Updates from the English Department Office of Undergraduate Studies
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A note from the director...


Dear Students:

How has your Spring Break been? We revelled in the nice weather earlier in the week and are now  excited to be back at it for the semester's final four weeks. You can get back in the academic frame of mind by:

  • checking out our course offerings for Fall 2021
  • two upcoming events to stand in solidarity with Asian-American students
  • reading Lance Nwokeji on Godzilla 2014
  • applying for one of our many awards for undergraduates
  • signing up to present your work at LASURI and/or our Open Mic Night
  • submitting your writing to one of the journals - including The Write Stuff - looking to publish student work.

Enjoy the rest of break. We look forward to working with you next week!

Keep reading, stay safe, and be in touch!


Prof. Robin Reames, Director of Undergraduate Studies


Fall 2021 Courses


Registration begins soon! Check out some of the awesome courses on offer for Fall 2021. 

English 474: Writers of Color in Speculative Literature
Prof. Mary Anne Mohanraj

In this course we will examine speculative literature authored by American writers of color. Speculative literature is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element.  Writers of color will primarily be limited to non-white writers, although the nuanced details of that definition will be discussed further during class.  Readings may include books authored by Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, and Hiromi Goto, and anthologies edited by Sheree R. Thomas, Nisi Shawl, and Uppinder Mehan/Nalo Hopkinson.


Interested to learn more? Email the professor.
Ready to enroll? Click here.

English 400: The Idea of English and the Politics of Language
Prof. Robin Reames

"This is a country where we speak English. It’s English. You have to speak English!” During Trump’s term as president, we heard words like these repeated numerous times, and with the end of that administration we might hope that the sentiment is now obsolete. It isn’t: in February 2021, a month after Trump’s term ended, a bill was introduced to congress proposing to make English the official language of the U.S. and English proficiency a prerequisite for citizenship.

In a nation of over 41 million Spanish speakers, such policies seem at best nativist and anti-immigrant—reflective of a larger movement to restrict not just the languages that can be spoken in the public sphere, but also the very people who can work and participate in public life. But nativism and xenophobia are far from the only questionable aspects of the issue.

A larger question is: What is English? When people promote “English-only” policies, whose English do they have in mind? Where did that version of English originate? How has it changed over time, and where is it going? 

This semester, we explore the history of the English language in order to define the hegemonic concept of “English” against a larger backdrop of what English has been in the past and how it became what it is today. In so doing, we examine the historical and ontological stakes of phenomena like the “English-only” movement and “English-only” policies. We also examine emerging linguistic phenomena like internet slang and variations on Standard American English, such as African American Vernacular English and Chicano/a English. We consider these transformations in English in light of the long view, examining how English evolved from Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman roots in the Middle Ages. And we consider how questions of class have always inflected the idea of “correct” language use. 

Interested to learn more? Email the professor.
Ready to enroll? Click here.

English 400 
English 311: The Two Traditions of King Arthur in Medieval Britain
Prof. Alfred Thomas

In the England of the late Middle Ages there were two Arthurian traditions. They existed side by side. One tradition represents King Arthur as a national hero, a battle-leader, a historical king, and narrates his rise to power, his flourishing, his conquests, and his fall and death. It is the native tradition, established as quasi-historical by Geoffrey of Monmouth, monumentally embodied in the great epic poem of the Brut by Layamon, dominant to a large extent in the romance-cum-epic of the Alliterative Morte Arthur, and present still in Malory. Arthur is the center of this body of narratives. The other Arthurian tradition in England is the one that came back into the country via France. Arthur has lost his central role as a national hero, and has faded into a shadowy figure, an ineffectual king, a mere husband, to accommodate the adulterous liaison of Lancelot and Guinevere. He is still the head of the order of the Round Table, but mostly Camelot is a place that individual knights go out from and come back to; and the king is there to wish them well when they leave and welcome them back when they return. The enormous influence of French literature in England during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the aristocracy was largely French-speaking, means that this tradition was dominant. This other (French) tradition, which originated in the romances of Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, finds its insular English expression in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The love interest between the knight and a lady is also a major feature of the plot in this second Arthurian tradition.

Interested to learn more? Email the professor.
Ready to enroll? Register here.

English 315: Enlightenment Narratives & Colonial Subjects
Prof. Sunil Agnani

The global world which many take for granted today was formed in the eighteenth century through world-wide commerce, seafaring trade, and the establishment of colonial empires—in short, early capitalism. Alongside these social phenomena were vibrant and contentious cultural and political debates on sovereignty and slavery. How do writers and thinkers in this period conceive of the cultural, racial and religious difference they encounter?

“Enlightenment narratives” puts stress on ideas of progress, the forward march of humanity, the circulation of the rights of man, and the ever widening circle of freedom associated with this period. Yet the view of many “colonial subjects” in the eighteenth century should cause us to question a simply optimistic and one-sided understanding of the period.

As Diderot once put, addressing his European reader, “you are proud of your Enlightenment, but what good is it for the Hottentot?” (Just who the Hottentots were and why Diderot discussed this South African group of tribal peoples will be the topic of one class). We read novels (from Aphra Behn, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Daniel Defoe, and Jonathan Swift), life narratives (Olaudah Equiano) and prose writings (from Mary Wollstonecraft, Edmund Burke, and Denis Diderot) to explore these questions.

Questions? Email the professor.
Ready to enroll? Click here.

English 333: Literatures in English Other than English and American
Prof. Natasha Barnes

This course will examine the fluid notion of post colonial literature, a corpus of writing that was first used to describe the fiction of writers from formerly colonized nations. We will see how “first wave” authors like Chinua Achebe (Nigeria) and Jean Rhys (Dominica) developed an aesthetic to counter colonial descriptions of their social world in classic English texts such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.  Through authors like Marlon James, Nalo Hopkinson and Ramabai Espinet we will also pay attention to the ways that migration, transnationalism and globalization continues to change our understanding of the novel in English. Burgeoning literary nationalisms within Great Britain will also be examined through poets like Naill O’Gallagher who writes exclusively in Gaelic.

Have a question? Email the professor.
Ready to enroll? Click here


In Solidarity

GLAS Events on March 31 and April 5

In the aftermath of the violence that took place in Atlanta last week and what Asian American communities have faced this past year, UIC's Global Asian Studies (GLAS) will hold space for students, colleagues, communities, chosen families, and loved ones to highlight scholarship and creative work that amplifies issues that are important to GLAS. All are invited to the following events. 

Wednesday, March 31, 4-5pm: A discussion with one of GLAS's Visual Artist-in-Residence interns Hana Mohammed Rafee who engaged in a 2-year creative project to produce a picture book, Faces of GLAS,  which illustrated how students and alumni of GLAS navigated race relations in their lives and the impact that an ethnic studies education has had on them as GLAS students. Faces of GLAS is based on vectorized watercolor images created by Hana.

Monday, April 5, 11:00-12:30 pm CST: GLAS Colloquium Series featuring Dr. María Eugenia López-Garcia, a Bridge to the Faculty Postdoctoral Research Associate in Museum and Exhibition Studies at UIC. The presentation, “To Mother and to Serve: Cinematic Visions of Filipina and Mexican migrant Domestic Labor” will explore the maternal and sentimental imagery of Filipina and Mexican migrant domestic workers in transnational cinema, focusing on globalization and the relationship between location, globality, and possibility.


Department of English Awards for Students


UIC's Department of English offers a number of end-of-academic-year awards for undergraduates. Below you'll find a list of our offerings and links to apply. The deadline is Monday, April 5 at 11:59 pm

As you can see, these awards come with hefty checks. Make certain you take a moment to apply. You may apply for more than one award. Help us celebrate you and your work!

Awards Requiring Student Applications:

Anne Hopewell Selby Critical Essay Writing Award: $500
This award recognizes outstanding achievement in critical writing by undergraduate English majors. Each student may submit a sample of no more than five pages of critical writing.  Excerpts from longer works are welcome as long as they do not exceed the five-page limit. Neither the student’s name nor any other identifying information should appear on any of the pages of the submission. Winners and finalists for these awards will be selected by the Department of English’s Undergraduate Studies Committee.
Application form: Anne Hopewell Selby Critical Essay Writing Award
Submit application for Anne Hopewell Selby Critical Essay Writing Award

Paul Carroll Creative Writing Award: $250
This award recognizes outstanding achievement in creative writing by undergraduate English majors. Each student may submit a sample of no more than five pages of poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction. Excerpts from longer works are welcome as long as they do not exceed the five-page limit. Neither the student’s name nor any other identifying information should appear on any of the pages of the submission. Winners and finalists for these awards will be selected by the Department of English’s Undergraduate Studies Committee.
Application form: Paul Carroll Creative Writing Award
Submit application for Paul Carroll Creative Writing Award

Robert and Corinne Silver Award: $500
The Robert and Corinne Silver Award is a prize for a continuing undergraduate English major concentrating in the study of literature (Concentrations: British and Anglophone Literature, American Literature or Media, Rhetorical and Cultural Studies.) Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate academic ability. Financial need may also play a role in the award decision.  To be eligible for this award, students must have a declared concentration in literature and achieved sophomore standing or above. Graduating seniors are not eligible.
Application form: Robert and Corinne Silver Award
Submit application for Robert and Corinne Silver Award

Anne Hopewell Selby Undergraduate Research Award: $500
In honor of the late professor Anne Hopewell Selby, the English Department offers this award to an outstanding undergraduate student pursuing scholarly activities outside the classroom.  The purpose of this award is to help cover expenses such as trips to conferences or special libraries or the purchase of books not required for classes.
Application form: Anne Hopewell Selby Undergraduate Research Award
Submit application for Anne Hopewell Selby Undergraduate Research Award

Outstanding Sophomore in English Award: Two winners, each receiving $500
The Outstanding Sophomore in English Award is intended to highlight sophomore students who have demonstrated dedication to their studies in English through the breadth and depth of their coursework and have excelled in their studies within the major. Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate academic ability. Financial need may also play a role in the award decision.  To be eligible for this award, students must have a declared concentration in the English major and achieved sophomore standing during the semester in which they are applying (e.g. over 30 earned credit hours, but no more than 60 credit hours, including in-progress courses).
Application form: Outstanding Sophomore in English Award
Submit application for Outstanding Sophomore in English Award

Soon To Be Announced:
New Scholarships: Several awards of up to $10,000!!
We will have some new scholarships to announce soon! English majors with concentrations in either creative writing or professional writing will have the opportunity to win awards of up to $10,000. More details coming soon, so keep an eye on our upcoming newsletters! 

Faculty Nominations (Student Application not Required)

Raymond and Wilma Campion Award: $1800
John and Jeanne Newton Scholarship: $1800
The Campion Award and the Newton Scholarship are awarded to outstanding English majors who have graduated from Chicago Public High Schools.  Students must have at least 30 but not more than 90 semester hours at the time of application and a minimum GPA of 3.0.  The selections will be made based upon faculty recommendations. All eligible applicants will be considered for both the Campion and the Newton Scholarships.

Ernest C. Van Keuren Award: $200
Each year, the faculty chooses one outstanding graduating senior for the Ernest C. Van Keuren award. The winner is chosen by the faculty from among those students who are graduating with highest distinction.


LASURI Deadline Extended!


DEADLINE NOW 11:59 pm MARCH 28, 2021

The Liberal Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative (LASURI) encourages students to develop their research skills by providing financial support to undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and their faculty mentors for one- or two-semester research projects.

LAS undergraduate students work closely with a faculty member to develop research skills and learn to propose, design, and complete projects with the guidance and encouragement of a dedicated mentor.  The LASURI award is open to undergraduate students in all LAS disciplines.

LASURI research may include archival searches, document and literature review, the composition of annotated bibliographies, design and completion of original research papers, creative/art projects, assisting in laboratories, the design and execution of experiments, fieldwork, mapping, statistical analysis, and information and data analysis, among others. Students do not need an established record of research experience to apply.

LASURI undergraduate recipients receive a scholarship of up to $1250 per semester. Most participants apply and are approved for two-semester projects, receiving up to $2500 for the full year. LASURI faculty mentors receive a fixed amount to assist with costs associated with the student’s project. The application process takes place once a year, during the spring semester, and applies to the following academic year.

LASURI aims to:

  • develop the research, communication, and leadership skills of undergraduate students.
  • provide pathways for long-term faculty-student mentorship relationships.
  • facilitate the development of mutually beneficial research partnerships between undergraduates and faculty members.
  • improve undergraduates’ awareness of research opportunities within LAS.
  • prepare undergraduate students for post-baccalaureate academic and professional opportunities.
  • encourage faculty to incorporate undergraduate research into their scholarly activities.
  • foster intellectual and social community among UIC undergraduates.

For more information, contact lasuri@uic.edu


The Write Stuff


Have you submitted your work to UGS intern and The Write Stuff editor, Tavon Sanders? If not, why not? Tavon wants to publish your work whether it's poetry, fiction, non-fiction, written for a class, not written for a class, short, long or in between. The same is true of your visual work. Photography, painting, cartoons, drawings, etc. Tavon wants your work! (And your friends' work!) All submissions (or questions about submissions) to WriteStuff@uic.edu. We hope to publish our first edition in early April.


Spring 2021 Open Mic Night


Open Mic is a venue for you - and your friends so spread the word - to present original work (whether or not it is for a class) to an audience of your peers.

Past Open Mic nights have featured work in poetry, prose and the moving image. Former presenters say that Open Mic nights help them hone their presentation skills and get great feedback from their peers. Work presented has led to extended conversations about art, race, writing and the challenges of planning for the future.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 4:00 - 5:00 pm

Sign up here to share your voice! You may present multiple pieces of work.

Just want to attend without presenting? Click here for link. 

Have questions? Please email english@uic.edu.


New Feature: Lance Nwokeji on MonsterVerse

Godzilla 2014
Lance Njwokeji

The silhouette of Godzilla is one of the most recognizable of any character in popular culture. Ever since 1954, when the original Gojira was released in Japan, this character has persisted. This is because Gojira was a metaphor for the Hiroshima bombing. That history and symbolism has enabled Godzilla to survive in the public consciousness for so long. He is an example of modern mythology, and one of the central characters of the MonsterVerse.

In 2014, Gareth Edwards released his own Godzilla movie, known as Godzilla 2014. One of the many ways Godzilla 2014 honors the 1954 original is with its opening scene. Here, Godzilla gets bombed at Bikini Atoll, and the date of this scene is 1954. Edwards not only paid respect to the original movie, but he also tailored this movie for a modern audience with easy-to-relate-to imagery. 

While the monsters in this movie aren’t real, their effects on the world are familiar to modern audiences. Various cues and imagery litter the film that relate to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. At some point in the movie a plane crashes into a building, which is 9/11 imagery. When Godzilla makes landfall for the first time he inadvertently creates a tsunami, which is a real life natural disaster. There are also scenes that show realistic human responses to disaster. Throughout the film first responders are present in the aftermath of every destruction scene, trying to find missing people as well as administer medical treatment to those who need it. These kinds of scenes make the movie grounded and realistic. The way the monsters act in this movie is also realistic.

Godzilla and the MUTOs (the insectoid monsters he battles against) behave like animals rather than mindless killing machines. The MUTOs’ main goal is to find each other and reproduce rather than lay waste to cities. Godzilla’s only goal is to kill the MUTOs. Destruction only happens because cities happen to be in the way of these massive creatures. The monsters rarely even seem to notice the people unless people antagonize them first. This characterization casts the monsters as forces of nature. They’re about as uncaring of humans as tornadoes and hurricanes are.

The human characters in this film, in theory, are supposed to be the elements that drive the film. For the first half hour of the film this is a success. A father is shown to have been alienated from his son, and when they meet again their interactions are extremely compelling to watch. However, after that plot point ends the main human characters become lackluster. As a result it becomes hard to relate to them and what they’re going through. However, what Godzilla 2014 lacks in character development, it makes up for in visual storytelling.

In his Godzilla movie, Edwards succeeds in building anticipation for the monsters. Godzilla isn’t seen right away. Instead, there is a substantial buildup to his impending arrival that is enough to hold the audience’s attention. The buildup gives Godzilla a significant presence even when he is offscreen. The camera cuts away from many of the monster battles, and that builds suspense for the final monster conflict of the film, which is shown in all of its glory. Edwards knows how to give a sense of scale to the creatures. Every shot is from a human perspective and whenever a monster is on screen a person is somewhere in the shot, usually in the foreground. This constantly shows off the immense size of the creatures. This also makes the movie immersive, as it is easy to imagine ourselves in the shoes of the people witnessing the giant monsters.

Godzilla 2014 reinvented Godzilla for the modern age. As a quiet disaster movie it resonated well with general audiences and made over $9 million dollars on opening night alone. The MonsterVerse owes its continued success to this film.


Center for Renaissance Studies' New Undergraduate Seminar


The World in the Book: 1300-1800

CRS Undergraduate Seminar
Fall 2021: Online via Zoom

CRS is thrilled to announce that applications are now being accepted for its first-ever undergraduate seminar, which will take place virtually in Fall 2021.

Hosted by the Newberry Library’s Center for Renaissance Studies (CRS), this 10-week, three credit hour course will use the multidisciplinary field of book history to explore how medieval and early modern people used different media—theological texts, maps, travel narratives, reference works, literature, and more—to make sense of a changing world. Through lectures, discussions, and interactive workshops with faculty from CRS consortium institutions, participants will learn how book history can illuminate the ways in which premodern people used religion, science, art, and technology to grapple with new economic, intellectual, and cultural challenges in a rapidly-expanding global community. In so doing, students will develop a framework for using the past to help illuminate and guide their own contemporary experience.

This seminar is free and open for undergraduate students in any field of medieval or early modern studies, but space is limited. Priority will be given to undergraduates from CRS consortium institutions. Accepted students must make arrangements with their home institutions to receive credit for the course. Please direct any questions to renaissance@newberry.org.

For more information about the course, including guest speakers and a link to apply, please visit the course website here: https://www.newberry.org/09282021-world-book-1300-1800


Present Your Research!


Are you a CURA (Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Award) student? We encourage you to register to present your work during UIC's Impact and Research Week April 5 - 9, 2021. 

Students will prepare a short presentation (7-10 minutes) and use a medium like PowerPoint or Google Slides to guide their presentation. Presentations will take place via panels of four students; opportunities for students to sign up as a group (e.g., for students working in the same research lab) will be made available. Each presentation panel will last one hour; each student will present their research and time will be allocated for a question-and-answer period with the judges assigned to the panel. 

Click here with any questions or to register.


Share Your Research!

Author Anthony Doerr with his 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "All the Light We Cannot See." 
2021 Macksey Keynote Anthony Doerr with his 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning "All the Light We Cannot See." 

Do you - or your friends - have research in the humanities that is ready for a larger audience? If so, apply for Johns Hopkins University’s second annual Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium. The symposium offers students across the country the chance to gather together and disseminate their humanities research on a national scale. COVID turned 2020's symposium into a virtual event, but that was a great success! There were 359 participants and more than 10,000 visits to the conference site to date. Held live on April 24 and 25, 2021, this year’s event will be virtual as well. The application portal is open through April 1, 2021

This symposium is open to undergraduate students from any two-year or four-year college or university who would like to present their original scholarship in the humanities. We hope to have 400 participants this year. In addition to the multiple panels of student papers and presentations (including original creative works), we will also have a wonderful keynote delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr and multiple professional development panels featuring Johns Hopkins graduate students and faculty and editors from Johns Hopkins University Press. Students studying all areas of the humanities are welcome to attend. Attendees will also have the opportunity to work with our student editors to revise their presentation into a journal-length presentation for our journal of proceedings, the Macksey Journal.

For questions or to apply, click here.


Internships, Scholarships, Fellowships & Jobs


Calls for Writers, etc.


Night Hawk Review Seeks Poetry Submissions


Poet Sandra Simonds helps edit The Night Hawk Review. Soon to be renamed Ariadne, the review is seeking poetry from students. To submit your work, please email nighthawkreview@gmail.com


Quirk Literary Journal Seeks Submissions


Quirk is a print and online journal showcasing the brightest up-and-coming writers and artists from undergraduate institutions across the country. 

We accept submissions on any topic, and especially appreciate diverse perspectives, in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, visual art, and—for the first time this year—sign language and video performance. All accepted artists and writers are interviewed and work with our student editorial staff to ensure their distinct voices reach the widest audience. Full guidelines can be found on our Submittable portal.

Click here for Quirk Online.
Click here to submit. Deadline: April 7, 2021

Please direct any questions, concerns, or comments to our editorial staff at quirk@uiwtx.edu. You can also contact the faculty advisor directly: Dr. David Armstrongdarmstro@uiwtx.edu. For more about Quirk, see our university site: https://my.uiw.edu/quirk/index.html.


Black Lawrence Press Seeks Submissions

 Black Lawrence Call for Submissions

Mamas, Martyrs, and Jezebels: Myths, Legends, and Other Lies You've Been Told about Black Women revisits notions of Black womanhood to include the ways in which Black women's perceived strength can function as a dangerous denial of Black women's humanity. This collection addresses the stigma of this extraordinary endurance in professional and personal spaces, the Black church, in interpersonal partnerships, and within the justice arena, while also giving voice and value to Black women's experiences as the backbone of the Black family and community.

Black Lawrence Press is now accepting submissions for a new anthology of essays. Writers and scholars living in the United States and abroad are invited to submit essays of between 700-5000 words for the anthology on any of the following broad themes. (Other themes will be considered.)

  1. Black Women and Justice
  2. Black Women and Self-Care
  3. Black Women and Spirituality
  4. Black Women at Work and at Home
  5. Black Women and Sex (and Sexuality)

Essays can be creative or academic. However, essays have to be accessible since the anthology is for a general audience.

Drs. Jan Boulware, Rondrea Mathis, Clarissa West-White, and Kideste Yusef of Bethune-Cookman University will serve as editors.

Submissions will be accepted through June 30, 2021. Contributors will receive a copy of the anthology as payment.

Previously published essays are welcome. Please contact Dr. Clarissa West-White at whitec@cookman.edu with questions.


Other Upcoming UGS Events

Mark Your Calendar for these Upcoming Events:
  • Open Mic 
    March 31, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Share your creative work and hear your peers' creative work
    Click here for Zoom link  


  • Grad School Workshop
    April 14, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Current grad students talk about what grad school is really like and how to get into the program of your dreams
    Click here for Zoom link


  • Thesis Presentations
    April 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Hear what students in ENGL 398 and ENGL 399 have been working on all semester
    Click here for Zoom link

Finally ...


Do you have questions or feel like chatting with UGS? Email english@uic.edu to schedule an appointment. 


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