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At Stern College for Women, we share a passion for discussing language. We read literature in widely differing genres and historical periods and draw on a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to these and other texts.

We explore the power and beauty of words and how and what they can mean. Our courses feature texts of the Western literary tradition from the medieval to the postmodern periods. We engage with students in large classes, small seminars and on a one-to-one basis.

Students learn to analyze and interpret different modes of expression, poetry, prose, drama and film. They practice various types of writing and debate key questions about the relationships of art, society and language.

The department offers majors in literature, creative writing and media (with tracks in journalism or advertising) and minors in English and in Writing. We also coordinate the interdisciplinary minors for Women's Studies and American studies.

Our students graduate as careful readers and thinkers and especially strong writers, well-prepared to become leaders in fields such as law, education, journalism, publishing, social work, business, nonprofit organizations and the arts.

For further information, please contact Dr. Matt Miller, chair,, and read Take an English Class and Experience the Best.

Mission Statement

The Stern College for Women’s English Department holds that the study of language, literature, and media is fundamentally important to an individual's personal development and  successful functioning within society. The Department understands "acts of interpretation"—the study of texts and their contexts—to be aesthetic, philosophical, historical, political, and ethical. Consequently, our programs complement a Stern College student's knowledge of religious modes of interpretation. Through close collaboration with faculty, students develop individual projects and reflect critically on their learning.

The Department envisions the study of literature as an end in itself and as the means of developing essential analytic and imaginative training highly valued in fields such as communications and the new media, business, education, publishing, law, and medicine. A broad exposure to the literary productions of diverse time periods and cultures helps our students take their place in the global community of educated men and women of the twenty-first century. In addition to the major in Literature, we offer a track in Media Studies with a focus on one of four areas: Advertising, Creative Writing, Journalism, and Public Relations. We offer a minor in Literature and serve as “home base” for two interdisciplinary minors: American Studies and Women’s Studies. Our Department is also responsible for the required composition course that every student takes in her first year on campus at Stern.

Program Student Learning Goals

  1. Students will be able to analyze a variety of texts and genres.
  2. Students will be able to critically evaluate competing critical/theoretical arguments pertaining to given work(s).
  3. Students will be able to communicate their critical thinking about literature and other media to diverse audiences both orally and in writing.
  4. Students will able to take ownership over their learning experiences both in their course work and beyond.

Dr. Matt Miller

Associate Chair
Dr. Seamus O'Malley 

Program Information

Please see the Schedule of Classes for the current semester’s offerings.

English (ENGL)

Note: ENGL 1100 or ENGL 1200H is a prerequisite for all ENGL courses.

Details regarding the distribution of courses for each of the five concentrations above are available on the department Web site and the department Major Fact Sheets.

Introductory Courses

  • 1010 Essentials of Writing 3 credits
    Introduction to basic writing skills.
  • 1100 Composition and Rhetoric 3 credits
    Introduction to academic argument and the thesis/claim/evidence form of essay writing, including thesis development, writing process and revision, analytical and research methods. 
  • 1200H Freshman Honors Seminar 3 credits
    Introduction to academic argument and the thesis/claim/evidence form of essay writing, including thesis development, writing process and revision, analytical and research methods. This course is open only to Distinguished Scholars, who substitute it for Composition and Rhetoric. Three hours of lecture plus conferences. 
  • 1300 Advanced Writing Skills 3 credits
    Course will build on the basic principles and practices of the academic essay presented in Composition and Rhetoric by introducing students to the variety of forms of academic argument, analysis and exposition. 
  • 1500 Media Studies 3 credits
    This course defines “media” broadly as including oral, print, photographic, broadcast, cinematic, and digital cultural forms and practices. The course looks at the nature of communication, the transformation from consumers into producers, the functions of media, and the institutions that help define media’s place in society.
  • 1501 News Writing and Reporting 3 credits
    Fundamentals of journalism, featuring news writing skills and reporting techniques.
  • 1502 Feature Writing 3 credits
    Focuses on the skills and techniques to write articles or stories for newspapers, magazines or news websites.
  • 1503 Columns and Editorials 3 credits
    Advanced writing seminar. Focuses on the skills and techniques of writing unsigned editorials and signed columns for newspapers, magazines, and Web-based publications.
  • 1520 Broadcast Journalism 3 credits
    Focuses on the skills and techniques to report, produce, and deliver news for radio and/or TV and/or other broadcast media.
  • 1525 Magazine Journalism 3 credits
    This course studies how magazines are created and how stories are written, edited, and developed for a reader.
  • 1600 Advertising Copywriting 3 credits
    Writing copy for various kinds of promotional materials.
  • 1610 Advanced Advertising Copywriting 3 credits
    Advanced work in writing copy, leading to a Portfolio.
    Prerequisite: ENGL 1600
  • 1650 Public Relations 3 credits
    Fundamentals and techniques of public relations in both business and nonprofit organizations; practical project evaluation and experience.
  • 1651 Developing Effective Messages 3 credits
    Advanced course in forms of publicity writing and oral presentation. Emphasis on effective messages.
  • 1720-28 Topics in Media Studies 3 credits
    Topics Vary.
  • 1790-98 Internship in Communications 1–3 credits depending on hours devoted
    Apprenticeships in media and communications, under supervision, in recognized professional offices: graphic arts; editing; audiovisual media technology; photography; public relations; advertising; newspapers; magazines; radio programming and continuity; network and cable television; book publishing. May not replace a course. 100 hours per credit up to three credits. See Chair for details. 
  • 1800 Introduction to Creative Writing 3 credits
    A creative writing course that introduces students to multiple genres. Presupposes no prior experience with college-level creative writing. Students are encouraged to take this course prior to other creative writing classes, and they are required to take it before taking an advanced creative writing class. Open to all, though individual professors may alter the class and its requirements for students in the creative writing concentration.
  • 1801 Writing Fiction 3 credits
    A creative writing course introducing students to the writing of fiction. Students read examples from short stories and novels, learn about the elements of plot, character development and setting, and write and revise their own stories. Set up as a writing workshop, the course enables students to regularly share their work with their teacher and their peers.
  • 1802 Writing Creative Nonfiction 3 credits
    A creative writing course introducing students to the writing of creative nonfiction. Students read examples of the essay from a range of time periods and write and revise their own. Set up as a writing workshop, the course enables students to regularly share their work with their teacher and their peers.
  • 1805 Reading and Writing Poetry 3 credits
    Through discussion, written analysis and creative writing exercises, this course explores poetry from various perspectives, stressing elements such as imagery, metaphor, voice, and musicality, including both traditional and modern approaches to poetic form.
  • 1811 Writing for Television 3 credits
    Students will learn about the craft of television writing through analysis of existing shows and by writing an episode. Discussion and critique workshop.
  • 1812 Screenwriting 3 credits
    The course teaches the process of learning to apply one’s vision to a cinematic medium within a specific story genre. Topics: dramatic subject matter; developing the scene; plot construction; creating and developing characters; dialogue; writing subtext and subplots; how to market and sell a script.
  • 1815 Writing Women’s Lives 3 credits
    A seminar in memoir writing, developing narrative techniques that convey how the self is reinvented and refined through experience. Topics include the self and its roots, the self and community, growth, and coming of age.
  • 1900 Advanced Creative Writing 3 credits
    A course that builds upon the skills established in Introduction to Creative Writing and other CW courses. The course will lead students to create a portfolio of their work.
    Pre-req: ENGL 1800 or any prior course at SCW that counted toward Creative Writing.
  • 1920, 1921 Topics in Creative Writing 3 credits
    Topics vary. May be repeated for credit.
  • 2000 Ways of Reading 3 credits
    Who decides what texts mean? Are some interpretations better than others? Does the author’s intention matter? How does language work? In this foundational course, we will study texts of the cultures around us, as well as literature. Required for the English Major and Minor.
  • 2003 Survey of British Literature I 3 credits
    History of British literature and culture focusing on major works from the earliest literature through Donne.
  • 2004 Survey of British Literature II 3 credits
    History of British literature and culture focusing on major works from Milton through 1870.
  • 2005 Survey of British Literature III 3 credits
    History of British literature and culture from 1879 to the present. 
  • 2006 Survey of American Literature I 3 credits
    Development of American literature through 1870.
  • 2007 Survey of American Literature II 3 credits 
    Development of American literature, 1870 to the present. 
  • 2510 American Literature and Culture 3 credits
    This course asks you to think about literary texts as engaging with their culture. Drawing upon both literary texts and other kinds of cultural documents (for example: film, photographs, newspapers), you will look at American literature in a cultural context and explore the way literary texts and “nonliterary” texts can speak to one another. The topic will change depending on the instructor. 
  • 2520 Literature and Culture of the Roaring Twenties (then and now) 3 credits
    A detailed examination of the cultural history of American in the 1920s. Explores concepts such as the “Jazz Age,” “The Lost Generation,” and the idea of modernity in relation to a variety of media, including film, novels, poetry, history, and music.
  • 2580 American Jewish Literature 3 credits
    Literature by Jewish writers in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. Focuses on how these authors describe immigration and Americanization, explore the conflicts between tradition and modernity, portray the Jewish family, deal with the legacy of the Holocaust, conceive of Jewish self-identity, and negotiate Jewish stereotypes. Authors include Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Woody Allen, and Wendy Wasserstein.
  • 2590 African American Literature 3 credits
    The course offers an overview of literature written by African Americans from the mid-19th century to the present. Readings include works of autobiography, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction by: Harriet Jacobs, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Martin Luther King Jr, Rita Dove, and Toni Morrison.
  • 2600-2602 Topics in Historical Approaches to Literature 3 credits
    May be repeated since the subject matter varies from term to term.
  • 2654 Victorian Literature and Culture 3 credits
    Poets, essayists, and novelists of the 1830-1880’s in relation to the social and intellectual milieu, including Dickens, Eliot, Browning, Tennyson, Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelites, and less well-known writers.
  • 2700 Introduction to Film 3 credits
    Studies how meaning is produced in cinema and teaches how to analyze a diverse range of filmmaking practices. Covers key concepts and theories of cinema as an aesthetic medium and as a social practice.
  • 2702 Writing on Film 3 credits
    Close analysis of the composition or structure of a selection of films with the aim of developing students’ critical faculties for thinking and writing about film.
  • 2710 Introduction to Fiction 3 credits
    This course will introduce students to basic elements of fiction, such as perspective, character, plot setting, and narrative time. Students will read examples of different forms of fiction via short stories and novels, as well as basic introductions to theories of fictional narrative.
  • 2720 The American Short Story 3 credits
    Traces the development of the American Short Story, early nineteenth century to the present.  Authors may include Nathanial Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Chestnut, Katherine Anne Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Raymond Carver, Dorothy Parker, Joyce Carol Oates, Leslie Silko. 
  • 2740 Classic Modern Novels 3 credits
    Intensive study of five landmark novels, some in translation, by authors who have explored new territory in modern fiction.
  • 2750 The Graphic Novel 3 credits
    Explores the graphic novel through a variety of genres, such as memoir, history and adventure.
  • 2770 Introduction to the Essay 3 credits
    This course treats a range of essay forms and considers some of the standard rhetorical devices used in writing nonfiction: persuasion, comparison and narration. We begin by reading classic essays by Montaigne, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Johnson and end with a selection of literary non-fiction works by writers like Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Tom Wolfe and John McPhee. In the course, you will be expected to write several short imitation essays in the style of an author we read. Your final project will be to craft, in several drafts, a long essay.
  • 2779 Fact and Fiction: American Literary Nonfiction 3 credits
    The development since World War II of alternative forms of journalism in America literary nonfiction, new journalism, personal journalism, the nonfiction novel. Considers why some journalists in the 20th century intentionally have departed from standard practices valued by mainstream journalists, forgoing the objective stance to include their own involvement in the story. Connection between form and subject matter and what makes a piece of journalism. Authors include Capote, Agee, Hersey, McCarthy, Mitchell and Ross as well as more contemporary writers.
  • 2791 Children’s Literature 3 credits
    An historical study of children's literature from seventeenth century fairy tales to writers of today such as Maurice Sendak. 
  • 2792 Comedy and Satire 3 credits
    Theories of and studies in comedy and satire, from their classical roots through the present. Authors covered may range from Aristophanes to Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert.
  • 2793 Fiction and Film: A Translation 3 credits
    Translating the language of literature into the language of film. A study of 19th and 20th century literature in a contemporary visual context. Writers may include Austen, Dickens, Hardy, James, Wharton, and Forster.
  • 2795 Magic Realism and Literature of the Uncanny 3 credits
    Intensive study of five landmark novels, some in translation, by authors including Franz Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and others. Focuses on work that explores new territory in modern fiction incorporating elements of fantasy, magic, and the surreal.
  • 2800 Literature and Culture of the City 3 credits
    Instructors may focus on how writers have responded to intensifying urbanization in the United States or Britain and the role of literature in defining a distinctly “urban“ culture or on how a particular city such as New York or London has been represented in literature or culture over time. Usually the focus will be on one city. Counts toward the minor in American studies when focus is on American urban scene.
  • 2820 Literature and the Environment 3 credits
    Introduces central literary environmental texts and debates within the field of eco-criticism. Examines how the environment, be it natural or humanly constructed, informs our language and literature, and how literature can influence attitudes towards nature and its preservation (and/or conservation.)
  • 2830 Renaissance Drama by Authors other than Shakespeare 3 credits
    Consideration of the plays in the contexts of Renaissance and modern theatrical and dramatic conventions. Examination of writers such as Marlowe, Beaumont and Fletcher, Jonson.
  • 2834 Shakespeare: Tragedies and Romances 3 credits
    Consideration of selected works by Shakespeare, focusing on the tragedies and romances.
  • 2835 Shakespeare: Histories and Comedies 3 credits
    Consideration of selected works by Shakespeare, focusing on the histories and comedies.
  • 2841 Arthurian Legends 3 credits
    Examines the myth of King Arthur from its origin in the Middle Ages to its later retellings in Victorian and modern literature as well as in contemporary film. Studies the changing representation of Arthurian characters, and the way this legend has been used to discuss chivalry, patriotism, romantic love, and social ideals.
  • 2850 Literature of World War I  3 credits
    Examines, novels, short stories, poems, and memoirs of the First World War.  Investigates themes such as shell-shock, nationalism, cultural modernism, and memorialization.
  • 2880 Parents and Children 3 credits
    The portrayal in literature of the splendors and miseries of having children; of generational conflict; of people’s changing attitudes, first as young children, then as parents of children and as middle-aged children of aging parents.
  • 2901 Introduction to Women’s Studies: Theory and Practice 3 credits
    This course introduces some of the issues and debates that characterize “Women’s Studies.” Women’s Studies itself is an academic discipline that grew out of the 20th century women’s movement. It draws on many different disciplines in the humanities and the sciences in its efforts to describe and understand women’s lives. (May be taught by faculty in other departments; required for the minor in Women’s Studies).
  • 2902 Women and Literature 3 credits
    Writings by and about women from 1800 to the present; novels, stories, poems, and nonfictional prose discussing changing attitudes toward women’s roles in education, marriage, society, etc. May be offered in various forms: eg. American Women Writers; British Women Writers. May include works by Jane Austen, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, and contemporary writers.
  • 2920-25 Topics in Literature: Introductory Level 3 credits
    May be repeated since subject matter varies from term to term. 
  • 2926 Myth and Folklore: Relations to Literature 3 credits
    An introduction to Greek, Roman, and Scandinavian mythologies and their function in works of literature ranging from Homer to Gaiman; the course includes a study of the classic fairy tales and their folkloric elements.
  • 2936 Monstrous Imaginations: Then and Now 3 credits
    A study of literary representations of the monstrous "other" in its various guises across a range of texts, periods, and genres. May combine psychoanalytic and sociological approaches to the "monster" with literary analysis. Readings may begin with classical and medieval monster stories (in translation) and end with contemporary stories such as Rowling's Harry Potter or Meyer's Twilight series.
  • 2950 Classic Texts/Contemporary Revisions 3 credits
    In this course students read classic works alongside later texts written in response, with an aim to consider the ways writers reimagine and respond to canonical texts.
  • 2960 Representations of the Holocaust 3 credits
    Studies twentieth and twenty-first century shapings of the meanings of the Shoah through specific disciplines, discourses, institutions and media which may include: history, literature, memoir, film, museums, monuments.
  • 2967-2970 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literature 3 credits
    Literature and another discipline, such as philosophy, politics, psychology, science, or the arts. May be repeated, since the subject matter varies from term to term.
  • 2971 Literature and Social Change 3 credits
    Literary explorations with a historical or sociological slant. May focus on one of the following topics: literature and war, literature and revolution, literature of the underclass, the immigrant experience in America, colonialism and imperialism.

Advanced Courses

  • 3210 The Rise of the Novel and the Representation of the Self 3 credits
    Asks how the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English novel contributed to the creation of the modern character (i.e. the modern "self") by representing the subjectivity of their protagonists. Considers contemporary theories of human nature and identity and current theories about the development and structure of the novel form.
  • 3351 Modernism 3 credits
    Modernist texts in English focusing on fiction and poetry from 1900-1930. An introduction to the intellectual and technological backgrounds of modernism and their relationship to modernist themes in the visual arts. Writers may include Conrad, Stein, Joyce, Lawrence, Pound, Eliot, Yeats, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hurston
  • 3525 Transcendentalism 3 credits
    Intensive examination of essays, lectures, poetry and cultural contributions of American Transcendentalist writers.
  • 3600 Brave New World: Global Literature in English 3 credits
    Contemporary writers whose linguistic and cultural roots are in West and South Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. 
  • 3675 American Playwrights and Their Plays
    Intensive study of important dramatists and theatrical movements of the 20th century. Through reading and analyzing plays and relevant theoretical and historical essays, attending performances, acting out portions of plays, and writing a research paper, students actively participate in a multidimensional examination of American playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, David Mamet, August Wilson, and Wendy Wasserstein.
  • 3731 The Development of the British Novel I 3 credits
    Traces the emergence of the novel as a literary form and provides an introduction to Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney, and Austen; the novel of sentiment, the novel of sensibility, the gothic novel, and the novel of manners.
  • 3732 The Development of the British Novel II 3 credits
    Focuses on the English novel in the 19th century and may include work by the Brontës, Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, and novels of sensation by writers like Collins and Braddon.
  • 3733 The Development of the British Novel III 3 credits
    Treats twentieth-century experiments in fiction. Authors may include Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, Lessing, Byatt, Coetzee, and Rushdie.
  • 3792 American Autobiography 3 credits
    Diverse forms of personal narratives in the United States from the 16th century to the present; emphasis on the changing needs that writing autobiography has served over this period and the variety of forms that writers’ life stories have taken.
  • 3920-21 Topics in Literature: Advanced Level 3 credits
    May be repeated, since the subject matter varies from term to term. 
  • 3922-23 Major Authors 3 credits
    Works by a maximum of four major authors, usually English, American, or both. This course may be repeated; subject matter varies.
  • 4002 Communications/Media Exit Project 1 credit

English Major

  • English Literature Concentration: 34 credits: ENGL 2000, 1300, 4000 at least two (2) advanced level literature courses, seven (7) additional ENGL courses. 
  • Creative Writing Concentration: 34 credits. ENGL 1800, 2000, 4001, at least one (1) advanced level literature course, three (3) ENGL writing courses, plus five (5) additional ENGL courses.
  • Media Studies Concentration: 34 credits. ENGL 1500, 2000, 4002; three (3) English literature courses totaling 9 credits; two (2) courses in a Media Emphasis selected from Journalism: English 1501, 1502; or Advertising: English 1600, 1610; or Public Relations: English 1650, 1651 totaling 6 credits; four (4) elective courses in Media Studies totaling 12 credits. A 1-credit internship experience is required for media studies majors.
  • NOTE: ENGL 1100 or 1200H is a prerequisite for all ENGL courses.

English Minor

ENGL 2000 plus five (5) additional ENGL courses chosen from Media Studies, literature and/or Creative Writing.

For more details about the English major and minor - see the factsheet at the Academic Advisement webpage.

The following list includes faculty who teach at the Beren (B) and/or Wilf (W) campus.

  • Laura Adkins
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B) 
  • Barbara Blatner
    Lecturer in English (W)
  • Rivkah Blau
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B) 
  • Deb Brown
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B) 
  • Lauren Fitzgerald
    Professor of English (W) 
    Director, The Wilf Writing Center
  • Jason Gewirtz
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B)
  • Paula Geyh
    Associate Professor of English (W)
  • Gina Grimaldi
    Instructor in English (B)
    Assistant Director, Beren Writing Center
  • Daniel Hengel
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B) 
  • Joy Ladin
    David & Ruth Gottesman Professor of English (B) 
    Director, The Beren Writing Center
  • David Lavinsky
    Assistant Professor of English (W)
  • Will Lee
    Associate Professor Emeritus of English 
  • Chavie Lieber
    Adjunct Professor
  • Rachel Mesch
    Professor of French (W)
    Co-chair, Department of English
  • Matt Miller
    Associate Professor of English (B)
    Chair, Department of English 
  • Erik Mintz
    Adjunct Instructor in English (B)
  • Nora Nachumi
    Associate Professor of English (B)
  • Richard Nochimson
    Professor Emeritus of English
  • Seamus O'Malley
    Associate Professor of English (B)
  • Ann Peters
    Associate Professor of English (B)
  • David Puretz
    Lecturer in English (W)
  • Liesl Schwabe
    Lecturer in English (W)
    Director, YC Writing Program
  • Linda Shires
    Professor of English, Emeritus (B)
  • Norma Silbermintz
    Adjunct Instructor in English (W)
  • Stephen Spencer
    Lecturer in English (B) 
  • Elizabeth Stewart
    Associate Professor of English (W)
  • Fred Sugarman
    Adjunct Instructor in English (W)
    Associate Dean of Yeshiva College
    Shaina Trapedo
    Adjunct Professor
  • Brian Trimboli
    Lecturer in English (W)
  • Cynthia Wachtell
    Research Associate Professor of American Studies (B) 
    Director, S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program

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Graduate Study

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News and Organizations

Why Be an English Major? (courtesy of Wake Forest University English department online resources)

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