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

Dear Students:

The National Book Award Winners have been announced! Charles Yu won for fiction for Interior Chinatown. Les Payne and Tamara Payne won for non-fiction for The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcom X. Now we know what we are reading this weekend. You can check out other winners here.

Speaking of the weekend, don't forget that it kicks off online with UIC Theatre's Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost tonight (November 20, 2020) at 7:30 pm. See below for more, including information on a post-show panel discussion featuring UIC English's Professor Jeffrey Gore which takes place on Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 pm.

The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is now hiring. They are looking for English majors in particular! Plus, there is still time to apply for a UIC or Phi Beta Kappa scholarship. See below for information on both. Plus we are featuring two new scholarships and one fellowship. The former are from Elite Lawyers and PNA-Hugh Hill Endowed Scholarship while the fellowship is the Michelle Flowers Diversity Fellowship. Beyond that, registration continues! The English department's course descriptions are available online. Scroll down for more information about our exciting course offerings. While you are there, don't forget to check out our listings of internships, fellowships and assistantships. Don't wait too much longer to apply for UGS's Editorial Assistant. Applications are due by 5:00 pm December 1, 2020.

If you're looking for a new way to approach finals, consider the SKY Campus Happiness Retreat from December 4-6, 2020. Details and instructions for applying for a scholarship to the retreat are below. 

We are no longer holding office hours in these last crazy weeks but are more than happy to meet with you. Email english@uic.edu to make an appointment. Finally, don't miss the calls for writing or writers. Scroll down for more exciting news:

  • Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
  • Elite Lawyers Scholarship
  • PNA-Hugh Hill Scholarship
  • Michelle Flowers Diversity Fellowship
  • Student Affairs Scholarships Opportunities
  • Phi Beta Kappa Key into Public Service Scholarship
  • WTTW Fellowship
  • Call for Applications: UGS Editorial Assistant
  • PIRG jobs
  • Student Spotlight: Seth Berens
  • UIC Theatre's Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost
  • SKY Campus Happiness Retreat
  • Calls for Writing and/or Writers

Keep reading, stay safe, and be in touch!


Prof. Robin Reames, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Spring 2021 Courses

What is your plan for Spring 2021? Are you looking for an internship? Do you want to know more about literary and cultural theory? Perhaps you're interested in a specific topic? Whatever the case, the Department of English has a wide range of interesting and innovative offerings. See below for a sample.

English 243: American Literature: Beginnings-1900
Prof. Jennifer Ashton

This survey of American literature will be taught on a “flipped classroom” model, where students will view short recorded lectures each week but also meet in a weekly live session with the professor. Our study of American literature will follow an unusual trajectory:  We will work our way backwards in time (instead of the customary forward direction), beginning with present day and traveling back over the course of the semester all the way to the early 17th-century.  The course will begin with Claudia Rankine’s 2014 National Book Award finalist, Citizen: An American Lyric. In the course of our travel through time, we’ll also look at major works in the American tradition from the end of the 19th-century on back:  Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Henry James, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Rebecca Harding Davis, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, John Winthrop and Anne Hutchinson.  Biweekly short quizzes and modest accountability measures in the form of shared reading annotations and discussion board posts will combine to take the place of a midterm and final exam (in other words there will be no midterm or final exam). In addition to the live lecture/discussion sessions with the professor, students will also have a weekly live discussion session with a TA to help prepare for quizzes and develop preparatory writing exercises towards a short final scholarly analysis paper.  There will also be a variety of small group activities, which will give you further opportunities to meet and interact with your classmates.   Please note that to be properly enrolled in this course you must register for BOTH the main lecture session with Professor Ashton AND one of the four TA discussion sections.

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

English 241: English Literature 1: Beginnings-1660
Prof. Raphael Magarik

This course surveys British literature of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. We start with Chaucer and conclude with Margaret Cavendish, in between reading Marlowe, Shakespeare, Wyatt, Sydney, Spenser and Milton. My main goal for the course is that you engage with difficult, old literary genres and think about what those genres did for earlier readers: who writes a love sonnet and why? What’s the historical context in which an allegorical romance, full of dragons, knights, wizards and ladies, makes sense? My second goal is that you improve at reading this stuff, so that you leave the class with a sense that if you want to, you can continue reading pre-modern literature on your own. There are five short analytical assignments (designed to teach you to read carefully and slowly and analyze) and two medium-length synthetic ones (writing a course lexicon/dictionary, creating a timeline).

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

English 242: English Literature II: 1660-1900
Prof. Nicholas Brown

This course undertakes the impossible task of surveying over 200 years of English literature in 15 weeks. From allegory to lyric, from essay to novel, from ballad to dramatic monologue; from the scandalous affairs of Restoration comedy to the chaste attachments of Victorian verse; from the origins of the English novel with Daniel Defoe to its apotheosis in George Eliot (and to its transformation in Joseph Conrad): this 240-year stretch of literary history is crowded with new forms and new thematic and narrative material. The course provides a solid backbone to the study of the period and a strong basis on which to begin a study of 20th century literature.

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

English 110: English and American Popular Genres
Instr. Desiree Brown

In this course, we analyze the evolution of the video game genre. Students will play a variety of video games, especially those with strong narratives, to examine the conventions of the genre and how these games have been shaped by their sociopolitical contexts. In particular, we discuss representations of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the genre in relation to character building and storytelling. We ask: How do video games tell stories? What does the kinesthetic aspect of gaming add to storytelling? How are video games used as instruments of social change? What role do games have in the sociopolitical realities of those who play them?

In addition to playing video games, we will read essays from experts in the field, including Ian Bogost and Lisa Nakamura. Students are expected to purchase video games (via Steam, Xbox Store, etc.), but additional readings will be available via Blackboard. A weekly instructor Twitch stream will also be available, pending student interest. Players of all levels are welcome to the course. You should have access to an Xbox One or PC to play these video games; Tell Me Why is not available on PS4. If you are interested in the course and you only have a PS4 for gaming, email me (link below) before registering for the course to see if we can find a solution!

Careful consideration has been made to the costs of course materials. Many of these games are free,  and those that are not do not need to be purchased all at once. We will play Tacoma (Fulbright, 2017); Tell Me Why (Dontnod Entertainment, 2020); Never Alone (Upper One Games, 2014); Fortnite, Apex Legends, or another battle royale game; With Those We Love Alive (Porpentine, 2014); and Hair Nah! (Momo Pixel, 2017).

Interested to learn more? Email the instructor. Ready to enroll? Register now! 

Elite Lawyer Offers Scholarship

Elite Lawyer, a directory and rating service that recognizes high-achieving attorneys who have made significant contributions to their communities and the legal professionm, is offering a $500 scholarship for the Spring 2021 semester to support college students who have a similar passion for making a difference in their communities. Applications are open to students who:

  •  Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited U.S. college or university
  • Are continuing their education through at least the Spring 2021 semester
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have a current GPA of at least 3.0

Applicants must submit either an original 500-word essay or 2-minute video presentation answering the question: “What positive change are you working to bring to your community in the new year?” The deadline to apply is February 14, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. CST. Click on https://www.elitelawyer.com/elite-lawyer-scholarship for additional information.

PNA-Hugh Hill Endowed Scholarship

PNA-Hugh Hill has a scholarship opportunity for undergraduates majoring in English or Communications. The estimated scholarship award is up to $5,000. The final award amount is determined by the Office of Financial Aid based on the student's unmet financial need for the 2021-22 academic year

Students may apply through SnAP, UIC's internal scholarship information system: http://snap.uic.edu

The criteria for the PNA-Hugh Hill Endowed Scholarship is as follows:

  • LAS undergraduate majoring in English or Communications
  • Past or current internship experience in electronic and/or print media at a television or radio station, magazine or newspaper
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Full-time enrollment
Michelle Flowers Diversity Fellowship Program

Established in 2020, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Chicago Chapter's Michelle Flowers Diversity Fellowship is designed to attract, recruit and retain people of color to the practice of public relations and communications.

Two individual awards, each in the amount of $3,000, will be presented to talented communications students of African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, Alaskan Native or Pacific Islander ancestry who are juniors. The award will include a paid summer internship at a Chicago agency affiliated with PRSA Chicago between the Diversity Fellow’s junior and senior year. The award is renewable for the Fellow’s senior year based on attaining a 3.0 GPA.

Applications and all materials are due December 31, 2020. For more information or to apply for the fellowship, go to michelleflowersfellowship.com

Student Affairs Scholarships Opportunities
UIC Student Affairs is accepting applications for more than 30 competitive scholarships available to students across all colleges and academic disciplines. Students are currently receiving over $300,000 in financial support from these scholarships. Students may log in to UIC SnAP at https://uic.academicworks.com to review specific requirements of each scholarship that will support the 2021-2022 academic year. A general application must be submitted before addressing criteria specific to each scholarship. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, January 20, 2021. It is recommended that students visit UIC SnAP soon to participate in this scholarship process.

The scholarship opportunities include, but are not limited to:

• Hassan Mustafa Abdallah Memorial Scholarship
• Lorilyn E. Aquino Award
• Dr. Thomas Beckham Memorial Scholarship
• UIC Ethel Bohlen Scholarships
• UIC Eleanor Daley Scholarship
• Gordon J. Flesch Memorial Scholarship
• UIC Fred Garcia Award
• UIC Hearst Foundation Scholarship
• Noveline Delk Kennedy Scholarship
• Graduate - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship (for current graduate level students)
• Professional - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship (for current professional level
• Undergraduate - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship (for current undergraduate level students)
• UIC Donald and Patricia Langenberg Award
• UIC Michael J Lewis Scholarship
• Wensel Morava Scholarship
• La Verne Noyes Scholarship
• UIC Jim’s Original Scholarship
• UIC Navy Pier Scholarship
• Rundgren Foundation Scholarship
• UIC Salinas-Chapa Family Memorial Scholarship
• Officer Brian T. Strouse Memorial Scholarship
• Supporting Excellence Endowment (S.E.E.) Scholarship
• UIC Eileen and Michael Tanner Scholarship Award
• Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Scholarship

If you have questions about the scholarships or the application process, contact the Student Financial Aid & Scholarships office at scholarshiphelp@uic.edu.
Phi Beta Kappa

The Society invites online applications for our Key into Public Service scholarship. The gola is to connect promising liberal arts and sciences students with opportunities in local, state, and federal public service careers and award $5,000 undergraduate scholarships to successful applicants. Membership is not required, but students must attend a Phi Beta Kappa chapter institution and participate in a virtual public service conference in June 2021 that will provide training, mentoring, and resfources. 

Characteristics of ideal recipients include intellectual curiousity, breadth and depth in arts and sciences coursework, leadership propensity, and service to otehrs. Interested students can learn more and apply online unitl January 15, 2021 at pbk.org/ServiceScholarsApp

WTTW Paid Fellowship

WTTW is currently searching for potential candidates to assist on a new documentary about Ida B. Wells, as part of our series called Chicago Stories.

We are looking for undergraduate, graduate students or recent grads with a strong knowledge of and interest in history. WTTW has a fellowship called The Judy and John McCarter Family Fellowship which pays $15/hr and the time commitment is 3-5 days per week from approximately 10/19/20-4/16/21. The position would be 100 percent remote. This fellowship is offered to individuals from under-resourced backgrounds who seek to build their media and research skills.

Interested candidates can apply directly through the WTTW website here.

Call for Applications: UGS Editorial Assistant


The Office of Undergraduate Studies has a position for a work-study student. 

Job Description:

This is a one-semester editorial assistantship beginning in January 2021. The student will take an active role in the production and design of a variety of publications aimed at undergraduates in UIC's Department of English. This internship will allow you to build your professional Duties include but are not limited to:

  • Layout of weekly newsletter.
  • Writing content for weekly newsletter.
  • Copy-editing weekly newsletter.
  • Sending out weekly newsletter.
  • Learning and developing proficiency in Email+ and Adobe design suite.
  • Writing and design for department website and other promotional materials.
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Job Requirements:

  • Work-study eligibility.
  • Major or minor in English.
  • Junior standing.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • Ability to take direction.
  • Ability to learn and develop proficiency across a wide range of software.

To apply: Application for UGS' Editorial Assistant  Deadline: 5:00 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

For more information, contact english@uic.edu.

Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Looking to Hire English Majors
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group is looking to hire Campaign Associates who will lead a campaign fighting for an issue such as clean water, renewable energy, zero waste, or consumer protection. PIRG’s role is to find common ground around the common-sense solutions that will make that future a reality. The job provides an opportunity to use the writing skills developed in undergraduate education
Some of the campaign positions open that might be of particular interest include the Zero Waste, Drive Less, Live More and the End the Nicotine Trap Campaign Associate positions.
All of the positions available right now are at this link: https://jobs.uspirg.org/index.html#jobs
Student Spotlight: Seth Berens
By Jennah Owda

What role does literature play in the world of psychology?
I suppose this depends on your definition of “literature.” If you mean any kind of text, then it plays several roles. The overarching role is to teach, of course - whether that be in education, or through research papers. On the other hand you can have reading to help interpret, too, for understanding the disorders, how they work in relation to others. Correlation in other words. If you mean literature from an English class, it has less roles to play. It is good for analysis and analogy. It may also help teaching students to practice patience without having any real repercussions other than determining the level of skill and understanding of a technique. I don’t think that English literature is very useful for psychological research, as a lot of literature is fictional, and cannot be applied to the real world in a significant manner. It would be interesting to use literature for an experiment with moods, though, because of the biological connection we make to the characters. Short answer - more than you might think, but not as much as I’d like.

 What impact does literature have on our society?
This is a tough question. It goes both ways - very little and a lot. It depends, I think, on what part of society is being examined. Overall, I think it defines a lot of the characteristics of our society based on desirability. However, I do believe that [there are] people who do not experience literature at all and that can be both good and bad depending on the temperament of the person. I think literature is good to have in our society.

What are you reading for pleasure?
Right now I’m reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I tend to enjoy listening to audiobooks more, and am re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien this way. Both physical and audio have been pleasant experiences.

What valuable lesson have you learned in an English course?
This really depends on what course we’re talking about. Most of my English courses that have helped me are related very heavily towards writing. However, one thing I have learned, and maybe this isn’t what teachers would like to hear, but pressured reading makes a book significantly less enjoyable. I understand that we have to do it in order to add it to the curriculum, but I enjoy reading for class significantly less and it does heavily affect my outlook on a book. Back to writing, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in English is about writing effectively. The most effective way to write, in not just English courses but in all writing, “say less not more.” Say things that sound like something you would say, but say it eloquently and in as few words as possible. There is no point in a wall of unnecessary text.

What does life look like after UIC?
Depends on what you mean after UIC. After my Bachelors degree, I intend to go on to get a PhD in clinical psychology with a specialization in therapy. I don’t have my program figured out yet, but I may continue at UIC which would mean I’ll be moving into a practice after UIC. If I go elsewhere, then I will be doing my PhD program at another university before going onto a practice.
Love's Labour's Lost Opens at UIC Theatre

UIC Theatre's Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost begins on Friday, November 20, 2020. The Department of English's Professor Jeffrey Gore is participating in a post-production panel discussion with the play's creators on Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm. 

For anyone interested in 21st century Shakespeare or how the arts survive during a pandemic, FREE tickets to the video performance and the post-production panel are available at UIC Theatre.


Sky Happiness Wellness Retreat

Feeling stressed? Isolated? SKY Campus Happiness UIC is offering scholarships for its virtual wellness retreat on December 4-6, 2020

To find out more about the retreat or to apply for a scholarship, go to SKY Campus Happiness Retreat. For questions about the retreat, please email iastra2@uic.edu.

Calls for Writers and Writing
RipRap Journal

RipRap Literary Journal Volume 43 would like to offer our humble invitation to talented writers and artists of all genres for our CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! We are currently accepting submissions for Artwork, Poetry, Short Fiction, Flash Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Plays. There is no fee to submit. 

We will be accepting submissions until December 18, 2020

RipRap is a literary journal designed and produced annually by students in the Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing program at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). RipRap highlights new and emerging writers from across the country as well as enlightening interviews of award-winning, published writers who are featured in the CSULB English Department’s Visiting Writers Series or from the known writing community. New editions of the journal are published each May. As always with all our submissions, we seek out work that is innovative, forward-thinking, and as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. 

To submit, please visit Riprapliteraryjournal.submittable.com/submit.

*All submissions are blind-read by our editing staff and editorial panels. Your manuscript may not include any identifying information. Any pieces submitted containing personal information that reveals the identity of the author will not be considered for publication.*

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @Riprapjournal for updates and more information. In addition, visit our RipRap CSULB site to check out last year's issue Riprap 42. If you wish to contact us, please send us a query at riprapjournal@gmail.com. We look forward to receiving your work!

The Women's Health Initiative at UIC Needs Writers! Apply Now

The Women's Health Initiative at UIC is looking for writers, editors, journalists, and content creators for the upcoming website. The WHI Blog seeks to elevate the voices of marginalized populations in healthcare through student narratives, interviews with professionals and community members, and research-based articles. 

Students of all majors and backgrounds are welcome to apply for these positions. If you are interested in applying or would like to submit an article, please fill out the WHI UIC Website Interest Form. 

Questions? Contact Madeline Zuzevich.

Black Lawrence Press Seeks Submissions
Black Lawrence Press seeks innovative, electrifying, and thoroughly intoxicating manuscripts that ensnare themselves in our hearts and minds and won’t let go. During our June and November Open Reading Periods, we accept submissions in the following categories: novel, novella, short story collection (full-length and chapbook), poetry (full-length and chapbook), biography & cultural studies, translation (from the German), and creative nonfiction. We are now also accepting proposals for anthologies.

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail. Click here to submit.
Looking to publish your research and theoretical work?
Enter Breakwater Review's 2021 Fiction Contest


Announcing Breakwater Review’s 2021 Fiction Contest

$1000 PRIZE!

We are seeking submissions for our annual fiction contest, to be judged by Porochista Khakpour

The winner receives $1,000 and publication in Breakwater Review

  • All finalists considered for publication
  • A submission fee of $10
  • Deadline is December 1, 2020
  • Finalists announced in January 2021

Full guidelines available at breakwaterreview.com

Breakwater Review is an online literary journal published twice a year by the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. For our fiction contest, we invite writers of all levels to submit their original previously unpublished work of fresh short fiction, no more than 4,000 words.


Porochista Khakpour is the author of four critically acclaimed books, most recently Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity (Vintage Books, 2020), which Ploughshares called “fearless.” In 2018 she published the memoir Sick (HarperCollins), which Kirkus Reviews praised as “lucid, eloquent, and unflinchingly honest.” Among her many fellowships is a National Endowment for the Arts award. Currently, she is a guest faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) and Stonecoast's MFA programs, as well as Contributing Editor at The Evergreen Review.


Other Upcoming UGS Events

The Office of Undergraduate Studies is also hosting the following event: 

  • Independent Study/Senior Thesis Presentations: Friday, December 4, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Perhaps you're interested in what your fellow English majors' work. Perhaps you're considering taking an independent study. Join us as this semester's ENGL 398/399 students present their work.

We'll have more details in future newsletters.

Would you like to see the Office of Undergraduate Studies host a specific event? If so, let us know. It is our mission to provide programming that meets the needs of our students.