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A Message from the Head

Welcome to the UIC English homepage and to the new academic year. 

2013-14 promises to be exciting for us. For one thing, sometime this fall we'll introduce a brand new website, more functional and more readable. And, for another, we'll be involved in two senior searches -- for a scholar in literature and a new director of our First-Year Writing Program. More generally, we’ll be continuing to construct and reconstruct the intellectual life that gives the Department its distinction. Much of this is captured by the list of achievements you’ll find chronicled below. But what I find most exciting about UIC English is the way that the conditions we work in, even when they are sometimes difficult ones, contribute to the character of the work we do. Both the problems we face and the opportunities they present produce the need to be clear about and so the chance to be inventive about what we write and how we teach.

UIC English embraces multiple approaches to, writing, reading, and teaching English, and offers innovative courses of study for students at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The department offers BA and MA degrees in English Education, Creative Writing, and English Studies; it offers PhD degrees in Creative Writing and English Studies. Graduates in English, at all levels, distinguish themselves with rewarding jobs in schools, businesses, community organizations, and government, and with significant awards for their writing and teaching.

Students in all areas of study in English take advantage of the department’s internationally known faculty, engaged in path-breaking research.   Faculty strengths range from early modern British literature and American literature to creative writing and rhetorical studies.  At both undergraduate and graduate levels, moreover, students are encouraged to pursue exciting interdisciplinary paths of inquiry, connecting literature and culture, politics and rhetoric, creative writing and critical writing, composition and urban studies. 

Beyond their course work, students engage in stimulating intellectual exchanges that put them in contact with faculty and other students from UIC and from other universities.   A weekly colloquium features speakers from UIC and beyond; interdisciplinary groups and reading groups connect faculty and students from departments across the humanities; and numerous readings of creative work (by visiting writers as well as by UIC faculty and students) are presented every year.

Last but not least, the English department community combines the scholarly strengths of a research university with the vitality of one of the world’s great cities. A century ago, the great American novelist Theodore Dreiser called Chicago a “rude, raw Titan” and also a “singing flame” of a city. Many things have changed since then but the advantages and pleasures of reading and writing in this “astounding metropolis” are just as real today as they were to Dreiser. Whatever UIC can’t give you, the city will.

--Walter Benn Michaels, Professor and Department Head