Studying English at Denison
Students at Denison enjoy a curriculum in English that balances the need for broad introductory courses with abundant opportunities to focus on special topics in our more advanced courses.
The Department of English participates fully in offering courses that fulfill a variety of General Education requirements, and we also teach First-Year Studies 101, perhaps the most important course that you, as an incoming first-year student, will take. In our small classes, students find varied but uniformly passionate instruction in American, British, and world literature, with consistent attention to interpretive and writing skills.
For more than 50 years, Denison students have studied the art and craft of creative writing through the Writing Program's workshops in poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Students may choose to major in English with an emphasis in creative writing, undertaking a program that culminates in a year-long senior writing project. Recent projects have included novels, books of poems or plays, memoirs, and works of creative nonfiction.
Each year, through the Harriet Ewens Beck Series for Visiting Writers, students have a special opportunity to meet and work one-on-one with such writers as Andrea Barrett, W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Tobias Wolff and many more. Writing students give readings, work for campus publications, and intern at local and national literary organizations. Many students go on to graduate programs and careers in writing, publishing or editing.
Students have the opportunity to contribute to Exile, our student-edited literary magazine; or Articulate, our student-edited journal of critical essays; as well as to enter one or more of our annual contests for writers of fiction, poetry, scholarly articles and personal essays.
If you're planning to major in English in college, you should complete the regular college preparatory program in high school, preferably with four years of English.
The English major and minor
We are pleased to offer two options in both our major and minor programs. To major in English with a literature emphasis, a student takes a minimum of ten classes, including:
- four of our five core surveys,
- four advanced seminars,
- and a senior seminar.
To major in English with a creative writing emphasis, a student takes a minimum of ten classes, including:
- three of our five core surveys,
- at least two creative writing workshops,
- three advanced seminars,
- and a year-long senior writing project.
In both of our minor programs (literature and creative writing), a student must take six courses, including three at the survey level and three at the seminar level.
What do English majors do after Denison?
Careers in education, advertising, communications, editing, writing, marketing, law and publishing are open to our graduates. Many also continue their studies in graduate school.
Among Denison graduates who majored in English are:
- Michael Eisner '64, former chair and CEO of Walt Disney Co.;
- authors Clark Blaise '61, Frederick Turner '59 and Pam Houston '83;
- Northwestern University Associate Professor of English Jeffrey Masten '86;
- Lauren Staniar '90, Leo Burnett advertising;
- Dan Fiden '97, computer game developer at Jellyvision;
- Jamie Herman '93, senior editor of InStyle Magazine;
- Davida Saunders '95, National Geographic Magazine;
- poet Alison Stine '00 whose work was recently featured in New Voices in the Kenyon Review;
- and Hillary Campbell '00, Columbus Monthly Magazine.
Who are our professors?
Professor David A. Baker holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair in Creative Writing. He joined the faculty at Denison in 1984. Baker earned a B.S.E. and an M.A. at Central Missouri State and a Ph.D. at the University of Utah. He is an award-winning poet and the author of ten books of poetry as well as three critical books. Baker is a recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Baker teaches classes in British and American poetry, creative writing and poetry writing. He has served on the faculty of several writing workshops including the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Catskills Poetry Conference, the Kenyon Review Summer Writers' Workshops and the Midwest Writers' Conference.
Associate Professor Brenda Boyle joined the faculty at Denison in 2003. She earned a B.A. at Davidson College, an M.A. at the University of Southern California and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Ohio State University. Her research interests include Irish and English literature, twentieth century American literature, film and drama and American war literature.
- Assistant Professor Sylvia A. Brown joined the faculty at Denison in 1997. She earned a B.A. at Samford University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Emory University. Her research interests include the early British novel and disability studies.
- Professor Kirk Combe joined the faculty at Denison in 1991. He earned a B.A. at Davidson College, an M.A. at Middlebury College and a D.Phil. at Oxford University in England. His research interests include Restoration and 18th-century literature and the genre of satire and critical theory.
- Associate Professor James P. Davis joined the faculty at Denison in 1985. He earned a B.A. at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, an M.A. at the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. His research interests include 19th-century British literature, cultural studies and non-fiction writing.
- Assistant Professor Peter Grandbois is the author of The Gravedigger (Chronicle 2006), a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" and Borders' "Original Voices" selection, The Arsenic Lobster: A Hybrid Memoir (Spuyten Duyvil 2009), chosen as one of the top five memoirs of 2009 by the Sacramento News and Review, and Nahoonkara (Etruscan Press 2010). His short stories have appeared in such journals as: Boulevard, The Mississippi Review, Post Road, New Orleans Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Gargoyle. He is also the PEN nominated translator of Rodriguez Julia's San Juan: Memoir of a City (University of Wisconsin 2007).
Peter is a graduate of the University of Denver (Ph.D. 2006) and Bennington College (M.F.A. 2003). Previously, he taught at California State University in Sacramento and is currently an Assistant Professor of creative writing and contemporary literature at Denison University.
- Associate Professor Linda J. Krumholz joined the faculty at Denison in 1992. She earned a B.A. at Reed College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She specializes in contemporary ethnic American literature and Black studies. Her publications on Toni Morrison and Leslie Marmon Silko have appeared in African American Review, Ariel and Modern Fiction Studies.
- Assistant Professor Jeehyun Lim received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. She works primarily on U.S. ethnic literature with an emphasis on Asian American literature. In terms of research methods, she is interested in minority-to-minority relations and the intersections of social sciences and literature. Other areas of research include bi/multilingualism, Pacific Rim studies, and American studies. Her articles have been published or are forthcoming in MELUS, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly. Her current research project looks at the social history of bilingualism in postwar U.S. and the representation of bilinguals in Asian American and Latino literature.
- Assistant Professor Diana Mafe was born in a small Dutch city but grew up in the dense metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria. After completing high school in Nigeria, she moved to Ontario, Canada, where she earned her B.A. in Fine Art and English at McMaster University, her M.A. in English at the University of Guelph, and her Ph.D. in English at McMaster University. Her research aims to situate mixed race studies in a relatively unexplored sub-Saharan African context. Her work also tracks the literary roles of and for “women of color” in African and American discourses. She has published articles in Research in African Literatures, American Drama, English Academy Review, Frontiers, and Safundi.
- Assistant Professor Regina Martin earned her Ph.D. in English in 2010 from the University of Florida, and she joined the English faculty at Denison in the fall of 2012. Her research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century British literature, the history and theory of the novel, and critical and literary theory. She is currently working on a book manuscript that examines British modernism as a historical moment of financial crisis very much like our own. Her scholarly work has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Eighteenth-Century Novel and Twentieth-Century Literature.
- Associate Professor Lisa J. McDonnell joined the faculty at Denison in 1982. She earned a B.A. at Connecticut College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in Shakespeare, Renaissance drama and contemporary drama. Her current research is on a Chinese feminist adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. She is also completing work on a book of interviews with noted British and American playwrights. Recently, she has served as Denison University's exchange fellow with Advanced Studies in England, affiliated with University College, Oxford. Every year she leads a May term travel seminar to London and Stratford-upon-Avon. She has won a number of awards, including a Folger Institute Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Grant, a Mellon Foundation Grant for Teaching with Technology, and the Earl Hartsell Award for Excellence in Teaching.
- Associate Professor Frederick C. Porcheddu joined the faculty at Denison in 1992. He earned a B.A. at Denison University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Ohio State University. His teaching and creative interests lie in medieval manuscript studies, medieval and renaissance British literature, sexuality and culture and the history of the book.
- Associate Professor Dennis M. Read joined the faculty at Denison in 1979. He earned a B.A. at the State University of New York, an M.A. at New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. His teaching and creative interests lie in writing theory, William Blake and travel literature. He also oversees the Reynolds Writing Workshop held during the summer for high school students.
- Associate Professor Sandra R. Runzo joined the department at Denison in 1986. She earned a B.A. at West Virginia University and an M.A. and Ph.D. at Indiana University. Her research interests include 19th- and 20th-century American literature and women writers
- Assistant Professor Jack Shuler joined the faculty in 2007. He earned a B..A. degree at Guilford College, a master of fine arts at Brooklyn College and a Ph.D. at the Graduate Center of City University of New York.He is the author of Calling Out Liberty (2009) and Blood and Bone (forthcoming).
- Associate Professor Margot Singer joined the faculty at Denison in 2005. She earned an A.B. at Harvard University, an M.Phil. at Oxford University and a Ph.D. at the University of Utah. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and prose poems have been published in AGNI, The Mid-American Review, Shenandoah, the North American Review, Third Coast and elsewhere. Her teaching interests include fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing, and contemporary literature.
- Professor and Department Chair Ann C. Townsend joined the faculty at Denison in 1992. She earned a B.A. at Denison University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Ohio State University. She is an award-winning poet and the author of two books of poetry, Dime Store Erotics (1998) and The Coronary Garden (2005). She is co-editing Radiant Lyre: On Lyric Poetry, with David Baker, for a 2007 publication by Graywolf Press. Townsend is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Individual Artist's grant from the Ohio Arts Council and a Discovery Prize from The Nation. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies, including The New Young American Poets, American Poetry: The Next Generation and The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology. She teaches classes in modern and contemporary poetry, creative writing and the history of the lyric.
- Assistant Professor James Weaver joined the faculty in 2007. He earned his B.A. from Allegheny College and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University.