Message From the Chair

Ablow, Rachel - Dept. Chair.

Dear alumni, parents, students, and friends

This has been a difficult year for all of us in the English department, as I’m sure it has been for most of you as well. Some of us have lost family or friends. All of us have lost some sense of security in the world. We now greet each other through masks or Zoom. We see our students in their childhood bedrooms or kitchens, or against fantasy backdrops of rainbows and waterfalls.

In the context of so much insecurity, our work as educators, writers, and scholars is more important than ever: many of us feel that over the past few years we have seen the objects of our work—literature, media, history, language—become tools of distortion. We use the same words, but with different meanings: democracy, justice, disease, danger.   

We will get through this together, but we will be changed by the experience. Cracks in the foundations have become apparent, and we are trying to respond both in and outside of our classrooms. As one small example of that response, please see our department website, which now features a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, a Land Acknowledgment, and a statement of our commitment to the value of diversity: . We see these statements as a way to support our faculty, staff, and students, as well as to express our shared commitment to social, racial, and economic justice.

In the midst of confusion, good things continue to happen. Books are published: congratulations to Diane Christian, Joseph Conte, Kenneth Dauber, Myung Mi Kim, Carine Mardorossian, and Joseph Valente. Awards are won: last spring Diane Christian and Ken Dauber were recognized for 50 years of service to UB; Professor Myung Mi Kim has just been awarded the Graduate Mentoring Award for 2020-2021; William Solomon was awarded the Graduate Mentoring Award for 2019-2020 and also won the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship award; Steven Miller won an award as Principal Investigator from the Baldy Research Institute. Our faculty have also won fellowships: see our coverage of Walt Hakala, Jeehyun Lim, Randy Schiff, and Tanya Shilina-Conte.

We are especially proud of our students who continue to achieve amazing things even under these dreadful conditions. Awards and achievements by Nicole Lowman, Andrew Dorkin, Amanda McLaughlin, Dipanjan Maitra, Adam Mitts, Dana Venerable, and Kinga Winnicka, and all these exciting developments elsewhere in this newsletter.

I look forward to writing a different kind of message next fall. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, and stay in touch: we love hearing from you.

Best regards,
Rachel Ablow

Professor and Chair