Professor Beth W. Capo
Professor Nicholas P. Capo
Professor Catharine O’Connell
Associate Professor Cynthia A. Cochran
Associate Professor Lisa J. Udel
Assistant Professor Kara Dorris
Instructor Matthew Schultz

Why Should You Study English at Illinois College?

“A major strength is the diversity of experience in the faculty; someone was always able to help me. Post-graduate and job-search advice was very strategic and useful. (I still employ some of the tips and resources today!)” – Claire Brakel Packer, ’08

OUR GLOBAL VISION. Our students and faculty come to the English Department because they love to read and write. We explore the literary output of humanity throughout its history, and we endeavor to add to it. We understand that the study and creation of literature allows us to learn not only about ourselves but also about people from our culture and other global cultures. Our faculty members invite our students, both in their thoughts and through their actions, to travel beyond the walls of our classrooms, and many students write for off-campus publications, volunteer at local organizations, or study abroad (most recently to England, Japan, Ecuador, Ireland, Argentina, and Spain).

OUR CURRICULUM. The English curriculum reflects our belief that students should explore many areas of literary activity but also should fully understand the professional possibilities opened to them by the English major and minor. In addition to concentrations in literature and writing, we have designed an editing and publishing concentration and a minor in professional writing. The department’s English Studies course provides students with an overview of the profession and a concentrated exposure to the particular specializations of professors. The curriculum also includes a capstone senior-seminar course that allows students to complete a major, individualized research project. Of course, we want our graduates to be fully prepared for graduate study or employment in a career track, but we also want them to understand that a life without exposure to the beauty and pleasures of the written word truly is a life lived in quiet desperation. We believe in the centrality of literature within the world’s civilizations. We are readers and writers, students and creators of literature, and this work enables us to live meaningful lives.

OUR FACULTY. Our faculty members possess deep knowledge of their specializations and enthusiasm regarding their privilege of sharing the world’s literature with the next generation of English scholars and writers. These specializations range from the common and very important (American literature, British literature, multicultural literatures of the Americas, creative writing, rhetoric and composition) to the unexpected but equally important (Japanese literature, the literature of war, speculative and popular fiction, film, nature and travel writing). Our faculty members have traveled the world, and several have lived and taught abroad.

OUR ALUMNI. Our alumni include professors, writers, lawyers, teachers, editors, librarians, scientists, content managers, marketing specialists, game designers, grant writers, artists, and police officers, and we are proud of the accomplishments of all of them. Within our department’s hallways, students encounter lists of jobs our alumni currently hold and advanced degrees that they have earned. We maintain close contacts with many alumni who have experienced high levels of success in their chosen career paths, and many young alumni accept our invitations to return to campus to share their advice and perspectives with current students. A good number of alumni share the faculty’s delight with travel and exploring the world, with some even gaining valuable global experience as Peace Corps participants, and they maintain the friendships with peers that they formed while studying at Illinois College.

Honors in English
Students with a minimum 3.5 grade point average in English and a minimum 3.0 GPA overall can apply for Honors in English, working independently to complete an honors thesis over the final two semesters of enrollment. (For further details, see the course description below for English 410: English Honors Thesis.)

Majors & Programs


EN 104: Writing Foundations

This course reviews basic strategies for forming good college-level sentences (including good thesis statements), paragraphs and essays. Students also learn to plan and edit their writing. Students will review rules of grammar, mechanics, vocabulary usage, and punctuation and apply them to short essays. The work will be tailored to individual needs: the course has a lab studio component to help practice skills, and students will work with the instructor as well as writing center peer consultants. This course does not fulfill the all-college general education requirement in writing (this requirement can be met by taking EN 121, 205, or 208) or count toward the English major or minor.

EN 121: Writing

A writing course designed to enable the student through practice and revision to demonstrate an acceptable standard of written expression. Focus upon description, exposition, and argumentation. Critical reading and thinking are also stressed. Course requirements include completion of a research paper. Course theme varies. This course does not count toward the English major or minor. Students should also enroll in IC 102 (1).

EN 123: Monsters and Myth in the British Literary Tradition

This course is designed for majors and non-majors and will survey British literature from the Medieval period through the long eighteenth century. Special attention will be paid to monsters and myths across these literary periods. The course will attend to the global scope of the literature, to its cultural context, and to the persistence of "othering” across periods and genres. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 124: Literary DNA: Investigating the Gothic

This course is designed for majors and non-majors and will survey British literature from the nineteenth century through the post-modern period. By reading poetry and prose, special attention will be paid to one or more specific literary traditions. Within these traditions, the course will explore specific genres and themes such as the gothic, feminism, fairy tales, and disability. By reading texts throughout the time period, the course will explore how British traditions influenced the writers who came after. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 131: American Literature 17th-19th C.: Witch Hunts to the White City

This is an introduction to American Literature from its beginnings until the 1890s. It goes beyond just books by looking at the fascinating places, people, and periods that produced the texts, in addition to sampling the many types of writing that have helped Americans tell their stories, from bloody captivity narratives on the frontier to haunting gas-lit ghost stories in the city. Themes might include “The Devil in the 'Howling Wilderness"', “Revolution: Reason Armed'', “American Renaissance: The Transparent Eyeball'', “Conditions of the Working Class'', “Women Write the Weird'', and “Black in the White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition.'' This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 132: American Literature: Between the Living and Dead

Think you know American Literature? Would you dare to read a blood-spattered Robert Frost poem about a farm boy fatally cutting his hand off with a noisy buzz saw, in “Out, Out-", or will you stay with Frost's quiet and lovely "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening''? How about braving a classic American horror story, "The Damned Thing'', featuring an invisible predator, set in a late 19th-century version of a CSI morgue, and written by a traumatized Civil War veteran--who wrote with a real human skull on his desk. Do you have a taste for the gothic, sympathy for outsiders, or an urge to follow clues and dig up underground history? Take this course, if you do! Starting with our own backyard ghost tour, for example, we will visit a small-town cemetery whose undead creep out to speak their lives in poetry, near the Spoon River in Illinois. Generally, we will try to understand both the fears and desires imagined by literature, and we will do so by placing each text in the context of its place in time. The 20th century is what connects us, the generations of the living, with the dead of the past and the American tradition as a whole. Possible themes include violence, war, trauma, (im) migration, and their impact on the values that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 145: Literature and Science

This course focuses on how works of literature depict science and scientists. In 1959, scientist and novelist C.P. Snow declared that there were two cultures, the literary and the scientific, and that this divide prevented us from finding solutions to important problems. Scientists have written literature, and writers have written about science in ways that influence how society understands science and its achievements. The course may be themed around literature and medicine, climate change and the environment, technology and science fiction, or other topics bridging the “two cultures." This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 171: Global Literatures

Consideration of varying themes as they appear in texts from diverse cultures around the world. Genres of fiction, autobiography, graphic novel, and film included. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 172: Multicultural Literature of the Americas

Focus on literatures and cultures of the Americas with special consideration of the formation of cultural and individual identity in a variety of texts. Topics include the Culture of War, immigration and assimilation, cross-cultural contact, Sundown towns in the Midwest, among others. Genres of fiction, memoir, graphic novel, and film included. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 173: Literature of the Middle East and North Africa

This course is an introductory survey of contemporary literatures of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We will read works of fiction, non-fiction, and verse; we will view films, video, and art; and we will listen to music keeping in mind the cultural and historical contexts influencing the production of these texts. We will consider questions of national identity; the dialectic between gender, politics, and religion; and anti-colonial movements and the West, among others. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 180: LOL: Concepts of Comedy

An exploration of various forms of 'literature of laughter' - from humor to satire, from comedy to the Absurd - focusing on the uses and effects of comic genres and techniques to express what it is to be human. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 181: Introduction to Creative Writing

A workshop for students interested in exploring the various forms of creative writing including fiction, creative nonfiction, and/or poetry. Students and instructor work closely together to evaluate the individual and class writing projects in an informal setting. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 182: Journalistic Writing

A study of newspapers and the techniques of news gathering and news writing; writing and criticism of news stories. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 201: English Studies

English Studies is a course for students who love to read and write. It serves as an overview of how scholars and writers study and produce language and literature. In this course, students learn not only basic skills like critical reading or literary explication but also the distinctions and connections among the various strands of the professional discipline, such as literary criticism or creative writing. This course is appropriate for both majors and non-majors.

EN 230: Young Adult Literature

What is “YA" literature? Should it only be read by Young Adults? How does it fit into literary studies and into popular culture? What can fiction do for Young Adult (or adult) readers? Can it make readers more aware of global diversity and world events? In this course we will read and analyze works of YA fiction and discuss genre, theme, representation, and interpretation. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 236: Narrative in Fiction and Film

Students will read literature and watch movies for how meaning is made both visually and textually. They will analyze stories using basic critical concepts from literary and film studies, such as genre conventions or editing techniques. Special attention will be paid to works with social, global, and philosophical implications. For example, semester organizing themes have included the suffering and sacrifice of children, workplace satire, women and true crime, and the graveyard. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 245: From Middle-Earth to Outer Space

A reading of major works of fantasy and science fiction. Emphasis on the works of British authors, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 250: Introduction to Literature: Special Topics

A course with a topical approach to literary study. The particular topic for a given offering of this course will be indicated in the semester's course schedule. The courses are introductory and appropriate for first-year students.

EN 251: Lit Goes Pop! (Culture)

This course will provide the opportunity to study literature in its historical, social, and popular contexts “then” and “now.” In addition to studying the original literary work, you will also examine a variety of its adaptations, including literary, film, theatrical, and graphic novel adaptations. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 280: Editing and the English Language

Wherever there are words, there are writers, and jobs for writers. The Internet has created a staggering array of new platforms through which writers seek to reach readers. This course will offer students the opportunity to study these new writing landscapes, to participate and publish their thinking and writing, and to learn how to protect against the various hazards of such activity. This is an introductory course appropriate for first-year students.

EN 281: Professional Writing

This course studies the types of professional writing, with particular attention to factual, analytical and evaluative, and proposal arguments. Topic selection within the assignment sequence is flexible to allow students to shape more focused study into the themes and conventions of business writing, journalism, science and technical writing, writing for the Internet and social media, and writing about health and medicine.

EN 309: Advanced Writing: Creative Nonfiction

A workshop focused on the study and production of the four major genres of contemporary creative nonfiction: the profile, the general-interest article, popular criticism, and the personal or programmatic informal essay.

EN 326: Studies in the Renaissance

A study of the major works of British and Continental literature written during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including the dramatic works of Shakespeare.

EN 331: Mapping the English Novel

This course will examine place and space in the English novel, utilizing digital tools like GIS and story mapping to explore the effects of physical, imagined, and hybrid locations on identity. Some examples may include: Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and Surinam, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Bath, Charles Dickens's Bleak House and London, Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim and the fictional Island of Patusan, E.M. Forster's A Room with a View and Florence, and Monica Ali's Brick Lane and Bangladeshi London.

EN 339: Studies in Global Literature

Consideration of a genre, period, or theme in transnational literatures, such as European, Japanese, or Russian (in translation). The specific topic will be announced in the course listing and schedule of classes for the semester

EN 342: Studies in the Global Long Eighteenth Century

This course will be devoted to the study of British literature of the long eighteenth century from a globally situated perspective. Special attention will be paid to the interrogation of Enlightenment exploration culture and to the objects and texts collected and circulated across continents by women and Indigenous persons.

EN 351: Romantic Movement

In addition to examining major writers of the Romantic period in England, from the 1770's-1830's, this course will emphasize the role of material and global culture in the formation of the Romantic imagination. Through the study of material objects-collections brought back from global voyages, scrapbooks, letters, journals, women's collections of objects and ephemera--we will access voices from this period often left out of the Romantic canon. Moving beyond Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron, we will explore this period from multiple perspectives that account for the diverse experiences of people from a variety of social, gender, and racial and ethnic backgrounds, both in Europe and beyond. Special attention will be paid to Romantic writers outside of Europe and to female Romantic authors like Helen Maria Williams, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, and Jane Austen, as well as to women who contributed to the cultural and literary life of the period through their experiences and collections.

EN 354: Major American Writers

Evolution of American literature from Poe onward to Transcendentalism, Realism, and Naturalism. Focus on such figures as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Twain, James, and Dreiser.

EN 355: American Women Writers

Focus on the accomplishments, conditions and contributions of American women writers from the seventeenth century to the present. Readings will cover works of fiction, poetry and drama by writers such as Bradstreet, Dickinson, Sedgwick, Stowe, Wharton, Cather, Stein, Hurston and Morrison.

EN 356: Native American Literature

An exploration of Native American literatures, primarily of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Issues of “writing as witness/' identity and assimilation, oral and written storytelling, Red Power and Indigenist movements studied. Includes contemporary writers such as James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko, LeAnne Howe, and Sherman Alexie. Several films and attendance at local pow wow.

EN 357: Modern American Literature

Developments in American literature from the early twentieth century to the '60s. Readings will cover major works of fiction, poetry and drama.

EN 358: Women Writers: Global Voices/World Visions

A critical investigation of representative works by major women writers that reflect the social, philosophical, literary, and aesthetic standards of women's literature worldwide from the late 19th century to the present. Readings will cover fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama by writers such as Anna Akhmatova, Buchi Emecheta, Simone de Beauvoir, Nadine Gordimer, Arundhati Roy, Christa Wolf, and Virginia Woolf, among others.

EN 359: Japanese and American Modernism

Examination of literary Modernism as it manifests in America and in Japan. Specifically, we will examine how literature in both countries embodied and expressed the many cultural changes both societies underwent in the years between World Wars. Key themes include alienation, mass culture, urbanization, cosmopolitanism, race, gender, class, and the politics of experimental form and style.

EN 373: African-American Literature

Focus on African-American literature from the period of slavery to the present. Consideration of writers such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Octavia Butler. Consideration of such artistic forms of music (Blues, Spiritual, Jazz, Hip Hop), genres as the vernacular, the slave narrative, video representation, and speculative fiction.

EN 380: Writing for Publication

This course covers the basic procedures of editing and publishing texts. It will use the Chicago Manual of Style as a primary textbook, and it will enable students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes necessary to work effectively as an editorial assistant, editor, new-media writer, or professional writer.

EN 388: Literary Explorations

Topic, area, or authors chosen by the instructor. This course provides the opportunity for the instructor and students to work intensively in a special area of interest. May be repeated with consent of instructor.

EN 410: English Honors Thesis

Open to English majors entering the second semester of their junior year. Students with a minimum 3.5 GPA in their English courses and a minimum 3.0 GPA overall can apply to enroll in English 410 by writing a proposal specifying the original project to be undertaken and indicating, via signature, the agreement of a supervising faculty member. This proposal should be submitted to the department chair no later than the end of the junior year. A second faculty reader will be selected in consultation with the primary supervisor and the department chair. This project is to be pursued over two semesters (2 credits per semester) and will be beyond the 40-credit minimum required for the major. Students will conduct a sustained project culminating in an article-length essay or new creative work of approximately 20-30 pages that engages with relevant literary scholarship while aiming for an original contribution to the topic. Students will also give a public presentation of their work at the end of the spring semester

EN 430: Senior Seminar

A seminar bringing together all senior majors and department faculty in literary study designed to synthesize learning within the discipline, requiring comprehensive proficiency in literary techniques and critical concepts treated throughout the major and culminating in a major project.

EN 461: Independent Study in English

Independent Study in Language and Literature: A tutorial course providing intensive study of authors or areas of mutual interest to the instructor and students. Instructor permission required. May be repeated.

EN 462: Independent Study in English

Independent Study in Language and Literature: A tutorial course providing intensive study of authors or areas of mutual interest to the instructor and students. Instructor permission required. May be repeated.

EN 463: Internship in English

A work-study internship in public relations, journalism, technical or professional writing, or publishing. Permission of instructor and department chair required. May be repeated for a maximum of 8 hours.

EN 464: Internship in English

A work-study internship in public relations, journalism, technical or professional writing, or publishing. Permission of instructor and department chair required. May be repeated for a maximum of 8 hours.