Williams College English Department

For department news and info about upcoming events, see (better yet, follow) our Instagram account.

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

We are excited to announce that we'll be conducting a search this year for a scholar who specializes in postcolonial literatures. Please share this news with anyone who you think might be interested. Full job ad (including application instructions) can be found at the Interfolio link in our bio.

Application Deadline: October 15

Position Description:

The English Department at Williams College invites applications for a tenure-track or tenured position in Postcolonial Literatures, to begin Fall 2022. Teaching responsibilities include a 2-2 workload with a Winter Study term every other January. Candidates should be prepared to teach a range of introductory courses, as well as courses in their area of specialization.

Williams is an institution that places a high value on undergraduate teaching; consequently, we seek applicants who can demonstrate in their supporting materials a capacity for excellent teaching and a commitment to working effectively with a student population that is broadly diverse with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.

This is an open-rank search, so candidates at all levels are warmly invited to apply. Candidates should have their Ph.D. or dissertation completed by the beginning of the appointment.

Hey everyone, Franny Choi has a new poem out in @theatlantic! Link to the full poem in our bio.

Here's how it begins:

and I’m thinking of the years I spent sweating
to the choreo of every K-pop song with a decent
dance break, me and the other girls from church,
practically saintly in our diligence as we
rehearsed our isolations and body rolls, winding
and rewinding the tapes, our noses almost
grazing the screen, though in truth I only understood
maybe about half the words, the other half
mostly sounds, which nevertheless sank
into my muscles, pathways laid by so many
hours of industrious mouthing that now,
when humming idly some stupid tune
at the sink, I’ll realize for the first time ever
what! that line meant (though of course
pop everywhere’s a language so reliable
it’s nearly nothing, _baby let me know_ and
_I need you in my arms_ on babbling loop
through the ages), and I’m thinking, too,
about how this, my first love of losing myself in
the scaffolds and percussives of an unparsed lyric,
doomed me for life to never be able to hear,
actually hear, the words to any songs, even
in English, even my favorites, like Jamila’s,
which I put on when I’m adrift and sunken and just need
to feel at home in something—

In today's NYTimes, acclaimed writer and scholar Viet Thanh Nguyen offers the following "advice for artists whose parents want them to be engineers" (link to full op-ed in bio):

When I give lectures on college campuses, the most difficult question I am asked is this: “I want to pursue my dream, but my parents want me to do something different. What should I do?”

I can relate. What would have made me happy as a young person was to be a writer and study literature. What would have made my parents happy was for me to become a doctor like my brother, who went to Harvard and Stanford. How could I come home to my refugee parents, who worked seven days a week in their grocery store, and tell them that I wanted to read Jane Austen and the Romantic poets, and major in English, a language they didn’t speak in their own home?

Position: 2-year Visiting Faculty Fellow to start 1/1/22 (position description below)

Application deadline: 9/10/21

Full job ad at Interfolio (use link in bio)

DESCRIPTION: Williams College invites applications for a two-year visiting faculty fellow in the arts, humanities, or humanistic social sciences, beginning January 1, 2022. We welcome applications from candidates who completed their Ph.D. or MFA within the last couple of years or who will have the Ph.D. or MFA in hand by the start date of the appointment.

The position requires vision, initiative, and a desire to join our vibrant community of scholars, practitioners, and activists who are part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded “Just Futures” project, Reimagining New England Histories: Historical Injustice, Sovereignty, and Freedom. This collaborative, interdisciplinary, public humanities project endeavors to reshape the ways young people, communities, scholars, and college students understand the history and present-day of New England. The project aims to use the sea as one lens to grapple with intertwined histories of Indigenous and African-American people and experiences in the Northeast, and the closely related impacts of colonization and enslavement that have so deeply affected multiple communities. Equally important, the project foregrounds the continuous work Black communities and sovereign Native nations and tribes have undertaken to maintain freedom, self-determination, and cultural thriving in this region. The project is a collaboration between Brown University and its Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), Williams College (including the Williams-Mystic Program), and the Mystic Seaport Museum. The visiting faculty fellow selected for this position would be located at Williams College or Williams-Mystic, with many opportunities for working both in Williamstown, MA, and in Mystic, CT.

Please see our ad on Interfolio (link in bio) for complete information about this position and search.

Inquiries should be sent to [email protected]

Repost from @poetryisnotaluxury

Strawberry Moon by Franny Choi

From Soft Science Poems
@alicejamesbooks 2019

We’re thrilled to announce that Aamir Mufti has just been named the Margaret Bundy Scott Professor of English for the fall term (click link in bio for more about him). A specialist in postcolonial studies, he'll teach a seminar that is just now being added to the catalog. If you’d like to take it, please email Pat Malanga (at pmalanga) ASAP.

ENGL 352: Global Migration: Humanities Perspectives (Weds 1:10-3:50pm)

This course concerns one of the most profound political, social, and cultural issues of our times, the phenomenon of mass migration, the movement of masses of people out of their countries and places of origin and sometimes across continents and oceans. It is a fundamentally contradictory reality: on the one hand, the political, economic, and now even climactic realities of countries and regions across the world objectively produce pressures for the movement of populations; on the other, these very same conditions block the possibility of safe and regularized movement. Migrants and refugees can be routinely denied the most basic rights—to safety, shelter, food and healthcare, let alone access to the law or political representation. The research on this phenomenon has taken place mostly in the social sciences. The purpose of this course is to introduce a different perspective on, and therefore different types of questions about, the phenomenon of global mass migration and the forms of displacement contained within it. It is based in the methods of the literary humanities and will look at some key works from across disciplines and media—literature, anthropology, philosophy, theory, film—to help us understand the history and forms of migrancy in the modern world. We will look at a variety of migrant experience, from “economic” migrant to stateless refugee, and consider how these figures relate to the canonical figure of modern liberal politics, the native-born citizen. We will also look at the institution of the international border and the way it is represented in different cultural genres and experienced by different populations. Our discussions will focus on works by, among others, Conrad, Manto, Arendt, Said, Kanafani, Rushdie, and Sebald.

Dear incoming first-year Williams students, we're excited to welcome you to campus in the fall! With first-year pre-registration coming up soon (June 21-25), we thought some of you might have questions about the English Department, our courses, and the major. The chair of the department, Bernie Rhie, will be hosting an info session on Monday June 21 to answer any questions you might have (feel free to bring your worries and anxieties as well! you must have some, right? they're welcome too). Bernie will be available on Zoom (link in our bio) from 8-9pm Eastern Time. Feel free to drop in anytime during that hour, and to stay for however long you like.

BTW, if you are an incoming first-year and know other incoming students who may not be following this account, please do us a favor and share this post with them. We want to get the word out to as many incoming students as possible.

Bernie is looking forward to meeting some of you at this session!

In the meantime, here's an important note about the English Department's 100-levels:

We're offering an exciting selection of 100-level seminars this fall, and we would love to have many first-year students take them. However, we also want to encourage incoming first-year students to look beyond our 100-level offerings (even those who may not have scored a 5 on the AP Lit exam or received a 6 or 7 on the IB exam, the traditional ways students bypass our 100-level requirement). The AP and IB systems have been badly disrupted during the pandemic, and so those scores are not nearly as meaningful this year as they have been in the past (and some of us in the department have our doubts about how meaningful they ever are). We don’t feel it’s right, this year in particular, to use them as a definitive measure of whether a first-year student is prepared for upper level course work in English. So, we encourage incoming first-year students to look beyond our 100-level courses. If an upper-level English course catches your eye, please reach out to the professor who is teaching that class. We would love to have you in our classes, and we intend to be welcoming and supportive to those who reach out.