A Note From the Chair

Anis Bawarshi
English Department Chair Anis Bawarshi

As we reach the end of this challenging academic year, I am deeply grateful to our department’s faculty, staff, and graduate instructors for creating community and spaces of care for students, and the ways we have supported one another as colleagues.

I am especially proud of the way that we have continued to work together to build the department.  We completed a multi-year effort to revise our undergraduate major and develop new courses, and we continue to make changes to our graduate programs.  Our writing programs and MATESOL program have led efforts to develop antiracist pedagogy.  Department collaboration grants have brought faculty together across areas, and we have begun bylaws revisions.  We completed a successful search for a new colleague in TESOL and Critical Applied Linguistics and, with leadership from Humanities Divisional Dean Brian Reed, we participated in a cross-divisional effort to hire a new colleague in Humanities Data Science.  In the Fall issue of English Matters, we will review some of these efforts in more detail and introduce our new colleagues.

In this note from the chair, I want to acknowledge and thank all of you who care about and support our work.  Especially during this year of isolation, your generous support has helped us feel a sense of community and has affirmed the value of our work, at a time when what we study and teach in English is more needed than ever.  The gifts we have received to create new endowments, start pilot programs, support existing programs, and sustain dozens of departmental activities have not only given our work wider reach; they have given us encouragement, inspiration, and hope. 

This past year, in addition to the generous donations to our Friends of English, Program Support, and other funds, I am grateful to announce three new endowments: the Matthew and Maria Proser Endowed Fellowship in English, to provide financial assistance to graduate students; the Mary and Allan Kollar Endowed Scholarship in English, to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career as a teacher in the K-12 system; and the Loveday Conquest and Fred Kleinschmidt Fund in Honor of the English Speaking Union, to support the Department of English and graduate students.

In addition, with a gift from Lee Scheingold, we have been able to sustain and extend the reach of the English department’s Literature, Language, Culture dialogue series (featured in this issue of English Matters). The series, which now includes nine episodes, features our research and teaching from across the department.  With support from this gift, we are developing teaching materials to accompany the episodes for use in high school language arts classes and other educational contexts. We hope this work will help build more bridges between our department and local communities. Please support the department by subscribing to our YouTube channel to make sure you stay up to date on the series, or check out the series webpage for the latest episodes.

With another donor gift, we have begun to lay groundwork for an internship program that aligns with our new English 490 capstone course (Professionalization and Public Life).  We created a pilot program that assigns an intern to our Literature, Language, Culture dialogue series.  Our goal eventually is to create an internship program that allows English majors to connect what they are learning in the major with their professional aspirations.

As featured in the student awards and accomplishments section, we have a stunningly impressive group of students, and in nearly every case, it is donor gifts that help us recognize and support them.  In short, we cannot do this work without you.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you to Molly Purrington, UW Director for Advancement for Humanities, who is retiring this June.  Molly’s deep belief in the value of and advocacy for the Humanities, coupled with her love of bringing people together and her joyful, connective curiosity, has created and sustained the relationships with so many of you that has made our work possible.  As she has been for successive department chairs, Molly has become a mentor and friend.  We will continue to feel her presence in the relationships that she cultivated.

In other bittersweet retirement news, Professor Gail Stygall announced her retirement at the end of Winter quarter.  While Professor Stygall will continue to teach part time with us next year through the 40% retirement rehire program, this is a big loss for us.  As noted in her English Matters retirement profile, in her 31 years at UW, Professor Stygall's research and publications have spanned the fields of linguistics, applied linguistics, discourse analysis, law, composition studies, and rhetoric. She has also shaped the intellectual and administrative culture of the university through her work on shared governance, faculty senate leadership, the College Council, directorship of the Expository Writing Program, and nearly every faculty senate committee and countless task forces. Indeed, the synergy with which Professor Stygall’s work crosses fields has helped to create a unique intellectual community for us and generations of graduate students in the department’s Language and Rhetoric track and beyond.

This issue of English Matters will catch you up on the latest department news, including recent faculty books, retirement news, alumni updates, department members featured in the media, and recommended readings.

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