Department of English | Villanova University

Welcome to the English Department!

The English major at Villanova is one of the most popular in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As a discipline, English provides you with the opportunity to hone your writing skills, sharpen your ability to process and analyze complex texts, deepen your understanding of cultural and material history, and stimulate your imagination. At the heart of the major is the power of the written word to communicate ideas, broaden perspectives, and bring about change. The abilities you'll develop as an English major will make you marketable in fields including consulting, journalism, marketing, law, education, banking, government, screenwriting, and publishing.  As one business expert wrote in the Huffington Post, "I love English majors. I love how smart they are. I love their intellectual curiosity.... Most of all, I love to hire them."  (Read more from this expert here, and more about careers for Villanova English majors in this brochure.)

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We're delighted to introduce our new LinkedIn group for English majors and alumni of the English Department!  Click the logo above for more details.



Wednesday, Dec. 4th

9:00 a.m.- noon, English Majors' Lounge, SAC 402

► All About Bagels (and literary buttons)

Free bagels, coffee, and the chance to make buttons for backpacks (or other items calling out to be decorated with buttons) in the English Department. Great stocking stuffers!  Students can take the world-class SAC elevator (just keep walking past the stairs, and you’ll find it!) up to the English Department for all of the wheat and caffeine needed to get through the week and month. We’ll provide the food and fixings and button-making machine. All you have to do is show up and bring literary images you want to turn into buttons. As always, English majors and minors, as well as folks interested in the major, are welcome! A guest appearance by Truffle-the-dog is scheduled, and you can also add an ornament to the English Department tree!


Friday, Dec. 6th

4:00-7:00 p.m., Kelly House

► Remembering Ireland: Diasporic Writing: A Celebratory Event at the Kelly House

Celebrating 40 years of Irish Studies at Villanova, the Kelly House in East Falls, Philadelphia, will host this symposium. Prominent Irish-American authors will discuss how they tell stories about Irish America. There will be two events, first a roundtable workshop on memoir-writing at 4:00 p.m., followed by an evening reception at 5:00 p.m. and literary readings at 6:00 p.m. Chaired by former Irish Studies Director, Jim Murphy, the day will feature authors and scholars, James Silas Rogers (Univ. of St. Thomas), Christine Cusick (Seton Hall Univ.), and David Lloyd (Le Moyne College) to discuss writing from a diasporic perspective. The dress code will be business casual and parking will be located along W. Coulter St., next to McMichael Park. The event location is: 3901 Henry Avenue, East Falls, Philadelphia, PA 19129. Please RSVP to Please indicate which, or all, portions of the event you’ll be attending.

TO: Our students
FROM: The English Department
RE: Response to the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
DATE: April 3, 2019

In an op-ed published March 30, 2019 in The Wall Street Journal, two of our Villanova colleagues argue the university's mission has been imperiled because questions about professors' sensitivity to the diversity of students in their classes have been added to standard faculty evaluations. The op-ed authors suggest that encouraging professors to be sensitive to our students' various backgrounds, identities, and experiences will discourage us from teaching great literature, prevent us from challenging our students, and "create an atmosphere of fear-imposed silence."

The English department wholeheartedly disagrees. We celebrate Villanova's focus on diversity and inclusion. This initiative calls upon us to reflect and to grow, to engage in dialogue and debate, and to continue to evolve in the best liberal-arts tradition. As teachers of literature, we recognize that our field demands just such dialogue, debate, and evolution.

The English Department hopes to attract and welcome students from backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented at Villanova. Asking how we can do this more effectively is good for our department and good for the entire university community.

Because diverse identities and ideas shape the literary traditions we seek to understand and to teach, we cannot do justice to the texts we read without taking into account histories of exploitation and oppression. Our approach builds upon the most influential developments in literary criticism in the last fifty years, which have featured a dramatic expansion of the literary canon beyond white male authors, the rise of multi-faceted structures of analysis based upon evolving understandings of identity and difference, and special attention to the history of subordinated subjects within national literatures. As scholar-teachers, we are honor-bound to share these developments with our students.

Rather than a goal to be achieved, we see diversity and inclusion as a process. We welcome the fact that success requires us to continue learning from each other and from our students. This process does not threaten our profession, our livelihood, or our students' educations. Quite the contrary: it promises to make our profession more robust, our livelihoods more secure, and our students' educations more complete.

In the spirit of inclusion, we extend a special invitation to all of our students and colleagues to attend this week's Literary Festival event, a reading by the acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, who has made the pursuit of racial justice and understanding a hallmark of her creative work. Rankine's reading--7 p.m. Thursday April 4, 2019, in the Connelly Cinema--is free and open to the public.

In the English Department you have the opportunity to study with several internationally recognized creative writers, and you can apply a number of your creative writing courses to the new Minor in Creative Writing. Whether your passion is poetry or prose, you can pursue both introductory and advanced coursework under the guidance of celebrated writers who are also gifted teachers. Most creative writing courses are taught as workshops, providing you with the chance to write and revise while receiving feedback from both your classmates and instructor. Finally, interested freshmen can take part in our Creative Writing Community.

As an English major at Villanova, you will have the opportunity to take an exciting range of courses, from traditional surveys to seminars exploring contemporary fiction, film, and creative writing. Our faculty, filled with nationally respected scholars and award-winning teachers, will help you develop a deep sense of the power of language to transport your imagination to other places, times, and possibilities. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to meet high-profile writers at the annual Villanova Literary Festival, study abroad in Ireland and elsewhere around the world, and participate in internships throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond.

In the course of the major, you will move from a number of introductory courses that provide you with foundational knowledge of English literature as well as cutting-edge approaches to reading and writing, to a range of courses on English, American, and postcolonial literature, to a culminating senior seminar. You'll have the chance to read the most influential and groundbreaking literature written in English from the Middle Ages to the present, including works by Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and many, many others. You'll also develop a range of writing techniques, research skills, and interpretive strategies that will be invaluable in your career after college.

The English department recognizes diversity as an imperative. Because diverse identities and ideas shape in complex ways the literary traditions we seek to understand and to teach, we cannot do justice to the texts we read without foregrounding diversity itself. We define diversity broadly, as the presence of difference among faculty and students and within course content, especially but not limited to race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, national origin, sex, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, body style, age, ability, religious affiliation, and legal status.

Our approach builds upon the most influential developments in literary criticism in the last fifty years, which have featured a dramatic expansion of the literary canon beyond white male authors, the rise of multifaceted structures of analysis based upon evolving theories of identity and difference, and special attention to the history of subordinated subjects within national literatures. Diversity and its counterpart, inclusion, constitute an ethos and a set of principles that we can use to organize our teaching and our work with one another. Inclusion requires not merely that differences be present, but that we affirm those differences and oppose systems of oppression based on them. Rather than a goal to be achieved, we see diversity and inclusion as a process in which we must all be engaged. We can expect to make mistakes in our work to cultivate diversity, and we acknowledge that success requires us to remain committed to learning from each other and from our students. While we see demographic statistics—about our faculty, our students, and the authors and topics covered in our courses—as useful tools for measuring diversity, we also recognize that our commitment to diversity must go beyond them.

Professor Heather Hicks is Chair of the English Department.  She can be reached at and (610) 519-4645.  Prof. Evan Radcliffe is Graduate Director.  He can be reached at and (610) 519-4648.
If you are a prospective undergraduate student planning to visit campus, or a current student exploring majors, and you'd like to sit in on an English class, meet current majors, or just chat with a faculty member, please contact Prof. Joseph Drury.  If you'd like to consult with a current English major, feel free to contact one of our Peer Advisors.
For questions about the graduate program, please contact Prof. Radcliffe.
Our office is St. Augustine Center 402.  The office telephone number is 610-519-4630, and the fax number is 610-519-6913.