News of the University of Washington Department of English

Autumn 1998

In English is published annually for alumni and friends of the University of Washington Department of English to encourage interest in and support for the University of Washington. To be put on the mailing list to receive a snailmail copy of In English, e-mail the editor, Cheryl Mathisen (


MacArthur Fellows
Notes from the Chair
The Father of the Predicaments (poem)
New Faculty
Alumni News
Advisor of the Year
Ex-Chair Flees
Faculty Notes
In Memoriam
PhD Dissertations 1997-98
Running with the Bulls
Alumni and Friends Support

MacArthur Fellows

Two! English Department faculty members received MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grants this year.  Linda Bierds, director of the Creative Writing Program, and Charles Johnson, Pollock Professor, were among the 29 recipients selected for these prestigious national awards.  The five year grants total $320,000 and $305,000 erspectively and come with "no strings attached."

Linda Bierds

Charles Johnson

At a department reception University of Washington President Richard McCormick and Provost Leo Huntsman congratulated Bierds and Johnson as the only professors at the UW and in the greater Pacific Northwest to receive such honors.  Bierds and Johnson join English Department professor Rick Kenney, a former MacArthur Fellow. 

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Notes from the Chair

At the recent Association of Departments of English (ADE) conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I attended the pre-conference seminar for new chairs and was asked by the seminar leader to desribe my first year as chair.  I was speechless, a rare trait in a chair. Everyone interpreted my silence as some sort of paralysis brought on by administrative terror from my year in office.  I didn't know where to begin, because so much of what I wanted to say had nothing to do with department business. My wife, Vicki, passed away on Christmas Day in my first quarter as chair, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.

I am, at heart, a truly optimistic person, which may be a necessary trait for an administrator.  My optimism was aided in great part by those I asked to help me do my job last year, particularly Malcolm Griffith, John Coldewey, David McCracken, and Susan Williams who all added administrative duties to their already full schedules.  My appreciation and gratitutde also goes out to the entire English staff and faculty, who worked hard and did what they were asked to do and more.

In answer to the question about my first year on the job, I may have uttered to my fellow ADE participants, "We had a medieval year."  Not in the sense that all understood to be something related to an area of study in an English department. There were other tragedies and illnesses pushing their way into our lives as well as great joy and triumph.  When I was in Italy during summer 1997, my students and I visited Civita di Bagnoregio, a medieval hilltown with a population three times smaller than the population of our department.  I think of our department as a city and whatever could happen within the boundaries of a city happened to us.  Architecturally, Padelford Hall is, of course, medieval in design.  I await the impending renaissance. Leonardo di Vinci said, "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."  Probalby sounds better in Italian, nevertheless it's good advice.

I end with a poem that Heather McHugh wrote for me and a friend of hers earlier this year after I appeared in her dream.  The poem will be included in her new book The Father of Predicaments, which will be published by Wesleyan University Press next summer.  The poem is a little dark (Heather's description), but nonethelss is a great honor and more importantly, ends in the present where we all are and should be.

--Shawn Wong

New Faculty

We welcome four new faculty to the English Department this year.

Alys Weinbaum arrived in September 1998 following her Pembroke Fellowship at Brown University.  She received an honors BA degree from Brown in Women's Studies (1989) and an MA in critical theory at Sussex University (1990).  She completed her PhD in English at Columbia University (1998) specializing in 19th- and 20th-century American and European literature and social theory.  Her dissertation is a highly original and challenging history of modern representations of the concept of reproduction, drawing on a broad range of texts and theoretical positions.

Henry Staten was recruited from the University of Utah where he taught for ten years.  He received his BA from the University of Houston (1968) and his PhD from the University of Texas (1978). His publications include: Wittgenstein and Derrida, University of Nebraska Press, 1984; Nietzsche's Voice, Cornell University Press, 1990; and Eros in Mourning: Homer to Lacan, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.  He has a joint appointment with Comparative Literature.  Staten received a Guggenheim Fellowshipo for this year and will teach Autumn Quarter only.

Anne Curzan joins the department as an assistant professor in language studies. She received her BA from Yale (1991).  Her MA (1995) and PhD (1998) degrees are from the University of Michigan.  Curzan's work includes history of English, corpus linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, gender and language, Old and Middle English language and literature, and lexicography. She is a tri-athlete and was thrilled to move to a sea-level climate more conducive to her training.

Jessica Burstein comes to us from the University of Chicago where she received her MA (1990) and PhD (1998).  She will teach primarily modern British and American literature and is currently working on modernism and fashion--Coco Chanel and modernism and the prosthetic body. Her most recent article, "Waspish Segments: Lewis, Prosthesis, Fascism," appeared in Modernism/Modernity, April 1997. 

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Alumni News

Vivyan Adair (PhD 1997) will begin teaching at Hamilton College this Autumn.

Kathleen Alcala (MFA 1985) has published her first novel, Spirits of the Ordinary, Chronicle Books, 1997.

Marcia Aldrich (MA 1981, PhD 1987) is a recent winner of a distinguished teaching award at Michigan State University where she directs the English honors program.  Her book, Girl Rearing, will appear this fall.

Christina Alfar (PhD 1997) now teaches at the University of Washington Bothell campus.

Linda Andrews (MFA 1992) has published a new book of poetry, Escape of the Bird Women, Blue Begonia Press.

Emily Auerbach (PhD 1981) has won three teaching awards at the University of Wisconsin where she holds a joint appointment in English and the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts (Outreach). She co-hosts Wisconsin Public Radio's "University of the Air."

David Baulch (PhD 1996) is a faculty member at the University of West Florida.

Toni La Ree Bennett (PhD 1993) has published several poems in The Muse Strikes Back: A Poetic Response by Women to Men, an anthology published by Story Line Press, 1997.

Kirk Branch (PhD 1998) has accepted a teaching position at the University of Kansas.

Daniel Burgoyne (PhD 1998) has joined the faculty at the University of British Columbia.

Theresa Crater (MA 1984, PhD 1992) has recently been promoted and granted tenure at Metropolitan State College, Denver.

George Drake (PhD 1997) will join the faculty at Central Washington University this fall.

Ann Engar (MA 1977, PhD 1981) has twice been chosen model teacher for the Presidential Seminar at the University of Utah.

Brian Evenson (PhD 1993) was awarded the 1998 O. Henry Award for his story, "Two Brothers," published in The Dominion Review magazine.

David Francis (PhD 1996) is a Fulbright Scholar in Poland this fall and will join the faculty at Kentucky Wesleyan University in January.

Phil Gaines (PhD 1998) is a faculty member at Montana State University.

Bill Gaskill (Ba 1996) attends medical school at Loma Linda University. Nancy Gray (MA 1984, PhD 1988) is in Seattle on leave from William and Mary, working on a study of contemporary postmodern fiction. Her 1993 study, Language Unbound: On Experimental Writing by Women, won the NWSA-Illinois Book Award.

Tammy Greenwood (MFA 1996) has had her first novel accepted by St. Martin's Press.

Annie Gronewald (BA 1997) has returned from a year in Ecuador, where she studied literature and worked as a medical volunteer. She has entered the MPH program at Loma Linda University.

G. W. Hawkes (BA 1979) has published two books this summer: Surveyor and Semaphore, both published by MacMurray and Beck. Hawkes chairs the English Department and co-directs the creative writing program at Lycoming College.

Allen Hibbard (MA 1982, PhD 1989) recently held a Fulbright lectureship at Damascus University. This year he becomes director of English graduate studies at Middle Tennessee State University.

Heather Hill-Vasquez (PhD 1997) has accepted a teaching appointment at the University of Dayton.

Jennifer Holberg (PhD 1997) has joined the faculty at Calvin College.

David Horowitz (BA 1981) founded and operates Rose Alley Press.

Scott Howard (PhD 1998) begins a teaching appointment at the University of Denver this fall.

Sharon Jansen (PhD 1980) won the 1996-97 Pacific Lutheran University Faculty Excellence Award.

Karen Kaivola (PhD 1989) was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in the Fall of 1997. She has been appointed Chair of the Council on the Status of Women at Stetson University.

Helen Killoren (PhD 1989) has been awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at Ohio University-Lancaster. Her book, Edith Wharton: Art and Allusion was among those listed by Choice as "Outstanding Academic Books of 1996."

Michael Kischner (PhD 1976) was named the 1997 Washington Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation. He teaches at North Seattle Community College.

William Lalicker (MA 1982, PhD 1987) directs the composition and writing emphasis program at West Chester University.

Mark Long (PhD 1996) is a faculty member at Keene State College.

Charles MacQuarrie (PhD 1997) has accepted a position at Antelope Valley College.

Joanie Mackowski (MFA 1991) has been awarded a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University.

Barbara McGuire (PhD 1996) is an editor for Microsoft.

Sally McWilliams (MA 1988, PhD 1992) has returned to her teaching position at Montclair State University after her recent Fulbright seminar in China.

Aislinn Melchior (BA 1998) was awarded the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Medal for Outstanding Student in the Humanities.

Amy Michaels (PhD 1996) is senior acquisitions editor for Macmillan Computer Publishing.

Robert B. Neveldine (PhD 1993) recently published Bodies at Risk: Unsafe Limits in Romanticism and Postmodernism, Series in Postmodern Culture (State University of New York Press, 1998).

Dan Orozco (MFA 1994) received a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University for his work in fiction.

Ann Pancake (PhD 1998) will begin teaching at Pennsylvania State University (Behrend College) this fall.

Mary-Kelly Persyn (PhD 1995) has accepted a teaching appointment at Lane Community College.

Bethany Reid (PhD 1996) teaches at Everett Community College.

Kristine Richardson (BA 1998) is a Clientele Specialist for Banana Republic, working this fall in Paris. In January she will be working in New York.

John Sheehy (PhD 1997) has accepted a teaching appointment at Marlboro College.

James Snydal (BA 1971) recently published Living in America (New Thought Journal Press), poetry on U.S. culture heroes, 1960s protest and his own battle with cancer.

Michael Spence (BA 1974) published Adam Chooses, Rose Alley Press.

John Squires (BA 1981) is president of "Entertainment Weekly," a magazine of Time Warner.

David Summers (PhD 1989) is a faculty member at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Sean Taylor (PhD 1995) will teach at Portland State University this year.

Hans Turley (PhD 1995) has joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut.

Jacqueline Vanhoutte (PhD 1996) is a faculty member at the University of North Texas.

Victor Villanueva (PhD 1986) was named most supportive faculty member by the English graduate students at Washington State University. He was program chair for the 1998 Conference of College Composition and Communication last April and will be chair of the CCCC for 1998-99. 

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Advisor of the Year

Melissa Wensel, Director of English Advising, was chosen Advisor of the Year by her UW advising peers in the Association of Professional Advisers and Counselors (APAC).  She came to the Unviersity in 1985 with an MA from Rutgers planning to pursue the PhD.  In 1989 she gave up her TA position and became a part-time adviser.  Within two years she was promoted to director of the undergraduate advising office.

Wensel has been instrumental in the success of our internship program and her yearly career and pre-graduate school workshops are well-attended.  She supervises the activities of the English Undergraduate Association and assists the staff of Bricolage (a student-produced journal).  She also instituted the sale of English Department T-shirts and sweatshirts. 

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Ex-Chair Flees

Last year Tom Lockwood completed a five-year term as department chair and somewhat suspiciously left the United States the next day. He spent the fall and winter on leave in London, editing the first of three volumes of plays by fielding for the complete Works of Henry Fielding being published jointly by Oxford and Wesleyan University Press.  Fielding, like his model Cervantes, began his writing career in theatre, where he produced some two dozen comedies and ran his own company before his plays became insufferable to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, who pushed a theatrical Licensing Act through parliament which effectively put his tormentor out of business.  So Fielding found alternative employment writing the novels which made his reputation with history, like Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones. But the plays are an important and revealing side of Fielding's creative career, and have never been comprehensively edited on a modern standard of scholarship.

Lockwood worked mainly at the British Library in London and the Bodleian Library at Oxford, comparing the early printed versions of tehse plays to establish an accurate text, researching the explanatory notes, and writing the introductions. Meanwhile the British Library was also moving all 14 million books from its hallowed but diysfunctional quraters in the British Museum to new digs at St. Pancras about a mile north--maddening for readers ("Books In This Shelfmark Class Temporarily Unavailable"), but one maddened reader found that a moment's reflection on his former job as department chair made this and for that matter all other troubles seem to vanish like magic.  He wishes to remind his friend and successor Shawn Wong that this therapy will be available to him too, in just four short years. 

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Faculty Notes

New Books

Honors Promotions Retirements  
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In Memoriam

Lois Clemens, Emeritus Lecturer in English, died July 19, 1998.  Clemens was an instructor of English composition at the University 1945-1952. She attended graduate school under the supervision of Professor Markham Harris and received her MA in creative writing in 1956.  She went on to teach for the Seattle Public Schools and returned to the Unversity in 1965 to teach advanced composition and fiction writing.  Clemens retired in 1976. Professor Robert Stevick, as chair of the department in 1975, recommended Clemens for emeritus status in a letter to the Dean. "Lois Clemens' long record of service in both the composition field and the creative writing field is an important one: it does not produce what is allowed gnerally as newsworthy results, yet it works at perhaps the most fundamentally important level of all, that of bringing students along in their control of written expression, an essential part of college education." 

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Ph.D. Dissertations 1997-98

Stephen Andrews, "Salvaging Virginia: Transivity, Race, and The Problem of Consent" (Mark Patterson)

Clinton Atchley, "The 'Wose' of Jacob's Well: Text and Context (Miceal Vaughan)

Daniel Alexandre Burgoyne, "The Colloquy of Edgar Allen Poe and Samuel Taylor Coleridge" (Hazard Adams)

Roland Caissie, "English Verb Phrase Grammar Prototypes for Speakers of Other Languages: A Cognitive Approach to Facilitate Second Language English Composition." (Heidi Riggenbach)

Eve Christine Chaney, "'The Aesthetic of Lived Life' From Wollstonecraft to Mill" (Gary Handwerk)

William Freind, "Fragments and Paradise: The General Economy of Ezra Pound" (Leroy Searle)

Phil Gaines, "Cross Purposes: A Critical Analysis of the Representational Force of Questions in Adversarial Legal Examination" (George Dillon)

W. Scott Howard, "Fantastic Surmise: Seventeenth-Century English Elegies, Elegiac Modes and the Historical Imagination from Donne to Philips" (Sara van den Berg)

Corinna Laughlin, "The Ossianic Novel" (Gary Handwerk)

Ann Pancake, "Past (Im)Perfect and the Present Progressive: Time in America's Class Consciousness" (Carolyn Allen)

Jacquelyn Sloan, "Oppositional Structure and Design" (Sydney Kaplan)

Leah Mogford Spence, "Magic Words: A Reconceptualization of Magic Realism" (Malcolm Griffith)

Linda S. Young, "House of Mirrors: Reflection and Composition" (Gail Stygall) 

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Running with the Bulls

This not a report on study abroad in Pamploma but one that acknowledges the significance of recent increases in the English Department shares of the University of Washington Consolidated Endowment fund. Six years ago the English accounts totaled just under two million dollars; in the spring of this year that had increased to just over 5.2 million. Endowed and dedicated funds support professorships, of which there are now two, plus a writer in residence; graduate and undergraduate fellowships and scholarships; study abroad; publications; lectures and readings; and general discretion and program support. The current endowment balances for each category are listed below and from them it is evident that we much need major gifts and continuing annual contributions in a number of areas.

During 1997-98 the department's development committee reviewed and revised the development plan, after soliciting faculty and students for ideas about ongoing and new needs. Unsurprisingly, especially with another year's experience of lacking fellowship support to recruit graduate students both for the MFA and doctoral programs, the highest priority is for major gifts to establish both recruitment and dissertation fellowships. It has been gratifying to learn that one long-time donor has included a graduate fellowship and also an undergraduate scholarship in her will, and we have this year also received a $20,000 capital addition to one of our undergraduate scholarship funds.

Other continuing needs are ones of support for the professional development of graduate students, especially for their participation in scholarly conferences and their ability to travel to research libraries. A gift of $7,000 this year has been especially helpful, and it was quickly allocated to graduate students. We ask graduates who now hold faculty appointments for annual gifts designated to graduate program support so that graduate students can continue to benefit from professional development opportunities.

A three-year gift pledge to give need-based stipends to undergraduates in English study-abroad programs supported students in the London Program, another program area where we much need to establish both endowment and annual gift support.

The dedicated funds for publications are entirely for Seattle Review. Now that the University has ceased virtually all support of journals, Poetry Northwest must obtain grant and private gift support. A small grant has become available for this year, but much more help is needed. Similarly, our undergraduate literary magazine, Bricolage, receives only partial support from ASUW funds. The enterprising English Undergraduate Association continues to raise money through sales promotion of the magazine and through appeals for donations.

To turn the "running with the bulls" idea from funding status and needs to the realities of people and programs, we are proud to now have a creative writing program ranked among the best in the country, and the only one with three MacArthur fellows on the faculty. In the face of continued reductions in state funding, the entire graduate and undergraduate program has worked to maintain its quality, but the "bulls" we run with, be they UCLA or Michigan or Iowa, are ones that run strongly. The competition is that of attracting and retaining the very top students and faculty, of serving the very diverse needs of undergraduate and graduate students, and of maintaining a strong community presence on campus and in our regional and professional communities.

Summary of English Endowed and Dedicated Fund Balances:

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Alumni and Friends Support

Please help us continue to enrich our programs by considering one of the designated uses for an annual gift to the University of Washington. Your gifts are tax deductible in accordance with the law.  Pursuant to RCW 10.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, State of Washington.  For information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-332-4483.

If you want to make a contribution, you may send a check (payable to University of Washington) to:

Department of English Box 354330
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-4330
attn: Cheryl Mathisen.

Please indicate your name and address and toward which designated use your gift should be applied (i.e., Discretionary, General Program Support, Lectures/Readings, Publications, or Study Abroad).

We greatly appreciate the widespread and continuing help that so many of our alumni and friends give, and in coming months as we organize and recognize the many Friends of English, we will be contacting people on our mailing list about programs which may be of interest--such as a preview showing of Snow Falling on Cedars, community conversations with faculty and students, readings and book discussions.

To get on our mailing list or to give us news of your recent activities or any suggestions you have for us, e-mail Cheryl Mathisen ( 

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