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Department News & Events

Paul Muldoon to deliver GESA conference keynote April 16
Friday, March 25, 2016

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.

Interview with new Creative Writing Professor Jeffrey Allen
Friday, March 4, 2016

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.

In Memoriam: Ralph Cohen
Sunday, February 28, 2016

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.

Bruce Holsinger, international team of researchers investigate parchment's origins
Monday, December 7, 2015

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.

Anna Brickhouse awarded MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize
Monday, December 7, 2015

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.