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.

Why English?

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. You already experience the thrill of entering other worlds, adopting other perspectives, and grappling with big questions. You already experience the satisfaction of getting a sentence just right, expressing your idea, articulating your vision.

What you might not yet know is that English represents a pragmatic course of study as well as a fulfilling one. After all, there are some widespread misconceptions about how English majors fare on the job market. When you tell friends that you want to study English, some of them might have asked, “what are you going to do with that – teach?”...[Read more...]

Have you heard about the new English major curriculum?

The new major has a shared 18-hour core for all English majors; for the remaining 18 hours of the major, each major has an individual “concentration.”  

  • All English majors will be given a choice among introductory surveys and will take a maximum of 4 required 200-level courses (as opposed to 6 in the old major). 201, 202, and 207 are no longer all required of all majors.
  • All English majors will have fewer upper-level area requirements to fulfill – specifically, just 2 (as opposed to 4 or 6 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 2 concentrations, which required 66 credit hours (22 courses) in the old major for those double-concentrating in Creative Writing (CW) and Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication (WRP), now requires only 54 credit hours (18 courses). This is the case for any double-concentrations in the major.

Or the new concentration ELFC (“elfs”), Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies?

The concentration in Literature, Film, and Cultural Studies provides a rigorous education in writing and analysis through the study of a wide variety of literary and cultural texts, from medieval manuscripts to modern films. Strong writing and incisive thinking are increasingly specialized skills that are in demand in a wide variety of professional fields. Graduates of this program have gone on to careers in education, academia, journalism, marketing, publishing, copywriting, law, and medicine.

English Department “In the news”

Professor Bret Lott's 1991 novel Jewel was featured February 10th in New York Times book section "50 States of LoveFrom sea to shining sea, here’s a tour of unforgettable fiction that explores matters of the heart."


The College Today did a write up about our newest minor and concentration WRP (Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication). 



Professor Anthony Varallo featured in Charleston City Paper!

Professor Gary Jackson on the Academy of American Poets, “Poem-a-Day"!

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Faculty Spotlight: 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 TMZ.com, 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.

Folio: The Department Blog

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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

Kathleen Béres Rogers: Creating Romantic Obsession: Scorpions in the Mind
Posted on 12 November 2019 | 5:00 am
Dr. Kathleen Béres Rogers published her first book this March titled Creating Romantic Obsession: Scorpions in the Mind. The text explores obsession as a mental disease and when it came to be recognized as a disease in the Romantic Era....
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Literati: The English Organization For Any and All
Posted on 7 November 2019 | 5:00 am
Literati is a student organization which welcomes any and all who appreciate creative texts in any of its forms, including film, music, art, books, and more. While Literati is supported by the English department at CofC, it is not exclusive...
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College Events

Jan 27, 2020 11:00 am
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is pleased to present the first two exhibitions of 2020.
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Jan 27, 2020 4:00 pm
Join the Chinese Club in celebrating the 2020 Year of the Rat with free food, drinks, tea, music and more! This event is open to the public.
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Jan 27, 2020 6:30 pm
Join community members for a conversation about cultural and religious similarities and divergences between Jews and Muslims regarding female leadership in the medical profession.
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