Department of English

106B Guilford House
Phone: 216.368.1508; Fax: 216.368.4367
Walt Hunter, Department Chair

The Department of English offers courses of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Included among the department’s offerings are literary and cultural studies, linguistics, film, journalism and new media, creative writing, rhetoric, and professional writing.

Combining the intellectual resources of a major research university with a scale and set of values more typical of a liberal arts college, the department emphasizes class discussion, individual conferences or tutorials, and other opportunities for students and faculty to work closely together. Likewise, the curriculum is deliberately flexible to respond to student needs and interests and to encourage close cooperation with the faculty in planning a course of study.

A major in English prepares students for various sorts of careers. Three paths are common:

  • English leads readily to careers that put a premium on writing skills and on the ability to analyze complex human situations. In addition to the fields that have often been of first interest to English majors (writing and publishing, journalism, advertising, the film industry, public relations, and teaching), significant opportunities exist in the corporate world, in government, and in nonprofit organizations such as those devoted to social service, the environment, or the arts.
  • The BA in English is usually essential to anyone expecting to do graduate work in English or to pursue a career as a teacher or a scholar in the field.
  • The BA in English traditionally has been an important stepping stone to success in professional school, and many of our English majors choose this path. A significant number go on to law school, many to medical or business school, and some to nursing, journalism, social work, or library school, as well as directly into the business world.
The Writing Program, part of the English department, focuses on supporting a thriving culture of writing at the university. The Writing Program coordinates courses for undergraduate and graduate student writers, including first-year Academic Inquiry Seminars and a variety of communication-intensive courses, and supports pedagogical and curricular development for faculty and staff. In addition, the Writing Resource Center provides individual consultations to CWRU writers at any stage of their writing processes, and for every writing occasion (from personal statements to science fiction; from research papers to podcasts).


The main office is located in Guilford House, where regular public talks, department events, and classes are held. In Bellflower Hall, Writers House augments the English Department's mission through public lectures, workshops, community projects, and the Writing Resource Center. In addition to manuscript and rare-book holdings in the Special Collections Division, Kelvin Smith Library has strengths in Renaissance literature; 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century English literature; and American literature. The library also houses an outstanding collection of several thousand films and other audiovisual materials, supported in part by English department endowment funds. In Strosacker Auditorium, the Film Society maintains facilities capable of projecting 35 mm and 16 mm films. In the library’s Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship, students have access to video cameras, state-of-the-art digital editing software, and stations where they can view audiovisual materials from the library collection.

For further details about our programs, review the website for the Department of English.

Department Faculty

Walt Hunter, PhD
(University of Virginia)
Associate Professor and Chair
Poetry and poetics; twentieth-century and contemporary literature

Michael Clune, PhD
(Johns Hopkins University)
Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities
American literature; literature and philosophy; poetry

Gusztav Demeter, PhD
(Oklahoma State University)
Instructor; Director of Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English
Teaching English as a second language; applied linguistics; cognitive linguistics; discourse analysis

Kimberly Emmons, PhD
(University of Washington)
Oviatt Professor of English; Associate Professor; Writing Program Director
Rhetoric; composition; gender and language; medical humanities

Megan Swihart Jewell, PhD
(Duquesne University)
Senior Instructor
American literature; poetics; gender studies

Kurt Koenigsberger, PhD
(Vanderbilt University)
Associate Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies
19th- and 20th-century British literature; postcolonial literature

William H. Marling, PhD
(University of California, Santa Barbara)
American and world literature; modernism; popular culture; the detective novel; translation studies

Erika Mae Olbricht, PhD
(University of New Hampshire)
Senior Instructor; Director of Writing Across the Curriculum
16th- and 17th-century British literature and theatre; landscape studies

John M. Orlock, MFA
(Pennsylvania State University)
British and American drama; narrative theory; playwriting; screenwriting

Gabrielle Parkin, PhD
(University of Delaware)
Instructor; Director of the Writing Resource Center
Late medieval English literature; material culture studies

Martha Wilson Schaffer, JD, PhD
(Bowling Green State University)
Senior Instructor; Director of First-Year Writing
Rhetoric; composition; writing assessment

Robert Spadoni, PhD
(University of Chicago)
Associate Professor
Film studies

Lindsay Turner, MFA, PhD
(University of Virginia)
Assistant Professor
Creative writing (poetry); poetry and poetics; literary translation

Thrity Umrigar, PhD
(Kent State University)
Distinguished University Professor
Creative writing (fiction and memoir); journalism; African American literature; 20th- and 21st-century American literature

Maggie Vinter, PhD
(Johns Hopkins University)
Associate Professor; Director of Graduate Studies
16th- and 17th-century British literature; drama