6 December 2021

Dear Everyone:

The program zoom rooms were abuzz on Friday! With Faculty Membership, Executive, and Curriculum Committees meeting, the end of term open program meeting later in the afternoon, and capped by an intimate and sweet Revels hosted by ESA, English was popping on multiple fronts. What that means, of course, is that many people were at work in making possible the learning and study that is both foundation and horizon as well as source of much joy for us. By way of thanks, and rehearsing remarks from the open meeting, I offer “Darling Coffee” by Meena Alexander. “The periodic pleasure/of small happenings/is upon us—”, she counsels as she reminds us of the full bodied sensory experience of world available to us, and necessary for and appropriate to the “conjugation of joy.” Think of the “room/with a window onto elms” as the room in which you’ll think and read and write, and the “wild sheets” as the pages of your favorite note- and sketchbooks, and that the poem (re)turns us to the immense pleasures of lives organized around words shared with others is, I think, unmistakable. Absent friends, cherished colleagues, teachers and students and everyone who has offered or responded to a “query of tenderness” – let them all be present as we transition from this semester to the next….

And, always, with gratitude:

To Nancy Silverman, who dedicatedly and deftly keeps this program going in countless numbers of ways; and Lily Iserson, who dove right into her work with us as College Assistant;

To Tanya Agathocleous, Siraj Ahmed, and Karl Steel, who as DEOs and Chair of Curriculum carry so much of our load and with their characteristic scholarly brilliance, especially in this semester when I’ve been pulled away from work more than I’d like;

To our Faculty Membership Committee – Tanya Agathocleous, Duncan Faherty, Matt Gold, Eric Lott, Mary McGlynn, Alan Vardy, Alexa Punnamkuzhyil, Cary Fitzgerald, and Andre Perez – for the immense amount of work it has done to conduct the U.S. Latinx consortial appointment search in addition to other faculty matters;

To the Curriculum Committee – led by Karl and including Mario DiGangi, Duncan Faherty, Carrie Hintz, Caroline Reitz, Katharine Williams, Jamie Zabinsky, and Vallerie Matos – for attending to our substantive core with sustained thoughtfulness and care;

To all who show up, do the work, attend the things, celebrate and commiserate as needs demand, offer guidance and support, feedback and food, and organize and march and protest on behalf of better life.

Thank you on all our behalf!

News and notes:

Because of the work people do/have done, the following things to report!

  1. I’m very pleased to announce that the program will welcome Professor Erika Lin to our faculty. A central line faculty member of the GC Theatre and Performance Program, Professor Lin specializes in early modern theatre and performance and gender and sexuality studies. She already works with a number of our students, and this cross-appointment recognizes and amplifies her work and contributions to the English program. (There’s paperwork yet to do to formalize this arrangement, which we hope will be in place in spring 2022!)
  1. Not surprisingly, Professor Tanya Agathocleous, DEO of Job Search tells us, there is a paucity of tenure track positions available this year – some 338 posted on the MLA Job List, and of those, only 218 at the assistant professor level. If you’re not already and are planning to complete your degrees in the next year or so, please make sure to join the placement listserv (write to Nancy Silverman to ask to be included). You will also find helpful the information collected on the excellent Academic Commons site Tanya has created (you must be a registered member of the Academic Commons to access that portal).

Please also note that those actively searching for jobs this year who may wish to practice their public lectures for such are invited to complete this form to schedule a mock job talk.

  1. Speaking of scheduling things, here again is the form to propose a Friday Forum for spring 2022. Since the program’s been given a small fraction of what had been our usual budget, the FFs regrettably don’t have funding attached. Some of the slots will be taken up by the lectures our US Latinx appointment candidates will give, the admitted and waitlisted student visit day we regularly hold in March, and the conduct of some program business. If you’ve ideas for other things, please submit!
  1. Some of that program business will include an open conversation on the foreign language exam coming forward from the Curriculum Committee.
  1. And, some will include at least preliminary work in continuing our program’s work in addressing racism and other forms of discrimination and diminishment, with specific attention to classroom spaces and relations. As to that latter, the Executive Committee began discussing how we might make such work sometimes referred to as “implicit bias training” meaningful and impactful in and for our program, which is a discussion that comes of conversations with students as well as observation more broadly of how, however inadvertently, we continue to create spaces hostile to some even as we strive to address the overrepresentation of whiteness and the impact of cisheteropatriarchal structures. More on this to follow.

We needn’t/shouldn’t wait, of course, for formal processes or workshops or whatever. With neither defensiveness nor judgment, take some time to consider how you/we might create spaces more conductive to un/learning, more attentive to differential relations of power and the ways they are lived and experienced, and how you/we might formulate a comment, as a question, pose a problem, in ways that open up thinking beyond what we (think we) know and attuned to the normalcy of the embeddedness of racism in our institutional structures and social relations. Please also renew your attentiveness to pronouns – which doesn’t mean requiring their enunciation, by the by, as some people prefer not to say, but does mean unsettling normative presumptions.

  1. Given continuing uncertainties related to the pandemic, our program events will be on-line at least through mid-March. I believe this is true of the GC as a whole, too – that the building events will also be held virtually for a while yet. Also, speaking of building events, no final word yet as to graduation plans.
  1. In spring 2022, while programming is remote, we are expected to have some 70% of courses fully in person or offered in hybrid form. Staff members are expected to be at the office 70% of the time, through a logic of equivalences that replaces thought with uniformity. (Please give a holler if you want to be in touch with PSC members working on this issue.)
  1. Perhaps especially given the state of the academic job market, I’m very pleased to announce that, led by Nancy Silverman, the English Program has been awarded a Doctoral Curriculum Enhancement Grant by PublicsLab! This is a particularly notable achievement given that we are finishing out one already held, and it is highly unusual for a program to receive more than one! Kudos to Nancy, Mario DiGangi, Talia Schaffer, Dasharah Green, Anahi Douglas, and Sara Remedios-Bloom for landing this new grant!
  1. Re Admissions! Just this past Friday, we received official word that we will be conducting admissions with an eye toward welcoming a cohort of 16 incoming students this year, which is a return to the number we were allotted in 2020. Those on the admissions committee this year (which includes all faculty not on leave and a number of students elected by the ESA) who would like to discuss the process, please attend the meeting Siraj Ahmed has organized for Friday, 10 Dec and reach out to him if you need more information generally.
  1. Finally, a reminder to forward your nominations for the next EO of English to Patti Myatt at pmyatt@gc.cuny.edu pretty much immediately. With thanks to your kind inquiries regarding the same, I’m not up for reappointment.

I close this final Monday email note for this semester with the wish that all manner of joy in all kinds of conjugated forms will envelop you even as you move through the intensities of work that characterize semester’s end, coupled with, as ever, all hopes for wellness for you and your beloveds.


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