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

Dear Students:

Any plans for a safe and socially-distanced Halloween? Check out Scott Grunow's Psalm-reading Zoom Marthon. How about a plan for voting? Have you seen that list of judges? Injustice Watch has a non-partisan guide to judicial retention. After voting, how will you spend the November 3 holiday? Whilst inhaling copious amounts of leftover candy, we'll be deciding what films to screen during the Gene Siskel Film Center's Black Harvest Film Festival.

Believe it or not, registration begins next week! Seniors are able to register starting Wednesday November 4th. It's time to start thinking about what you will take. The English department's course descriptions are available online. Scroll down for more information about our exciting course offerings.

We are still super excited about our search for an editorial assistant. If you haven't already applied, please do so! The job description, as well as a link to the application (due by 5:00 pm Monday, December 1), are below. On Thursday, November 5, author of the wildly popular Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff, drops in to talk about writing and publishing with English students. On Monday, November 9 we host our Career Workshop for Graduating Seniors. After our workshop, the Office of Career Services is hosting a Non-Profit event on Wednesday, November 11 and a Virtual Government Career Fair from 2–3pm on Friday, November 13 from 1-4 pm.  

Before ending this issue as usual with UGS' virtual office hours, we include several calls for writing or writers. Scroll down for more exciting news:

  • Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
  • Pre-election Zoom Psalm-reading Marathon 
  • Call for Applications: UGS Editorial Assistant
  • Author Visit from Matt Ruff
  • Career Workshop for Graduating Seniors
  • Student Spotlight: Rachel Alhamed
  • Calls for Writing and/or Writers
  • Virtual Office hours for the week of November 2-6

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 443: Topics in Gender, Sexuality and Literature
Prof. Pete Coviello

This section of Engl 443, Queer Theory, pursues the theme of queer sexual disasters. What makes sex catastrophic? And who gets to say so? In a world so overfilled with forms of inequity and exploitation, what is at stake in making “sex” the chief available signifier of harm – the way we understand violation, safety, autonomy, and much? How might we resist the transformation of sex into trauma’s signature without losing sight of the forms of harm that can be delivered through sex? Queer theory, this course proposes, provides a rich resource for these knotty dilemmas. Readings will include theory and novels and films, ranging from Foucault and Freud to Nella Larsen, Audre Lorde, Willa Cather, and Samuel Delaney.

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

English 422: Topics in Postcolonial and World Literature in English
Prof. Nasser Mufti

Anticolonialism (a term that has circulated a lot in recent months) is typically understood to be a discourse unique to the twentieth century, specifically 1900-1960. But the three categories around which it organized itself and articulated its interventions are nineteenth century categories: race, nation and class. This course will explore the place of these three categories in anticolonial thought, tracking the ways in which figures like W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Marcus Garvey, Amy Ashwood Garvey, B.R. Ambedkar, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, Richard Wright and others drew upon nineteenth century conceptions of race, nation and class, and reinvented them for the project of decolonization. In the final few weeks of the course, we will explore the further revisions of these three categories in postcolonial and contemporary Anglophone fiction, such as the those of Ama Ata Aidoo, V.S. Naipaul and Maaza Mengiste.

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

English 483: Studies in Language and Rhetoric
Prof. Walter Benn Michaels

This section of 483, Writing and Building: Intersections of Art, Literature, and Architecture, explores topics and debates that have been taking place within and sometimes between architecture, art and literary theory. We begin with Lessing’s Laocoon, move to the debate over minimalism and the origins of postmodernism, and then focus on some work from the last decade. For example, one thread of inquiry might start with Donald Judd’s claim (in “Specific Objects”) that for a work of art to matter it “need only be interesting,” which is critiqued by Fried’s description (in “Art and Objecthood”) of Judd and minimalism more generally as “merely interesting,” a critique that’s revalorized in Sianne Ngai’s essay “Merely Interesting” and both redeployed and transformed in the architect Andrew Atwood’s book Not Interesting. An extended catalogue of these degrees of interest would include the cool, boring, ordinary, ugly, generic, and typical (Venturi and Scott Brown, Koolhaas), as well as the aesthetic of indifference one might associate with the work of some photographers (like Daniel Shea and Phil Chang) as well as related discussions of indifference within recent architecture.

The course will be taught in conjunction with Robert Somol’s seminar for graduate students in the School of Architecture. It is intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students (primarily though not necessarily at the M.A. level), and It doesn’t require your knowing much about these writers (or even having heard of them) before the course starts. The relevant thing is just (or merely!) to be interested in literature and architecture and in the kinds of theoretical questions that are raised by the conjunction of the two.

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

English 474: Topics in Popular Culture and Literature
Prof. Natasha Barnes

This section of Engl 474, Literature and Slavery, will consider the cultural representation of American slavery. We will see how writers grappled with the subject in different, often hybrid, literary and narrative forms; Bildungsroman, the long novel as well as more experimental genres such as magic realism and science/speculative fiction. The course will study fiction from a variety of historical and cultural contexts; authors examined will include William Wells Brown, William Styron, Toni Morrison, Edward P Jones, Octavia Butler. Towards the end of the course we will consider the resurgence of slave narratives in contemporary film. To that end we will examine the cinematic offerings such as Quentin Tarentino’s Django and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and compare these representations to independent filmmakers in such films as Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust. Primary readings will be augmented by critical theory from Madhu Dubey, Ashraf Rushdy, Arlene Kaiser, Salamishah Tillet and some of the new historical work on women, enslavement and economic and sexual labor.

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

English 483: Studies in Language and Rhetoric: Freshwater Lab Internship
Prof. Rachel Havrelock

The Freshwater Lab Internship course offers students the chance to begin work in fields related to water, environment, and environmental justice.  The course consists of three parts:

  1. Studying frameworks of law and governance that pertain to water and the Great Lakes;
  2. Working in smaller groups with a visiting professional instructor.  Students have a choice of working in a group with a journalist, a community-based researcher, or an urban planner;
  3. Placement in an internship

Each component of the course lasts for five weeks.  After the semester ends, students have the option of staying in their internship over the summer.  Through grant funding, upwards of ten students will receive a stipend for this summer work. All have the option of continuing through the summer and participating in a cohort to discuss the work, offer support and, hopefully, go on field trips.  This is a dynamic course that supports student ideas and interventions in the status quo.

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

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.

Psalm Reading

Join Scott Grunow and other Department of English faculty in a pre-election Zoom Psalm-reading Marathon!

The marathon began Thursday, October 29 at 5:00 pm and runs 24 hours a day through election day, Tuesday November 3, 2020.

Readers include Professor Alfred Thomas, Professor Emerita Robin Grey, Honors College Dean Ralph Keen, and Professor Natasha Barnes who will read from the Gullah Bible.

Participants can read from the Torah and psalms can be read in any language.

DM Scott on Twitter, @scottgr60613 or email him at Cobelli2001@gmail.com to sign up for a shift.



Matt Ruff, Author of "Lovecraft Country," Talks Shop with UIC English Students!

The students in Dr. Margena Christian's Engl 382: Editing and Publishing course are in for a treat in November! Matt Ruff, author of Lovecraft Country, is dropping by to discuss writing, publishing, and the creative and professional aspects of being a writer. 

Ruff was an English major at Cornell University, where he wrote his first novel for his senior thesis. It was published soon after he graduated as Fool on the Hill. His wildly successful Lovecraft Country, set in Chicago a (and filmed in nearby Pilsen!) has been adapted as an HBO series by Jordan Peele, Misha Green, and J.J. Abrams

Ruff will be dropping in to chat with Prof. Christian's students on Thursday, November 5, from 9:30–10:45. There are a few extra spots available if you'd like to join the conversation. If you are interested  R.S.V.P. to Dr. Christian by noon on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. 

Career Workshop! November 9th

So you're getting ready to graduate, and you're probably feeling that sense of panic and dread. What will you do next? The good news is that English majors fare quite well on the job market! 

Come hear from Jaime Velasquez, from UIC's Career Services. "Employers want English majors specifically," Velasquez says. "They need people who can write, and English majors can write!"

At the workshop on November 9th at 4pm, we'll focus on various aspects of finding a job after graduation. Learn how to navigate the virtual job market, how to prepare your interview materials, and how to translate "close reading of poetry" into a marketable job skill!

The workshop is timed to coordinate with 2 upcoming events at Career Services: The non-profit employer discussion with Peace Corps, City Year, SAGA & AUSL recruiters, and the government virtual job fair. Follow the links for more information and to register for these events. 

Jaime Velasquez is a proud UIC alumnus as well as the Director of Employee Relations. He organizes numerous job fairs every year, and is excited to begin working with English majors. Don't miss this important opportunity. 

Interested to attend? RSVP now!

Student Spotlight: Rachel Alhamed
Why major in English?
In an ever-evolving world where chronicling of histories changes, I find comfort in knowing that everything I love about literature has not; through literature, I learn to think critically. Literature and literary texts teach what it means to be human. Characters in the books serve as our "windows and mirrors." Through storytelling, we learn about self-awareness, social awareness, and decision-making skills. These are invaluable lessons, especially if we want to foster a generation of conscientious, well-rounded individuals.  
What has been your favorite English class so far?
A hard question to answer! In fact, I have a few: 459, 489 (Dr. Kindelsperger), 240 (Dr. Jun), and 486 (Dr. Sjostrom).
If one class cemented my determination to pursue a career in teaching Secondary English, it would be 459. Dr. Kindelsperger is an exceptional professor who truly cares about her students' success in the classroom. She taught us strategies that are relevant and will be very useful in today's high school classroom. I am really ecstatic to have her again for 489 this semester. 
Dr. Jun is so incredibly intelligent, and I learned so much in her class; I really enjoyed our critical theory class. I usually do not like lectures; however, Professor Jun's lectures are the best. I always leave class thinking, "Wow, I never even thought about it that way!" If I did not have six classes this semester and if allowed, I would definitely attend one of her classes for pleasure. Her mind is just a treasure trove of genius.  
Dr. Sjostrom is amazing! I believe that I am really honing my writing skills in her class. I would not even attempt to apply for ENGL 398 unless I felt that I am prepared to write well on my own. She challenges us to be the best teaching writers we can be. And why shouldn't we be? We're going to be the future educators of the next generation. Our future students deserve only the best. She really cares about her students and it is greatly appreciated. 
We all have our lives outside of the classroom and it's the little extras that these professors do that make them exceptional.  
What prompted you to write your own memoir?
The current state of our society places too much emphasis on categorizing. I believe it is important to consider those who do not check just one box. I wish to aspire those who do not follow the norm, those irregular pegs that will neither fit in round or square holes, and those who color outside the lines. Ultimately, my goal is for readers to regard my memoir as something that will serve as their "windows and mirrors." 
What are you reading for pleasure?
I am doing a lot of "catch-up" reading because it has been so long since I have been in academia. With my son's remote learning and six courses this semester, I have been doing a lot of reading for my classes only and barely anything else for pleasure. However, I have four books in the cue (and have started) and plan to read during the winter break. I am currently reading Toni Morrison's Beloved for my English 489 class and am so gripped by it that I also bought the Bluest Eye and Love to read. I have Trevor Noah's Born a Crime and Ahmed Saadawi's Frankenstein in Baghdad that I plan to read as well.  
What comes after UIC?
God willing, I will be teaching at a Chicago Public School. 
Calls for Writers and Jobs of Interest
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 Black River Chapbook Competition

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press runs the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 18-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner receives book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.

Our chapbooks are perfect-bound, feature striking cover designs, each receive an ISBN, and are distributed nationally through Small Press Distribution, as well as on our website and at amazon.com. We treat our chapbooks just like our full-length titles in terms of aesthetics, production, publicity, and editorial love and care.

DEADLINE: October 31, 2020. Click here for more Information.
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.

Mantis (Stanford University) Seeks Poetry for 2020 Issue

Mantis, the journal of poetry, criticism, and translation based at Stanford University, is seeking submissions for its 2020 issue.

To date, Mantis has produced 18 issues featuring work by both prominent and emerging poets and establishing itself as an important venue for writers and readers of poetry from around the globe. Recent contributors have included Rae Armantrout, Forrest Gander, Kelsi Vanada, Carrie Noland, Anne Boyer, Alice Notley, Alicia Ostriker, Bernadette Meyer, Javier Etchevarren (Uruguay), Camila Charry Noreiga (Colombia), Andrea Cote-Botero (Colombia), Ken-ichi Saso (Japan), as well as new poetry from Macedonia by Afrodita Nikolova, Toni Popov, Svonko Taneski, and more!

We are currently accepting submissions in four categories: New PoetryPoetry and Multilingualism2020: Poetry of Protest, and Poetry in Translation. Additional details may be found on our Submittable page. Submissions close on October 31.

Write for UIC's OneWorld Journal
OneWorld Journal is a UIC student publication centered around articles addressing intricate international issues and geopolitical affairs. Through annual publications, OneWorld strives to heighten the visibility of important global issues in order to promote a more expansive worldview and instill an appreciation for the diverse cultures represented on our campus. 
The article submission period for the 2021 issue has now opened! OneWorld accepts submissions in the following categories: World News & Affairs, Opinion, and Study Abroad/Travel Experiences. Students of any major can write for OneWorld by submitting an article to the following form: https://forms.gle/ntxg1TDKVPbyMAwEA. The deadline for submitting an article is October 31, 2020 at 11:59pm. 
More information about submission guidelines and the publication process can be found on the form or  https://sites.google.com/view/uiconeworld/home. However, if you have any additional questions, please email OneWorld at oneworld.uic@gmail.com
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.