Spring Quarter Kicks Off, John Shanahan & Team Awarded $75K NEH Grant, Spring Conference (and Why You Should Submit*), and a Ton of Great Events

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image by rawpixel.com

Greetings, Undergrounders! We hope your first week of spring quarter is progressing well. April is practically here and we can’t wait for the inevitable new blooms, outside lectures (if we’re lucky!) and warm, sunny days. Hopefully not too sunny, though, or else it’ll be hard to stay inside and study.

Some amazing news for the DePaul English department, and the humanities in general, arrived over spring break!


John Shanahan, associate dean of LAS and associate professor of English, and co-principal investigators Robin Burke (CDM – Computing), Antonio Ceraso (WRD) and Megan Bernal (DePaul Library) have been awarded a $75,000 grant by the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Office of Digital Humanities for their project “Reading Chicago Reading: Modeling Texts and Readers in a Public Library System.” Shanahan insideThe project is briefly described as “a pilot study on how analyzing patron responses to a citywide reading program can help scholars and librarians better understand which book genres and styles prove most meaningful to the community.” Given that DePaul has long been a partner of the CPL’s One Book, One Chicago program, it seems like an especially great proposal.               Congrats to Prof. Shanahan and the team!

Speaking of the Humanities, the DePaul Humanities Center has a spring calendar that looks full of amazing literary-themed events. Here’s a sneak preview:

Wednesday, April 6
Humanities Center Event: DePaulywood Squares (featuring ENG professor ANne CLark Batlett!)
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Student Center 120
DePaulywood Squares
Monday, April 11
Humanities Center Event: Making the Novel Novel, Moby Dick
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Student Center 120

Thursday, April 21
Making the Novel Novel: The XenoText
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Student Center 120

We’ll be keeping you updated on these and the other events when they come around. Last but certainly not least, the Spring English Conference is almost here. Send us your Academic or Creative Work and participate in a day of panels and talks held on Friday, April 9th. Email englishconference.dpu(at)gmail.com with questions and submissions. 

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*Are you wondering what all the conference fuss is about? Worry not – we’re here to explain.

Here’s the deal. It’s a day each spring organized by two grad students (yours truly included)  to gather the grad and undergrad students in the English Department and discuss and share our work. As ENG students, we spend hours and hours and devote ourselves to the study and writing of literature and creative work – this is your chance to hear what your classmates work on and present your own papers and projects. It’s great experience for graduate work, postgrad work, and (GASP) your impending professional life, where you will quite often be required to present your ideas and work in a compelling and confident way. (It’s true in ANY line of work. Believe me.)

We group the submissions by theme, so you’d be presenting your work alongside other similar work. If you write fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, you’ll be reading it aloud and talking about the creative process along with other similar presenters.If you have an idea, but it’s not done yet, you can submit a proposal. See the 2016 SPEC Submission Guidelines for details.*

English Professor John Shanahan to Speak in Panel on Public Libraries in American Society | Monday, November 2nd, 2015

When did you first visit a public library? What role have public libraries played in your life? What roles will they play in our “digital age”? Join the DePaul University Library and the DePaul Humanities Center on November 2, 2015, for a panel discussion of the role of the public library in American society centered around the recently-published Part of our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library (2015).

Part of our livesWayne A. Wiegand, F. William Summers Professor Emeritus at the Florida State University School of Information, and author of Part of our Lives, will discuss the enduring role of the public library in the United States, and will be joined by a distinguished panel of colleagues, including Wendy Griswold (Bergen Evans Professor of Humanities and Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University), John Shanahan (Associate Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, DePaul University), and Robert Wedgeworth (University Librarian, Emeritus, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and former Executive Director of the American Library Association).

Recent research has suggested that the public library is “at a crossroads” in its development as a social institution as technology continues to re-shape our experience of reading and community, and Chicago has been at the center of this discussion with the ongoing commitment of the Chicago Public Library to programs such as YouMedia, Maker Labs, and One Book One Chicago. As Wiegand writes, the public library has “a rich history of meaning for millions of Americans,” both as civic institutions and as spaces for promoting and maintaining community, and we hope you can join us for a discussion of what the library means for you, for DePaul, and for Chicago.

“Part of our Lives”: A Discussion of Public Libraries and American Society will take place in Room 300 of the John T. Richardson Library on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus from 6:00 – 7:30 pm on Monday, November 2nd.

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Lauren Peterson, B.A. English ’15, says Digital Humanities opens up “a whole new world of possibilities that are waiting to be uncovered in the English realm.”

The Underground reached out to DePaul English alum Lauren Peterson to learn a bit more about what led her to the Digital Humanities and undertaking her Senior Capstone project, which explores the intersection of technology and the humanities.

On her background and undertaking the study of literature:

“I am a DePaul University alum and majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. I became interested in writing my senior year of high school and by the end of my sophomore year of college, I knew that writing was a craft I was passionate about and semi-okay at. I enjoyed most of my experience in the world of an English major, whether it was creating stories and the complexities of coming up with fictional characters or delving into the structural side of English literature. But it wasn’t until the last quarter of my senior year that I discovered a new dimension to this field that I thought I knew so well. Just as in my studies of English, I am constantly surprised by this city and the new areas I have yet to explore, despite growing up on the South Side of Chicago and living in Lincoln Park for the past four years. So I had the idea to learn more about the two and how they intersect. In creating this project, I learned new skills and that I could push myself to go beyond boundaries. I learned more about the city I have called home for the past twenty-two years, and I learned how literature could intersect across space and time to influence new generations.”

On becoming familiar with digital humanities:

“In April of this year, I enrolled in Professor Shanahan’s Senior Capstone course, which portrays the English sphere in what was for me a new light: it merged literature with technology, resulting in a field known as the digital humanities. Throughout the course, we discussed how famous texts from great authors like Jane Austen are transformed in how we perceive, manipulate, and understand these materials with the modern applications we have access to today, making connections to authors that implement these developing uses of technology for literature, like Jennifer Egan does.

On being inspired to think deeper:

“The more I thought about it, I wondered how authors of the past would utilize such devices, questioning what kind of new platforms they may use to reach their audience or what kind of media presence they might have within our technologically driven society. One idea that sparked my interest from the very beginning of the quarter was this concept of showing literature through a video format, even though I knew nothing about editing videos or using Adobe applications. But I was set on it. I also knew that I wanted to utilize the city I had in front of me–the city I had grown up in–and started to realize the multi-faceted roles one person can have within a city, and how it can offer benefits to others today. In the case of Jane Austen, this includes groups such as Stone Cold Austen, a woman’s arm wrestling team, and Jane-athon, an Austen related hacking event, both of which are based in Chicago. But it doesn’t end with Jane Austen. There are numerous topics to be touched on, technologies that are being developed, texts that are being reinvented in new formats, and continuing the process of transforming literature to reach others. There’s a whole new world of possibilities that are waiting to be uncovered in the English realm.”

Lauren Peterson

2012 EGSA Conference Proceedings

2012 EGSA Conference, depaulunderground.wordpress.com

A Note From the 2012 EGSA Committee:

The EGSA conference proceedings are up, and we would like to thank the presenters, the keynote speaker, Mahmoud Saeed, our photographer, Ryan Jones, and  faculty advisers, John Shanahan and Craig Sirles. 

Congratulations to all forty-three of our presenters at this year’s conference and to the twelve undergraduate and graduate students featured in the proceedings.

We hope you enjoy the proceedings and photos from the conference!


Summer Reading List–Part Tres


Since my last post, the weather in Chicago has been kinder and both the Newberry Library Book Fair and Lollapalooza have passed.  There are school buses winding their way through my subdivision in anticipation of the coming school year and the Sunday Chicago Tribune is thick with “Back to School Sale” advertisements…I’m not ready!!

So let’s keep summer rolling with the next installment of the reading list. Check out Professor John Shanahan’s suggestion here.