A Word From the Chair, by Richard E. Miller
You are probably wondering
just who the Friends of Rutgers English are. This question
has been very much in the air this semester.
Visiting alumni, on campus this fall to celebrate the fiftieth
anniversary of the Graduate School, wondered this as they
stood before the remarkable poster the Friends of Rutgers
English designed to showcase the Department's accomplishments.
Faculty have also been asking questions about this group:
Who interviewed Alicia Ostriker and Paule Marshall, the featured
authors in this fall's Writers at Rutgers series, and helped
promote these public readings? Who created the bibliography
of books and the online slideshow of book covers by Rutgers
English alumni that is now available on the Department's website?
And as I've described my plans for this newsletter to others
- the interviews with the Department's newest faculty members,
the articles on the Howard Fellowships and on the history
of English at Rutgers, the lists of awards and publications
and other successes - another version of this question inevitably
arises: just who are these extraordinarily talented and gifted
Friends of Rutgers English, these amateur graphic designers,
writers, photographers, publicists, researchers, scholars
in the making?
When I moved into the Chair's Office this summer, I knew
that I would need help with the newsletter that Cheryl Wall,
my immediate predecessor, had launched. So I contacted the
Writing Program's Michael Goeller, director of the undergraduate
Writing Internship program. I was hoping that Michael would
find me one or two undergraduates interested in helping me
reach out to the many different communities and constituencies
who make up Rutgers English. Michael and I were both unprepared
for and overwhelmed by the response we received: instead of
one or two students, we found ourselves faced with dozens
of applications. I set up interviews and asked each applicant
why he or she wanted to join this project. What I heard amazed
me: stories about the power of a given teacher, about a given
reading, about a given lesson; stories about wanting to give
And so, instead of one or two interns, I found myself with
seven. And these interns, under the inspired guidance of the
newsletter's editor Vic Tulli, have produced what you have
before you now: a record of what is going on in and around
the Department and a sign of just what is possible when a
thriving community begins to tap its own resources.
The next issue of the Friends of Rutgers English
newsletter will come out in the spring. We welcome any and
all suggestions and look forward to hearing from you.
Richard E. Miller