2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of English Literatures and Writing

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Department Chair:  Dr. Francesca Coppa
Professors: Bloom, Marsh, Scott
Associate Professors:  Lonsinger, Miller
Assistant Professors: Barsczewski, Bradley, Kucik
Visiting Assistant Professor: Dean

The English Literatures and Writing Department at Muhlenberg offers an exciting and flexible curriculum for the study of diverse literatures written in the English language. We offer courses across written, dramatic, filmic, and transmedia “texts” as well as courses in writing fiction, poetry, plays, screenplays, criticism, journalism, and other genres. Our offerings include British, American and Postcolonial literatures, African American, Global Black, and Native American literatures, Jewish, Women, and LGBTQ+ writers as well as literatures addressing genocide, human rights, and ecology. Our courses train students to write clearly and persuasively, to read carefully and to think inventively. We read to write and write to understand more, to discover and develop new ideas. Our focus on creative and critical writing puts our students in conversation with the voices of the past and present, with a particular attention to voices that have been previously underrepresented. We see this as a gesture towards social justice, to embrace literature’s role in creating a fairer and more equitable world by listening to each other’s stories and voices.

Our department houses the Directors of the Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and The Writing Program and contributes to all of these as well as to Sustainability Studies, American Studies, Film Studies, Jewish Studies, and Theater.

General Academic Requirements

200-level ENG courses have no prerequisites and satisfy either the HU (for literature classes) or the AR (for creative writing) general academic requirements. We also offer numerous Writing Intensive courses at every level. And many of our courses also satisfy the DE requirement (such as Global Black Literature, Black Drama/Black Comedy, Native American Literature & Film, Reading (In) Justice and Contemporary Fiction) or the IL requirement individually (such as Literary Adaptation/Heritage Film, Literature as Politics, and The Solitary Voice: Theatre & Creative Writing in Ireland) or when linked with other courses (such as Ethnicity in US Literature). All 200-level courses welcome majors, prospective majors, and non-majors alike.

Honors Program

The English Literatures & Writing Honors program is designed for students of demonstrated ability and commitment. Students in the English Literatures & Writing Honors Program spend the senior year working closely with a faculty mentor to research and write an Honors Thesis, a scholarly research essay or creative project of about 50-70 pages. Graduates with Honors degrees in English Literatures & Writing are well-prepared for a number of post-graduate careers, including graduate study in English, publishing, journalism, advertising, the law, social justice/advocacy work, and anywhere else where analytic ability and strong writing and communication skills are valued.

Honors Program Requirements:

Students wishing to enter the honors program generally maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and a major GPA of at least 3.75, and will take a minimum of eleven or fourteen courses in the English department (depending on your major), including the two honors independent studies devoted to thesis work. Below is a rough timeline for honors work. 

Spring Junior Year: Early in the spring of the junior year, the Director of the Honors program will hold an informational meeting for students interested in pursuing honors, at which current honors students and faculty will be available to discuss the program. Interested juniors who are studying abroad at this time may ask to be included via Skype or Zoom or to consult with individual professors.

Interested students should also attend the presentations of the current honors students, which take place early in April.

Students should then consult with faculty members to find one who will serve as a mentor for his/her/their project. As faculty are not required to mentor students, and are not remunerated for the work, students should leave plenty of time to find a mentor who is sufficiently interested to take on the project.

By April 15 of the junior year, the student must submit a preliminary proposal to the Director of the Honors Program. This proposal should be roughly 3-5 double-spaced pages (750-1250 words), must include a working bibliography of primary and secondary resources, and must be accompanied by a letter of endorsement from a faculty mentor. Guidelines for what this proposal should include and examples of successful proposals from prior years may be found on the department website.

If any part of the proposal is missing, a member of the Honors Committee will contact the student by the end of April, and the student will be asked to remedy the omission before the end of finals week. During this time, the student should meet with the faculty advisor to make a plan for ongoing work and to address any concerns expressed by the Honors Committee.

A student wishing to pursue honors must also arrange and register for an honors independent study with the faculty mentor for the fall of senior year.

Summer following Junior Year: An honors student will generally work with the faculty mentor in the spring of junior year, to decide on a course of summer study designed to facilitate fall semester’s work.

Fall Senior Year: During this time, the honors student should work with the faculty mentor to develop a more detailed prospectus and bibliography. This prospectus must be submitted to the Honors Committee by November 15. Guidelines for what the prospectus should include may be found on the department website.

After the November prospectus is submitted, the Honors Committee, in consultation with the faculty mentor, will determine whether the student may proceed with the Honors Program. Any student who is not cleared to pursue honors in the spring will finish the fall, receiving credit for an application-based, graded Honors Independent Study. Similarly, any student whose work has taken other directions may opt to exit the program at this point. Students planning to complete the honors program should arrange a second honors Independent study with their mentor for the spring of senior year; students doing creative projects might also enroll the Masterclass in Creative Writing.

Spring Senior Year: Honors students present their work at a public forum, usually in early April, submit their work to their advisors and two additional faculty readers (of which, one may be from outside the English department) by May 1 of the senior year, and defend it in a year-end conversation with these three faculty members, who determine the degree of honors to be awarded (none, honors, high honors, or highest honors).

English & Creative Writing Programs

Our programs in English & Creative Writing are shaped around forms and genres and around social justice; students who study English must study more than one genre of storytelling in a formal way and must also engage the writings and literary cultures of previously marginalized groups as well as more canonical texts and contexts.

We offer students an opportunity to explore the world through an astonishing range of literature, from William Shakespeare to Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin to Sandra Cisneros, Emily Dickinson to Jericho Brown, Homer to Octavia Butler. We offer an array of regular and special topics courses that focus on traditional and contemporary themes. Our classes are small, typically no more than twenty; we pride ourselves on creating dynamic conversations in the classroom and offering opportunities for learning and community engagement. We also encourage students to study abroad for a semester through our MILA program, which features creative writing courses in Italy and Ireland.

Courses in English and Creative Writing train students to write clearly and persuasively, to read carefully and to think inventively. We focus on creative and critical writing linked to the close reading of texts and put students in conversation with the voices of the past and present. Our majors and minors move on to jobs as lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers, and CEOs and administrators of a wide range of companies, public and private.




      English Literatures and Writing

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