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    Hamline University
    Jul 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin [Archived Bulletin]

English and Communication Studies Department

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Our core objectives:

  • To develop tools for understanding, and experiences to demonstrate/practice, rhetorical efficacy: choosing media and genre, engaging effectively with context and audience, and achieving a clear purpose.
  • To critically analyze and engage with the systems which shape (and constrain) meaning 
    • In [mass, global] media, and
    • In and across various kinds of literary and cultural texts.
  • To develop and practice as communicators in specific vocational and civic/community contexts – with a particular focus on developing skills in advocacy/leadership.

Students taking any major path through English and Communication Studies will develop core skills in critical thinking and analysis while simultaneously defining and enhancing core skills in communication across various media.  Throughout the arc of every major, students will make different sorts of texts for various audiences and in various contexts, in ways that develop and enhance both personal voice and professional fluency, practicing all of the long-term skills which employers see as vital.

These skills are not merely about individual growth: critical thinking and communication skills are crucial for leaders and advocates.  And the world sorely needs effective community and organizational leaders.  Students in English and Communication Studies will examine–and directly engage with–significant challenges in social and climate justice, with systemic problems that impact cities and small towns alike (from our Midway neighborhood to the other side of the world), evaluating how the complexities of culture differently shape how we communicate and how we live.  A major in English and Communication Studies will help you make the world you want to live in.

Each student will work closely with their faculty advisor to define a personalized major map - to define and shape rationales for the course path they will take.  Students will discuss/develop course paths tied to outcomes and vocational objectives in all introductory and in both Theory/Methods courses.  We return to and evaluate these paths/maps in Internship/practicum AND in Senior Seminar.  In other words, every ENCM major is shaping their own connections across the curriculum, through frequent mentored self-reflections and -explorations.


Honors projects are student-initiated and culminate in the production of professional quality research projects of 40-50 pages (or equivalent content in various forms). 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 and Communication Studies advisor.

Collaborative Research

Students at Hamline can also apply for a college-wide competitive summer grant to pursue a focused collaborative research project in close collaboration with a faculty member. These grants, usually given between the junior and senior years may (but not always or necessarily) contribute to honors projects.

National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and Professional Presentations

English and Communication Studies majors are encouraged and can apply for resources to present their research at regional and national conferences. Students working on honors projects or completing collaborative research typically submit abstracts for NCUR, a prestigious national conference. Others present annually to an English conference organized by the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), as well as at various regional and national conferences.


To help answer the question: “What do English and Communication Studies majors do?” students are strongly encouraged, throughout their coursework and in collaboration with their faculty advisors, to explore connections between their learning experiences in the major/minor and possible meaningful vocations. English and Communication Studies majors engage in a great variety of traditional (and less traditional) internships and through courses that offer LEAP (Liberal Education as Practice) credits with experiential, service, or community-based learning opportunities. English and Communication Studies majors and minors have had satisfying LEAP experiences at Graywolf Press, Minnesota State Arts Board, WCCO-TV, Minnesota Monthly, Pillsbury United, LearningWorks, Children’s Museum, Urban League, ACLU of Minnesota, KFAI, and Bell Museum of Natural History among others – exploring vocational opportunities in social services, human resources, print media, broadcast media, public relations and advertising, event planning, education, law, and other fields.

Connections to Interdisciplinary Programs

English and Communication Studies department faculty team-teach courses with faculty in other disciplines as well as teach courses that are cross-listed with interdisciplinary programs such as Digital Media Arts, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Public Health, Philosophy, and Social Justice and Social Change. Majors and minors are thus well positioned to explore connections and develop secondary majors or minors among these programs.

Postgraduate Opportunities

Employers typically cite knowledge and skills in critical reading and communication as among the most important assets a college graduate brings to the workplace. Students may pursue diverse career opportunities in wide- ranging fields related to their curricular explorations in this department. Career choices by majors include law, human resources, higher education administration, social service work, community organizing, speech writing, journalism, legislative work, public relations, advertising, sales, management, nonprofit advocacy, performing arts management, work in broadcast or digital media, teaching, and other areas. Vocational exploration opportunities are incorporated into the major’s gateway courses and senior seminar.


Paul Bogard, associate professor. BA 1989, Carleton College; MA 2003, University of New Mexico; PhD 2007, University of Nevada, Reno. Creative nonfiction and creative writing, environmental studies and environmental literatures.

Ezekiel Choffel, visiting professor. BA 2012, MA 2015, Michigan State University; PhD in process, Syracuse University. Composition and Rhetoric, Cultural Rhetorics, writing pedagogy and administration, Digital Rhetorics, Community Engaged Rhetorics.

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, contemporary English and Irish literatures, gender studies, literary and cultural theory, composition and rhetoric.

Suda Ishida, professor, chair. BA 1988, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; MA 1996, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia; PhD 2002, University of Iowa. Publications in global media studies. Teaching and research interests include media studies, global media and social-political conflicts, cultural and critical theories, history of U.S. journalism, and intercultural communication.

Catheryn Jennings, assistant professor. BA 2009, MA 2011, Northeastern State University; PhD 2020 Michigan State University. Indigenous Rhetorics, Queer Rhetorics, Composition and Rhetoric, Cultural Rhetorics, archival studies, Digital Rhetorics, Community Engaged Rhetorics.

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.

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, environmental literatures, 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, performance studies, gender and sexuality studies, and queer theory.

John Sooja, visiting professor. BA 2004, Hamline University; MA 2008, PhD 2017, University of California Riverside. Critical Race Theory, Asian American Literature, Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, American Literature, Digital Media/New Media Studies, Gender Studies, Queer Studies, secondary Comm Arts education.

Rachel Tofteland-Trampe, assistant professor. BA 2007, Concordia College-Moorhead; MA 2009, New Mexico State University; PhD 2017, University of Minnesota. Scientific and technical communication, rhetoric and professional communication, digital literacies, multimodality, usability and user experience, and networked learning.


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