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.

The Journal of the History of Idea's blog has just published part one of an interview with Prof. Anjuli Raza Kolb about her new book, EPIDEMIC EMPIRE. Tap link in bio to access it. ...

*** GOOD NEWS! *** We're thrilled to announce that Assistant Professor of English Ricardo Wilson has just been named the winner of the 2020 PANK Magazine Book Contest Winner in the Fiction category. His prize-winning manuscript, AN APPARENT HORIZON AND OTHER STORIES, will be published this spring. Congratulations, Ricardo!

About PANK: Founded in 2006 by M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay, PANK Magazine is a literary magazine fostering access to innovative poetry and prose, publishing the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers. Up country, to the end of the road, to a far shore and the edge of things, to a place of amalgamation and unplumbed depths, a place inhabited by contradiction, quirk and startling anomaly, where the known is made and unmade, and where unimagined futures are born, PANK. [Click link in bio to visit PANK's website]

** Save the date! ** All are warmly invited to a poetry reading by the wonderful Franny Choi, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in the English Department. The reading will take place on Zoom, Thursday March 18, 7:30-8:30pm EST. The Zoom link will be posted closer to the date as part of a reminder notice (check back here). Just put the event on your calendars now. You won't want to miss it! For more about Franny and her work, visit her website at frannychoi.com (or check out her page at the Poetry Foundation; link in bio). ...

** HAPPY NEWS ** We are thrilled to announce that a major (indeed, monumental!) scholarly project that our colleague Steve Fix has been working on for years has come to fruition! Just last week, Yale University Press published the Yale Edition of SAMUEL JOHNSON: SELECTED WORKS, with Prof. Fix as one of the three co-editors (along with Robert DeMaria and Howard Weinbrot).

This meticulously edited and annotated edition is being hailed by scholars of 18th Century British literature as “a crowning achievement,” “an essential and judicious selection of Johnson’s writings”: “the ideal collection for the 21st century of works by the 18th century’s most inspiring author.”

It is, most importantly, the fruit of many years of tireless labor by one our beloved colleagues, a beloved teacher as well. Please join us in congratulating Steve on this wonderful achievement.

To visit the publisher's webpage for this text, click link in bio.

[From Prof. Ezra Feldman; he'll be at the open house tomorrow on 1/5 if you want to ask him about this class!]

This Spring I’ll be teaching ENGL 158, "Expository Writing: Contemporary Linked Stories." In this writing intensive course, we will investigate the magic and meaning of stories that both stand alone and also resonate powerfully with one another, sharing themes, settings, and even characters. Writing assignments will include letters in characters' voices, letters among classmates, and analytical essays about Alice Munro's Juliet stories, Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, and Helen Oyeyemi's What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. We will devote substantial class time to discussing the writing process, from generating questions and ideas to composing the sentences and paragraphs that articulate them elegantly and accurately.

** Another event for your calendars! **

You are warmly invited to an English Department sponsored reading by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Phillips, the Margaret Bundy Scott Professor of English for 2020-21, is an award-winning poet, author, screenwriter, academic, translator, and journalist, and he will read from both his poetry and prose at this event. The event will take place on Zoom (tap link in bio) Thursday March 4, 7-8pm ET. All are welcome!

About Phillips:

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.

The author of three books of poetry, a book of literary criticism, a non-fiction book on tennis, and a book-length translation of fiction, 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. He has also been a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize, the National Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Also an acclaimed sportswriter, Rowan's writing on basketball has been collected by The Library of America, his soccer writing has been acclaimed by BBC commentary and English soccer legend Gary Lineker, and his award-winning writing on tennis has achieved widespread international recognition.

Rowan has written the screenplay for Legendary’s biopic on baseball icon Roberto Clemente adapted from Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss' biography CLEMENTE: THE PASSION AND PRIDE OF BASEBALL'S LAST HERO, which will be directed by O. J.: Made in America creator Ezra Edelman and produced by John Lesher, Fuego Films’ Ben Silverman and Jay Weisleder, with Giselle Fernandez and Sandra Condito as executive producers. His work has also been heard on the small screen: his poetry has been adapted for music and subsequently appeared on Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It.

*** Save the date! *** Current and former Williams students are warmly invited to this book launch event, specifically organized for our students, marking the publication of EPIDEMIC EMPIRE: COLONIALISM, CONTAGION, AND TERROR 1817-2020, by Prof. Anjuli Raza Kolb. Prof. Raza Kolb will provide a brief summary of the argument of her book, after which she'll be joined in conversation by Prof. Chris Pye. There will be ample time for Q&A with students and alums. Zoom link in our bio. Looking forward to seeing you there! ...

A poem for the solstice:

"Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower," by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Joanna Macy)

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

From _Sonnets to Orpheus_ II, 29