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Department News & Events

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.

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.