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Department News & Events

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.