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

Dear Students:

How did we get to Week 12 already? More to the point, are there really only three weeks left in the semester? Time flies. But, don't let it fly so fast that you don't get a chance to apply for a UIC or Phi Beta Kappa scholarship. See below for information on both.

Registration continues! The English department's course descriptions are available online. Scroll down for more information about our exciting course offerings. 

Did you miss our Career Workshop for Graduating Seniors on Monday, November 9? Email us at english@uic.edu and we'll send you a link. Our guest speaker, Jaime Velasquez, Director of Employee Relations offered great tips on getting ready for the job market and compelling reasons why a BA in English is the way forward. 

Speaking of jobs, if you're not yet on the market, why not bulk up your resume with an internship, fellowship or assistantship? Details are below.

If you need to stop worrying about classes and work, two fun events take place in the weeks ahead. First, Red Shoes Review, UIC's premier literary and arts magazine hosts its annual Open Mic Night on November 17, 2020 from 4:00 - 6:00 pm. Details on presenting at and accessing the event via Zoom are below. Second, UIC Theatre's Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost opens online on 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.

For those of you considering graduate school in English, we include information about University of Wyoming's fully-funded English MA program. Before ending this issue with UGS' virtual office hours, we include several calls for writing or writers. Scroll down for more exciting news:

  • Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
  • Student Affairs Scholarships Opportunities
  • Phi Beta Kappa Key into Public Service Scholarship
  • WTTW Fellowship
  • Call for Applications: UGS Editorial Assistant
  • Student Spotlight: Alina Torres
  • Red Shoes Review Open Mic Night
  • UIC Theatre's Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost
  • University of Wyoming MA Program in English
  • Calls for Writing and/or Writers
  • Virtual Office hours for the week of November 16-20

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 asynchronously. Students view short recorded lectures each week but also meet in a weekly live session with the professor. Our study of American literature follows an unusual trajectory:  We 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 begins 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 combine to take the place of a midterm and final exam. (In other words there is 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 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! 

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.

Student Spotlight: Alina Torres
By Jennah Owda
What is the power of literature in our society?
Literature is a very powerful tool. It has a way of making people worldwide feel connected and creates different atmospheres and worlds for people to explore. In times like this, it can be an escape from reality, a form of comfort. The power of words goes a long way and we can see that in society today with election speeches, the most popular novels, movie scripts, and even just the simple texts we send to each other to communicate.
What has been your favorite English class so far?
I just transferred into the university last semester and am still getting a grip on things. So far, I have really enjoyed my English 486: The Teaching of Writing in Middle and Secondary Schools class. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer and teacher through this course. I have also learned that writing and literature are aspects that help shape students today and can help them be more expressive.
What are you reading for pleasure?
I am currently reading Lock Every Door by Riley Sager and trying to finish the 30 Days of Night graphic novel series. I have been diving into the horror and thriller genres as I thought it would match the fall season.
Why is literature important to you? 
Literature has always been my way of finding solace when things get hard. When I feel like I don’t want to see the disastrous things happening in the world, I read. When I feel as though my emotions might get the better of me, I write.
What comes after UIC?
After I graduate, I hope to become a high school English teacher. If all goes well, I may go back to school to become a college professor. Who knows, I might even write my own novel one day.
Red Shoes Review's Annual [Virtual] Open Mic Night

As UIC's premier literary and visual arts magazine, Red Shoes Review hosts a [virtual] open mic night competition. There will be first, second, and third place winners determined by our e-board as well as a People's Choice winner. Winners receive a gift card. Prizes are:

  • 1st Place $50 Gift Card
  • 2nd Place $25 Gift Card
  • 3rd Place $15 Gift Card 
  • People’s Choice $15 Gift Card

How it works:

  • Before the competition, you submit your open mic submission to the link below.
  • Your submission must be a video up to 3 minutes long showcasing your artistic ability through spoken word, song, comedy or anything else befitting an open mic.
  • This video will only be shown at the open mic and will not be shared otherwise without your permission.
  • You may have multiple submissions and can rank your submissions in case there is not enough time for all

During the event:

  • This event will be hosted on  Tuesday, November 17, 4:00-6:00 pm via Zoom. (Link to join will be posted on our instagram (@redshoesreview) closer to the date. 
  • Our E-Board members will MC the event and introduce and livestream each act
  • At the end of the event  we will have voting for the People's Choice award and the top 3 awards will also be announced.
  • Deadline to submit: Sunday, November 15th, 11:59 pm.

Submit here: https://linktr.ee/JoinRSR

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, November 22, 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.


Fully-funded English MA Program at University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming offers a fully-funded MA program in English. Reasons to consider UW include:

  • Generous funding package for all accepted students
  • Ph.D. and job placement in top programs
  • Joint-deree options and interdisciplinary coursework
  • Up to two years of classroom teaching experience
  • Nationally renowned mentorship in teaching preparation
  • Generous support for students writing theses
  • Outdoor activities in Laramie

UW is a fully-funded program: all admitted students receive stipends and tuition waivers for two years. Graduate students in the Department of English at UW have the opportunity to study and research in all areas of English and cultural studies, from poetry and film to popular culture and rhetorical theory. 

For more information about the MA in English at UW and the application proceddure, please see: http://www.uwyo.edu/english/master-of-arts/

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.

Office of Undergraduate Studies Fall 2020 Drop-in Hours

Have a question? Stop by the Office of Undergraduate Studies Drop-in Hours and ask us! While we are terrible at chemistry, we would be delighted to advise on classes, help plan for an independent study or chat about what we are binge watching and what we'll do once COVID-19 is gone.

The Office is open:

Monday 12:00 - 1:00 pm


Thursday 11:00 - 12:00 pm


If these hours don't suit, just email english@uic.edu to make an appointment.