Faculty and Staff Notes

Ayash Callow Taranath
L-R: Megan Callow, Anu Taranath, Nancy Bou Ayash

With sadness, Department Chair Anis Bawarshi announces that our UW colleague Kim Johnson-Bogart passed away on September 26, at home, peacefully, with her daughter Sabina and granddaughter Cece at her side.

“Those of us who worked with Kim know her as a teacher, mentor, and colleague, someone who in her most recent position in Advancement worked tirelessly to help faculty secure funding to launch their careers and fuel their research.  She worked at the UW since 1993 in various roles — as director of the Carlson Center, assistant dean of undergraduate education and affiliate professor of English before joining Advancement in 2007.”

In early November Kim's family and friends, in conjunction with the Simpson Center, hosted an event on campus to toast Kim's life.  In memory of Kim, please consider a donation to the Northwest African American Museum in her honor.

Congratulations to Nancy Bou Ayash, Megan Callow, and Anu Taranath for their respective promotions to the ranks of Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, and Principal Lecturer.  Congratulation to all three on much hard work duly recognized.

 In the Graduate Office, Mary Malevitsis joined us last Spring as our new Graduate Program Coordinator.  Mary has jumped into the fray with both feet, joining and propelling forward the Grad Office’s efforts to highlight alumni success.  See this issue of English Matters’ “Alumni Achievements” article for more details.  Welcome to the team Mary.

 We proudly announce that the English department's Expository Writing Program has been awarded a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).  This is major national recognition of the highest order, and a well-deserved tribute to the remarkable work that EWP Director Candice Rai and EWP associate directors and mentors (Elizabeth Simmons O'Neill, Kimberlee Gillis Bridges, Michelle Liu, Jake Huebsch, and Nancy Bou Ayash) have done over the last six years.  A number of faculty over the years have also played a role in shaping EWP into a program nationally recognized for excellence, including previous EWP directors John Webster, Gail Stygall, Juan Guerra, and Anis Bawarshi.

Here’s what the CCCC awards committee said about our Expository Writing Program:

"The committee was impressed by the program’s expansive and outward-facing vision of writing, and the variety of course experiences and partnerships. We were particularly struck by the thoughtful integration of service-learning in community-based writing courses and partnerships sustained by the UW in the High School Program. The committee also found most impressive the Expository Writing Program’s sensitivity to translanguaging, home languages, and a variety of modes of writing and composing: on-line, podcasts, storytelling, and other forms of reflective practice. We admired the program’s attentiveness to the needs of diverse learners, including its support for multilingual writers, and its integration of anti-racism into professional development opportunities. The committee also appreciated the discussion of ongoing assessment, and the rich evidence provided, which included documentation of student outcomes. This was varied and extensive, including evidence from teacher evaluations, independent student surveys, and responses from community partners."

The EWP will be presented with the certificate at the awards session of the CCCC annual convention in March.  Congratulations to all involved.

 The UW English Department’s Master of Arts for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL) program was recently granted the U.S. State Department’s English Language Programs’ Fellow Top Producing Institution Award, one of five programs across the country to receive this recognition.  Since 1969, the English Language Fellow Program has sent thousands of highly qualified and experienced English Language Teaching specialists to assist U.S. Embassies in delivering and maintaining quality English language programs. The award announcement noted that: “by providing foundations in academic excellence, these institutions have equipped Fellows to promote intercultural understanding, educational exchange, and English language learning capacity.” Because the MATESOL program positions itself to move beyond a focus on language and pedagogical skills and towards a more sociopolitically informed orientation which is mindful of the English language’s histories of conquest, racial violence, and domination, and of its contemporary context of inequitable global racial power, this award is a particularly important affirmation of the program’s influence in the profession. Congratulations to Suhanthie Motha, Priti Sandhu, Professor Emerit Sandy Silberstein, and Wendy Asplin on this award!

 This year’s winner of the English Department Faculty Teaching Award is Professor John Griffith.  Dr. Griffith teaches a range of areas, primarily in American Literature.  His signature pedagogy is lively class discussion, gently steered and highly student-centered, peppered with numerous in class writing opportunities.  Generations of students have attested to how clear and interesting Griffith makes what can be difficult reading materials.  Congratulations!

Professor Alys Weinbaum's recent book, The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism's Philosophy of History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019) has won the Sarah A. Whaley prize from the National Women’s Studies Association.  The Whaley Prize recognizes the best book in any field on women and labor from an intersectional perspective.  The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery also received an honorable mention for the Gloria E. Anzaldúa prize, awarded for groundbreaking scholarship in multicultural feminist contributions to women of color/transnational scholarship.

When Chadwick Allen’s name comes across English Matters’ screen, we take a deep breath before repeating his long string of professional titles: Professor in the English Department, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Adjunct Professor in American Indian Studies, and Co-Director of the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies.  This voluminous exhale is well worth it, given how good the following news is bound to be.  With Allen and Co-director Jean Dennison’s guidance, the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies has been awarded a Mellon Foundation grant for 1.82 million dollars. Dr. Allen commented on the importance of this funding in UW Today’s coverage of the grant:  “The Mellon grant will allow us to better leverage the UW’s existing infrastructure for connecting with Native communities; supporting Native students, staff and faculty; and producing innovative scholarship in the expanding field of Indigenous studies.” 

Dr. Allen spoke on December 3rd as part of the Katz distinguished lecture series. Drawing from his new book manuscript, Earthworks Rising: Mound Building in Native Art, Literature, and Performance, Allen related how Native writers and artists engage ancient earthworks in contemporary productions.

 Professor Gillian Harkins has received a 2019-20 Simpson Center Funding award for her ongoing project “Community Engaged Collaboration, Year Two” in the context of prison education, which will take place in relation to the visit of Katz Distinguished Lecturer Ruth Wilson Gilmore in the spring of 2020.  Dr. Harkin’s continuing work in the areas of prison education and policy reform has been unflaggingly productive and socially positive, and is a credit to her, and to the English Department’s collective efforts to engage important community issues beyond campus boundaries.

 Professor Shawn Wong is featured in this Seattle Times article for his role in the publication of John Okada's classic novel No-No Boy, which is now at the center of a copyright controversy after its re-publication. UW faculty member Vince Schleitwiler also writes about the fascinating publication history of No-No Boy and Shawn Wong's role in it in this article in the International Examiner.  Lastly on the same subject, Wong features prominently in Thessaly La Force’s New York Times article recounting Okada’s life and work.

Professor Wong is also pleased to announce a new named book series ("A Shawn Wong Book") in partnership with the University of Washington Press, committed to publishing Asian American literary works and reissuing Asian American literary classics.  The first book, to be published spring 2020, will be the Chinese American classic novel Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu, featuring a new forward by novelist Fae Myenne Ng.

 Professor Kate Norako’s chapbook, Nautilus, has now been published by Dancing Girl Press.  Dr. Norako just returned from a month-long residency as Charles A. Owen Jr. Visiting Professor at the University of Connecticut's Medieval Studies program, where she taught an intensive graduate seminar on medieval and modern crusades literature and gave a public lecture, "Recovering Richard Coer de Lyon."

With the generous support of the Simpson Center's Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship, Kate spent a good portion of the summer working with a team of graduate students - Caitlin Postal, Sarah Moore, and Nolie Ramsey - on the Richard Coer de Lyon Multitext (RCLM). The project now has an interesting proof of concept website you can check out.

In November, the English Department and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences co-sponsored the Morton L. Mandel Public Lecture featuring a talk by Annie Proulx titled “Writing Into the Sunset,” followed by a lively conversation between Annie Proulx and Shawn Wong about the strange corners writing research leads one into, and what can be discovered there. The lecture involved a cameo appearance by English professor Charles LaPorte, who helped shed light on a mystery surrounding 140-year-old marginal notations accusing Alfred Lord Tennyson of plagiarism. You can watch the lecture here.

 At the start of Fall, Charles LaPorte, Jesse Oak Taylor, and Gary Handwerk hosted “A Digitally-Networked International Conference on Ecology and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Studies” held jointly with the University of Lancaster, Baylor University, Georgetown University, and the University of Washington.  The conference was supported by a Simpson Center Collaboration Grant.

Also in Fall, Eva Cherniavsky hosted a colloquium titled “In the Vortex [or, Whither Neoliberalism?]” in collaboration with Leerom Medovoi at the University of Arizona. The colloquium was supported by a Simpson Center Collaboration Grant.

Professor Eva Cherniavsky has also been elected to a seat on the MLA’s Transdisciplinary Connections: Marxism, Literature, and Society forum executive committee

 Professor Charles Johnson has been busy in many aspects of his professional career:

He is one of five people featured on posters promoting diversity and inclusion sent to every undergraduate philosophy program in the US and Canada. Others on the poster include Susan Sontag, actor Theo James, Nobel Prize laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, and Mary Higgins Clark.   Link to CJ poster photo    Charles R. Johnson

Johnson’s much touted recent novel, Night Hawks, was a finalist for this year's Washington State Book Award.

A stage adaptation of Professor Johnson's novel Middle Passage, titled "Rutherford's Travels," will premiere at Lifeline Theater in Chicago on February 20, 2020.

Seattle's Chatwin Books has produced a broadside "On Revision" taken from Johnson’s book on writing craft, The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling.

Professor Johnson is one of three authors who read at the 21st Bedtime Stories literary gala on October 11th, and he delivered the keynote address at the Write on the Sound program in October as well.

Actor, director, and author LeVar Burton recorded a dramatic performance of Professor Johnson’s short story, "Kwoon," which can be heard at LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller.

Finally, you can also read Professor Johnson’s recent memorial tribute to the late, great American novelist Paule Marshall for The Literary Hub website.

Emeritus Professor James Tollefson's book The Oxford Handbook of Language Policy and Planning, co-edited with Miguel Pérez-Milans and published by Oxford University Press in 2018, recently won the 2019 BAAL Book Prize. Awarded annually by the British Association for Applied Linguistics, the prize recognizes the best book in applied linguistics published in English anywhere in the world during the previous year. Recently retired UW English Emeritus Professor Sandra Silberstein contributed a chapter titled “Maintaining ‘Good Guys’ and ‘Bad Guys’: Implicit Language Policies in Media Coverage of International Crises.”

Professor Emeritus Edward Alexander has published a trilogy of essays on Lionel Trilling in Standpoint, Mosaic, and most recently in Society. These articles deal with Trilling’s literary criticism, actions during the Columbia riots of 1968, disillusion with Marxism, and his “deeply conflicted feelings about his own Jewishness, and exceptionally harsh views on Jews and Judaism.”  Professor Alexander has also published an article in the algemeiner  titled “How Should We Spell ‘Antisemitism’?”

 And finally, Joanna Russ, who taught at UW, is remembered in a new biography by fellow sci-fi writer Gwyneth Jones: “Experimental, strange, and unabashedly feminist, Joanna Russ’ groundbreaking science fiction grew out of a belief that the genre was ideal for expressing radical thought.” Russ was a Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer who taught in the UW English Department from 1977 to 1991; her work is still widely taught and studied. In 2006, editors of the UW alumni magazine Columns named Russ’s 1975 novel “The Female Man” among the top 100 books by UW authors.