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University of Virginia scholar named dean of library school

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


John Unsworth
John Unsworth will begin his new duties as dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences on Aug. 16.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — John M. Unsworth has been named the new dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His appointment was approved today by the Board of Trustees at its meeting in Rockford, Ill.

Currently an associate professor of English and the director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Unsworth will begin his new duties Aug. 16. He also will hold the appointment of professor in the library school and professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Unsworth succeeds Linda C. Smith, who has served as interim dean since August 2001, when Leigh Estabrook, the dean for 15 years, returned to the faculty of the school.
Richard Herman, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Illinois, said that he is "delighted that John Unsworth has accepted our offer to join the university."

"He is widely admired for his intellect, his understanding of the role of technology to support teaching, research and public engagement, and his ability to form collaborative groups across disciplines," Herman said. "He is just the right person to lead this prestigious school in new directions that will ensure its continued status as the nation’s premier School of Library and Information Science."

Unsworth specializes both in 20th century American literature and in computing in the humanities. He is particularly interested in the history, function and culture of publishing.

Unsworth is a co-founder and editor emeritus and member of the editorial board of Postmodern Culture, the Internet’s oldest peer-reviewed journal in the humanities, which now is published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

He has said that he saw the journal "as a way of creating a community of scholars in the area of postmodernism."
Unsworth was the founding director of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, which was in its infancy when he arrived at that university.

He has published widely in the twin areas of his research interests, both in traditional print formats and in electronic. His "A Companion to Digital Humanities,"
co-edited with Susan Schreibman and Ray Siemens, is to be published this year by Blackwell’s. With Eyal Amiran, Unsworth published "Essays in Postmodern Culture" (Oxford University Press, 1993). Unsworth also is co-editor of the forthcoming "Electronic Textual Editing," a publication of the Modern Language Association and the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium. Co-editors of that publication are Lou Burnard and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe.

At Virginia, Unsworth has taught many levels of 20th century American literature, postmodern fiction and theory, and contemporary literature and theory.

Among the technology courses he has taught at Virginia are "Is Humanities Computing an Academic Discipline?"; "Technologies of Publishing"; "Hypertext Theory"; "Discourse Networks"; and "The Information Superhighway."
Unsworth currently is the president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities and the chairman of the board of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium.

He is a member of the (William) Blake Archive Advisory Board, the (Emily) Dickinson Editorial Collective Advisory Aboard and the Romantic Circles Advisory Board.
Before joining the faculty at Virginia in 1993, Unsworth taught in the English department at North Carolina State University for four years.

He earned his doctoral degree in English at Virginia in 1988, his master’s in English at Boston University in 1982 and his bachelor’s, also in English and magna cum laude, in 1981, from Amherst College.

Unsworth, a native of Northampton, Mass., said that he is "excited to come to Illinois and to join the library school."