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


Dear Students:

This week we are kicking off a new feature: Faculty Member of the Month. Brought to you by our correspondant Chasitity Garland, the spotlight is on Professor Christina Pugh. If you are interested in poetry - or writing in general -  this week you can read about her journey from English and French major to award-winning poet, faculty member and mentor. 

In other news, our intrepid intern Tavon Sanders has puts the finishing touches on The Write Stuff! Scroll down to get a copy of the UIC Department of English's first publication of undergraduate writing and creative work. And of course keeping reading for:

  • Course offerings for Fall 2021
  • HSI Career Summit and Employer Expo
  • Authors Michelle Burford and Myriam Gurba visit Dr. Christian's ENGL 382 and you are invited
  • Visit the Writing Center
  • Link to The Write Stuff
  • An updated list of internships and calls for writing, etc.

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 492: Advanced Writing of Creative Nonfiction
Prof. Cris Mazza

This advanced creative nonfiction workshop is for students who have taken English 201 (or the equivalent).  The workshop also welcomes any graduate student other than those in the Program for Writers. Creative nonfiction includes memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, literary travel- and science-writing and similar genres. Course work: Each student will write 3 CNF drafts and critiques for every other peer-evaluated essay. Willingness to engage in discussion of work-in-progress is necessary; reading assignments are made up of drafts of work turned in by the workshop members. This will be a synchronous course. 

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


HSI Career Collaborative Summit and Job Fair

"Hub for Social Change." Scene from "El Despertar de las Americas" by Maestro Hector Duarte and located in the Rafael Cintron Ortiz Latino Cultural Center
"Hub for Social Change." Scene from "El Despertar de las Americas" by Maestro Hector Duarte and located in the Rafael Cintron Ortiz Latino Cultural Center

UIC has partnered with 13 other Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) to host a first ever HSI Career Summit and Employer Expo on April 14 and 15, 2021. 

The Career Expo (Virtual Job Fair) takes place on
April 15, 2021 from 12 - 6 pm CST.
Click here to register.

In addition to the Career Expo, you can also attend:

  1. HSI Virtual Job Fair Preparation Workshop April 13, 2021 from 2 - 3:30 pm CST. Click here to register.
  2. Professional Development Workshops April 14, 2021 from 3 - 6:00 pm CST.
    Click here to register.

For more information, please contact Jaime Velasquez at jaimev@uic.edu


Hear Two Important Contemporary Authors Speak!

 Michelle Burford
 Michelle Burford

Two renowned writers and authors will visit Dr. Margena A. Christian's ENGL 382: Editing and Publishing to discuss their journey.

New York Times Bestselling-Author Michelle Burford will speak to the class on Tuesday, April 13 (9:30-10:45, 12:30-1:45) She has co-authored ten memoirs and six New York Times best sellers, three of which debuted at #1. She's partnered with legend actress Cicely Tyson; singer Alicia Keys (whose book features contributions from Oprah, Michelle Obama, Jay-Z, Bono, Clive Davis and America Ferrera); Olympians Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas; singer Toni Braxton; actress Diane Guerrero; Dallas Police Chief David Brown; Fixer Upper star carpenter Clint Harp; and Michelle Knight, the first Cleveland girl brutalized by Ariel Castro. 

Acclaimed writer and author Myriam Gurba will speak to the class on Thursday, April 15 (9:30-10:45).  She is the author of the true-crime memoir Mean, a New York Times editors’ choice. O, the Oprah Magazine, ranked Mean as one of the best LGBTQ books of all time. Gurba also made national headlines while working to raise awareness about marginalized voices in publishing, setting the record straight about American Dirt. 

Want to attend? Reach out the week of the event by emailing Dr. Christian at mxan@uic. Burford deadline no later than April 9, by 5:00 p.m. Gurba deadline no later than April 13, by 5:00 p.m.

Myriam Gurba
 Myriam Gurba

The Writing Center


Ah... the end of the semester! Spring is springing. Birds are singing.

You have a paper (or several) to write and are kind of freaking out? Book a synchronous or asynchronous session at the Writing Center.

Non-judgmental peer tutors at the Writing Center can help you:

  1. Start a paper
  2. Finish a paper
  3. Better understand an assignment
  4. Plan a paper
  5. Develop an argument
  6. Not go off on tangents
  7. Incorporate evidence
  8. Much more!

Working with a peer tutor reduces stress and helps you do your best work. Click here to make an appointment or learn more. 



The Write Stuff

 Photographer: Jessica Yim

... is here!

Over the past few weeks, many students have answered our call for literary and artistic work for our new online literary magazine, The Write Stuff. The first edition - out today - includes a roundup of great writing and art work, including this cityscape by Jessica Lim! You can view the first edition here!

We would like to thank the following students for submitting their work to us and making the first post of The Write Stuff possible:

Jessica Yim                                 Xiomara Demarchi                           Lance Nwokeji
Madeline Pimlott                        Ahana Gupta                                    Maryam Ahmad
Izhan Arif                                    C.J. Garrett                                       Michelle Garcia
Sammy-Jo Lueg                        Joey Liang

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful submissions! We could tell that hard work, diligence and passion went into the poems, artwork, short stories, essays and other work you all sent in to us!


Faculty Member of the Month

Professor Christina Pugh 
Professor Christina Pugh
By Chasitity Garland

Is poetry a big part of your life? Have you ever wanted to pursue a career in writing poetry and have a passion for it? The University of Illinois at Chicago is filled with English professors who are a part of our academic success. Have you been looking for a class where you can explore your poetry writing? I got a chance to speak with Professor Christina Pugh who is an English Professor at UIC, poet, and critic. Pugh’s poems have been published in The Atlantic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Yale Review, and other periodicals. Her poems also appear in more than ten anthologies.

Pugh’s undergraduate educational path started at Wesleyan University where she double majored in English and French. Later, she received a doctorate in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. From there, she received a Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Emerson College. Currently at UIC, she teaches poetry workshops and literature courses on both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Pugh was eventually able to build her resume and start her own career by going to graduate school and putting in the work. Pugh had to figure out what areas she wanted to publish in first before moving to her next step in her career. Pugh decided to publish poetry and scholarship about poetry, which are two different tracks. In her words, “I think for both tracks it is a combination of doing the work yourself, being in a community of others with like-minded work, doing what you need to do to get work out there, and understanding it won’t all happen at once.”

Pugh was always a reader during her childhood. She enjoyed writing as a kid and teenager, especially poetry. I asked Pugh why she had chosen writing, and she stated that “For me, it started with reading books, reading novels, and I felt at home in books and poems. I knew that was where I wanted to be.” Pugh’s work has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, the Poetry Society of America’s Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from Poetry magazine, an individual artist fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council, the Grolier Poetry Prize, The Associated Writing Programs’ Intro Journals Award, and a faculty fellowship from the UIC Institute for the Humanities.

Although Pugh has many awards and achievements, she is most proud of her Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. She expressed that “I was very happy and proud to be awarded that.” She is also most proud of her fifth book Stardust Media, a collection of poems that converse with technologies both ancient and new. You can find more information about her book and read it here.

Pugh became a faculty member of UIC by first searching for tenure-track jobs. At first she was a
visiting assistant professor at Northwestern University, but this position would not continue after
four years. Luckily, UIC had the position she was looking for and was the only university she
was considering that had a doctoral program in creative writing.

Even though Pugh teaches a variety of literature courses at UIC, one of the classes that she finds the most helpful for students is her English 490: Advanced Poetry Writing course for undergraduates. In order to be eligible to register, students have to take a prerequisite course- English 210: Introduction to the Writing of Poetry where students are introduced to poetry workshops. In her English 490 class, students write a variety of genres such as metrical, letters between people, and mirror stanzas. Pugh states, “What I really hope this course gives to students is how closely we can connect with language, and how could they connect with their own language and classmates as well.”

Her class also focuses on specific ways to make a meaningful poem. Pugh also stated that, “I think one of the things this course does is gives everyone an opportunity to focus on a specific poem, to listen to one another’s language, and stay close to that language. Really inhabit it. I think that is a really wonderful place to be for anyone interested in not only poetry but language and communication.”

Final words from Professor Pugh and her advice to our UIC English students are: “Make sure you are reading. Look back to what preceded the writer. Look at the whole tradition of literature. Be persistent once you get to the publication stage. It is really important to keep going.” 


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


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:
  • Grad School/Fellowship Workshop
    April 21, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Current grad students talk about what grad school is really like, how to get into the program of your dreams and how to get funded once you've been accepted.
    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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