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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, including poetry, fiction and nonfiction prose, drama, and film. They develop and refine skills in various types of writing and explore important questions about the relationships of art, society, and language.

The department offers majors in literature, creative writing, and media studies (with tracks in journalism or advertising) and minors in English and 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, advertising, publishing, public relations, technical and professional writing, social work, 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 a 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 majors and minors that we offer, 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.


1010 Essentials of Writing 3 credits
Introduction to basic writing skills.

1100 Composition and Rhetoric 3 credit
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, and 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.

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
Students learn the nuances of magazine development. Classes focus on how to develop and write all major editorial components from dynamic cover lines to compelling stories for both print and digital magazines. Each student creates her own magazine

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 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 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
This course explores the development since World War II of alternative forms of journalism in America literary nonfiction, including new journalism, personal journalism, the nonfiction novel. 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 Novels and Screens 3 credits
Studies adaptations of novels to film, television and the internet and vice versa.

2794 Short Fiction and Film 3 credits
This course examines the distance—and difference—between film adaptations and the short stories upon which the movies are based. Focusing on content and form, the course explores the narrative, auditory and cinematic techniques involved in adapting a story from one medium to another.

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.

2810 Harlem Renaissance 3 credits
The course examines literature alongside art and music of the period and introduces some of the events and people that helped create the Harlem Renaissance.

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 (previously 3110) 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 (previously 3102) Shakespeare: Tragedies and Romances 3 credits
Consideration of selected works by Shakespeare, focusing on the tragedies and romances.

2835 (previously 3101) 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, and 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: e.g. 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.

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.


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 and those they influenced.

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. Topics include 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: 33 credits: ENGL 2000, and ten (10) additional ENGL literature courses, two (2) of which must be at the advanced level. One Creative Writing course and one Media Studies course may be taken in lieu of literature courses.

  • Creative Writing Concentration: 33 credits. ENGL 1800, 1900, 2000; two (2) additional ENGL writing courses; one open ENGL elective; plus five (5) additional ENGL literature courses, at least one (1) of which must be an advanced level course.

  • Media Studies Concentration: 35 credits. ENGL 1650, 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; four (4) elective courses in Media Studies totaling 12 credits. A one-credit internship experience is required for media studies majors.

  • Note: ENGL 1100 or 1200H is a prerequisite for all ENGL courses. Details regarding the distribution of courses for each concentration/track above are available on the Department website and the Department Major Fact Sheet.

Details regarding the distribution of courses for each concentration/track above are available on the Department website and the Department Major Fact Sheet. 

English Minor

  • English Minor: The traditional English Minor is the most versatile of our minors, allowing for a variety of ways to focus. Requirements: 18 credits. ENGL 2000 plus five (5) additional ENGL courses chosen from media studies, literature, and/or creative writing.

  • Writing Minor: The Writing Minor allows students to explore our various writing courses without committing as fully as the Writing Concentration Major. Requirements: 15 credits. Any five designated writing courses offered by the English Department. Specific courses counting toward the minor are listed in the course schedule for each semester.

  • Women’s Studies Minor: The women’s studies minor offers students the opportunity to take an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of women and society. Requirements: 15 credits. ENGL 2901, plus four (4) additional courses chosen from among designated courses in the departments of art, English, history, Jewish studies, psychology, and sociology. Specific courses counting toward the minor are listed in the course schedule for each semester.

  • American Studies Minor: The American Studies minor offers students the opportunity to take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the culture and history of the United States.18 credits. 3 credits in HIST or POLI, plus 3 credits in English literature or American Art History. The remaining 12 credits may be chosen from among a list of designated courses in the departments of art, economics, English, history, Jewish History, music, political science, or sociology. The six total courses required for the minor must be drawn from three or more departments.

    An American Studies Minor Fact Sheet, available in the Academic Advisement Center and online, lists additional specifics and the acceptable courses in each category. Courses which may count toward the minor are noted in each semester’s course schedule.

For more details about the English major and minors, see the factsheet at the Academic Advisement webpage.

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

  • Lauren Fitzgerald
    Professor of English (YC) 
    Director, The Wilf Writing Center
  • Charlotte Fiehn
    Instructor of Writing and Literature (Stern)
  • Jason Gewirtz
    Adjunct Instructor of English (Sterrn)
  • Gina Grimaldi
    Clinical Assistant Professor of English (Stern)
    Director, Beren Writing Center
  • Matt Miller
    Associate Professor of English (Stern)
    Chair, Stern College Department of English 
  • Erik Mintz
    Adjunct Instructor of English (Stern)
  • Nora Nachumi
    Professor of English (Stern)
  • Seamus O'Malley
    Associate Professor of English (Stern)
  • Katherine Payne
    Instructor of Writing
  • Ann Peters
    Associate Professor of English (Stern)
  • David Puretz
    Lecturer of English (YC)
  • Liesl Schwabe
    Lecturer of English (YC)
    Director, YC Writing Program
  • Linda Shires
    Professor Emerita of English (Stern)
  • Shaina Trapedo
    Assistant Professor of English (Stern)

  • Brian Trimboli
    Lecturer of English (YC)

  • Cynthia Wachtell
    Research Associate Professor of American Studies (Stern) 
    Director, S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program

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