Letter from the Department Head

Dorsey ArmstrongDear Alumni, Friends, and Supporters of English,

After a year as interim head of the English Department, I am pleased and honored to have been recently appointed permanent head for a five-year term. I feel excited and privileged at the prospect of helping to guide the department forward through the next few years, and I am deeply grateful to all my colleagues who have offered me support, advice, and good cheer—I’ll be counting on you for the next half decade!

As you will see in the entries that follow, exciting things continue to happen in the English Department here at Purdue. We have just confirmed that our incoming class of English majors will be the largest we have enrolled since 2011; this year, 59 first-year students accepted our offer of admittance to our various programs. Credit for enhancing our recruitment strategies goes to Professor Derek Pacheco, our Director of Undergraduate Studies; with the help of several dedicated faculty members, he has boosted the department’s visibility by launching a number of initiatives that facilitate outreach to potential students, including the creation of several internships for undergraduates who are interested in academic publishing, literary event planning, and more!

Under the direction of Professor Bradley Dilger, the Introductory Composition Program at Purdue (ICAP) continues to offer an engaging and rigorous writing-intensive experience to students throughout the university. Of particular note is the success of the online version of the course, which has helped us more than triple our summer 2018 enrollment compared to last year; two varieties of this course will be offered in the fall, offering students a variety of options by means of which they may complete their first-year writing requirement.

We have maintained and enhanced our support of writing education and best practices—on campus and around the world—through the Writing Lab and the OWL (Online Writing Lab). The Writing Lab set new records this year with 5,710 appointments with students  (up 11% from last year and up 42% from 2005), and the OWL continues to have ever-greater usage with over 515 million page views over the year. We are particularly proud that all information on the OWL is available to the public for free (most online writing guides charge a fee) and that we remain one of  the top authoritative sources on best writing practices in English in the world.

At the graduate level, our students continue to win a number of important grants, fellowships, and other honors—including prestigious national awards—and are achieving significant success in a difficult job market. In our ongoing effort to restructure our MA and Ph.D programs in order to ensure our graduate students enter the job market from a position of strength, we have recently launched the Literature, Theory, Cultural Studies (LTC) program. Our first class of students for this new program will be matriculating in Fall 2018.

As you will see as you peruse the rest of the newsletter, the achievements of our faculty are similarly impressive; we promoted four faculty from Associate to Full Professor and one from Assistant to Associate, the largest number of any department in the College of Liberal Arts. In the last year, members of our department have won numerous teaching awards, published field-changing books and articles, and have contributed to reshaping English studies through a number of online initiatives and non-traditional approaches, like blogs. We are delighted to welcome award-winning poet Kaveh Akbar as a new faculty member and to have New York Times best-selling author Terese Mailhot join us as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Perhaps even more exciting is the news that Professor Roxane Gay has been named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2018.

And last but CERTAINLY not least: the English Bowling Team finished in 6th place year, our highest placing in several years.

Wishing you all a restful summer—just 99 days until the fall semester begins!

Dorsey Armstrong


The Department

"In the News"

"Purdue's Roxane Gay, best-selling author, awarded Guggenheim Fellowship," by Dave Bangert, Journal & Courier, April 5, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Terese Mailhot makes best-seller list, second Purdue author to do it in past year," by Dave Bangert, Journal & Courier, March 23, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Station Eleven author to speak at Purdue Literary Awards," by Kelsey Schnieders Lefever, Purdue University News, March 19, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Purdue medical humanities event to feature award-winning poet Marianne Boruch reading, dance performances, visual art," Purdue University News, February 28, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Top Ten Best Schools for English Majors," by Rachel Aldrich, College Magazine, February 16, 2018.  Our department is ranked #3.  Read the story here.

"2/15/18 Books and Coffee Presentation - Week 3," featured in The Purdue Exponent, February 16, 2018.  Read the story here.

"A Road to Books, Coffee, and Cormac McCarthy," by Helen Coats, The Purdue Exponent, February 12, 2018.  Read the story here.

"68th annual Books and Coffee kicks off with next year's Big Read novel," by Alisa Reynya, The Purdue Exponent, February 2, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Books and Coffee series exploring science fiction and dystopian literature," by Olivia Crouse, Purdue University News, February 1, 2018.  Read the story here.

"Partnering with Dawn or Doom benefits campus units, expands conference offerings," by Dave Stephens, Information Technology at Purdue, October 20, 2017.  Read the story here.

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