Notes from the Department Chair

August 28, 2018

Dear Colleagues, Students, and Friends of the English Department:

A. R. Ammons described life in an English Department as “a slow flow you can’t step in twice.” Yes, but sometimes the flow’s not so slow.

Last semester the English Department saw the retirement of seven extraordinary faculty: Janice Carlisle, John Crowley, Roberta Frank, Paul Fry, Alastair Minnis, Joe Roach, and Fred Strebeigh.  These immensely and variously distinguished professors have done a great deal to define the voice and style, the aims and achievements, of this department over many years—in the case of Paul and Fred, over four decades. I tip my hat to each of them with gratitude and the deepest admiration.  

It’s a custom of the final meeting of the Yale College faculty to include readings of tributes to retiring professors.  You can read the tributes prepared for our colleagues here.  The FAS Dean’s Office sent us a few printed copies you can find in the department lounge.  (Because Alastair decided to retire only in May, his tribute will appear next year.) Take time to read and savor these statements composed by English department faculty and the ever-eloquent Penelope Laurans.

While some colleagues are leaving, others are arriving, both renewing and enlarging what we do. Please welcome with me: Anastasia (Tasha) Eccles, who works on 18C and early 19C British fiction and narrative theory; Alanna Hickey, who studies poetry and poetics, Native American culture, and settler culture; Priyasha Mukhopadhyay, specializing in global history of the book and reading practices in South Asia in the 19C and 20C; and Emily Thornbury in Old English studies.  

I’m also delighted to report that Lisa Lowe, a leader in the study of the literature and cultures of colonialism and migration, will join American Studies at Yale this January. 

I congratulate our department colleagues who have been appointed to named professorships: Ruth Yeazell, Sterling Professor of English (Yale’s highest faculty honor); Ardis Butterfield, Marie Borroff Professor of English; and Robert Stepto, Schiff Professor of English. You can read about Ruth’s appointment here, Ardis’s here, and Robert’s here.  Three cheers—times three!

There are more faculty honors to announce.  John Durham Peters’s book Speaking into the Air (1999) has won the International Communication Association’s Fellows Book Award for a work that “has truly passed the test of time.”  John has also won the prestigious George Sarton Medal in the History of Science from the University of Ghent.  And John Williams is the recipient of a grant from the Institute of Buddhist Studies, supported by the Luce Foundation, that will bring together scholars and journalists to study the “intersection of religion, technology, and human relationships” today. Congratulations to them both. 


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