A Note From Our Chair / Brian Reed

Brian Reed
Brian Reed

Greetings from Padelford Hall. Fall quarter is coming to a close this week, and students are busily taking final exams, completing group projects, and putting last touches on research papers. Administrators, too, face a flurry of pre-holiday deadlines, one of which, for me, is the need to hurry up and wrap gifts for my niece and nephew (shh, don’t tell them, they’re getting plush toys that I bought in Seoul, South Korea, while at a conference in November on “world literature and the digital humanities”).

This issue of English Matters offers a look back at 2017. It welcomes James “Rush” Daniel, the newest member of our department, who will be teaching in our Interdisciplinary Writing Program. It surveys many of the outstanding achievements of our faculty and graduate students during the last calendar year. You will hear about awards won, lectures given, and much more. There are several interviews as well, two with alumni and one with a current graduate student, which will give you insight into the amazing things done by people who are part of our extended community, everything from rock climbing to travel writing to advocating just labor practices in South and Southeast Asia. And you will learn about the latest incarnation of the Puget Sound Writers Project, which for thirty five years was based in UW English and ran writing institutes for K-12 faculty and assisted them with professional development.

There are reasons to be melancholy as 2017 nears an end. Three of our emeriti have passed away, professors who devoted decades of their lives to serving this department and the university. You will find here John Webster’s moving remembrance of Roger Sale. He praises Sale as a colleague, teacher, and researcher, discussing, among much else, his pioneering scholarship on J.R.R. Tolkien from the 1970s. In recent months, we also lost John Coldewey and Robert Shulman. Essays in their memory will appear in the next issue of English Matters, in Spring 2018.

The turn of the year is also a time to look forward, to new beginnings. As I type this note, I keep glancing at a new book by one of our creative writers, Pimone Triplett’s Supply Chain, that is sitting here beside my computer. Flipping through it earlier, I saw poems with intriguing titles such as “Watching The King and I with My Son” and “To All the Houseplants I Have Killed.” I can’t yet give the book the attention that it deserves—so many more deadlines to meet first!—but I eagerly anticipate reading and rereading Triplett’s wise and witty versewhile on the plane to Illinois, where my family lives. My niece and nephew keep texting me wanting to know when their uncle will be arriving; my impending visit—and the presents I will be bringing—appear to excite them almost as much, though not quite as much, as the release of the new Star Wars movie.

We here in UW English wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy and productive 2018.

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