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English and Textual Studies

What does it mean to study “English” today? Although English is a subject you almost certainly encountered before coming to college, at Syracuse University you are likely to find English courses to be different from what you’ve experienced and from what you might expect.  College English has usually meant “literature,” and we continue to teach, for instance, the poetry of John Milton and Emily Dickinson, the novels of Thomas Hardy and Toni Morrison, along with the work of many other writers, both familiar and unfamiliar.  Increasingly, however, this traditional “canon” of fiction, poetry, and drama has expanded to include new kinds of texts, including film, digital media, graphic novels, political manifestos, autobiography, and other forms of non-fictive prose.  These changes to the discipline of English raise fundamental questions about what a “text” is, and have caused us to reexamine the nature of reading and writing.  We welcome these developments, which have made our field increasingly complex, often contentious, and always lively. 

We call our curriculum “English and Textual Studies” (ETS) to acknowledge the breadth and diversity of the texts we study.  While our courses certainly feature well-known literary texts from the past and present, we also focus on neglected literary works, film and other forms of audio-visual media, historical documents and non-fictive forms that also demand interpretation, and on the cultural discourses and social institutions that influence acts of reading and writing.  Our program is thus designed to introduce you to a wide array of texts, to enhance your ability to interpret them, and to train you to write critically and cogently about your understanding.  The department’s creative writing courses will develop your skills as a writer of poetry and fiction and help you become a critical reader of your own work

Our diverse faculty, which includes literary historians, critical theorists, film scholars, editors, poets, and novelists, approaches the field in a variety of ways. But we have one thing in common: we are dedicated teachers, confident that our courses will help you to understand this changing textual universe and to acquire the verbal, analytical, and critical powers essential to your intellectual development and future success. The small size of our classes (typically 20-25) promotes interactive learning and gives us a chance to work closely with you as you develop as a reader and writer.

Our curriculum is broad, diverse, and flexible—and we encourage you to tailor your ETS major to suit your goals and interests.   


Daphne Stowe

Undergraduate Coordinator



Jolynn Parker

Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies



Patty Roylance

Director of Undergraduate Studies