English

Saint Michael's English

In the English Department at Saint Michael's College, we study literature both as art (the aesthetic representation of human nature and culture) and as artifact (a record of human nature and culture). From introductory seminars on the New Yorker and Road Trips to senior seminars on Monsters and Endings, we offer courses that encourage students to examine themselves, encounter difference, and embrace complexity within communities of other readers and writers. Our eclectic department is composed of thoughtful, passionate teachers, and our courses are dynamic, engaging, and challenging.

Our department offers courses in British, American, and world literatures, as well as writing and film. The ten courses of the major follow a natural pattern, from an introductory seminar (EN 110) through several survey courses and into Critical Theory (EN 325) and a choice of upper-level courses, culminating with a senior seminar (EN 410). All courses foster critical thinking through writing and discussion. Majors must maintain a high level of written expression and will be expected to learn and use the skills of literary scholarship. The Department also offers two minors: one in literature and the other in creative writing, each requiring five courses. The Creative Writing minor allows students to study literature "from the inside out," as writers of it, but fosters the same critical thinking, writing, and discussion skills as the major and the literature minor.

Our upper-level, special topics courses explore a theme in depth that you may have otherwise never known to exist. Some examples:

  • Beauty and Desire in the Postmodern American Novel
  • Milton
  • The Blues
  • Monsters
  • Other Worlds, Other Minds: Knowledge and Vision in Modern Literature, Art, and Film
  • Tolkien
  • Myth, Metaphor, and Metamorphosis
  • Digital Literature
  • The Horror
  • Melancholy
  • Teaching Writing
  • Wordplay

English Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will demonstrate college-level critical thinking skills.
  • Students will demonstrate college-level writing skills.
  • Students will demonstrate college-level reading skills.       
  • Students will have specific skills associated with literary and cultural interpretations.            
  • Students will have a working knowledge of the traditions of the Anglo-American canons.   
  • Students will demonstrate sophisticated strategies for understanding and interpreting these literary works.  
  • Students will demonstrate the capacity to think into complex cultural and textual issues and to communicate their ideas about these issues.

Kathleen Balutansky, PhD

Professor of English
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M.A., Ph.D. University of Notre Dame
B.A. Goshen College

Areas of Expertise:

Post-Colonial theory, Caribbean literature, 20th-century women writers.

My Saint Michael's:

Many years ago, a student in my Caribbean Literature class came back from spring break and told me I ruined his vacation. After learning about Jamaica in class and discussing what Jamaicans felt, he said could not just lie on the beach and drink with his friends in an exclusive beach resort. He was drawn to the local community where he interacted with real Jamaicans. He had planned a mindless vacation and found that what he learned in class changed that. To me, this was a student who really understood what he learned and made it matter in his life. That is what learning is all about.

Saint Michael’s is unique because of the combination of its inheritance of the Edmundite spirit, the dedication of its faculty and staff, its small size and its wonderful location. Most of our students are open-hearted and open to the world.

Nick Clary, PhD

Professor of English
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Ph.D. University of Notre Dame
B.A. LaSalle College

Areas of Expertise:

Shakespeare, Milton, Renaissance Literature, Drama

Courses I Teach:

Milton, Shakespeare, Honors Colloquium, and First Year Seminar: Drama and Culture

My Saint Michael's:

In my more than 35 years on this faculty, I have had the pleasure of working with many young individuals who have gone on to become outstanding citizens. What make these students special are not so much the positions they have achieved in the work place but the values and ideals that they have carried with them into their careers.

The best part about teaching at Saint Michael’s is that the classes are small, which allows for a great deal of discussion and active learning, with many opportunities to write, receive commentary on written work, and engage in peer reviewing.  I appreciate how the students at Saint Michael's are respectful, not only to faculty and staff but also to one another, and among them there is an inspiring culture of volunteerism.

I like to teach all of my courses but I prefer Shakespeare because it is always a challenge for students who are not used to reading Early Modern English texts, and it often brings out the best in them as students of literature.

Maura D'Amore, PhD

Assistant Professor of English
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Ph.D., English (specialization: American Literature to 1900), with a five-course minor in American Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
B.A., Classics and Literatures & Cultures, Brown University

Areas of Expertise:

literary geographies, print culture, gender studies, and American Studies.

Joel Dando, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of English
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B.A. University of Arizona
Ph.D. Harvard University

Areas of Expertise:

Romantic Poetry in general and the life, poetry, and letters of Lord Byron in particular, literature and the visual arts, fiction and film

Courses I Teach:

  • British Literature II
  • British Romantic Poets
  • Genres: Poetry
  • Introduction to Literary Studies
  • Modern Civilization (in Humanities)

Greg Delanty, BA

Professor of English
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B.A. National University of Ireland 

Areas of Expertise:

Poetry and literature

Courses I Teach:

  • Genres: Poetry
  • Introduction to Literary Studies: Modern American Poetry
  • Irish Literature
  • Poetry workshops

My Saint Michael's:

I am a widely published Irish poet born in Cork, Ireland. I enjoy teaching all of my classes, and consider myself a lucky person to have a job teaching what I love - the reading and writing of poetry. I love teaching because I love poetry.

I like the ethos of the college. I find the Edmundite ethos and in general the liberal arts a healthy way of being in the world and a good way for young people to learn to be in the world for the rest of their lives.

We're the better for understanding through literature how other human beings have lived in the world. In the end, all learning is humility, and students will understand that and it will give them a better chance of understanding the good and bad of life and of adding to society in a positive fashion. We can't overestimate the interconnectedness of things. Literature shows us how to see our own uniqueness, to take off the mundane goggles, to see that no matter how small we are, we're important.

Elizabeth Inness-Brown, MFA

Professor of English
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M.F.A., Columbia University, Creative Writing: Fiction
B.A., St. Lawrence University, English and Fine Arts

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Areas of Expertise:

Academic writing, fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing

Classes I Teach:

  • FS111: The Examined Life
  • EN327: Fiction Writing Workshop
  • EN329: Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop
  • EN101: College Writing
  • HU350: Advanced Academic Writing

Bridget Kerr, MFA

English Department, Adjunct Faculty
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M.F.A. Creative Writing,  California State University, Fresno
B.A, English, University of California, Berkeley

Areas of Expertise:

Poetry, Essay, Fiction

Courses I Teach:

  • English 101 College Writing
  • First-Year Seminar 119 Horses and Healing: Our Bond With Nature
  • First-Year Seminar 111 The Examined Life
  • Poetry, Essay, Fiction

Nathaniel Lewis, PhD

Professor of English and Environmental Studies Coordinator
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Ph.D. Harvard University
M.A. University of North Carolina
B.A. Yale University

I teach courses on literary theory, environmental writing, and multiethnic literatures. I have written on western American literature, literary aesthetics, and nature writing.

Tim Mackin, PhD

Director of the Writing Program, Instructor of English
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Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University
B.A. Colgate University

Areas of Expertise:

Writing, Modernist Literature, Literature and Philosophy

Courses I Teach:

English:

  • Advanced Academic Writing
  • The Art of Memory
  • College Writing
  • Modernist Poetry

Humanities:

  • Modern Civilization
  • The 20th Century

William Marquess, PhD

Instructor of English
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Ph.D. Harvard University
B.A. Duke University

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Areas of Expertise:

My special interest lies in writing fiction.

Courses I Teach:

  • First-Year Seminar (Off the Grid)
  • Fiction Writing Workshops

Paying Attention:

I am a fiction writer and teach writing workshops and introductory literature courses. Writing fiction makes me pay attention to everything - the eye color of the person I'm listening to, the quality of the light, the timbre of a voice. Paying attention to students is crucial in teaching, and teaching keeps me in touch with youth, which is part of the world I want to write about.

Robert Niemi, PhD

English Department Chair, Professor of English
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M.A., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst
M.S. Columbia University
B.A. University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Areas of Expertise:

American Studies; American literature and cultural history; film studies; critical theory; popular culture studies

Courses I Teach:

  • Advanced film courses
  • American literature surveys
  • Critical Theory
  • Genres: Film

Christina Root, PhD

Professor of English; Coordinator, Humanities Program
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M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Columbia University
A.B. Bryn Mawr College

Courses I Teach:

In the English Department:

  • British Romanticism
  • 19th and 20th Century British and European Literature

In the Humanities Program:

  • Enlightenment and Revolution
  • Modern Civilization

Kerry Shea, PhD

Associate Professor of English
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M.A., Ph.D. Cornell University
B.A., M.A. Middlebury College;

Areas of Expertise:

I have published on women and film as well as Middle High German and Old Norse literature and am working on a book, Engendering Romance: Women and European Medieval Romance.

Courses I Teach:

I teach courses in film, early British Literature, mystery fiction, utopian fiction and women’s literature.

Lorrie Smith, PhD

American Studies Program Director, Professor of English and American Studies
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M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
B.A. University of Massachusetts-Boston

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Areas of Expertise:

African American literature, especially poetry

Courses I Teach:

  • African American Literature
  • American Literature I and II
  • First-Year Seminar on Race and Culture
  • Genres: Poetry; Senior Seminar on various topics (latest: Literature and the Blues)
  • The Middle Passage (Transatlantic Slave Trade in History, Memory, and Imagination)

My Saint Michael's:

My classes offer the opportunity to engage students in discussions of race, racism, African American literature and history. I have worked hard to develop strategies for safely approaching what can often be loaded material that challenges students' comfort zones. I often incorporate experiences that combine classroom study with activities in the community. This includes overnight field trips to Charlestown, Massachusetts with my First-Year Seminar course and a three-week service-learning program in Ghana with students from my Middle Passage class. Through these cross-cultural encounters, students have a chance to examine and enlarge their own perspectives. I am also a faculty member in the college’s American Studies program.

There is a real commitment here to teach the whole student. I enjoy having a chance to shape hungry young minds and develop personal relationships with students. Saint Michael's students have open minds and good hearts. They are very empathetic, kind, and friendly, and many are interested in finding ways to connect what they learn in classes to the larger world. They also have a strong desire to contribute to the community through service. My favorite class to teach is African-American Literature and The Middle Passage, because it's a chance to introduce our students to a tradition they know little about, and to push their comfort zones.

Joan Wry, PhD

Associate Professor of English
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B.A. Saint Michael's College
M.A. University of Virginia
Ph.D. McGill University

I teach the American Literature surveys, Literary Studies, and first-year seminars.  I have published papers on Shakespeare, Shelley, Whitman and antebellum women writers.  

  • English students edit The Onion River Review, an annual literary journal featuring poetry, prose, and visual arts by students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the greater community. The Onion River Review hosts open readings throughout the school year, as well.
  • The department hosts a reading series that includes the John Engels Memorial Reading held annually. Each year the English department invites writers to campus to share their work with the Saint Michael's community.
  • A number of English majors work as coaches at the Writing Center, which offers students free help with writing.
  • Saint Michael’s English majors can apply for summer grants to work with faculty members on extended projects.
  • English majors can pursue internships based on their interests as part of their educational experience.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Communications Coordinator
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Document Management/Digitization Specialist
  • English Teacher
  • Special Education Instructional Assistant
  • Material Planner
  • Senior Sales Manager of Publications
  • Admissions Counselor
  • Operations Supervisor

Our English graduates have used their background for jobs and careers in many fields.  Especially because we emphasize critical thinking and written communication, our English graduates are well prepared for jobs and careers in many fields upon graduation. They have also gone on to teach at all levels, and have pursued graduate studies in many areas, including law, environmental science, and music.  Anyone seeking a solid liberal arts background on which to build a future will find exactly that in the English major.

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