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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

English Newsletter - Fall 2010

Welcome by the Department Chair, Joseph Bartolomeo

Joe BartolomeoThis is our first departmental newsletter to be distributed not only in print, but also electronically. Thanks to timely help and support from the Alumni Association, we are now able to reach many more alumni and friends. With your help—simply sending us your current email address—we can eventually move to exclusive online publication, which will allow us to include more material, and possibly more frequent updates.

Writing this introductory note is one of my most pleasant tasks as department chair, as it gives me the opportunity to celebrate significant achievements by and honors for our faculty, students, and alumni. Two colleagues who have immeasurably enriched our department and the profession, Anne Herrington and James Young, were recently named Distinguished University Professors by the University’s Board of Trustees, joining Arthur Kinney and James Tate in this eminent rank. Having completed a fellowship from the National Council of Learned Societies, Laura Doyle was offered the Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Exeter, where she is lecturing this fall. In the spring, Peter Gizzi will be the Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry at Cambridge University. Lisa Olstein’s recent book, Lost Alphabet, was recently named one of the best poetry books of 2009 by Library Journal. Campus awards included recognition of three colleagues for their excellence in teaching: Joseph Black received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Haivan Hoang the College of Humanities and Fine Arts’ Outstanding Teacher Award, and Janine Solberg a Lilly Fellowship from the Center for Teaching. Finally, Arthur Kinney added to his many well-deserved honors the CHFA Award for Outstanding Faculty Service.

Three of our colleagues, Joseph Black, Jenny Adams, and Suzanne Daly, were awarded tenure, at the “leading edge” of a cohort of recent hires who we fully expect to have similar success. While budgetary constraints prevented us from hiring new tenure-track faculty, we were delighted to receive a Five-College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in dramatic literature and performance and to hire Daniel Sack, who will be teaching here and at Amherst College over the next three years. This year, we will be searching for a position in twentieth-century African American literature, and given the tight academic job market in the humanities, we look forward to large numbers of strong applications.

At the 2010 Undergraduate Commencement, Abigail Reardon (whose address from our Awards Ceremony is printed inside) was one of only twelve graduating seniors to receive a 21st-Century Leader award for her achievements inside and outside the classroom. And in the spring, a graduate of the class of 1992, Paul Harding, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Tinkers. Our first undergraduate alumnus to receive a Pulitzer, he joins MFA alumna Natasha Trethewey (’98) and Professor James Tate, both of whom won for poetry.

The University and by extension the department face some challenging times ahead, with the ending of federal stimulus funding and a difficult economic climate for the next few years at least. The generous support of our alumni and friends, for which we are very grateful, will enable us to support scholarships, prizes, speakers, and events that enrich the lives of our students. I hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that you will share your news with us.

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