New Chair's Notes
Chair Search Authorized
New Adventures for an Old Chair
UW Career Week Wins Award
Department Showcase Events
Faculty Honors and Awards
New PhDs and Their Dissertations
MFA Graduation 2002
Alumni News 2001-2002
It is common knowledge that state support for the University of Washington has dropped steadily over the last twenty years – now down to a mere 14% of operating costs – and that an educational crisis is in the works, particularly in the Humanities, and particularly in English. As detailed in the May 17 issue of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the English department is losing faculty, its core strengths in danger. Still, it is not too late. Our department, like others in the University, must now call on its alumni and friends to make a difference. Our needs have never been greater, and we cannot maintain our excellence without your involvement of time, talent, and financial support.
Your gifts, large and small, make an enormous difference. For example,
only a few $35 donations can underwrite a graduate student/faculty colloquium;
$100 pays the honorarium for a guest lecturer; $500 enables a graduate student
or faculty member to present a paper at a distant conference; $1000 brings
a major scholar to Seattle for a lecture, reading, or seminar. We invite
you to renew your support of the English Department, which you can now do
on-line by visiting our development website. We hope that you will do
so. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
|New Chair’s Notes
I think of myself as new chair, even though my actual chair is the one I have used as a faculty person for the past five years and even though I have served two previous terms as chair. But most of all, I find myself committed to the “new” which appears in nearly every column of this newsletter describing the opportunities and challenges we face. I have a few thoughts about the opportunities and about the real challenge of how best to recognize and benefit from them.
From my reading of much recent UW creative and scholarly work that is listed here, our most challenging opportunity is to sustain and utilize its excellence. Marshall Brown, in “Rethinking the Scale of Literary History,” says that “literature is a chronicle of successive eternities.” Such a view contextualizes the most positive connotations of “new” in the way Keats did when mentioning the Grecian Urn’s “happy melodist, unweared, / For ever piping songs, for ever new.” It is our faculty’s ongoing new work in the pages written, students taught, and many professional and public services rendered that we most cherish and must sustain. The growing number of endowments and of annual contributions for faculty, program, and student support are vitally important, and the new Nancy K. Ketcham endowment could not be more timely.
Through new efforts to increase both public programs and communication,
we are acknowledging and demonstrating the impact of alumni and friends
generosity. If you are living close enough to attend the twice-quarterly
English Forums that begin this fall, please join us. Wherever you are, become
electronically present through the new alumni news section
of our web page. However recent your undergraduate education, we are
interested in how well it has served you and in what it might have included
to meet your needs while here and since. This year we are reconsidering the
undergraduate major. Intellectually and pedagogically, this is an essential
calibration of curriculum with the expertise and interests of faculty. Because
we are well past the decades-old question of what, besides teach, one can
do with an English major, our programs must serve the many career options
that our graduates have found. Here, your advice can be very useful, and I
urge you to provide it as soon as possible (email our undergraduate program
director, Professor Caroline Simpson (email@example.com).
|Chair Search Authorized
Following the recommendations of the English Department Chair Search Committee, Dean David C. Hodge and Divisional Dean Michael Halleran of the College of Arts and Sciences announced a national search for a new chair.
In his letter to the department authorizing the search, Hodge notes
that “Searches for external chairs can be problematic, of course, and there
are faculty in the department who could serve well in the role of chair.
However, a chair resulting from a national search will bring new energy,
vision, and perspective at a critical time for the department. We want the
English Department to be a robust center of scholarship and teaching, central
to the humanities and to the broader range of disciplines within the College
of Arts and Sciences.”
The search committee appointed by Dean Hodge includes Diana Behler (committee chair) from Germanics, Carolyn Allen and Anis Bawarshi from the Department of English, Galya Diment from the Slavic Department, and John Keeler from Political Science.
for an Old Chair
People often say that administrative jobs are thankless positions. I’ve been fortunate to have not only served as chair of the Department of English for five years from July 1997 to July 2002, but also fortunate to hear the thanks and gratitude of many of my colleagues, students, alumni, and friends of the department. It’s now my turn to say thanks to all who helped me through my five-year term.
Some people think we live and work in an ivory tower, immune to the pressures of the so-called “real world.” I’ve found it’s impossible to separate my work from real life. I took on the job of chair at a difficult time in my life. Just after accepting the position, my wife, Vicki, passed away after a four-year battle with cancer. Former Dean of Arts and Sciences, John Simpson, offered whatever support I needed. I am grateful to him for his faith in me and I am grateful to Professors Malcolm Griffith and David McCracken for taking on extra administrative work in the first few months of my term as chair. Current Dean, David Hodge, and Divisional Dean Michael Halleran continued that marvelous support and faith throughout my term.
I’m not a person who delegates work easily, but in that first year I came to rely on the department staff, department program directors, and faculty to do their jobs as well as help me do mine. There are, of course, too many people to thank individually in this limited space. Let me just say I approached our various programs and offices with questions and problems and I received prompt solutions, facts, numbers, charts, and options. The staff in the main department office and our advising office worked beyond the call of duty during and after a strike by UW teaching assistants.
I was fortunate to inherit, from our former chair, Tom Lockwood,
an energetic and hard-working staff. I was told by other department chairs
that our department administrator, Susan Williams, was the best administrator
at the UW. That statement was proven true when Susan crunched numbers and
massaged budgets as if she were the fiscal version of Seigfried and Roy,
while I spent money like the Department of Defense.
Faculty, staff, and students made it easy for me to come to work everyday for the last five years. Professor Richard Dunn taking over as chair made it easy for me to leave the job. I’m beginning a year-long sabbatical leave (and my 30th year of teaching), during which I hope to complete a new novel and complete work on the film version of my previous novel. Following my sabbatical years, I’m scheduled to teach UW courses in Rome and London, teach at the University of Tuebingen in Germany as part of a faculty exchange, and teach at the University of Lyon in France. Sounds like the ivory tower? Hardly, but there is a happy ending. Two years ago I remarried, and my wife Erin and I are expecting a baby—the first for both of us—just after the beginning of the autumn quarter. I think changing diapers might be the very definition of the non-ivory tower real world. And, …talk about a thankless job!
We are delighted to announce that English Department alumnae Nancy K. Ketcham (BA 1974) has responded to the rising public awareness of the financial challenges our program faces as a result of declines in state support (see “Strapped UW Losing English Professors,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 17, 2002). Nancy (Nan to her many friends) has pledged $250,000 to the department to endow the Nancy K. Ketcham Professorship in English. Funds from this endowment will augment professorial pay, research and publishing resources, and other basic needs that have gone increasingly unmet in recent years.
“With over 55 faculty in the department, this establishes our fourth endowed professorship,” notes Dick Dunn, department chair. “It is an extremely generous, far-sighted gift that makes another step toward our hoped-for future in which we can retain our best faculty talent here, for generations of students to come. We are all so grateful to Nan for making this outstanding gift.”
“I just love the department,” says Nan, a life-long resident of Seattle as well as a continuing student at the University. “After we raised our family, I’ve been able to return to take more of the department’s courses through the Access Program. I’ve done this for many years, and it has returned the joy of my days as a fulltime student. I am so pleased that I can make this gift, for we do need to make certain this department remains one of the very best, whatever its challenges may be.
|UW Career Week
The annual UW Career Week event was selected as an Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Winner by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). This quality advising program was chosen as one of 5 programs to be honored with this award in nationwide competition. Two English Department advisers, Melissa Wensel and Kimberly Swayze, serve as members of the steering committee, co-chaired by Susan Templeton (Center for Career Services) and Don Gallagher (UW Alumni Association). Melissa has been involved with the planning of this university-wide event for the past three years and worked since 1992 on the event’s more modest predecessor, the Liberal Arts Career Seminar series; Kimberly joined the planning team in 2001.
UW Career Week is designed to help students and young alumni answer that perennial question: “What am I going to do with my major?” Career Week provides over 50 free panels, workshops, and presentations on specific fields and career development topics; the centerpiece Husky Career Lunch; and a keynote address by a prominent role model from the academic or business community. Nearly 3,000 students participated in Career Week 2002, learning to make more meaningful connections between their undergraduate educations and the lives they will lead after graduation. Drawing on the talents of academic advisers from over 50 academic programs, career counselors, and alumni relations professionals, Career Week is a model of campus-wide collaboration.
Careerists at work! National Award winning Career Week steering committee, including the English Department's Melissa Wensel (top, 5th from right) and Kimberly Swayze (front, left).
I. “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING(S) I TEACH"
Professors Kate Cummings, John Webster, and Lecturer Elizabeth Simmons-O’Neill, winners of the Department of English Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, take part in a presentation that highlights the core of their teaching.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24
II. “ME, MYSELF, AND I: THE SELF IN WRITING”
Professors Linda Bierds and David Shields from our Creative Writing faculty, offer their views on the range of authorial ego investments in the writing of “non-fiction” and poetry.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Friends and alumni are cordially invited to attend both these special department presentations..
(For a complete list of English Department lectures, readings, presentations, see our Special Events calendar).
|The Department of English is pleased to welcome two new Assistant Professors
Gillian Harkins has a BA from Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley this year. Her dissertation, “Legal Fantasies: Regulating the real in Contemporary U.S. Narratives of Incest,” was directed by Judith Butler and Saidiya Hartman. Her teaching interests include modern and contemporary American literature, female novelists, autobiography, trauma, psychoanalysis, narrative theory, feminist and queer theory, and citizenship.
Yasuko Kanno fills the position in the MATESOL and Applied Linguistics programs vacated by Heidi Riggenbach. She was a visiting professor of applied linguistics at the Monterey Institute of International Studies last year. Kanno received her Ph.D. in education in 1996 from the University of Toronto. She also has an MA in linguistics and a BA in French from Keio University, Tokyo. Her dissertation, “There’s No Place Like Home: Japanese Returnees’ Identities in Transition,” was directed by Jim Cummins.
|New PhDs and Their
MFA graduates enjoy their moment of glory, and a party to help them remember.
|MFA Graduation 2002
“That was one of the best department functions I’ve attended.” “Great celebration.” “What a party, man!” These are only a sampling of the appreciative comments overheard in the hallways of Padelford the day after the graduation celebration for the 2002 MFAs in creative writing. The ceremony and reception held on June 6 was organized by creative writing students with funds from the James T. Lee Endowment.
Celebration highlights included a rousing version of “Pomp and Circumstance” on the pipe organ in the Walker-Ames room of Kane Hall to set the stage for readings by each of the graduates. Shawn Wong, department chair, and Maya Sonnenberg, director of creative writing, were the hosts for the evening. Their duties included anointing each graduate with Mardi Gras beads and a graduation tassel. Each student gave a 4-minute reading. Creative writing faculty and staff were recognized with grateful acknowledgements submitted by the graduates. Family members and friends were thanked for both their emotional and financial support, and everyone enjoyed champagne, good food, and camaraderie.
Graduating with an MFA in fiction were Shelly Meyring, Larissa Min, Daniel Smith, and Marcia Woodard. Graduating with an MFA in poetry were John Crosby, Marika Francisco, Krista Halverson, Julie Larios, Tarisa A.M. Matsumoto-Maxfield, Rebecca Mitchell, Sierra Nelson, and Cassie Sparkman.
|Alumni News 2001-2002
Our alumni continue to make us proud of them. For a full listing of current alumni news, go to our "Alumni in English" web page at http://depts.washington.edu/engladv/englalumni.html or, specifically for graduate alumni, " Recent Graduates" web page at http://depts.washington.edu/~englgrad/Graduates.html.
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