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Thursday, December 03 3:00 PM

INFORMATIONAL MEETING: Literature and Plants of the Cherokee Landscape


ENGL 4860/8960 and LAND 4440/6440

Students in the course will travel from Athens, GA to Cherokee, NC and on to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, following the Cherokees' historic route westward along the Trail of Tears.  Along the way, you'll meet with Cherokee people, observe important landmarks along the Trail, and read Cherokee literature to learn about the role the environment played in traditional Cherokee life. You'll come to better understand the Cherokee relationship with the land, the cultural consequences of Indian Removal, and the ways that contemporary Cherokee people negotiate their tribal past for present-day healing.  Students in previous years have met Cherokee writers, artists, and leaders, played stickball with the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, toured a Cherokee language immersion school, attended a stomp dance, and much much more!  This non-traditional course has no pre-requisites.  

Questions?  Contact Prof. Channette Romero ( or Prof. Alfie Vick (

Park Hall Monitor

Park Hall Monitor

Greetings, Park Hall alumni and friends!

Campus has a different look in early May, the presence of more parents than students (and the students conspicuous for their black gowns and mortarboard caps) announcing the end of another school year. On May 7th, we celebrated our undergraduate and graduate Class of 2015 in a ceremony that also highlighted annual awards for students and faculty.

The awards, both internal and external, are numerous, covering everything from research accomplishments to excellence in teaching. The Department of English has much to be proud of, but success in the classroom is surely at some kind of peak. At least that’s the impression I got earlier this year when I compiled the faculty reports of accomplishments for 2014. Reading the teaching evaluations of the faculty, I was reminded of the line in Garrison Keillor’s long-running radio broadcast, A Prairie Home Companion, about the fictional town of Lake Woebegone, “where all the children are above average.” But there’s nothing fictional about teaching in Park Hall, a place where it can truthfully be said that most of the professors are not just “above average,” but wayabove. Over the moon, out of the ballpark, however you want to put it. 

Student comments are far more revealing than the numerical indicators (but the numbers are astounding in themselves: with 5 being a perfect score, I estimate that the department average is about 4.7). Comments say a lot about the different ways successful teaching makes an impact. Many students are impressed by the preparation their professors bring to the classroom, especially when it means the teacher is prepared to make discussion thrive. It’s easy, of course, for professors to come across as knowledgeable, but students value a certain generosity when it comes to dispensing it, making it accessible to them. Students also appreciate the personal touch, the consideration for their own needs and inclinations. Some professors are prized for the way they come across as fully rounded human beings — the way they impart a quality of “keeping it real,” as it’s sometimes put in the evaluations.

A familiar stereotype in the mass media portrays English professors as self-absorbed, bookish types, barely able to get through a day in the “real world,” aided only by their endearing cluelessness. It’s a stereotype that has distant roots in fact. Until the big boom in postwar education after the Second World War, being an English professor was generally a prerogative of the leisure class, a sinecure for unworldly souls disinclined (or unfit) to run the family business. Those days are long gone, and the typical professor today would be up to the task of selling cars, trading stocks, or strategizing troop movements. Student evaluations are vivid reminders that successful teachers don’t teach a subject; they begin with a subject and spiral out from there. Evaluations consistently acknowledge that impassioned professors inspire intellectual curiosity: they convey the sense that one thing leads to another and another and another, until you find you started with a sonnet and ended up, not on that “silent peak in Darien” imagined by a dreamy English youth, but somewhere else altogether — crossing a bridge into Birmingham from a contested start in Selma, coming to terms with the slaughter of French cartoonists, or discovering how mercantile trade routes established centuries ago set in motion the frantic world of globalized interconnectivity we now straddle.

What makes a great teacher? Dedication and practice help, along with commitment to the students. But I think the secret is that all good teachers are themselves students: lifelong learning is a deep instinct. That’s the gravitational force you feel in the classroom — when it becomes apparent that everyone’s in it together, learning and teaching and learning until, to paraphrase an Irish poet, there’s no distinguishing the dancer from the dance.


Jed Rasula

Department Head

For more, please read the latest version of the Park Hall Monitor, the department's newsletter.

Valerie Babb is named one of the inaugural class of Women's Leadership Fellows at UGA.
Valerie Babb is named one of the inaugural class of Women's Leadership Fellows at UGA.

Nine University of Georgia faculty members will hone their leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities confronting research universities as members of the inaugural class of the university's Women's Leadership Fellows Program.

Valerie Babb, director of the Institute of African-American Studies and Franklin Professor of English has  been named one of the inaugural class of Women's Leadership Fellows at UGA. Her research focuses on African-American literature and culture, transatlantic studies, and constructions of race and gender. Her honors include serving as a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, receiving the W.M. Keck Foundation Fellowship in American Studies and delivering the Distinguished W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture at Humboldt University in Germany. 

Savage Conversations
Savage Conversations

President Abraham Lincoln gave the order to execute thirty-eight Dakota Indians in Mankato, Minnesota for their actions in the Dakota War against white settlers who had stolen their rations, and raped Dakota women. The synchronized hanging of thirty-eight Dakotas was, and continues to be, the largest mass execution in United States history; 4,000 settlers attended the execution. In November1873, Dr. Willis Danforth of Illinois treated Mary Todd Lincoln for “nervous derangement and fever in the head.”  He noted peculiar symptoms.  Mrs. Lincoln claimed that nightly an Indian visited her bedroom and, “slits my eyelids and sews them open with a wire."  She told Dr. Danforth that he also lifted her scalp and cut a bone out of her cheek.   
Savage Conversations is a staged reading about four months in 1875 in which Mrs. Lincoln resided in Bellevue Place Sanitarium in Batavia, Illinois talking with her nemesis.  The staged reading combines graduate and undergraduates working in the Theatre and English departments.