Deborah Uman, Chair

Melissa Bissonette, James Bowman, Stephen Brauer, Lisa Cunningham, Sharon Delmendo, M. J. Iuppa, Lisa Jadwin, Wendi Sierra, Jebaroha Singh, Arlette Miller Smith, Jill Swiencicki, Deborah Vanderbilt, William Waddell, Stephen J. West

Why Study English at Fisher?

English majors and minors find themselves well prepared for graduate school and careers in business, law, teaching, marketing, public service, non-governmental work, and many other areas.

The department supports experiential learning through internships, service learning, public presentation, independent study, and honors theses.

Courses provide students with practice in reading and writing a rich array of textual forms: fiction, poetry, plays, academic and personal essays, speeches, visual rhetoric, and new media.

English majors and minors develop expertise in critical reading and writing - the ability to engage meaningfully with diverse texts from a range of cultural traditions and historical periods.

The English department also offers students the chance to apply analytical skills to contemporary media with the minor in film and television studies as well as the opportunity to practice real-world writing with the certificate in public and professional writing.

The English Major

English majors choose from more than 60 courses in literature, creative writing, rhetoric, composition studies, and professional and technical writing. English majors choose one of two concentrations, literature or writing, but electives within the program invite students to explore both areas and develop a lifelong interest in reading, as well as a versatile set of writing skills. A number of English courses also meet several areas of the College Core.

All English majors develop skills in and knowledge of analysis, technique, publication, traditions, and process.


The literature concentration focuses on producing critical thinkers and writers, using the study of English, American, and world literature to promote an understanding of how language shapes history and everyday life.

Literature majors learn to:

  • Explicate literary texts closely in order to interpret accurately;
  • Understand formal elements such as diction and tone in their readings of poetry, drama, and prose works;
  • Go public with written work in and out of class;
  • Identify major genres and essential texts; connect literature to individual and social concerns;
  • Become fluent and thoughtful writers.


The writing concentration focuses on producing versatile writers capable of responding to diverse environments and ever-changing landscapes for communication.

Writing majors learn to:

  • Respond to texts with attention to their strategies, effects, and assumptions;
  • Develop the writer's craft in a range of genres with attention to purpose, audience, aesthetics, and materials;
  • Go public with written work in and out of class;
  • Identify rhetoric and its links to various cultural contexts, histories, and theories;
  • Understand and practice writing processes in a variety of academic, professional and public situations.

What English Majors Do After Graduation

English majors will be prepared for careers in a number of fields. English majors from St. John Fisher College are currently employed in advertising, public relations, fundraising and grant writing, publishing, law, technical writing, public administration, and teaching. The work an English major does in his or her courses builds many valuable skills that the student can offer prospective employers, such as:
  • Clear, correct, and forceful writing.
  • Careful, analytical thinking and a creative approach to problem-solving.
  • Research and organizational skills, such as knowing how to find information, how to separate relevant from irrelevant facts and issues, how to synthesize material from varied sources, and how to organize and present material to particular audiences with different expertise and interests.
  • The ability to learn new information quickly and to adapt to it, a flexibility that is critical in a working world where technical training is apt to become obsolete and where most people change careers several times.

Honors Options in English

The English department offers a degree with Honors in English to qualified students who complete a substantial project in literary or rhetorical criticism or creative writing. Students must have at least a 3.50 GPA in English courses and a 3.30 GPA overall. Candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
  • Enroll in ENGL 498H and/or ENGL 499H and receive an “A” on the honors thesis. The paper should display originality and sophistication of thought, as well as stylistic excellence.
  • Successfully defend the thesis at an open colloquium. Although anyone from the academic community may attend the colloquium, the student meets primarily with a committee of readers who will decide whether to award honors. The committee is composed of the project director, a second reader from the English department, and the chair of the department. The colloquium is usually held during the week of final exams.

The Washington Experience: Fisher Semester in Washington

English majors may avail themselves of The Washington Experience, a semester in Washington, D.C. Please refer to The Washington Experience for details.

Course Offerings

English course offerings are divided into the following categories:

First Year Writing Courses - not counted toward English Major Requirements

  • ENGL 103 – Writing Workshop (1)
  • ENGL 104 – Writing Workshop (1)
  • ENGL 110 – LC Critical Reading and Writing*
  • ENGL 153 – LC Writing in/around Games*
  • ENGL 154 – LC Reading the Court*
  • ENGL 155 – LC Writing in the Digital Age*
  • ENGL 156 – LC Ecocomposition*
  • ENGL 165 – LC Images of Disability*
  • ENGL 170 – LC Writing in Context*
  • ENGL 199C – RW Research Based Writing*

Literature Courses

  • ENGL 150C – P1 Stories That Matter*
  • ENGL 200C – Literary Analysis
  • ENGL 203C – History of English Language
  • ENGL 204 – P1 Nature Writing
  • ENGL 207C – P1 The Bible as Literature
  • ENGL 210 – P1 Literature and Healing
  • ENGL 211 – P1 Young Adult Literature
  • ENGL 212C – P1 Shakespeare at the Movies
  • ENGL 214D – P1 Reading Gender
  • ENGL 215C – P1 Getting the News from Poems
  • ENGL 218C – P1 Theater and Design
  • ENGL 220D – P1 Black Writers in the U.S.
  • ENGL 226C – P1 Arthurian Legend
  • ENGL 230 – P1 Literature of Travel
  • ENGL 231C – P1 Detective and Mystery Narratives
  • ENGL 236D – CC The American Dream
  • ENGL 239D – P1 Haunted House
  • ENGL 247C – P1 War in Literature
  • ENGL 248 – P5 World Literature
  • ENGL 261C – Topics in Sexuality and Literature
  • ENGL 262P – CC Topics: Coming to America
  • ENGL 263C – P1 Topics in Literature and the Arts
  • ENGL 264D – P5 Topics in Literature and Politics
  • ENGL 268 – P1 The Fundamentals of Film
* These 100-level courses may not be counted toward English major requirements

Literature Survey Courses

  • ENGL 293 – P1 Early English Literature
  • ENGL 294 – P1 Milton Through the Romantics
  • ENGL 295 – P1 Literary Revolutions
  • ENGL 297 – P1 Readings in American Literature
  • ENGL 298 – P1 Modern American Literature

Advanced Literature Courses

When any of the following upper-division courses is offered, it will have a specific focus within the general rubric of its catalog title. May be repeated for credit with the permission of the department chair, if the focus is different.
  • ENGL 306 – Law and Literature
  • ENGL 312C – P1 Shakespeare
  • ENGL 325 – Topics: Studies in British Literature
  • ENGL 329 – Film and Television Analysis
  • ENGL 335 – Studies in African American Literature
  • ENGL 336 – Studies in Native American Literature
  • ENGL 337 – Ethnicities in/and Literature
  • ENGL 339 – American Literatures
  • ENGL 341 – Studies in Poetry
  • ENGL 342 – Topics: Literary Genres
  • ENGL 344 – Topics: Literature and Popular Culture
  • ENGL 346 – Narrative and New Media
  • ENGL 347 – Studies in Postcolonialism
  • ENGL 348 – Women Writers
  • ENGL 349 – Major Authors
  • ENGL 351 – Language of Animals

Seminar for Literature Majors

  • ENGL 420 – Senior Literature Seminar

Writing Courses

  • ENGL 237 – P1 Flash Fiction
  • ENGL 249 – P1 Open Book: Read to Write
  • ENGL 251 – P1 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
  • ENGL 253 – P1 Introductory Creative Writing
  • ENGL 259 – Argument and Persuasion
  • ENGL 266 – Writing as Social Practice
  • ENGL 271 – Legal Writing
  • ENGL/WGST 272 – P2 Digital Feminisms
  • ENGL 284 – P5 Global Business Writing
  • ENGL 290 – Science, Rhetoric, and the Public

Advanced Practices Writing Courses

  • ENGL 355 – Professional Writing: Topics
  • ENGL 356 – Editing and Publishing
  • ENGL 361 – Writing with New Media
  • ENGL 371 – Creative Writing: Fiction
  • ENGL 372 – Creative Writing: Poetry
  • ENGL 374 – Creative Writing: Drama
  • ENGL 376 – Creative Writing: Nonfiction
  • ENGL 378 – Special Topics in Advanced Writing

Theories, Contexts, Communities Writing Courses

  • ENGL 352 – Rhetorical Theory
  • ENGL 353 – Rhetorical History and Traditions
  • ENGL 370 – Gender and Writing
  • ENGL 380 – Visual Rhetoric
  • ENGL 381 – The Rhetoric of Hate
  • ENGL 382 – Digital Literacies

Seminar for Writing Majors

  • ENGL 425 – Senior Writing Seminar

General English Electives

  • ENGL 209 – Literature Magazine Practicum (1)
  • ENGL 270 – Becoming a Writing Tutor (1)
  • ENGL 273 – Topics in Film and TV History (3)

Special Courses

  • ENGL 201 – Career Seminar (.5)
  • ENGL 490 – Internship
  • ENGL 496 – Independent Study (1-3)
  • ENGL 498H – Honors in English
  • ENGL 499H – Honors in English