Letter From Chair

Department of English
The University of Alabama
Fall 2017 Letter from Department Chair Joel Brouwer

To the English Department Community,

Greetings from Morgan Hall! I welcome this opportunity to share with you the current situation of the Department and our accomplishments over the past year.

In 2016-2017 the English Department had 42 tenure-track faculty, 2 NTRC Assistant Professors, 50 NTRC Instructors, and 25 Part-time Temporary Instructors. We had 113 GTA lines and 130 graduate students overall. We had 375 English majors, 149 English minors, 223 Creative Writing minors, 4 World/Comparative Literature minors, and 12 Interdisciplinary Linguistics minors. We produced 30,153 UG credit hours (27,933 lower division; 2,220 upper division) and 1079 graduate credit hours. The Department offered 483 sections of First Year Writing, serving a record 10,102 students. The Writing Center recorded a total of 8428 student contacts in face to face consultations (4501), online consultations (1797), and workshops (2130). The Center participated in or sponsored 73 campus events, including resource fairs, workshops, class visits, and orientations.

In addition to their teaching responsibilities, our faculty were very productive in their research and creative activity, and in important service roles within and without the Department. David Ainsworth organized the Southeast Milton Seminar. Robin Behn’s opera, Freedom and Fire: A Civil War Story, had its world premiere. Phil Beidler’s book Beautiful War: Studies in a Dreadful Fascination, was published by UA Press. Joel Brouwer’s book Off Message was published by Four Way Books. John Burke retired in July after 43 years at UA. Lauren Cardon’s book Democratic Fashion and Fictions of Self-Transformation was published by the U of Virginia Press. Andy Crank’s book Understanding Randall Kenan was accepted for publication. Michelle Dowd joined the faculty as Hudson Strode Professor and Director of the Strode Program; her most recent book was nominated for the SAMLA Studies Book Award. John Estes joined the faculty as Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing; his book Sure Extinction was published by Elixir Press, and a book of short stories was accepted for publication. Hali Felt gave interviews to NPR and Smithsonian.com regarding her research. Trudier Harris was awarded the Last Lecture Award from the Graduate School, and delivered the annual Last Lecture on campus in April. Cajetan Iheka’s book Naturalizing Africa was accepted by Cambridge UP. Dilin Liu saw two new books published, and received a number of prestigious invitations to speak at conferences and meetings in Seattle, Phnom Penh, Taipei, and others. Michael Martone received the Paul Bowles Prize from Five Points magazine. Albert Pionke was named a Fellow of the College Leadership Board, and had an edited volume accepted for publication by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Wendy Rawlings was asked to guest edit an issue of Normal School. Michelle Robinson was awarded a $25K grant from the NEA for her ongoing collaboration with the historic town of Hobson City. Cassander Smith’s book, Black Africans in the British Imagination, was published by LSU Press; she is also co-editor of two different volumes accepted for publication. Heidi Staples’ book A**AA*A*A was accepted for publication by Ahsahta Press. Stephen Tedeschi’s book Urbanization and English Romantic Poetry was accepted by Cambridge UP. William Ulmer’s book John Keats: Reimagining History was published by Palgrave. Deborah Weiss’s book The Female Philosopher and her Afterlives was accepted by Palgrave; she was also awarded a fellowship from the Chawton House Library. Kellie Wells’ book God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna was published by Notre Dame UP. Heather White is editor of New Collected Poems of Marianne Moore, now out from FSG and Faber & Faber. Patti White’s book Pink Motel was published by Anhinga. Fred Whiting was named Director of the Blount Scholars Program. Lamar Wilson joined the faculty as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. Dorothy Worden joined the faculty as Assistant Professor of Linguistics.

In 2016-2017, the Department awarded 73 BA degrees. 11 students wrote Honors Theses directed by faculty and graduated with Honors in English. The Department recognized 31 students with scholarships and awards at Honors Day. 5 students gave presentations at the 2017 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in Louisville. Faculty led study abroad programs in Cuba, England, Ireland, and New Zealand. A special task force worked last year on recruiting English majors and minors.

The Graduate Program awarded 41 graduate degrees (16 MFAs; 3 CRES MAs; 6 Literature MAs; 4 Strode MAs; 7 TESOL MAs; 0 CRES PhDs; 0 Strode PhDs and 5 Literature PhDs). We received 383 completed graduate applications (39 MA, 314 MFA, 30 PhD), accepted 67 (27 MA, 32 MFA, 8 PhD), and enrolled 46 students (21 MA, 22 MFA, 3 PhD). The Program won 16 fellowships for incoming and returning students from A&S and the Graduate School. Xiaosheng Yang won Outstanding Dissertation Award at Department and College levels. Andrew Stevens won Outstanding Teaching Award for a Masters Student at Department, College, and University levels. The Graduate Program awarded over forty travel grants totaling $20,358.

The 2017-2018 school year is well underway as I write. We are currently conducting two tenure-track faculty searches, for new colleagues in Composition/Rhetoric and Applied Linguistics/TESOL. The foyer in Morgan Hall has been undergoing a thorough renovation and looks very different than it did a couple months ago, with new flooring, paint, and lighting. We have an especially exciting visiting writers series this year; by the time you read this, we will have hosted author Margaret Atwood here in Tuscaloosa, and asked her directly whether the rumors that she composed part of The Handmaid’s Tale while a visiting writer in Tuscaloosa are true. Our new student organizations, the English Majors and Minors Association, and the Student Writers Guild (for creative writing minors) are going strong.

And of course as always there’s more programming coming out of the Department than anyone can possibly keep up with: lectures, film screenings, readings, performances, workshops, and on and on. I invite you to keep up with our Department activities and accomplishments through our web site at https://english.ua.edu, our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/uaenglish, and through our Twitter account at https://twitter.com/BamaEnglish. We are now also at last on Instagram, at https://www.instagram.com/bamaenglish/.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a gentle reminder that we are always elated to receive contributions to our scholarship funds. That link for easy online giving is https://english.ua.edu/give.

Thanks for your support of the Department of English! Write Tide Write and Read Tide Read!

Joel Brouwer
Professor and Chair