Message from the Chair

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to share the UC Davis English Department newsletter for 2021–22, a long, strange year for us all. It was a pleasure to return to Voorhies Hall in the fall and begin to see colleagues and students in person again. Despite some ups and downs (the stop-and-start winter quarter being a particularly difficult stretch), it has lifted our spirits to start to re-engage with our community face to face.  

In addition to news of what all of you have been up to–publications, prizes, activities of diverse and exciting sorts!—you will find below news of several important transitions. This has, very sadly for us, been our last year with two beloved colleagues, Professor Parama Roy and our Undergraduate Counselor Lynda Jones, both of whom are moving into a well-earned retirement. They will be greatly missed but you can read some of their plans for post-Voorhies life in “Career Transitions,” and we hope they will return to visit us. More permanent losses were the deaths of Emeritus Professors Jerry Murphy and Peter Hays, both longtime mainstays of the department, whom we remember fondly here. 

Looking forward, we are excited to be welcoming Professor Maceo Montoya, of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, as a half-time professor in our department beginning this fall. A successful search in Global Black Literatures will also be bringing us two brand-new colleagues, Akua Banful and Xavier Lee, to whom I look forward to introducing you next year–the parting gift of Parama Roy, who chaired the search committee.

The department and the campus have also been enriched by the advent of a new Designated Emphasis in Environmental Humanities for graduate students, which will recognize and further the extraordinary work being done in this area by graduate students and faculty alike. You can learn more about its genesis and implementation from our interview with Professor Elizabeth Miller.

One further piece of good news for our department was the inauguration of the Deirdre Hackett Endowment for Experiential Learning, which will provide funds for graduate and undergraduate students to pursue opportunities beyond the classroom and even beyond the campus. We are very grateful to Matt Hackett for this tremendous gift, given in memory of his mother, a proud alumna of our department. 

Final thanks to PhD student Kristin George Bagdanov, for organizing and writing the features you see below, and for her impeccable organization, and as always to Kevin Bryant, who makes sure all the links work and that our newsletter finds its way to the website. 

I’m grateful to conclude my first year as chair teaching a wonderful class of English majors in person, seeing my colleagues and our students for “courtyard coffee” once a week, and working with our always amazing staff, without whom nothing could be done. I hope to be seeing more of all of you in 2022–23.

With all very best wishes,

Claire Waters