From the Chair

Catherine Evans Davies

Dear English Department community,

As chair, I continue the pattern of encapsulating our achievements as a department during the previous academic year, 2012-2013.

To give you an overview of our operation, during 2012-2013 the English Department had 37 tenure-track faculty (14 Assistant Professors, 9 Associate Professors, and 14 Professors), although 2 of the professors serve elsewhere in the University in administrative capacities. We also employed 44 Full-time Temporary Instructors and 35 Part-time Temporary Instructors. We had 5 office staff (Admin Specialist, A&S Office Associate, and three Office Associate Seniors). We had 113 GTA lines and 130 graduate students overall. We had over 500 majors, and about 250 Creative Writing minors. Including Interim term and summer school, we taught 966 classes in 2012-2013 (421 in FWP, 451 in 200-400 level UG, 70 at graduate level, and 24 during interim and summer school). We provided service to the University for 9,226 students through our First-year Writing Program, and through our undergraduate-level English courses (including our courses that satisfy the core curriculum LIT requirement) for 10,420 students. The Writing Center saw a total of 7,230 student contacts, as measured in terms of face-to-face and online consultations (6,455) and in-class workshops (775). In 2012-2013 we graduated 49 English majors, 18 MA or MFA recipients, and 4 Ph.D. recipients in May.

I am proud to cite the awards, accomplishments, and milestones among our faculty during 2012-2013. David Ainsworth organized the Southeast Milton Seminar at the University of Alabama.  Nikhil Bilwakesh and Emily Wittman organized an interim course in Cuba. Joel Brouwer received the 2012 Burnum Distinguished Faculty Award. John Burke was elected Vice President of the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Alexandra Cook was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor. Jen Drouin was a Visiting Professor at the University of Le Havre in France. Karen Gardiner received the Outstanding Professional Award for 2012 from the University of Alabama Professional Staff Assembly. Dave Madden was a Flannery O’Connor Award Finalist for the University of Georgia Press. Michael Martone was a finalist for the UA Last Lecture,  a finalist for Best Books of Indiana from the Indiana State Library, and a short list finalist in the Collagist Chapbook Content of the Collagist Magazine and Dzanc Books. His work also received Notable Mention as Distinguished Story for New Stories for the Midwest and Mention as Distinguished Story for the Pushcart Prize. James McNaughton was the winner of the Whetstone/Seaman Faculty Development Award of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, and he also received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award of the University of Alabama Alumni Association. He received a grant from the Research Grants Committee for a project entitled, “Literary and Historical Archives:  Samuel Beckett’s Aesthetics of Loss.”  Sharon O’Dair organized the English Department Symposium on “Elemental Ecocriticism.” Michelle Bachelor Robinson received a grant from the Research Grants Committee for the project, “Reconstructing Black Louisville:  A Unique Space for Literacy, Rhetoric, and Agency.” Bill Ulmer was the keynote speaker at ACETA (Association of College English Teachers of Alabama). Deborah Weiss received a grant from the Research Grants Committee for a project entitled, “The Figure of the Female Philosopher:  the British Novel of Ideas and the Ends of the Enlightenment, 1792-1814.” Kellie Wells was a short story prize finalist for Dzanc Books, and her book, Fat Girl, Terrestrial, was published. Heather Cass White was promoted to Professor. Patti White received a Pushcart Prize nomination from the Hobble Creek Review and was the winner of the Gabehart Prize in Poetry from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Fred Whiting and Emily Wittman served as Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Fellows.

Our students continue to excel, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The English Department recognized 33 undergraduate students with scholarships and awards. Twelve students wrote honors theses under the direction of our faculty. Our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international undergraduate honor society, was co-recipient of the Outstanding National Chapter Award for 2012-2013. We had the largest representation of presenters of creative and scholarly work of any chapter in the nation at the Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Portland, Oregon. Austin Whitver (Ph.D., 2012) won the 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award at the Departmental and College levels for his dissertation “Churchyards and Crossroads: Monuments, Tombs, and Commemoration in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama,” directed by Strode Professor Sharon O’Dair. Meredith Wiggins’s essay, written under the mentorship of Professor Trudier Harris, won the 2013 William J. Calvert Award for Outstanding Scholarly or Theoretical Essay of the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama. Kedra James, a Ph.D. student in the CRES program, was selected by the Southern Regional Education Board as a SREB-State Doctoral Scholar dissertation fellow for 2012-2013. Seventeen graduate students presented their work at scholarly conferences.

There were several other noteworthy developments in the department. Our 30th Alabama Symposium on English and American Literature was held in the spring of 2013. Organized by Strode Professor Sharon O’Dair, the symposium topic was “Elemental Ecocriticism,” which examined literary representations of the environment.  The Department launched a pilot of a new undergraduate internship, “Literacies Old and New.” This has been developed in conjunction with the Literacy Council of West Alabama, READ Alabama, Literacy Is The Edge (LITE), and the Adult Education Program at Shelton State Community College.  Professor James McNaughton designed a new undergraduate international summer program, Alabama in Ireland, which was launched in the summer of 2013. Finally, we went through a selection process for our next department chair; Joel Brouwer will begin his term as chair in August of 2014.

I invite you to keep abreast of departmental activities through our new English Department events calendar on the front page of our website at

Best Wishes,

Catherine Evans Davies

Professor of Linguistics and Chair