Williams College English Department

English majors study our many-sided attempts to come to grips with the world in language and story. To find out more click here.

For more information about the coming year, please see our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Page.

2020 has been a year of losses -- of life, foremost, but also loss of contact, loss of the routines that shape our days. Please join us Wednesday 10/21 at 7:00 p.m. for "The Art of Losing," a Zoom event in which English Department faculty members Bethany Hicok, Rowan Phillips and Emily Vasiliauskas explore their professional and personal relations to literature in this moment of dislocation and grief. Short presentations will be followed by a conversation among the panelists that will include questions and comments from listeners. Refreshments, alas, will not be served.

Tap link in bio for Zoom link.

We invite you to read Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” from which we’ve borrowed the title of our event (tap link in bio).

BETHANY HICOK is Lecturer in English, Williams College; Author of Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil and Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955; Editor of Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive; and co-editor of Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions; Recipient of a 2017 NEH grant to lead a summer seminar for college and university professors on Elizabeth Bishop and the Archive at Vassar College.

ROWAN RICARDO PHILLIPS is a multi-award-winning poet, author, screenwriter, academic, translator, and journalist. His writing appears in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other national and international publications. Rowan Ricardo Phillips has been awarded the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Whiting Award, and the GLCA New Writers Award.

EMILY VASILIAUSKAS is an Assistant Professor of English at Williams College who works on early modern literature and culture. Her writing has been published in ELH, Studies in Philology, The Cambridge Quarterly, and other venues. Her book manuscript, The Skull in the Mirror: Aesthetics in the Age of Shakespeare, is under review at Oxford University Press.

Sponsored by the Class of 1960s Scholars Fund and the English Department.
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When Franny Choi isn't organizing incredible happenings like the upcoming "Dreaming Black Trans Futures" Brew & Forge event (Oct. 28!), she's writing amazing stuff like her latest piece, an essay in THE RUMPUS called "Racism is a Reboot: Binging Battlestar Galactica at the End of a World." Check it out at the link in our bio. Here's how it begins:

I knew Boomer before I knew Boomer, if you know what I mean. I’m talking about the character played by Korean Canadian actress Grace Park on the critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica reboot of the early aughts. I didn’t watch the show when it first aired, but I’d heard about some of the controversy around the choice to cast Boomer, who is secretly a robot (a Cylon, in the show’s parlance) as Asian. That might have been part of the reason I didn’t watch the show for years, though friend after friend recommended it to me. I couldn’t imagine what I might learn from it that I hadn’t already seen in every other iteration of the “is she a sexy robot, or just Asian?” storyline. Still, I knew I ought to try to get past the first two episodes, as tiresome as it all seemed.

As luck would have it, Syfy.com made the show available to stream for free at the end of March—just a few weeks after the stay-at-home orders came down. Since we were locked in our apartment with little else to do, I was effectively out of excuses. And so my partner and I spent the early days of the pandemic marathoning Battlestar Galactica. As our timelines filled with people excitedly using the word “apocalypse,” we watched the last human survivors flee a nuclear holocaust into space. We watched death tolls around the world rise, while, on President Roslin’s white board, the survivor count steadily ticked down. In New York, corpses were hauled into a refrigerated truck. Meanwhile, in a distant future-past, the terrible blankness of space loomed—all alien and deeply familiar at once.
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Excited to help spread the word about this wonderful event (tap link in bio for Zoom link):

Envisioning Just Worlds: A Conversation on Emergent Strategy with adrienne maree brown

Tuesday, October 20, 1:45pm-3:30pm EST

We invite you to a dialogue between visionary writer and activist adrienne maree brown and Williams students on her book Emergent Strategy. The world experiences constant change; in this conversation, we will explore how to map, understand, and influence this change and how adapting to it underscores leadership, organizing, and the building of a more just future in the Williams context and beyond.

Co-sponsored by: Zilkha Center, Davis Center, Root EphVenture, Latinx Studies, Lecture Committee, Gaudino Fund, Religion, Center for Learning in Action, English, Geosciences, Africana Studies, Center for Environmental Studies, Biology, Chaplains' Office
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In case you missed it, here's the full video of tonight's wonderful event with Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of SABRINA & CORINA, National Book Award Finalist in 2019 and winner of the American Book Award in 2020. Tap link in bio to watch on YouTube.

The event began with a reading by Fajardo-Anstine from her acclaimed book, followed by a conversation with Jim Shepard about the craft of writing and the short story form, and ended with an audience Q&A. Thanks to those of you who attended, and for those of you who are watching later, enjoy! And a huge thanks to @kalimaja for spending the evening with us. Kali, we look forward to welcoming you to Williams and Williamstown in person sometime in the future.
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Repost from @nobelprize_org

BREAKING NEWS
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”

Louise Glück was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apart from her writing she is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. She made her debut in 1968 with ‘Firstborn’, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has received several prestigious awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the National Book Award (2014).

Louise Glück has published twelve collections of poetry and some volumes of essays on poetry. All are characterized by a striving for clarity. Childhood and family life, the close relationship with parents and siblings, is a thematic that has remained central with her. In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self. But even if Glück would never deny the significance of the autobiographical background, she is not to be regarded as a confessional poet. Glück seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice – the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed – are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.

With collections like ‘The Triumph of Achilles’ (1985) and ‘Ararat’ (1990) Glück found a growing audience in USA and abroad. In ‘Ararat’ three characteristics unite to subsequently recur in her writing: the topic of family life; austere intelligence; and a refined sense of composition that marks the book as a whole. Glück has also pointed out that in these poems she realized how to employ ordinary diction in her poetry. The deceptively natural tone is striking. We encounter almost brutally straightforward images of painful family relations. It is candid and uncompromising, with no trace of poetic ornament.

For more information see link in bio.

#NobelPrize #NobelPrize2020 #lit
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Former Williams English Department Professor Louise Gluck has won the Nobel Prize ...

Today! 5 pm, Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Jessica Fisher in conversation, Oakley Center. email [email protected] for zoom link ...