Reading ... can make you feel like not one lone cell stranded in the desolation of the world, but one of eight billion cells conjoined by the world, all hearts echoing the others in the song of one enormous heart.

-Randall Silvis, Why I Read
Learning to read ... means learning to live. Keeping your eyes open when you're looking at a book is just a way of teaching yourself to keep them open all the time.

-William Deresiewiez, A Jane Austen Education

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

-Joan Didion, The White Album

Good News

Please join us in celebrating the achievements of our students and faculty.

Current Students

  • Michelle Hogmire (BA, 2014) was accepted into the prestigious Juniper Summer Writing Institute at The University of Massachusetts in fiction.
  • Teffany Hunley (MA, 2014) will present "Evelina and Its Mirrors: Beyond the Female Author through Barthes' Writerly Reader" at CUNY's Renaissance of Roland Barthes Conference in April.

Former Students

  • Tonya Bomsta's essay "Traditions" has been accepted as the finalist in The Florida Review's 2013 Editors' Awards contest.
  • Rajia Hassib’s story "Levitation" has just been accepted for publication in the third issue of an online literary magazine called Bone Parade. Rajia received her English BA from MU in 2010 and the MA in English in 2012.
  • Leo Roehrich (MA, 2013) has been accepted into the PhD program for linguistics at the University of New South Wales. In addition, an abridged version of his MA thesis has been accepted as a book chapter in the forthcoming publication, Multimodality in Higher Education.
  • Tanya Bomsta's (MA, 2013) poem "Cartography" has been accepted for publication by december.
  • Gregory Tolliver (BA, 2013) was accepted into West Virginia University's MA in English Literature and will be teaching two sections of English composition as part of his teaching assistantship.
  • Crystal D. Howell Beck (MA, 2013) has been accepted into the University of Indiana-Bloomington's Indiana PhD program in Curriculum Studies.
  • James Baker (BA, 2013) has been accepted with funding to the MA/PhD program for Renaissance literature at the University of Southern Mississippi.
  • Paige Frazier (MA, 2013) has been accepted with full funding to the MFA program in creative non-fiction at Northern Michigan University.
  • Tanya Bomsta's (MA, 2013) essay "Erosion" has been accepted for publication by The Gettysburg Review.
  • Henry Culvyhouse (BA, 2013)'s essay "In the Gutter of Yoknapatawpha County," will appear in Collision Literary magazine, and won 3rd Prize in their non-fiction contest.
  • Nathan Rucker is the recipient of the Ruth Flower Brown Scholarship for Outstanding English Major.
  • Shaina Taylor (BA, 2013) has been accepted into William and Mary's Law School.
  • Brian Brady (BA, 2012) is pursuing a Masters in Literature degree in the graduate program at the University of St. Andrew's.
  • Derek Frasure (BA, 2012) has been accepted into the PhD in English program at the University of Michigan with full funding.
  • Shawn Holliday (BA, 1991; MA, 1993) has an article in the latest Thomas Wolfe Review. He already has a book on Wolfe as well as numerous articles. Shawn is currently Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he also teaches graduate literature courses.
  • Todd Snyder, an assistant professor of English at Siena College, is profiled on the Siena College website, and talks about his course on the "Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop Culture."
  • Krista Bryson (MA, 2010), a PhD candidate at the Ohio State University, has an article entitled "The Literacy Myth in the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives" in the latest issue of Computers and Composition. Read her article here.


  • Assistant Professor Kristen Lillvis has published two articles recently. "Becoming Self and Mother: Posthuman Liminality in Toni Morrison's Beloved" appears in volume 54, issue 4 of Critique, and "Maternal Bodies and Posthuman Culture in Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber" appears in the book Feminist and Critical Perspectives on Caribbean Mothering."
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Cody Lumpkin's poem "Egging A House" appears in the Southern Poets issue of Rattle.
  • Professor John Van Kirk's novel, Song for Chance, has been reviewed by The New York Times. You can read the review here.
  • Professor John Van Kirk's novel, Song for Chance, is now available for pre-order. It will appear in early August, 2013 from Red Hen Press.
  • Assistant Professor Eric Smith has poems recently in Southwest Review and Indiana Review.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Nadia Esque's article "Defeating Digital Plagiarism among International Students: From Detection to Prevention" appears in The Newsletter of the Intensive English Programs Interest Section. You can read more about her article here.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel O'Malley's short story, "Uncle," appears in the latest issue of the Baltimore Review. You can read his story here here.
  • Congratulations to Professors Allison Carey, David Hatfield, Gwenyth Hood, and Kateryna Schray for faculty awards from the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Allison Carey received the Pickens Queen Teacher Award, Dr. Hatfield received the Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award, Dr. Hood received the MU Distinguished Artists & Scholars Award, and Dr. Schray received the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Robert Ellison's article "Pusey's Sermons at St. Saviour's, Leeds" has been published in the March 2013 issue of Anglican and Episcopal History.

Good News Archive


Students & Alums

A degree in English equips students with the critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills necessary for success in a fast-paced and ever-evolving world. For majors, we offer a flexible program that allows students to pursue a wide range of interests, from literature to linguistics, English education to creative writing. For non-majors, our courses provide opportunities to expand on and augment the good work done in other fields. All of our courses are designed to hone your skills as a writer and thinker to prepare you for a successful professional life.

In addition to a wide variety of courses offered, the English department sponsors a number of events, publications, and organizations that allow our students opportunities beyond the classroom.

The Visiting Writers Series invites noted authors to campus for monthly readings in the Spring and Fall Semesters. Recent visiting authors include Donald Ray Pollock, Jayne Anne Phillips, Craig Johnson, M. Glenn Taylor, and poets Carrie Oeding, Kent Shaw, Gregory Fraser, and Chad Davidson.

Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society, is also a vibrant presence in the department and provides English majors with publication and presentation opportunities at the national level.

Et Cetera, the literary journal of Marshall University, is edited by students and showcases the fantastic work of students currently attending Marshall. A number of editorial positions are available each year, and the magazine sponsors many events—open mic readings, launch parties, and community service activities—that are always popular with our majors.

Thanks to the generosity of the Maier Foundation, the William J. Maier Writing Awards are given annually to students enrolled in English classes at Marshall University. These awards are offered to students who excel in freshman composition, upper-division and graduate exposition, as well as poetry, non-fiction, and fiction categories.

Students completing a B.A. or M.A. in English have successfully gone on to graduate programs in literary studies, linguistics, creative writing, and law. We count among our graduates professional and technical writers, editors, broadcast journalists, published authors, and a number of award-winning educators at all teaching levels.

On this site, you will find information about the English major, our faculty, and the various English degree programs. Please contact us for more information or if any of your questions remain unanswered. We hope to see you in the department soon.

Our Programs

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Contact Us

Department Administrative Staff and Faculty


What can I do with a degree in English?  +/- 

The short answer is almost anything you want to do.

According to, English ranks seventh in popularity among all college majors nationally, so English majors must be doing pretty well out there in the world.

Contrary to the popular myth that an English degree means that you can do nothing other than teach to earn a living, teaching actually ranks third in terms of careers chosen by English majors. First on the list of what English majors become are these jobs: artists, broadcasters, writers, entertainers, and public relations specialists (see Colleen Dilenschneider, Second?: Top and mid-level managers, executives, and administrators.

Check out this succinct explanation of why English majors are the best employees to hire in almost any context: "Why I hire English Majors" - an article by Steve Strauss

Of course, many English majors do want to teach at the secondary or college level, and that important work cannot be undertaken by any route other than an English degree (or degrees).

You might be interested to know that 48.4 percent of Humanities majors (which includes English) who apply to medical school are accepted, the highest percentage of acceptance of any course of study applicants have completed. Humanities majors also average the highest scores on the MCAT of all majors represented in the testing population.

Law schools, too, love to admit English majors because, according to, “The biggest payback law school prep activities you can engage in are, generally speaking, reading comprehension, effective writing and analytical reasoning,” which happen to be the precise activities that define the study of English at the university level.

What do all these highly successful people have in common?

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Julia Stiles (actress, the Bourne movies)
  • Mario Cuomo (Former Governor of New York)
  • David Duchovny (Star of The X-Files)
  • Kathryn Fuller (CEO, World Wildlife Fund)
  • Sally Ride (First female astronaut)
  • Clarence Thomas (Supreme Court Justice)
  • Matt Damon (Actor and Academy-Award winning screenwriter)
  • James Cameron (Creator of Titanic)
  • Harold Varmus (Nobel laureate in medicine and former director, National Institutes of Health)
  • Emma Thompson (Academy-Award winning actress and writer)

They were English majors! With an English degree, you can follow in their footsteps toward success in almost any field.

I’m not an English major. Why do I have to take so many English courses?  +/- 

General-education requirements at Marshall ask all students to complete a six- hour composition sequence. Some students, for whom composition is not a strong point, may need to ENG 099—Skills for Composition before they begin the sequence that will fulfill that requirement. Other students may exempt one or both of the courses in that sequence based on their ACT or SAT verbal scores or get credit for one or both based on AP or IB courses taken prior to enrolling at Marshall. In addition, a number of students complete one or both of the required composition courses through dual-enrollment classes in high school. But however the requirement is satisfied, all students must complete this sequence.

All MU students must also fulfill a 3-credit hour requirement in Humanities as part of their general education. A number of 200-level ENG classes will fulfill this requirement, but students may also satisfy the Humanities portion of the general-education requirements in disciplines other than English: these include Religion, Philosophy, Modern Languages, and Classics.

All students seeking a degree from the College of Liberal Arts at Marshall are required to complete two 3-credit hour literature courses. English has a number of courses that will satisfy this requirement, but Modern Languages and Classics also offer courses that do so.

Other than the composition sequence (and ENG 204, required for Lewis College of Business students), all ENG classes taken by MU students who are not English majors are taken by choice of the students.

How do I get an overload for a course that I need?  +/- 

Students seeking an overload into any English course must contact the instructor directly to obtain permission for the overload. The instructor will notify the Chair if that permission is granted, and the Chair will add you to the class. No one except the instructor will be able to grant you an overload into an English class.

How do I find out who my advisor is?  +/- 

Contact Dr. Carey ( if you are an undergraduate student. Graduate students should contact Dr. Lillvis ( If you have tried to contact your advisor and been unsuccessful, please notify the Department office by emailing Ms. Green at ( or Ms. Sharp at ( If you need to meet with your advisor, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment for that meeting using email. (See email links to all instructors in the Faculty Directory on this website.)

Who should I contact if I have a problem in one of my classes that I cannot solve with my instructor?  +/- 

All differences or disagreements between faculty and students are best resolved between those individuals. But if you have tried to reach resolution by talking with your instructor and been unsuccessful, contact the following individuals:

None of these individuals will be able to help you unless they have a written summary of your efforts to resolve the situation with your professor before they become involved in the situation.

How do I know when my instructor will be in her or his office?  +/- 

All instructors should have their office hours on the syllabus that you receive at the beginning of each term. In addition, office hours are posted on or near the door of each instructor’s office and kept on file in the Department office. Finally, your syllabus will be posted electronically using MU Online and/or MyMU. If you got to the instructor’s office at the posted time for office hours and the instructor is not there and there is no explanatory note on the door for students, please contact Ms. Sharp in CH 345 so that she can help you get in touch with your instructor.

How do I find my instructor’s office?  +/- 

All English faculty have offices in Corbly Hall. Those offices can be on the second, third, or fourth floor. Your syllabus will include your instructor’s office number as well as the phone number by which you can reach him or her. In addition, the Department office in CH 346 will have all office assignments on file and can provide you the specific location of your instructor if you don’t have that information with you.

At the beginning of the semester, familiarize yourself with both your instructor’s office location and the location of your classroom. Most, but not all, English classes are on these same floors in Corbly Hall, but your instructor’s office and your classroom will often be on different floors. If you class is in a building other than Corbly Hall, you will need to come to Corbly to meet with your instructor during office hours or by appointment.

How do I find out my final grade in my English classes?  +/- 

All faculty post final grades for their courses as soon as these grades are calculated (and always by the announced University deadline for posting grades each semester). These grades are available through MyMU. Faculty cannot post grades outside their office due to privacy concerns. At the end of the semester, faculty are very busy grading exams and portfolios and calculating students’ final averages. They will post the grades as soon as they can, and they will always be able to do that sooner if they aren’t also trying to respond to questions about when they grades will be ready. If your grade is not posted by the announced deadline, contact the English Department by emailing Ms. Sharp (

Where can I turn in work for my instructor if I miss class or cannot find the instructor to accept the work?  +/- 

Different instructors have different policies about how they want students to submit their work. Many ask for electronic submissions; others prefer hard copies of all work. Still others want hard copies with an electronic submission as back-up. If your instructor states on the syllabus for your course that you may turn in hard copies of your work to her or his office or to his or her mailbox in the Department office, you should submit that work exactly as the syllabus states. The Department staff cannot accept work that will not fit into the instructor’s mailbox. Nor can turning in work to the Department office “count” unless the instructor’s syllabus establishes that turning the work in to her or his mailbox is acceptable. Faculty mailboxes are located in Corbly Hall 346. A student worker or a staff person will be glad to assist you in placing the work in the correct mailbox. But that assistance cannot include advocating for the submission’s meeting requirements established by the instructor.

Who do I see in the College of Liberal Arts about whether I can graduate?  +/- 

All students majoring in a COLA discipline (which includes English) should schedule both a junior and a senior transcript evaluation through the Associate Dean in the COLA office (OM 107). You need to make an appointment for these evaluations by contacting her (


A Profile of Dr. Shirley Lumpkin - by Rajia Hassib

Teaching at Marshall since 1983, Dr. Shirley Lumpkin specializes in African American Literature and has interests that include Ethnic and 3rd World Literature. She has published many academic articles and book chapters on American literature and African American as well as Appalachian writers. During her close to three decades at Marshall, Dr. Lumpkin has also been involved in the University's Writing programs: she was a member of the team that started the Marshall University chapter of the National Writing Project, and she currently serves as the director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program. Her many honors and awards include a tenure as the Marshall University Drinko Fellow, a Marshall University Distinguished Service Award, the West Virginia Legislator's Outstanding Professor award, and the Marshall and Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award, which she won after being nominated for it by a student in one of her African American literature classes.

Among the many literature and writing courses she teaches at Marshall, the two Methods courses can perhaps shed light on her extraordinary ethical commitment to teaching. The Methods courses, Methods of Teaching Writing and Methods of Teaching Reading and Interpreting Texts, have evolved as a result of the collaboration between the College of Education and the English Department. In them, students prepare to become future public school teachers, and the courses thus serve as gateways where students undergo a transformation that is both intellectually and emotionally challenging. Dr. Lumpkin is fully aware of the difficulty of such a transformation, and she takes her role in helping those students become teachers seriously: "My ultimate ethical responsibility had to be to the students of those students, because they were going to be teaching other people's children," she says. Such awareness leads her to make sure the students walk out of her class prepared to do "the best possible job using the best possible tools." Dr. Lumpkin's efforts paid off; for while she does not discuss her former students, many of them have declared that the Methods courses alone have taught them more than they had imagined possible in an entire college education.

Dr. Lumpkin's commitment to teaching is paralleled only by her enthusiasm for her material, especially for African American Literature and for her work in the Writing Across the Curriculum program. Her interest in African American literature started in her undergraduate years, when one of her professors assigned a project comparing William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust to Richard Wright's Native Son. Reading these books together at the beginning of the civil rights movement alerted Dr. Lumpkin to the segregated society she lived in and was, up till then, not aware of—and her love for African American literature and culture was born then. She is equally passionate about the Writing Across the Curriculum program, where professors in various disciplines come together, driven by a common interest in writing pedagogy, and develop ways to use writing in their classrooms as a tool for learning, creating, and thinking. Like writing itself, the professors approach their pedagogy as a work in progress, a draft that is perpetually subject to revision, and they work together to find ways of thinking visibly and engaging in metacognitive exercises in a way that is extremely productive for application in the classroom.

While she is preparing to bring her teaching career to an end, Dr. Lumpkin prefers to talk of her retirement in terms of a beginning. In the true spirit of a scholar who has numerous critical publications, she cites studies on retirement, referring to the next phase of her life using the title of a book by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot: The Third Chapter. And Dr. Lumpkin, after a lifetime devoted to academia, is ready to enter this new phase of her life, whatever it may be. "I don't know what I'm doing next," she says, "but I know the third chapter of my life is not goal driven; it is being driven."

Taking her lead, then, we at the English department hope Dr. Lumpkin inhabits her third chapter in a state of being happy, peaceful, content, fulfilled, and aware of our gratitude to her for being an integral part of this department for decades. Lastly, we share a Howard Thurman quote on aging that Dr. Lumpkin has taped to her wall: "The commonplace is shot through with new glory-old burdens become lighter, deep and ancient wounds lose much of their old, old hurting. A crown is placed over our heads that for the rest of our lives we are trying to grow tall enough to wear."

A Profile of Professor Art Stringer - by Rajia Hassib

Art Stringer has been a Creative Writing professor at Marshall since 1988. He is the author of three books of poetry: Channel Markers (Wesleyan UP), Human Costume (Salmon Poetry), and, most recently, Late Breaking, due from Salmon Poetry in the early Spring of 2013. Professor Stringer has also edited Paradox Hill: From Appalachia to Lunar Shore (West Virginia UP), one of West Virginia poet Louise McNeill's classic books. His poems have appeared in journals such as The Nation, Denver Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner, among many more. In 2009, Professor Stringer was the recipient of the Distinguished Artists and Scholars Senior Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. In September of 2012, and in the spirit of "The Year of Art and Shirley," the English department announced that its longstanding Visiting Writers Series would henceforth be known as the A. E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series, in honor of the man who had started and coordinated the series since 1989, before handing it over to Dr. Rachael Peckham in the Fall of 2012.

Professor Stringer began the series with a belief in the oral tradition. Students would learn from hearing living writers and be able to share in the communal experience of attending a reading and reacting to a text as it is spoken. For over twenty years, he managed the series through many challenges of funding and organization, often relying on the writers to travel at their own expense. With time, more funding became available as the College of Liberal Arts provided a regular budget for the series and the Humanities Council offered occasional grants. With more recent grants and the generosity of the English department came a flexibility that allowed the series to engage writers with higher national profiles and, in turn, to enlarge the audience of the series. In addition to Marshall students, the series has benefitted the broader Huntington community, underscoring Marshall University's role in providing the local literary scene with opportunities for engaging in artistic and intellectual dialogue.

In addition to having the series named after him, Professor Stringer has other reasons to celebrate. His latest book, Late Breaking, is scheduled to come out from Salmon Press in March of 2013. This collection of poetry combines his dominant theme, the relation of nature and artistic expression, with the examination of phases of human life in transition. The book's opening section features poems on our increasingly rare human encounters with wildlife and is followed by a long poem on a painter's artistic process. Regarding his plans for retirement, Professor Stringer says that though he will miss his students, his colleagues, and his office—his work space for so many years—he is looking forward to the freedom that will bring more time for writing, reading, and travel. He notes that because encounters with raw nature are rapidly fading from our experience, such moments become ever newer and more necessary. He hopes his travels will, as they always have, provide new stimulation: "Seeing things you haven't seen triggers thoughts you haven't had," he says, and, in this spirit, he hopes to explore places he hasn't visited before, such as Nova Scotia, Italy, or Scandinavia, as well as to revisit places from past journeys, including the American West, Alaska, and Ireland.

Those of us who know Professor Stringer are excited by the prospect of his travel, both for his sake and for ours, as we await the new poems that will come. Whenever he is in town, Professor Stringer promises to stay in touch: he hopes to maintain a local open-mike reading series, and we hope to see him often at A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series events.