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Welcome by the Department Chair,
Jenny Spencer

Dear Friends and Alums,

“Ch…ch…ch…changes!” Yes, you guessed it: David Bowie’s 1971 hit has become our unofficial theme song. But the changes coming down the pike for the UMass English department definitely promise an exciting few years ahead.

In your hands (or on your screen), you can see our first change. In addition to a new look, the departmental newsletter has earned a new name and publication schedule. Look for The Ink Pot once each term to stay up to date on the exciting things going on in English. Some highlights this term include the Troy Lecture (pg 2), Kaplan lecture (pg 4), and the alumni column. But we couldn’t leave last year entirely out of this issue, so you’ll find a snap from the Student Awards banquet and excerpts from speeches made at the 50th Anniversary of our stellar MFA program. We hope you enjoy these and other stories within these pages.

Another change comes with a new set of faculty members. Mazen Naous (profiled in this issue), Caroline Yang, and Daniel Sack (to be profiled this spring) have enlarged our tenure-stream faculty to a substantial 48. Their research in postcolonial and Arab American literature, Asian American and African American literature, and drama and performance studies will provide wonderful opportunities for our students.

On a sadder note, the department experienced the recent shocking loss of journalist Jim Foley, a 2003 graduate in fiction from our MFA program. On September 20, a group of former faculty advisors, friends, and colleagues gathered on campus for a moving memorial that celebrated Jim’s life and writing. A symposium in his honor is currently being planned for next year.

One other bittersweet change is yet to come. After years of anticipation, Bartlett Hall has finally reached the end of its days. We have worked hard with the administration to plan the structure that will stand in Bartlett’s place. Although there will be aspects we miss, I remain confident that the new building (set for completion in 2016) will offer a welcoming home for our students, both current and past. Physically connected to the HFA Dean’s office in the former South College, the new building will put us one step closer to the University Library. When the move is complete, we hope you will join us for the official celebration. If you live close by, please stop in to say good-bye to a building that has housed terrific conversations about some of the greatest works of literature ever written.

Jenny Spencer

University of Massachusetts Department of English
170 Bartlett Hall, Amherst, MA 01003 | umass.edu/english | 413-545-4339