I hope everyone enjoyed the summer. It’s my pleasure to welcome you back. I’d like to extend a special welcome to our new undergraduate majors and to our new graduate students.
Let me highlight several exciting happenings. The Cornerstone program is in full swing, and the English department is its heart and soul. As many of you know, generous grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Teagle Foundation made the program possible. Cornerstone seeks to put the humanities, particularly literature, back at the center of the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. Last spring Professors Gregory, Kimmage, and Murton taught “Transformative Text 1: Citizens and Communities” as pilot courses. This fall we have a large cohort of freshmen taking “Cornerstone English 101,” a composition course designed by Professors Rulo and Okuma that “introduces students to academic writing and helps them to improve as writers through critical reading of powerful literature and careful composition.” Students in the program are living in Cornerstone dormitories and will be participating in a host of special activities. They will take “Transformative Texts 1” in the spring and continue through the program in subsequent semesters. Taryn Okuma is the Director of the Cornerstone program—it couldn’t be in better hands—and we’ve hired Dr. William Gonch as a postdoctoral fellow to teach in the program and help Dr. Okuma run it. We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Gonch to our department!
More than twenty English department faculty, students, and alumni will participate in the 2022 ALSCW Annual Conference at Yale University, October 20-23. The conference was delayed for two years due to the pandemic, but we’re coming back strong. This will be our twenty-fifth annual conference, and it’s no accident that Yale is our host. It would take several pages to describe the ALSCW’s ties to Yale, but let me note that several members of the Yale faculty were central to establishing the ALSCW in the mid-1990s, and that David Bromwich, Sterling Professor of English at Yale, is the organization’s current president. The program looks spectacular (we’ll send it out the week of September 12), and features the ALSCW’s typical mix of critics and creative writers at different stages of their careers. The conference is a tremendous opportunity for younger scholars to participate on equal footing in sessions with exceptionally accomplished—the best of the best—senior members. Yale and the National Endowment of the Humanities have been very generous, and several members of the ALSCW have donated money from their personal or research accounts. We have an extraordinarily loyal, dedicated, and distinguished membership. Finally, it’s my great pleasure to welcome and congratulate the ALSCW’s new student interns, Nicole Cicippio and Noelia Gonzalez. Nicole and Noelia will attend the conference, and help Professor Wilson—the Editor-in-Chief of Literary Matters—with the journal and run the ALSCW office.
All my very best,
David M. O'Connell Professor of English
Executive Director, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers
Chair, Department of English