From the Chair

Joel Brouwer

To the English Department Community,

Here at the beginning of my term as Department Chair, I welcome this opportunity to share with you the current situation of the Department and our accomplishments over the past year.

During 2013-2014 the English Department had 36 tenure-track faculty (12 Assistant Professors, 9 Associate Professors, and 15 Professors), although two of the professors served elsewhere in the University in administrative capacities. For the first time, we also had two faculty in Clinical Lecturer Track positions. We also employed 43 Full-Time Temporary Instructors and 27 Part-time Temporary Instructors. We had five office staff to aid us in our mission. We had 115 GTA lines and 125 graduate students overall. We had 471 majors, and about 220 Creative Writing minors. We provided service to the University for 9,096 students through our First-year Writing Program, and for 9,587 students through our undergraduate-level English courses (including our courses that satisfy the core curriculum LIT requirement). In 2013-2014 we graduated 49 English majors, 36 MA or MFA recipients, and 3 Ph.D. recipients.

Our faculty continued to produce innovative research and provide effective teaching for the University. David Ainsworth, Nikhil Bilwakesh, James McNaughton, and Deborah Weiss were tenured and promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor. Albert Pionke was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor. Robin Behn guided MFA students in a new outreach program, “Tuscaloosa Writers in the Schools.” Phil Beidler’s latest book about Cuba appeared, The Island Called Paradise. Phil also delivered an invited lecture, “By the Numbers: Americans, the Vietnam War, and the Measures of Sacrifice,” at the War and Sacrifice Symposium at Pembroke College, Cambridge University. Lauren Cardon organized a reception to display the work on “myth-busting” by her EN 102 students. Alex Cook has been granted a sabbatical for the fall of 2014 to work on a book project on medieval rhetoric. Jen Drouin’s book was published: Shakespeare in Québec: Nation, Gender, and Adaptation. Trudier Harris’s book, Martin Luther King, Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature, received UA Press’s Elizabeth Agee Award for a book manuscript in American Literary Studies. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill named an endowed professorship in Professor Harris’s honor; the recipient will be the Trudier Harris Distinguished Professor. Dilin Liu’s book, Describing and Explaining Grammar and Vocabulary in ELT: Key Theories and Effective Practices, was published by Routledge. Dilin also joined the ranks of the A&S Distinguished Teaching Fellows in Technology during this year. Yolanda Manora organized the Robert Milton Young Memorial Lecture by Robert Reid-Pharr. James McNaughton received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. He also organized and led an Alabama in Ireland summer program at the University of Galway. Luke Niiler was granted a sabbatical in spring of 2015, and he will take up the leadership of the First-Year Writing Program in fall of 2015. Sharon O’Dair organized two symposia during this FAR period: “Elemental Ecocriticism” in April of 2013, and “Shakespeare and American Integration” in the fall of 2013. Albert Pionke’s book, The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals: Competing for Ceremonial Status, 1837-1877, appeared from Ashgate Publishing. Wendy Rawlings has been granted a sabbatical for spring of 2015 to work on a memoir, Resident Alien. Kellie Wells’s recently-published novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial, was one of 6 finalists for the 2013 Paterson Fiction Prize. Patti White’s book Chain Link Fence, was published this year. Emily Wittman was named as the Director of the newly revised Comparative and World Literature minor. In all, our research faculty had 115 pieces of scholarly or creative writing accepted for publication, gave 27 readings, and made 46 presentations at professional conferences.

The Writing Center, directed by Professor Luke Niiler, serviced the University community with 8020 student contacts, as measured in terms of face-to-face and online consultations (7020) and various promotions and workshops (1000). This number of consultations and contacts represents a new usage record.

Over the 2013-2014 academic year, our First Year Writing Program had 9,096 students in 423 sections, 208 taught by GTAs, 139 by Full-Time Instructors, 66 by Part-Time Instructors, and 10 by Clinical Lecturer Track Faculty. Under the direction of Dr. Karen Gardiner, Director of First-Year Writing, and Jessica Kidd, Associate Director, the FWP saw numerous accomplishments and advances. Instructor Kevin Waltman coordinated the 54 Freshman Learning Communities proposed in Fall 2013, as well as the Freshman Living-Learning Communities program; he also coordinated our Writing Fair and our Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research Conference. Instructor Natalie Loper coordinated 36 online sections of FWP courses, serving nearly 600 students. Instructor Brooke Champagne coordinated the FWP’s collaboration with the Honors College, which in Fall 2013 ran 21 sections of themed EN 103, serving 340 students; Champagne also worked with Dr. Gardiner to coordinate the FWP’s participation in the Alabama in Cuba program.

Our undergraduate English students and programs continued to thrive in 2013-2014 under the direction of Professor John Burke, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Instructor Andrea Barton, Assistant Director. The English Department recognized 20 undergraduate students with scholarships and awards. Six students wrote honors theses under the direction of our faculty. Our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international undergraduate honor society, sent 16 students to make presentations of their creative or scholarly work at the Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Savannah, Georgia. As part of the Emerging Scholars Program, Dilin Liu mentored Brady Palmer to a first prize, and Trudier Harris mentored Amanda Bennett to a second prize. English Department linguists collaborated with other linguists on campus to design an interdisciplinary linguistics minor. In addition to our Alabama at Oxford Program that we administer jointly with the History Department, we offered travel abroad programs in Chile (led by Instructor Juan Reyes), Ireland (led by Professor James McNaughton), and Zanzibar (led by Instructor Andy Johnson).

On the Graduate Studies side of our enterprise, Director of Graduate Studies Fred Whiting and Director of Creative Writing Wendy Rawlings oversaw the graduation of 39 students in 2013-14 (19 MFAs; 2 CRES MAs; 8 Literature MAs; 7 TESOL MAs; 1 CRES PhD; and 2 Literature PhDs). Our graduate programs received 328 completed applications (245 CW; 8 CRES, 60 Literature; 15 TESOL), extended 62 offers of admission (30 CW; 5 CRES; 17 Literature; 10 TESOL), and enrolled 45 students (22 MFAs; 2 CRES MAs; 6 Literature MAs; 9 TESOL MAs; 2 CRES PhDS; and 4 Literature PhDs). The graduate programs submitted requests for 16 fellowships (10 GCFs; 1 Dean’s Merit; 2 McNairs; 3 Alumni Associations) and received 8 (4 GCFs; 1 Dean’s Merit; 2 McNairs; 1 Alumni Association). Emily Perkins won the Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2013 at both the Department and the College (A&S) levels. Kirstin Bone won the Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student at the Department, College, and University levels; Erin Chandler won the Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student at the Department, College, and University levels; Brandi D. Easter won the Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis at the Department, College, and University levels. Our dominance in these award competitions is testament to the absolutely terrific work of our graduate students.

I could go on and on. One of the most exciting things about being the new chair is coming to realize just how many wonderful things are going on under the Department’s aegis. Our core missions of scholarly research and creative activity, teaching, and service increasingly extend beyond the traditional classroom into online courses, outreach programs, film series, lectures by visiting scholars and artists, chapbook presses, literary journals, exchange programs, collaborations with other departments and institutions on campus and off, and myriad other programs and initiatives. It’s wonderful to see so many dedicated and inspired faculty, students, and staff working in such diverse ways to serve our Department, College, University, and community, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to facilitate their endeavors.

I invite you to keep up with our Department activities and accomplishments through our web site at, and our Facebook page at

Joel Brouwer

Professor and Chair