The faculty of the English department have three goals for students who graduate with a major or minor in English:
- Students should be able to read, write, and inquire critically and imaginatively, understanding both the theoretical and practical dimensions of reading and writing.
- Students should understand the rhetorical, cultural, historical, and interdisciplinary contexts of the texts we study and the profession we practice.
- Students should join the discourse of the field of English and explore the nature and possibilities of the professions they could choose. Students should know how to work independently and collaboratively, how to blur and cross disciplinary lines in research and writing, how to investigate complex relationships, how to assess and reflect on their learning processes within the discipline, and how to transfer disciplinary skills beyond disciplinary projects.
These three goals are reflected in the specific learning experiences provided by the sequence of course requirements for the major and minor. These learning experiences offer students highly marketable skills in a variety of fields and thorough preparation for postgraduate study.
The English department offers additional, specialized training through its concentrations and minors in creative writing and in professional writing and rhetoric.
Honors projects are student-initiated and culminate in the production of professional quality research projects of 30-50 pages. Honors projects offer an opportunity in the junior and senior years for students to work closely with a faculty member on a theoretically sophisticated project designed to explore more deeply a particular focus of the student’s major program. This work is conducted independently in consultation with an advisor to be selected from among the full-time faculty. The student should begin exploring an honors project by discussing topics with his or her English advisor.
Students wishing to be considered for honors in English should review the detailed information and application forms available from their academic advisor early in their junior years. Applications are reviewed for approval by the full-time faculty members of the English department. Those who successfully defend their honors projects will be awarded honors at graduation and have the designation of “honors” on their transcripts.
Students at Hamline can apply for a college-wide competitive summer grant to pursue a focused research project in close collaboration with a faculty member. These grants, usually given between the junior and senior years often (but not exclusively) contribute to honors projects.
National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
English majors are encouraged to present their research at regional and national conferences. Students working on honors projects or completing collaborative research typically submit abstracts for NCUR. Also, students in the fall sections of the senior seminar each produce an abstract and final paper developing their own professional research in the course topic. Typically up to six students from the fall sections of senior seminar have the opportunity to present their seminar research at NCUR. These students are selected by their classmates based on the strength of their abstracts describing their research projects. If accepted by NCUR, which is a prestigious national conference, these students travel with approximately twenty-five other Hamline students to present their papers in the spring.
To help answer the question: “What do English majors do?” students are strongly encouraged to explore connections between their learning experiences in the major/minor and possible meaningful vocations through traditional internships and through courses that offer LEAP (Liberal Education as Practice) credits with experiential, service, or community-based learning opportunities. English majors and minors have had satisfying LEAP experiences at Graywolf Press, Minnesota State Arts Board, WCCO-TV, Minnesota Monthly, Children’s Museum, Urban League, ACLU of Minnesota, KFAI, and Bell Museum of Natural History among others.
Connections to Interdisciplinary Programs
English department faculty team-teach courses with faculty in other disciplines as well as teach courses that are cross-listed with interdisciplinary programs such as African-American Studies, Global Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Social Justice program. English majors and minors are thus well positioned to explore connections and develop secondary majors or minors among these programs. In the context of globalization such interdisciplinary connections offer students the foundation of the discipline of English as well as a broader understanding of connections with other fields and disciplines.
Students’ critical reading and writing abilities prepare them for success in the workplace and in postgraduate education. Vocational exploration opportunities are incorporated into the major’s gateway courses and senior seminar. The college and department help English majors plan for graduate school; law school; business careers; and writing-related fields such as communications, advertising, and journalism. Those interested in attending graduate school should discuss securing recommendations and obtaining information on graduate programs and entrance exams with a full-time faculty member and the Career Development Center during their junior year.
Kristina K. Deffenbacher, professor. BA 1991, Carleton College; MA 1994, PhD and graduate certificate in gender studies 1998, University of Southern California. Nineteenth-century British literature and culture, 20th-century English and Irish literatures, women’s studies, literary theory, composition and rhetoric.
Veena Deo, professor. BA 1969, Fergusson College; MA 1971, University of Poona; PhD 1989, University of Kentucky. African-American literature, postcolonial literatures (Africa and India), and women’s studies.
Jennifer England, assistant professor. BA 2009, Ohio University; PhD 2016, New Mexico State University. Rhetoric and professional communication.
David Hudson, professor. BA 1979, MA, 1987, PhD, 1994, University of Minnesota. Early 20th-century British and American literature, journalism, writing technology, and professional writing.
Marcela Kostihová, professor. BA 1998, North Central College; PhD 2004, University of Minnesota. Medieval and Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, critical theory, post- communist studies, global studies, gender and sexuality studies, and Tolkien.
Aaron McKain, assistant professor. BA 1998, University of Nebraska; MA 2004, PhD 2012, Ohio State University. Rhetorical theory, critical digital media studies, narrative and literary theory, legal rhetoric, professional writing, composition studies, pop culture, 20th century American literature, post-postmodernism.
Mark Olson, professor. BA 1977, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse; MA 1981, PhD 1999, University of Minnesota. American literature and culture, literary theory, poetry, writing across the curriculum, and professional writing.
Michael Reynolds, professor. BA 1989, St. Lawrence University; PhD 2000, University of Southern California. Twentieth-century American literature and culture; theories of literature and culture; genre studies; media literacies: film, drama, television, and the web.
Jermaine Singleton, professor. BA 1996, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; MA 1999, University of Illinois at Chicago; PhD 2005, University of Minnesota. Nineteenth- and 20th-century African American literature and culture, 19th- and 20th-century American literature and culture, psychoanalytic literary theory, and postcolonial literature and theory of the African diaspora.