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Letter from Pete Coviello, Head of Department: The term we are about to begin is called, a bit facetiously, “Spring Semester.” Because we are not fools, you and I know that it is, definitively, winter, and we know too that the Chicago winter is not to be trifled with. But it’s not all bad. Not that many years after I first left Chicago – I’d been an undergraduate out here, and an English major – I ran across a poem that made me miss the place direly, and that gave me a new appreciation for all that I’ve loved about this city, including the pulverizing winters. It’s by an exuberantly Whitmanian poet named Campbell McGrath and is called, wonderfully, “The Golden Angel Pancake House.” It has two chief topics, and these are Chicago and joy. This is how it ends:

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Homeward, all the way down Lincoln Avenue's amazing arabesques and ethnic configurations of Korean babushkas and Croatian karaoke that feeling set upon me like the overture to god knows what dread disease, that cathartic, lustral, yes, idiot laughter, threat of tears in the gullet, adam's apple stringing its yoyo to follow the bouncing ball, as if boulevards of such purity could countenance no science but eudaemonics, hardly likely, as if this promethean eruption were merely one of the more colorful dog- and-pony acts of simple happiness, acrobatic dromedaries or narcoleptic dancing bears, but which I've come to see with perfect hindsight was no less than the mighty strongman joy himself bending bars of steel upon a tattooed skull, so much nobler and more rapacious than his country cousins, bliss, elation, glee, a troupe of toothless, dipsomaniacal clowns, multiform and variable as flurries from blizzards, while Joy is singular, present tense, predatory, priapic, paradoxically composed of sorrow and terror as ice is made of water, dense and pure, darkly bejewelled, music rather than poetry, preliterate, lapidary, dumb as an ox, cruel as youth, magnificent and remorseless as Chicago in winter. Here's wishing you a flourishing, studious, defiant, and wildly imaginative new term – and hoping as well that when you find yourself struggling across the quad, as that magnificent and remorseless wind comes galloping down the frozen plain, you too might know a moment of bejwelled breath- stolen joy. And remember this, too: the book in which McGrath’s poem appears is called, promisingly, Spring Comes to Chicago. Warmly, Peter Coviello

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Jay Bauer smiling

“My time in the English Department has given me the opportunity to study under and alongside brilliant writers from across disciplines and explore subjects in ways I’d have never thought possible. Writing is a trade that will always be needed, and the folks I work with show that the future of writing is in good hands.” 

-Jayden Bauer, Class of 2023

News and Calendar Heading link

Aug 16 2024

Comp Camp

Friday, 8:00 am–4:00 pm
Aug 22 2024

New Graduate Student Orientation

Thursday, 10:00 am–12:30 pm
2028 UH
Sep 6 2024

Department Party

Friday, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm
Pilot Project
Lily Ginsberg smiling

“My time as an English student has been very rewarding— I have advanced into a leadership position at the UIC Writing Center, traveled to Denver to read a paper at the Sigma Tau Delta Conference, shot free throws with the department head at a UIC basketball game, and received departmental awards. All of this was only possible with the mentorship and guidance of my English professors, all of whom are excellent educators!

-Lily Ginsberg, Class of 2023