Friday, September 28, 2012

A Note from the Chair

If you are a close reader of this blog, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve been posting an awful lot lately.  I suppose it is time to finally come out of the closet: I am indeed the new chair of the English Department at the George Washington University.  I have been happy to be part of this department for the past fifteen years.  I started as an assistant professor on a contract position in 1997 and started, again, as a tenure-line assistant professor in 2002.  Ten years later, now as a full professor and chair of the department, I’m extremely proud of how we have developed.  We have such amazing undergraduate students (including, this year, both Luther Rice and George Gamow fellows); a thriving graduate program with students focused on American Literature and Culture, British/Postcolonial Studies, or Medieval and Early Modern Studies; and some of the best teachers and most renowned scholars and creative writers at the university.

You’ll find lots of great news about the ins and outs of the department on this blog; as usual, we plan to spotlight the achievements of members of the community at every level.  Watch this space, for instance, for news about the diaspora cultures of Afro-Cuban America; the intersections of disability and medieval studies; Tony Kushner’s work on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America and participation with AIDS activists in the early 1990s; or ethnic belonging, violence, diaspora, and coupledom in South Asia.  Watch this space, as well, to learn more about our connections to the Africana Studies major or the LGBT Studies minor and about our collaborations with a range of other programs, including American Studies, Women’s Studies, and the University Honors Program.

Tonight we’re happy to be kicking off J. Jack Halberstam’s mini-residency with a book launch at Busboys and Poets K Street; find out more about the events connected to Halberstam’s visit here.  The generous donation to the department from the Albert Wang family has helped to make this and other events over the past few years possible.  We very much hope that others, alums or interested friends of literary and cultural studies, will consider -- now or at sometime in the future -- making a contribution. We very much rely upon the generosity of our benefactors to be able to grow our cultural and academic activities.

All gifts made to the department directly benefit its scholarly and pedagogical missions. Through funding such as yours our faculty are able to travel to conferences and present their research; to use archives in the United States and abroad; to bring new and innovative ideas into the classroom. In addition to the Wang fund, past donations or endowments have made possible the ongoing and extremely prestigious Jenny McKean MooreWriter-in-Washington; have provided our undergraduates with prizes that reward excellence in scholarship and creative writing; and have enabled research and writing for both our graduate students and faculty.

I urge you to consider using the CONTRIBUTE link at right, and designating your gift to the Department of English. We are in the midst of our Academic Program Review (a process that happens about every five years); what that means is that we’ll be thinking very carefully about where we are at right now and what our needs will be for the future.  We plan on communicating to you our hopes for building the department in the future as we go through this process of self-analysis over the next several months.  I thank you in advance for your generosity.

To all our alums especially: we are so very proud of you.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  And please stop by and see me in the main office of the department! 

Yours truly,
Robert McRuer
Professor and Chair

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Hello from Dr. Matt Fullerty

Our very own Dr. Matt Fullerty (English Ph.D. 2008) has begun a new tenure-track position at Chowan University in North Carolina teaching Creative Writing (fiction and poetry) and Composition. In spring 2013 he will teach English and American literature as well as an upper-level fiction class. GW students do not fear; Dr. Fullerty continues to teach at GW -- writing skills, in the evenings, and online -- for the Police Science B.A. in the College of Professional Studies, working with Commander Andrew Solberg, Police Commander of DC's Fifth District. 

Chowan University is a small liberal arts college founded in 1848 in Murfreesboro, NC, a tiny town just 10 miles over the Virginia border. Dr. Fullerty writes: "So far I've settled very well, and am enjoying being part of a small community down here. As an ex-pat Brit, I haven't managed to start drinking sweet tea just yet, but I can always learn! North Carolina is a beautiful state, and the campus is very picturesque. The town of Murfreesboro is about a 90 minutes drive west of Virginia Beach and is known for its watermelon festival and as a bird sanctuary. It's the perfect place to write my third novel, a science-fiction book called The Necklace." Make sure to check out the Chowan English Department's faculty webpage.

Dr. Fullerty will become a US citizen in spring 2013, after ten years stateside. You can contact him through his website []. 

Congratulations Professor Fullerty! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Photos of Watergate Unveiled

Most readers of this blog know that the GW English Department has been off to a great start this semester, with a range of successful events.  If you follow us on Facebook (and if you don't, you should!--check out how easy it is with the button on the right side of this page), you also saw some of the photos from Tom Mallon's discussion of Watergate: A Novel on September 12.

The GW Office of Alumni Relations hosted this event, and their photos of the evening are available here:

The gathering was at the Alumni House in Foggy Bottom, and was attended by more than 30 alumni and friends.  Dean Peg Barratt and GW English Department Chair Robert McRuer introduced Professor Mallon, who provided extensive insight into his selection of characters for Watergate: A Novel, as well as his perspective on writing historical fiction.  The event was a great opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of our faculty to both the English and GW alumni community.  The discussion was preceded by a reception and included a book signing.

Enjoy the pictures, join us for all the great events coming up, and don't forget to pick up Professor Mallon's novel in paperback, when it is released this coming January!

Friday, September 14, 2012

GW English Department Claims Two Luther Rice Undergraduate Fellows: Julie Dreyfuss and Jimi Patalano

The English Department is proud to announce that two of our students, Julie Dreyfuss and Jimi Patalano, have received Luther Rice Undergraduate Fellowships for the 2012-2013 school year. The Luther Rice Collaborative Fellowship grants $5,000 to each student to conduct undergraduate research in a special area of interest under the guidance of a faculty member who receives an additional $1,000 for the joint endeavor.
Julie Dreyfuss

Julie Dreyfuss conducted a research trip in the UK focusing on the scientific and sociohistorical background of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" for her project. Her trip included many highlights such as  meeting with Dr. Louise Devoy (curator of the British Museum's Enlightenment exhibition) at the British Museum to discuss early modern objects associated with early modern scientist (some say "conjurer") John Dee. Julie was able to consult Dee's correspondences and Elizabethan court connections at the British Library. At the Science Museum and the Museum of London she explored aspects of the complex relationship between what we would now call early modern "occult" science and religion. Her trip culminated in a viewing of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "The Tempest" at Camden. She intends to build upon these research experiences in the fall as a member of the GW-Folger Undergraduate Research Seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library and a student in the English Honors Program. Julie will be working with Professor Jonathan Hsy.
Jimi Patalano

Jimi Patalano grew up in Winchester, MA just outside of Boston, and graduated with honors from Winchester High School. Some of the English classes he has enjoyed at GW include "Freud, Shakespeare & Dostoyevsky" and "Ecocriticism."  His research builds on a project begun in his "Critical Methodologies" class, examining representations of schizophrenia and of treatment of schizophrenia in the context of neoliberalism.  This summer he spent 20 days in Ghana working as a volunteer for the nonprofit Unite For Sight. Jimi assisted local eye clinics to deliverer high-quality eye care to those living in poverty and in remote areas of the country. Be sure to check out his photoblog from Ghana and drop in on his "Random Thoughts" Blog. Jimi will be working with Professor Robert McRuer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Samantha Yakas: New Communications Liaison

The English Department is happy to announce that English Major Samantha Yakas has joined us as the new Communications Liaison for the 2012-2013 school year.  The Communications Liaison helps us with all of our social media, including this blog (watch for Samantha's posts), our Facebook page, and Twitter.

Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter at @gwengl

Samantha is pursuing her BA at GW in English and Women Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice and Daddy's Little Girl.  One day she hopes to write her own novel, but for now she is enjoying her fiction classes and is very excited to work with Professor Faye Moskowitz on the Jewish Literature Live program for the spring, in addition to her work here as Communications Liaison.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Professor J. Jack Halberstam in Residence at GW as Wang Distinguished Professor

Photo by Assaf Evron

From September 28-October 4, GW's English Department is pleased to host Professor J. Jack Halberstam as this year's Wang Distinguised Professor-in-Residence.  Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California.  He is the author of five books, including In a Queer Time and Place (2005), The Queer Art of Failure (2010), and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal, which is due out this month.   Gaga Feminism  examines the public persona of pop icon Lady Gaga and, through analyses of Gaga's gender-bending performances, reflects on the myriad ways that sex and gender have rapidly evolved over the past few decades.  "Using Lady Gaga as a symbol for a new era," publisher Beacon Press explains, "Halberstam deftly unpacks what the pop superstar symbolizes, to whom and why.  The result is a provocative manifesto of creative mayhem, a roadmap to sex and gender for the twenty-first century, that holds Lady Gaga as an exemplar of a new kind of feminism that privileges gender and sexual fluidity."

The first event connected to Halberstam's GW visit (full schedule below) will be a book launch for Gaga Feminism.

This visiting residency was created through a gift by Albert Wang and his family that has, since 2009, supported professors such as Edward P. Jones (now a member of the GW English Department) and José Esteban Muñoz.  The gift from the Wang family is one of the largest philanthropic commitments to GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences' Department of English.

Halberstam Residency Schedule of Events

Book Launch.  Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal

Free and open to the public.  Books will be available for purchase.

Friday, September 28, 6.30-8 PM, Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street NW (at the corner of 5th and K Streets NW)

Seminar for Students and Faculty with Professor Halberstam

This seminar is filled to capacity and now closed.  To be placed on a waiting list, please contact Robert McRuer at

Monday, October 1, 6.30-8.30 PM, Rome Hall 771

GW Distinguished Lecture in Literary and Cultural Studies.  "Going Gaga: Spectacle and the Politics of Protest"

Free and open to the public.  Made possible by the Wang fund.

Wednesday, October 3, 4-6 PM, Marvin Center 309.  The Marvin Center is located on GW's campus at 800 21st Street NW

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Join Professor Chu's Asian American Literature course!

English 3960-10 (36721) Asian American Literature
  MW 12:45-2 p.m.

Course Description:

This course complicates received ideas of “America” as a nation of blacks and whites by examining the writing of Americans of Asian descent.  Our readings will examine what Asian American and Asian global writers have to say about growing up in Chinatown in the shadow of the Chinese Exclusion acts; Japanese imperialism and the internment of Japanese Americans; the bounds of assimilation and political representation for Korean Americans; and the costs and attractions of transnational migration and “flexible citizenship” in India, Pakistan, England, Hong Kong, and New York.

            Asian Americans must tell their stories in dialogue with established discourses: from news and history to film and the genres of the bildungsroman and autobiography.  We’ll read these coming-of-age stories and the competing and overlapping community stories interwoven with them, asking not only what it takes to “make a man” or a woman, but how authors tell their stories within a field of ideologically charged discourses.

            English majors:  the course can be used to fulfilll a 20th century or minority/postcolonial requirement.  With special permission, it can be used to meet a theory/culture studies requirement.

            For more information, contact Prof. Chu: