English Matters - Spring 2013

The Hilen endowment was established by the Hilen family in 1986 in honor of Andrew R. Hilen, a noted scholar of 19th-century American literature at UW from 1941 until his death in 1982. The endowment funds the Andrew R. Hilen Professorship in American Literature and Culture and also generates vital funding for graduate students and for public events on the UW campus. Eva Cherniavsky has held the Hilen Professorship since joining the faculty in 2005, and the endowment has made possible the… Read more
When people think about research in the English Department, they are likely to imagine solitary scholars surrounded by books in the library. But when students from Professor Anis Bawarshi’s graduate seminar, “Knowledge Transfer and Composition,” designed a research project, they envisioned a collaborative study that would bring together theory and methods from education, social sciences, and composition studies. Their project, titled “Transfer of Learning and Third-Space Collaboration:… Read more
What makes the University of Washington unique in this state? What gives it its particular value? Those are questions we might answer in varying ways, questions on which different individuals will have quite varying perspectives. But one crucial thing setting this university apart is what is termed in the academic world its status as a “Research 1” institution. That means, for instance, that many departments on campus have large graduate programs—in the case of English, multiple such programs… Read more
Before attending summer research institutes at Princeton and Rutgers, or acquiring the McNair, Lederman, and the Mary Gates Research Scholarships, English Major Alex Catchings had an experience that set the stage for his scholarly attention to language, literature, and culture: “When I was six, my brash Aunt Melinda said to me, ‘Boy, you know you got a mix I bet I ain’t gonna see again? Black and Filipino. Filinegro.’ This racial designation endures as a witty retort for when people ask, ‘So… Read more
In 2011, Melanya Materne, then a sophomore studying English at the University of Washington, received the Thomas A. Lederman Humanities Award; the following year the English Department awarded her the Tia Vall-Spinosa Sullivan Scholarship. Director of English Undergraduate Advising Mel Wensel says of Materne, “She is a brilliant young scholar, a true lover of writing and literature. She is somebody who is already in the process of making herself into a master teacher, somebody who will pass on… Read more
The firm Currier & Ives, self-described as “publishers of cheap and popular prints,” is well known for depicting scenes of American life, showing people at work in the building of cities and railroads; Currier & Ives also produced lithograph prints of American families at play, with their images of holiday winter scenes and sporting, patriotic, and historical events. The impact of their images on the American imagination was far-reaching: In their 73 years (1834-1907) of producing at… Read more
University of Washington professor David Shields has authored, coauthored, or coedited 14 books, includingReality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), Black Planet(National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Remote(winner of the PEN/Revson Award). In 2010, Shields was granted Professor Loren Douglas Milliman Endowed Funds for a Distinguished Writer; since then he has… Read more
That great and underrated Victorian, Rudyard Kipling, tells us the tale of “The Cat that Walked by Himself.” And a recent cover of the New Yorker (21 Jan. 2013) shows a man who looks to me like a certain Anglo-American poet who edited Kipling’s verse for the 20th century, staff in hand, in the act of “Herding Cats.” Well, English professors are cats who walk, read, and write by themselves. And they don’t gather together very well or agree on much of anything. Imagine being Department Chair! And… Read more
After 46 years at the University, the past 28 spent as administrator for English, our much admired Department Administrator Susan Williams has chosen to retire. All of the English Department chairs with whom she has worked—Dick Dunn, Tom Lockwood, Shawn Wong, and Gary Handwerk—recognize how immeasurably our department has benefited from her exceptional service. Each of us recalls that the first question we had when offered the position as chair was whether she would be continuing as… Read more
Edward Alexander’s latest book, The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal, has just been published by Transaction Publishers. Jessica Burstein has published a new book, Cold Modernism: Literature, Fashion, Art (2012). From Coco Chanel and the impact of the little black dress on modernism to rereadings of Henry James and the photographs of Hans Bellmer’s sex doll, Burstein’s account of modernism seeks to recenter the field and awaken us to the aesthetic virtues of ignoring psychology and… Read more
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1932-2013 Gerald John (Jack) Brenner died unexpectedly of a stroke on February 8, 2013, at Virginia Mason Hospital. Born June 16, 1932, in Idalia, Colorado, he was 79 years old. A semipro pitcher, Jack was scouted by the Yankees and the Dodgers before entering the University of Colorado as an undergraduate. He earned his PhD from the University of New Mexico in American literature and fiction writing, joining the UW English Department faculty in 1966. While teaching, Jack also directed the… Read more
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1919-2013 Grace Milliman Pollock passed away on 15 February 2013 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the age of 94. Her generosity to the University of Washington is long-standing: As early as 1973, she started establishing endowments in the English and Mathematics Departments to honor both her father, Loren, who was a professor of English at UW, and her brother, Wendell, a famous mathematician. The four endowments have earned the University over $2 million for support that has been instrumental in… Read more
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1927-2010 Lois Phillips Hudson was born in August 1927 in Jamestown, North Dakota, to Carl Wayne Phillips and Aline Runner Phillips. In 1935, after weathering the devastating effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the family moved to Washington State. Hudson graduated from the University of Puget Sound and later, Cornell University. Her first book, Reapers of the Dust: A Prairie Chronicle, a collection of short stories, was published in 1957, and in 1962, the much lauded novel, … Read more
Justin Abbasi (BA ’10) self-published a book of conceptual art puzzles titled Qwerty Constellations: Literary Cryptology, 2010, available through Amazon. Marcia Aldrich (PhD ’87) is Professor of English at Michigan State University. Her book Companion toAn Untold Story was selected by Susan Orlean for the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction (U Georgia P). Noell Bernard-Kingsley (BA English & History ’04, MEd ’10) and Neal Kingsley (BA ’03) welcomed a son, Ajax San Kingsley, born in August.… Read more