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


Dear Students:

We have to say it: welcome to "the cruelest month!" It's also the last month of Spring Semester 2021. 

We hope everyone had a wonderful break! As usual, we've got a ton of news for you including:

  • Course offerings for Fall 2021
  • An upcoming event to stand in solidarity with Asian-American students
  • Awards for undergraduates
  • The Write Stuff is on its way
  • Intern of the Month: Natalia Kostka
  • Lance Nwokeji on Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events(DCASE) offers four paid internships

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


In Solidarity

GLAS Events on April 5

In the aftermath of the violence that took place in Atlanta on March 16, 2021 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. 

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.


The Write Stuff


... is on its way!

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. Submissions are now closed, and the first edition is underway! We hope to publish our first edition in early April. 


Intern of the Month: Natalia Kostka

Natalia Kostka 

Because I am interested in a career in health care, I chose to work in the Development (fundraising) Department for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare (MHBHC) in Denver, CO. MHBHC is an organization that is nothing short of a mental health empire. This non-profit organization has been providing various behavioral healthcare services for well over fifty years. What makes it even more unique is the array of numerous services it offers, ranging from substance use, homelessness, court to community reintegration, LGBTQ+, general mental health support, and any co-occurring mental health related issues. These services are provided within multiple programs, serving populations over a large geographical area

My supervisor, Jeremy Stern, and I meet via zoom on Mondays and outline what I need to do for the week. Today the geography for internships is vast; interns can apply to work anywhere, even if that means out-of-state.

Using Canva, I created multiple flyers for various events including the Bags, Backpacks, Belts, & Boots Collection Drive and the Spring Egg Hunt. Additionally, I created a sponsorship packet for the third annual Miracles Fashion Show that details the event information and the benefits of each sponsorship level.  Recently, I also created two live sites for upcoming events, complete with ticketing and a live and silent auction component.

I am currently working on a project to find potential sponsors for upcoming events. Looking at the recent sponsors of similar mental health organizations in Denver, I look up their information in search of a contact name, email, address, and phone number. Personalized sponsorship requests are more effective than a general request. Using the information I have found, I contact the companies to try to fill out those categories. I’ve called over fifteen organizations, speaking on behalf of MHBHC in search of future sponsors.

Upcoming projects include thanking donors with a handwritten letter. My supervisor organized for a package to be sent to my house that includes crisp letterhead stationery, stamps, labels, envelopes, and of course, pens. My task will be to personally write each thank you letter to later mail off to each recipient. A personal touch goes a long way and a “thank you” is always pleasant to hear. 

What I Have Learned: Through this internship I have become more capable of effectively communicating and have adjusted to the fast pace. Jeremy often works over the weekend due to the sheer volume of work the entire department is responsible for. Sitting in on department meetings, I have realized that teamwork is essential. 

Impressions of the Period: I feel much more confident in my work and am starting to become more attached to the organization. As the end date approaches, I can’t help but feel a bit sad about completing my internship but am happy to have learned new skills and gained professional experience.


Lance Nwokeji on MonsterVerse

Godzilla vs. Kong
Lance Njwokeji

Godzilla vs Kong is the rematch between the two most well known giant monsters, or kaiju, and it has been almost 60 years coming. This has been anticipated because Godzilla and Kong are historically responsible for much of the kaiju genre. They are the founding fathers of this successful genre of movies.

The kaiju genre of films range from silly to haunting. However, most of them wouldn’t exist without the original 1933 King Kong. This movie was groundbreaking because Kong was one of the first artificially created characters in any film. Stopmotion animator Willis O’Brien brought Kong to life like no other character has been brought to life. Kong, sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World, is unique for being a sympathetic beast. By the time he fell from the Empire State Building, audiences felt pity for Kong. Every subsequent King Kong movie has held on to the character’s sympathetic nature, including MonsterVerse Kong.

Once King Kong was exported to Japan the film, along with another film known as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms inspired Toho Studios to make their own giant monster movie. That movie was the original Gojira. At the time, Japan was in the process of recovering from the Hiroshima bombings. Godzilla was portrayed as a symbol for the ramifications of nuclear power gone wrong. This meaningful symbolism made him an icon, and Gojira was eventually exported to the United States. It seemed almost fated for the Japanese monster to meet the American one at some point.

King Kong wasn’t always meant to fight Godzilla. The original idea by Willis O’Brien was to have King Kong fight the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein. However, when the production attracted the attention of Toho, the studio agreed to finance O’Brien’s film if Frankenstein was replaced with Godzilla. The result became the 1962 film King Kong vs Godzilla. King Kong and Godzilla were portrayed less as terrifying forces of nature and more as boxers with an audience. They fought on Mt. Fuji until they fell into the water, and King Kong was the one who surfaced. This showed that he had won.

King Kong vs Godzilla galvanized a massive rise in popularity for Godzilla. After 1962, Toho went on to release more than a dozen more Godzilla films. Now, Godzilla has become so popular he is considered a citizen of Japan. Kong had many films made for him as well, but for years every King Kong film was a simple remake. This changed in 2017 with Kong: Skull Island. This movie freed Kong from his tragic fate and made him a part of a proper franchise. Since this franchise also has Godzilla, the two monsters were destined to meet again.

With decades’ worth of pop culture influence behind them, Kong and Godzilla will fight again. For decades they have been historical rivals, competing to be the most well-known monster in cinemas. Godzilla vs Kong will be about more than just two monsters fighting. It will be a unique moment in cinema history in which two of the most well known pop culture icons come together. Decades in the future, people are sure to look back on what it was like to live during the time when Godzilla fought King Kong.


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.


Internships, Scholarships, Fellowships & Jobs


DCASE Seeking Paid Student Interns


The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is seeking paid student interns for four available positions. Applications are due by Thursday, April 8.

Click the links below to view each job description:


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:
  • 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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