September 2008

September 1, 2008

From Langdon Hammer, English Department Chair

—-David Kastan joins our faculty this fall from Columbia, where he is currently chair of English and the Edward Said Professor of English and Comparative Literature. An international authority on Shakespeare, Early Modern Drama, and the History of the Book, David is also a famed undergraduate teacher and mentor of younger scholars.

—Sara Suleri Goodyear retires from the full-time faculty to take the position of Senior Research Scholar and Senior Lecturer.  Sara is the author of a foundational work of postcolonial literary studies—The Rhetoric of English India (1992)—and two brilliant memoirs: Meatless Days (1987) and Boys Will Be Boys: A Daughter’s Elegy (2003). She was the first scholar to hold a tenured appointment in postcolonial literature at Yale.

—-Joseph Roach has been named a Sterling Professor, the highest faculty distinction at Yale, in recognition of leadership in the field of Performance Studies (for Yale Bulletin and Calendar story, see With the support of Joe’s Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, the World Performance program at Yale enters its third year. For more information about the program, see the website: Joe will spend the next year on leave as the Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library.

An anonymous donor, wishing to honor Marie Borroff and women faculty at Yale, has endowed a professorship in her name.  The first Marie Borroff Professor of Literature will be Roberta Frank, who is, like Marie, a gifted teacher and renowned Medievalist.

—Alastair Minnis, another renowned Medievalist, has been named the Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English Literature, in recognition of his outstanding scholarly work and teaching.

—Justin Neuman, a PhD from Virginia, Catherine Nicholson, a PhD from UPenn, and Jessica Pressman, a PhD from UCLA, will be new assistant professors of English this fall. Justin is writing about ethics and religion in the World Anglophone novel. Cathy is a specialist in Early Modern rhetoric.  Jessica studies digital literature.

Cynthia Zarin joins our faculty to teach English 120, Advanced Non-fiction, and writing tutorials.  Cynthia is a staff writer for The New Yorker, currently working on two non-fiction books; she is the author of three books of poetry (The Watercourse won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in 2002) and five books for children.

—While Louise Glück is on leave next year, Henri Cole will teach advanced poetry writing. Henri is the author of seven books of poetry, one of which, Middle Earth (2004), was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has been the recipient of the Rome and Berlin prizes, and a Guggenheim Foundation grant.

Elliott Visconsi has won a Mellon New Directions Fellowship, which will allow him to do interdisciplinary study in the Yale Law School for the coming year. (For the Mellon website, see

Jessica Brantley has won a research fellowship from the National Humanities Center to work on her second book, currently titled “Medieval Ways of Seeing: Image, Text, Artifact”; Jessica will be teaching at Yale in the fall and in residence at the Center for the spring term. 

—Caryl Phillips, co-teaching with Caleb Smith, led a new senior seminar called “The Literature of the Middle Passage” to Ghana for ten days in November; next year Caz and Shameem Black will take the seminar to Barbados. For more information about this remarkable course, see

—Ruth B. Yeazell and Alexander Welsh have accepted an invitation from the National Humanities Center to be senior fellows at the Center next spring.  They will both be working on new projects, tentatively entitled “A Short History and Theory of Picture Titles” (Ruth) and “Meditations on New Comedy and Other Foolishness” (Sandy).

—Two English courses this year joined my own Modern Poetry lecture as part of the Yale Open Courses project: John Roger’s Milton lecture and Amy Hungerford’s lecture on American Literature Since 1945. This project makes streaming video of lectures, complete lecture transcripts, and a range of other course materials available for free public access on the worldwide web. For the Open Courses site, see:

—Two associate professors,  William Deresiewicz and Laura Frost, and five assistant professors, Wes Davis, Hsuan Hsu, Sanda Lwin, Diana Paulin, and Nicole Rice, leave the faculty this summer for new positions. Bill and Wes are leaving to be free-lance writers. Laura takes a tenured professorship at the New School in New York. Nicole goes to St. Johns University, Hsuan to UC Davis, and Diana to Trinity College in Hartford.  Sanda is a research fellow at Oxford. 

Diane Repak, the English Department’s crackerjack business manager, retires this spring after 31 years of service to the University.  She is pictured here at the Long Service Awards dinner in Commons with the current chair. Peeking over her shoulder and sharing her halo is her husband Art.

News Type: