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Welcome to the Department of English

Because we teach the arts of rhetoric, English faculty have a special obligation to defend and promote the open exchange of ideas, and to expose and resist deliberate misrepresentations of the past. We honor the right to free speech and will oppose the intrusion of hate speech and hateful symbols of oppression on our campus. Since we recognize that the College of Charleston, like the rest of the country, has yet to shed the vestiges of our racist history, we stand committed to working toward a fully diverse and inclusive educational environment. Read More.

The College Today did a write up about our newest minor and concentration WRP (Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication). See the featured video below!

 Registration for Fall 2019 Courses 

Advising season for Fall 2019 registration has begun! Now is the time to meet with your advisor to discuss your plans for next semester and beyond. Our Fall offerings include a number of exciting special topics course alongside returning favorites. This year we introduced a new concentration within the major: Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication, and new courses affiliated with that concentration are available this Fall. You can find a chart that lists courses by schedule block here, a description of all of our courses here, and flyers promoting individual courses here. For detailed information on the advising process, see a copy of the email Dr. Seaman sent to all majors here (where you’ll find links to Advising Worksheets and more).

New English Major Curriculum Going into Effect Fall 2019

We are excited to announce a new major curriculum. The new major offers flexibility in all areas of the major, including EDEN (secondary education double-major).

What’s the difference between the new major and the old major?

The main difference has to do with the way the major is organized. Currently, students can take one of three paths through the English major:

  1. English, BA (ENGL)
  2. English, BA with a concentration in Creative Writing (ENGL-ENCW)
  3. English, BA with a concentration in Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication (ENGL-EWRP)

In the new major, #1 (ENGL) has been converted to a new concentration called “Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies” (ENGL-ELFC). As a result, those of you who are currently majoring in English without a concentration would become, under the new major, “Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies” concentrators. 

This may seem like a big change. On the other hand, as ENGL majors, you’re already concentrating on “Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies.” The courses you’ve taken in past semesters will fulfill the requirements of the new concentration. And the courses you will take in future semesters, within the new concentration, will be drawn almost exclusively from our current catalog. In other words, much remains the same. By converting the ENGL major to a concentration, we simply hope to draw it into alignment with our other concentrations and to more accurately represent the focus of the ENGL major. Plus, you’ll no longer have to wonder what to call your major. It’s not the “regular” English major. It’s not English “with no concentration” (as if that were possible). It’s English with a concentration in Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies – or ELFC for short, which I like to pronounce as elf’s.

Under the new major, all English majors will complete the same 18-hour core and all English majors will choose an 18-hour concentration. This new organization dramatically simplifies and streamlines the major – and presents other benefits, too. For example, under the new major

  • All English majors will be given a choice among introductory surveys and will take a maximum of four required 200-level courses (as opposed to six in the old major)
  • All English majors will have fewer upper-level area requirements to fulfill – specifically, just two (as opposed to four or six in the old major, depending on your concentration)
  • All English majors will have more opportunities to take electives, both in the core and in their concentrations
  • All concentrations will require a maximum of 36 credit hours (as opposed to 39 in the old major)
  • Minoring and double-concentrating will become much easier thanks to the shared 18-hour core. For example, Creative Writing and Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication concentrators minoring in Film Studies can now double-count film courses toward their major and minor, which was not possible in the old major. And double-concentrating in Creative Writing and Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication, which required 66 credit hours (22 courses) in the old major, now requires only 54 (18 courses).
Can anyone switch to the new major?

Yes, and we believe that most students will benefit from doing so. But no one has to switch, and some students may find that switching puts them at a disadvantage. For example, seniors who have nearly completed their English majors may find that switching would require them to take an additional course and perhaps to lose major credit for a course they have already taken. They may not be willing to sacrifice that credit to gain the increased freedom and flexibility of the new major. 

What’s the best way to decide whether to switch?

Talk to your advisor, or Associate Chair William Russell. We can help you determine how the courses you’ve already taken could be applied within the new major. This will give you a clear sense of how switching would affect your academic plans.

In case you’d like to try this on your own before you meet with your advisor, the advising worksheet for the new major (there’s another benefit: the streamlining of the major has made it possible to fit all three concentrations onto just one advising worksheet). To complete the worksheet, login to MyCharleston and open Degree Works. Scroll down to the heading that reads “Institutional 122 Credit Hour Requirement.” There you will find an alphabetized list of every course you’ve taken at the College, which makes it easy to see all of your ENGL courses at once. Plug those courses into the advising worksheet, placing any course that doesn't fulfill a specific requirement, or any course you would like to double-count, in the “Open Electives” section of the core. For example, if you are a Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies concentrator minoring in British Studies, be sure to place your British Studies English courses in the “Open Electives” section of the core. This will ensure that these courses apply to your minor as well as your major.

Will switching require me to register for all new courses next semester?

Probably not. But it will absolutely require you to review your fall schedule and, using the advising worksheet, to figure out how those courses could be applied within the new major. Again, much remains the same. In all likelihood, the courses you’ve registered for in the fall will slot neatly into the new major. Given the increased freedom and flexibility of the new major, however, you may have more options – and fewer requirements – than you think.

How do I switch?

Switching is simply a matter of changing the “catalog year” for your English major to 2019-20. This is done through POSM in Banner. But once again let me urge you to speak to your advisor, or me, before you make this change. 

How soon can I switch?

The new catalog should be available sometime this summer – around July 1. You can switch as soon as it becomes available.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Spring Cookout! 

Image from Spring Cookout of group

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Joe Kelly 

English professor Joe Kelly didn’t start out writing a book about the history of Jamestown, Virginia. His project started out as an investigation of stories about shipwrecked castaways marooned on desert islands.

But the wreck of the sailing vessel Sea Venture in the Bermuda islands as it was heading for Jamestown in 1609 got Kelly thinking about the metaphorical marooning of the original settlers that landed on the shores of the James River in 1607. Culturally, socially and economically cut-off from life as they knew it in England a full 13 years before the pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic in the Mayflower to found Plymouth Rock, Kelly, in his new book Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck and a New History of America’s Origin, takes a closer look at one of America’s earliest settlements and how the settlers of Jamestown survived a life marooned in the Virginia wilderness. It was the grit and determination of those settlers at Jamestown that Kelly argues laid the groundwork for the American values we hold dear today.

The College Today caught up with Kelly ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday – which is based around America’s founding myth of the Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution to settle Plymouth Rock – to talk about why the Jamestown settlement should be elevated to the pantheon of American folklore.


Alumni Spotlight: Evan Berke

Everyone loves a good story: not just the kind you study in fiction courses, like Evan Berke did, but the ones created and shared everyday between people. The kind that he says “show the genuine humor, goodness, evil, crazy, and beauty in people.” And it’s the English Department at the College of Charleston that honed his skill and peaked his interest in the act of storytelling—both on and off the page, in Charleston and beyond.

As a New York based Associate Field Producer, much of that storytelling takes place on screen: whether for TMZ on TV, TMZ Live, TMZ Sports, or, Berke’s job “is to have thoughtful and engaging conversations with actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and other public figures about the latest news.” These conversations include interviews with people like Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Mark Cuban, Al Sharpton, Allen Iverson, and Bryan Cranston. “It is my job,” Berke says, “to persuade an A-Lister to talk to me.”

Read the rest of Evan's feature article in Folio where you'll find more feature stories about alumni in our ongoing "Sequel" series.

Student Spotlight: McKayla Conahan

As the former Editor-in-Chief at College of Charleston’s National Literary and Arts Journal Miscellany, and current Design Assistant for Cistern Yard News, Senior McKayla Conahan has always been interested in and in love with Creative Writing–only it hasn’t always been so sophisticated. “I loved reading Jan Brett books with my mom when I was six years old,” she says. It’s how she became fascinated with the marriage of writing and pictures, and how her mother came to tell her if you want more books, you’ll have to make them.

Read the rest of McKayla's feature article in Folio where you'll find more feature stories about our students in our ongoing "Find Your Voice" feature series.

Why English?

Porters Lodge Gate

If you are a student reading this page, you probably already know why you want to study English. You already feel the pull of the word and the image. You already know the pleasure afforded by language shaped into stories, poems, memoirs, and essays.  Read More

Folio: The Department Blog

Banner image of Folio logo

The Department of English's department blog, Folio, features stories on alumni, current students, new professors, department events, and faculty accomplishments. If you would have an accomplishment, event, or information that you would like the department to share through Folio, tell us about it.

Department News

English Department Faculty Update: A Year of Teaching and Research
Posted on 22 May 2019 | 3:18 pm
As is the custom, we at Folio are closing out the 2018-2019 academic year with a highlight reel of English faculty’s accomplishments and activities. Because it’s a highlight, some things did get left out–mostly because they got better coverage elsewhere....
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27th Annual English Day Celebration- 2019
Posted on 18 April 2019 | 7:00 am
Did you happen to miss the 27th annual English day celebration? Did you want to attend, but just couldn’t get time in your hectic schedule that we all have as we approach the final week of the semester? Well, don’t...
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College Events

Aug 17, 2019 11:00 am
The Office of New Student Programs will be open to provide information and directions to parents and students about all aspects of the College.
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Aug 17, 2019 1:30 pm
The orientation interns will provide tours of campus with special emphasis on the location of students' classes.
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Aug 17, 2019 7:00 pm
The Bully Pulpit Series hosts Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg on the College of Charleston campus. The event will feature a conversation with the candidate as well as an audience Q&A.
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More Events