Welcome from the Chair

Welcome back to FAU! We are all excited for a great 17-18 school year, with plenty of reading, writing, and discussion in your English classes.

Last year was full of excitement and changes, and this year promises to give us more of the same.  As I do each year, I would like to congratulate our graduates and award winners, listed in this newsletter.  This past year, we were thrilled to welcome Justin Torres, author of the novel We The Animals, as our Lawrence A. Sanders Writer in Residence.  We also welcomed Pawel Frelik, from Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Poland as a Visiting Scholar in Spring 17.  He taught a graduate and undergraduate course in his specialization of Science Fiction, and gave a talk on his ongoing research on the influence of digital culture on science fiction literature.  We also hosted readings by poets, novelists, and memoirists, including FAU MFA alumna Victoria Fedden, Rebecca Makkai, Jensen Beach, Betsy Lerner, and Rodrigo Toscano. These authors read from a wide variety of works and experiences, including death and divorce in Sweden, parents in prison, and love affairs with deceased composers.  The assembled audiences could not help but enjoy all of the above.  Another successful year was also completed in our Honors program in reading and literary criticism. For the second year in a row, Honors students were able to present their work in a public forum, receiving feedback and applause.  As we look forward to the upcoming year, we are thrilled to welcome seven (count ‘em!) new tenure-line faculty members and a new Instructor: Stacey Balkan, Stacy Lettman, Devin Garofalo, Ian Macdonald, R.J. Boutelle, José de la Garza Valenzuela, Ashvin Kini, and (Instructor) J. Andrew Gothard. Recent Visiting Instructors, Stephanie Anderson, Justin Waldron, and James AH White have now been made full-time Instructors, and Visiting Instructors Kimberly Grabenhorst, Nico Cassanetti, and Matt Parker return in that role.  We are also thrilled to welcome Diana Burgos (graduate of our MFA program) as our departmental undergraduate advisor.  Details about all of these newcomers are in the pages that follow. This year, we welcome back Prof. Dan Murtaugh from his full-year sabbatical, just as we wave (a brief) farewell to Prof. Don Adams, who has procured a year-long Fulbright scholarship to teach and write in Bangalore, India and (more permanent) farewells to Profs. Mark Scroggins, Jennifer Low, and Steve Blakemore, all of whom have chosen to retire after long and illustrious careers. They will be missed!   Likewise, while Profs. Adam Bradford and Julieann Ulin have completed their one semester sabbaticals and return to FAU with newly acquired research and wisdom, we wish good luck and good times to Profs. Becka McKay and Kate Schmitt who have been awarded one semester sabbaticals to work on their poetry.  Congratulations to them for winning these competitive awards!  Likewise, as we bid a partial farewell to Prof. Adam Bradford, who ascends the administrative ladder to become an Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, we welcome Prof. Emily Stockard as our new Associate Chair. We also look forward to this year’s “Off the Page” Creative Writing series, which will include visits by the memoirist/poet/fiction writers Carole Maso and Ira Sukrungruang, poet Adrian Matejka, fiction/nonfiction writer Deb Olin Unferth, and literary agent Jennifer Lyons.  In addition to a public reading, memoirist/novelist Paul Lisicky, our Lawrence Sanders Writer in Residence, will teach a week-long course to our graduate students at the end of February 2018.   While last year saw the debut of our national literary journal, The Swamp Ape Review (www.swampapereview.com), in online format, this year we have been awarded a $10,000 grant to produce our first hard-copy issue.  Meanwhile, Coastlines will continue to showcase the work of our undergraduates.  Additional events will be posted on our departmental website (www.fau.edu/english). Please pay close attention to the site as we head into a thrilling new year!

Eric Berlatsky
Professor and Department Chair