This information is part of the Colgate University catalog, 2023-24.


Professors Balakian, Brice, Cerasano, Coyle, Davies, Harsh, L. Johnson, Maurer, Staley (Chair)
Associate Professors Ames, Child, Hauser, Page, Rajasingham
Assistant Professors Clayton, Cypress, Martino, Padilla Rios
Creative Writing Fellows Crown, Tolase

The Department of English and Creative Writing offers courses in two programs of study: 1) literature in English and 2) literature in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Students may pursue majors and minors in both these areas. We welcome non-concentrators in all of our courses. Students who major in English develop abilities to read carefully, to use language effectively, and to enhance their critical and analytical skills as speakers and writers. They gain insight into the cultural, historical, political, and social contexts in which literature is produced. Our English concentration is organized broadly along the sub-fields of British, American and Postcolonial Studies. Its courses offer ways of thinking about the many different perspectives on class, community, gender, identity, power, race, and sexuality. Majors will encounter a number of literary forms and achieve both depth and breadth in their studies. Students work closely with their advisors to create a path that introduces them to the beauty, diversity, and complexity of literature in English.

All English and Creative Writing Department courses emphasize student participation, intellectual initiative, and writing.

Our courses are connected to and overlap with courses in Africana and Latin American Studies, Environmental Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Women's Studies.

Our English majors go on to many types of careers: in arts and entertainment, business, communications, computer science, consulting, education, film, finance, journalism, law, library science, marketing, medicine, museum studies, philanthropy, politics, publicity, and publishing. Many students major or minor in English while also pursuing studies in other departments such as Computer Science, Economics, a foreign language, History, Neuro-Science, Psychology, or Political Science.


The English Department offers four types of courses.

100-level courses 100-level courses are designed to introduce first- and second-year students to close reading and writing. They are English courses that offer new perspectives upon cultural, political, scientific, environmental, or social concerns. These courses are roundtables, discussion-based, and with close attention to critical writing. They count towards the English major and are open to all students, whether they intend to major in English or not.

200-level courses 200-level courses are open to all first- and second-year students and offer an introduction to the development of fields of study, critical engagement with tradition, canon formation, and critical methodologies and theories important for reading and writing. They are discussion-based with close attention to writing.

300-level courses 300-level courses in English are open to all second-, third-, and fourth-year students, majors and non-majors alike. There are no prerequisites. These courses focus upon special topics, authors, periods, or genres. They help students further develop theoretical awareness and critical speaking and writing skills.

400-level courses 400-level courses are open to all third- and fourth-year students and are seminars on special topics or writers. There are no prerequisites. They offer opportunities for independent intellectual exploration and critical writing. For majors, they can serve as gateways to an Honors thesis.


The Allen Prizes in English Composition — established in memory of Hattie Boyd Allen — two prizes in English composition.

The Jonathan H. Kistler Memorial Curricular Innovation Fund in English — established to support and nurture new curricular and pedagogical ideas within the English department.

The Lasher Prize — established as an award to a member of the junior class in recognition of outstanding talent.

The Lasher Prize for Distinction in English Composition —awarded for distinction in the various types of writing.

The Scott Saunders Prize for Excellence in Literature — established in memory of Scott Saunders '89, and awarded annually to a senior major in English who participated in the Colgate London English Study Group, in recognition of work done in London that is distinguished in its own right or which contributed to the completion of a distinguished project.

Advanced Placement

The department does not award Advanced Placement credit.

Transfer Credit

Students intending to take a course in English literature at another institution must consult with the department's transfer-credit adviser before enrolling. Transfer credit for an English course will be granted only after the course, which must resemble a 300-level course, is approved. Upon return to campus, the student sends the transfer-credit adviser the course syllabus and all written work. No more than two courses (in the case of a minor, one course) may be transferred for major credit. Students may not use a transferred course to fulfill the 400-level seminar requirement of the major. Students may not transfer creative writing courses.

Honors and High Honors in English

The privilege to work toward honors is granted at the discretion of the faculty. Seniors with an average of 3.5 in ENGL courses are eligible to apply to pursue an honors project. Interested students should begin discussing their projects with potential directors in their junior year.

Candidates in literary criticism must enroll in , a 0.25-credit course offered in the fall semester. In consultation with a member of the faculty, the student selects a topic and submits a formal prospectus, which must be approved by two faculty supervisors, the director of the honors program, and the department as a whole. The deadline for submission of the prospectus normally falls in October, while the deadline for an annotated bibliography normally falls in December.

Candidates in creative writing must enroll in  in the fall of their senior year and must submit a formal prospectus. They should also speak with a creative writing professor(s) in the spring of their junior year. Permission to pursue a creative writing honors the next spring will be granted on the basis of the quality of work in .

Students pursuing an honors project are enrolled in  during the spring term of their senior year.  must be taken in addition to the required 400-level seminar and in addition to the minimum number of courses required for the major. Students must successfully complete the honors seminar and submit a final version of the thesis on a date specified by the department. If the thesis is provisionally approved by the faculty supervisors and the director of the honors program, the student then discusses the project at an oral presentation scheduled during finals week.

A student who completes a project judged worthy of honors by the department and maintains at least a 3.5 average in all ENGL courses, including , is awarded a degree in English with honors. Students with an outstanding overall record in the major who complete a superior thesis and oral presentation may be awarded high honors. If a student withdraws from the program, or if the thesis is not approved for honors,  is converted to , and a grade is assigned by the faculty member who supervises the completion of the work.

Students with further questions should contact the director of honors in the Department of English and Creative Writing.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Students interested in graduate study should consult with their advisers and the department chair early in their programs to be advised about preparation for advanced work. The department also designates special advisers to meet with students interested in graduate work, and informational meetings are held to help juniors and seniors plan their applications for fellowships and graduate admission.

Teacher Certification

The Department of Educational Studies offers a teacher education program for majors in English who are interested in pursuing a career in elementary or secondary school teaching. Please refer to .

MAT Degree in English

The Master of Arts in Teaching with a major in English is awarded by Colgate in the program. See .

Study Groups


Each year, and often twice a year, a group of juniors and seniors spends a term in London studying British literature and theater under the direction of a member of the English department. Preference normally is given to majors or prospective majors who have completed at least three courses toward the requirements for the major.  is a 0.25-credit course limited to participants in the London English Study Group in a subsequent term. The course prepares students for the English coursework to be undertaken in London. For further information, see .

Santa Fe

Students interested in American literature are encouraged to consider participation in the Santa Fe Study Group. When directed by a member of the English department, the program features courses in contemporary Native American literature and contemporary methods of criticism across the arts as well as providing opportunities for students to continue work in creative writing. The study group also involves service learning work at one of the pueblos near Santa Fe.


Students interested in Caribbean literature and Black Atlantic literature are encouraged to consider participation in the Jamaica study group. When directed by a member of the English department, the program features courses in contemporary Caribbean literature and criticism as well as Jamaican culture.


Majors and Minors