrom, and Lisa Spaar, as well as an advance review of his new book from Norton, RIVER INSIDE THE RIVER, by UVA PhD David Rigsbee.

Winter Feature: Gregory Orr

Here’'s an excerpt from the Rigsbee review:
Excerpts from an advance review of RIVER INSIDE THE RIVER: (Norton, June 2013):

“Orr knows that tragedy befalls us because we live in time, and in writing poems, he is able to make images that reference the timeless, when ugly consequences do not follow from a moment's surrender. Yet in that imagination of timelessness, he knows we can only find temporary respite; hence, a paradox: we fall into history where the monsters are, but our poems rescue us by showing us images of the timeless. It is in our works that we are forgiven, and so the process works.”

“A striking meditation on art's free-standing place in the natural world and of the feeling of rightness, of restitution, even resurrection—not of bodies, but of the sense of having been justified and hence forgiven by the thing that we do, this art.”

“Orr, by now a veteran pilgrim of the great wound-like void that separates immanence and transcendence, knows that theme-and-variation isn't just a method: it is itself an ancient and approved pilgrimage, and gathers to itself a richness over time. Indeed, repetition is the earth's way of knocking on eternity's door: to repeat is to resist, and in that resistance lies the image of a timeless wish: Adam and Eve "Making the holy human city,/ Making the wholly human city"—a way of putting it that is as true as it is unfashionable.”

David Rigsbee, The Cortland Review

Professor Gregory Orr Featured in Special Issue of Cortland Review

UVA Today article on Paul Cantor's new book

Friday, December 7, 2012

Check out this great Q & A interview in UVA Today about Paul Cantor's new book: http://news.virginia.edu/content/paul-cantor-s-new-book-finds-literary-value-popular-culture.

Recent Faculty Publications

Monday, November 26, 2012

Paul Cantor, The Invisible Hand in Pop Culture

University Press of Kentucky: http://www.kentuckypress.com/live/title_detail.php?titleid=2502

Lisa Russ Spaar, Vanitas, Rough

Persea Books: http://www.perseabooks.com/detail.php?bookID=100

A. C. Spearing, Medieval Autographies: The "I" of the Text

University of Notre Dame Press: http://undpress.nd.edu/book/P03007

Paul Cantor's new book, The Invisible Hand in Pop Culture reviewed in the Wall Street Journal

Monday, November 26, 2012

Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English Paul Cantor's new book, The Invisible Hand in Pop Culture was recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal:


The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture

AAU President Hunter Rawlings Champions Value of Liberal Arts Education

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Peter Baker delivers the opening plenary lecture at the Spanish Society for Medieval Language and Literature at the University of Salamanca (and "boy, was the food good," says he)

Monday, October 8, 2012


The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed., featuring Stephen Cushman and Jahan Ramazani

Friday, August 24, 2012

We are delighted to announce the very recent publication of the 4th edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics with Stephen Cushman as General Editor and Jahan Ramazani as Associate Editor:



Other contributors include: Peter Baker; Gordon Braden; Jennifer Chang; James Cocola; Greg Colomb; Johanna Drucker; Alastair Fowler; Elizabeth Fowler; Nick Frankel; Amanda French; Michael Gerli; Brian Glavey; Kevin Hart; Greg Hays; Gustav Heldt; Omaar Hena; Tyler Hoffman; Bruce Holsinger; Walt Hunter; Walter Jost; Clare Kinney; Matt Kirschenbaum; Peter Kline; David Kovacs; Chris Krentz; Michael Manson; Kevin McFadden; Jerry McGann; John Miller; Ash Nichols; Jim Nohrnberg; Eric Rettberg; Hallie Smith Richmond; David Lee Rubin; Lisa Russ Spaar; Rob Stilling; Chip Tucker; Dan Veraldi; and Bill Wenthe

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

Graduate student Camilla Ammirati at New York International Fringe Festival

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Graduate student Camilla Ammirati's play "In the Ebb" is currently being performed at the New York International Fringe Festival.

For more information visit http://www.fringenyc.org/basic_page.php?ltr=I. The listing is below:

In the Ebb
Going to Tahiti Productions
Writer: Camilla Ammirati
Director: Jessica Ammirati
No matter what you do your demons are with you. Emily has everything but fears losing it all. Alicia loses everything but fears getting more. One can't move, the other can't stand still but both are stuck in the ebb.
1h 15m   Local   Brooklyn, New York   
Staycation: Family Vacation   Ride the Rollercoaster of Love   
VENUE #18: HERE Mainstage Theater Share/Bookmark       
Tue 14 @ 2  Wed 15 @ 9  Fri 17 @ 7  Sat 25 @ 4:30  Sun 26 @ 12


Professor Andy Stauffer featured on Diane Rehm Show

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Click the link below to hear Professor Andy Stuaffer and other expert readers discuss A. S. Byatt's Possession on the Diane Rehm Show:


Professor Anna Brickhouse featured in UVA Today

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June 8, 2012 — As the Spanish explored the New World, a ship stopped in the Chesapeake Bay in 1561 and picked up a Native American youth, whom they took back to Spain. Baptized Don Luis de Velasco, he became an educated translator. In 1570, he accompanied a group of Jesuit priests back to his homeland, where the Spanish established a settlement, Axacán.

When a supply ship visited about 18 months later, the Spaniards found the village deserted, save for one survivor, a Creole youth named Alonso, who said that Don Luis, as he was called by the Spaniards, had murdered the priests.

Don Luis' story is often mentioned in history books as a brief episode, similar to the better-known "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island, N.C., and preceding the success of Jamestown, said the University of Virginia's Anna Brickhouse, an associate professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences.

With a one-year fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, Brickhouse will work on a book focusing on Don Luis and what she calls "his literary afterlife," which ranges over time from the middle of the 16th century to the mid-20th, as well as the places of Don Luis' travels.

Her interdisciplinary research is taking her into early transatlantic history as well as literature. Using everything she can find about Don Luis' life, from Jesuit reports to fictional accounts, she has found an intriguing trail of details that shows how his story has changed over time and links lesser-known indigenous responses to early encounters with Europeans.

Brickhouse wants to show how "unreliable translators and failed attempts at settlement" reveal as much about America's early history as the celebrated stories of Pocahontas, Squanto and Sacajewea, guides and interpreters who helped Europeans and early Americans settle in their lands.

That's how she came up with the title, "The Unsettlement of America: The Story of Don Luis de Velasco."

There is enough evidence to support de Velasco's violent actions. In the earliest historical studies, Don Luis -- identified as an Algonquian-speaking Native American from the Chesapeake Bay area -- was portrayed as a traitor and a criminal, she said.

After his time in Spain, he was taken to Mexico, where he lived for a few years and was baptized. He also traveled to Florida and Cuba. Brickhouse said it was Don Luis' idea to return to build a Spanish settlement and convert the people to Catholicism. Was he deliberately misleading the Spanish the whole time?

"He had traveled. He had seen a lot of things -- the people of Mexico enslaved, in Cuba, the population decimated," she said. What he did suggests he had a consciousness about the world, "an indigenous geopolitical view."

From her research so far, Brickhouse said she suspects that Native Americans, especially those who were abducted from their homelands and taken to Europe and other places, might have had a network of communication and information exchange that Europeans were not privy to.

One account tells of Don Luis meeting several other Native Americans in Spain who asked about "La Florida," which at the time the Spanish used to describe the southeastern coast from what later became the state of Florida up to the Chesapeake Bay. The story goes that one of the Native Americans answered with fury, saying, "You ask about La Florida, after the desolate state it was in when you left?"

A later literary work, Southern writer James Branch Cabell's 1942 novel, "The First Gentleman of America," portrays Don Luis from a different perspective. Supposedly based on true events, the book makes fun of genteel Virginia class and breeding and treats Don Luis as an ironic figure whose action in squashing the Spanish settlement paved the way for the English to settle in southeastern America.

(James Cabell was related to Joseph C. Cabell, one of the first members of the U.Va. Board of Visitors and the namesake of Cabell Hall.)

"There's something deeply unsettling, something moving, about Don Luis having almost a decade of Western civilization that he could have used to shore up personal power, but opting against that," Brickhouse said. What happened to him after the destruction of the settlement is a mystery.

His story was destined for oblivion, because it challenged the European ideal about the inevitable and righteous settling of America, she said. Instead, it has persisted in "an extraordinary narrative afterlife."

She said this history, rife with misunderstandings and mistranslations, also might provide historical perspective on current issues of immigration and linguistic difference.

The Lost Spanish Colony: Native American's Story Links Unsettling Encounters in Early America

Students’ Poetry Takes a Closer Look at U.Va.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When University of Virginia fourth-year students Allison Geller and Sarah Grigg took a workshop on the poetics of place with English professor Lisa Russ Spaar, they wrote about some unusual details on the Grounds. To mark National Poetry Month, two of their poems are presented below.

Students’ Poetry Takes a Closer Look at U.Va.


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