From the Chair
by Richard E. Miller
This year’s graduation was a particularly special event for Rutgers English. President McCormick broke with recent tradition and brought to campus a nationally recognized speaker to make the commencement address. And so, on a beautiful, cloudless morning on Voorhees Mall, the former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky returned to his alma mater and spoke to the excited graduating classes about what it means to have a lifelong relationship to The State University of New Jersey. Recalling the university’s commitment to the area’s richly diverse population, Pinsky closed by reflecting on William Carlos Williams’s deep admiration for New Jersey, its people, and their spirit. “If you bring nothing to this plot of land but your carcass,” Williams, and Pinsky, advised, “keep out!”
This has been a remarkable year for those who work, study, and dream on and around the little plot of land occupied by Murray Hall. Thanks to a generous gift from Gary Schultheis, we were able to renovate the department’s lounge, providing a comfortable meeting place for faculty and students to talk and relax between classes. The Writers at Rutgers series started with a reading by our own Alicia Ostriker and included a gala event featuring Jhumpa Lahiri that was attended by more than five hundred people. The department ran two successful searches this year and can look forward to welcoming two new colleagues in the fall: Sonali Perera, who specializes in postcolonial theory and working-class literature, and Josephina Saldana-Portillo, whose scholarship focuses on revolutionary literature and the logic of development. And, as you’ll see in the pages that follow, the faculty of Rutgers English continue to distinguish themselves as scholars and teachers of the highest order.
We’re already at work planning for an even bigger year next year. In the meantime, I look forward to corresponding with our graduates about life on the other side of the degree, and to sharing their accomplishments with the community at large in the forthcoming issues of Friends of Rutgers English.
Enjoy the summer!
Richard E. Miller
Dr. Pinsky’s Commencement Visit
Professor Alicia Ostriker’s reading
Jhumpa Lahiri’s reading
The renovated English Department Lounge