Courses & Curriculum

Curricular Requirements for the Major:

Core: All students complete Core Curriculum requirements as part of their overall Canisius education.

Free Electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.

Major Courses

Course         Credits
ENG 299 Introduction to English Studies 3
ENG 300 level Shakespeare: (one) 3
ENG 300 level British Literature before 1800: (one) 3
ENG 300 level American Literature before 1900: (one) 3
ENG 200 level or ENG 300 level Writing/Rhetoric: (one) 3
English major capstone seminar 3
200-level English electives: 2 courses 6
English Major electives: 4 courses (3/4 at 300-level) 12


In addition to the classroom experience, internships in local businesses, arts, non-profit and social service oriented organizations prepare majors for careers in all areas where effective communication and understanding are essential, such as teaching, writing, law, social work, mass media and public relations.

Co-Curricular Activities:

Additional department activities, designed to make literature a more integral part of the academic and creative life of English majors and other members of the college community, include The Quadrangle literary magazine, the English Council, Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honors Society) and the Canisius College Contemporary Writers’ Series. Also available for students are The Griffin college newspaper and the Little Theatre.

Additional Course Considerations:

English Honors
English Honors is a flexible program designed to offer interested and motivated English majors the chance to earn honors designation by participating in innovative seminars and working with a faculty mentor in the writing of an original thesis.

The program requires three courses: two seminars and a thesis. The seminars are unique courses, limited in enrollment, designed by faculty around especially engaging questions, topics, and texts. Some are interdisciplinary; some involve both critical and creative writing; others are organized around a particular period, theme, critical approach or major writer. Typically one English honors seminar is offered each semester. The honors thesis is a long paper, written on a topic of the student’s own choosing under the direction of a faculty mentor, the culmination of a semester’s reading, researching and writing. To read more about the Honors program, visit the English Department website.

Students interested in the creative writing major, should visit the creative writing requirements page.

Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements:

  Fall Semester Spring Semester
Sophomore   200-level ENG Elective    
200-level ENG Elective
ENG 299 (3)
Writing/Rhetoric or Major Elective
Junior Shakespeare
Pre-1900 American literature
Pre-1800 British Literature
Writing/Rhetoric or Major Elective
Senior Major Elective
Major Elective
English Major Capstone Seminar
Major Elective

Dual Majors:

Dual majors involving English are available in a large number of areas, including creative writing, communication, history, modern languages, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and biology. Interested students should consult the chairs of both departments. With the permission of both chairs, inter-disciplinary courses may be used for credit toward the major requirements in both departments.


Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may
decide to declare a minor in addition to their major.

The English Department offers four minors:

The Writing Minor: 5 courses (for majors and non-majors)  
Course Title Credits
ENG 401 Texts, Context, and Subtext (offered every other spring) 3
ENG 498 Internship (one of the student's choice, with advice of a faculty supervisor) 3

Chose three of the following. No more than one of the following courses may be taken for the minor: ENG 294, ENG 342, ENG 411, ENG 426
ENG 205 Varieties of the Essay 3
ENG 294 Creative Writing 3
ENG 342 Writing Young Adult Fiction 3
ENG 383    
ENG 385 Persuasive Writing 3
ENG 388 Literary Publishing 3
ENG 389 Business Communication 3
ENG 411 Playwriting 3
ENG 426 Advanced Playwriting 3

Creative Writing Minor: 5 courses (For both majors and non-majors.  A five
course program that provides interested students the
opportunity to  learn and practice the fundamentals of writing stories, poems, essays and plays. For more information on Creative Writing at Canisius, please visit the Creative Writing website.)

Required Courses:
Course Title Credits
ENG 294 Introduction to Creative Writing 3
ENG 490 Creative Writing Capstone 3

Required: Three of the following courses:
ENG 342 Young Adult Fiction 3
ENG 388 Literary Publishing 3
ENG 392 Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry 3
ENG 411 Playwriting 3
ENG 426 Adavanced Playwriting 3
ENG 494 Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction 3
ENG 496 Advanced Creative Writing: Memoir 3
ENG 498 Internship 3

Theatre Arts Minor: 5 Courses (For both majors and non-majors. A five-course sequence that includes course work in acting and production as well as in dramatic literature and playwriting. Student may chose among.)


Course Title Credits
ENG 147
ENG 148
Acting I

Acting II

ENG 202 Drama 3
ENG 346
ENG 350
Introduction to Theatre

The Theatre Experience

ENG 411 Playwriting
Theatre Arts Elective

ENG 498 Internship 3


The Literature Minor: 6 courses (for majors and non-majors)

Course Title Credits
ENG 299 Introduction to English Studies 3
ENG 3XX American LIterature Course (300 level) 3
ENG 3XX British LIterature Course (300 level) 3
ENG XXX A Shakespeare Course 3
ENG XXX A Writing Course 3
ENG XXX English Elective (200 or 300 level) 3


English COURSES 

ENGLISH Course Descriptions                                                                         Spring 2017



ENG 148  Acting II                                                                                            Dugan, Eileen

Theater minor; English major elective, Oral Communication attribute 

This class is designed to give students an introduction to the craft of acting. Through exercises, improvisations, theatre games, monologue and scene study, students will learn and apply the tools of the actors' trade.  We will look at characterization, text analysis, acting styles, and the collaborative nature of the theatre.  Students will finish the course better able to participate in the theatrical experience---as performers, audience members, or technicians; and with a greater understanding of the actors' contribution to the stage.  No previous acting experience is necessary.

ENG 202  Drama                                                                                                            Hodin, Mark

200-level English course; Core Field 3 and Advanced Writing Intensive 

This course surveys a range of drama in order to analyze, interpret, and appreciate this diverse literary genre.  Although our reading list emphasizes work done in the twentieth century, the selected plays should get us to think broadly about essential dramatic concepts (i.e. tragedy, comedy, tragic-comedy) and important theater movements and theories (like Naturalism, Expressionism, Absurdism, Epic Theater, and Postmodernism).  Along the way, we consider how the various styles selected by our playwrights may have looked in performance to particular theater audiences. 

ENG 211  Science Fiction                                                                                 Reber, Thomas

English major 200-level course; Writing minor; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute, Field 3

Non-majors are welcome 

In this course we will read several works representative of the science fiction tradition, studying the kinds of ethical, social, and political issues with which all literature is concerned but which science fiction addresses in its own uniquely speculative way.  At the same time, we will examine the literary techniques that science fiction writers use to make their alien settings seem realistic and vivid, to design plots that engage our interest, and to create characters who are both believable and intriguing.  No prior knowledge of science fiction is assumed, though fans of the genre are welcome.  

ENG 223  Images of Women in Film & Literature                                              Gregorek, Jean

English major 200-level course; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute, Field 3;

Women & Gender Studies course 

This course asks students to consider their understanding of the images of women in literature and film. Our study will look at some influential genres, plots, and types of female characters, as well as stereotypical images of women and girls in popular novels and films.  We will examine some classic texts in the European tradition, and texts from Africa and the Caribbean.  Close study of the required readings and viewings will help us to develop a more critical awareness of the social construction of gender and sexuality.  This is a Writing Intensive Course, so there will also be attention to the process of writing and revising scholarly essays.   

ENG 224  Journey in World Literature                                                              Wolf, Amy

English major 200-level course; Global Awareness attribute; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute; Field 3 

This class will explore the concept of the journey in international literature from a number of cultural and intellectual perspectives, beginning with Homer’s Odyssey (the quintessential journey in Western literature) and fairy tales from around the world, and ending with several contemporary texts that experiment with the genre and often take it to absurd and magical conclusions.  In addition, because this is a writing-intensive course, you will be expected to invest intellectual energy (and considerable class time) into writing, revising, peer responding, and researching, using the theme of the journey as a mode for developing writing, thinking, and communication skills. 

ENG 225  Journey in American Literature                                                         Gansworth, Eric

English 200-level course, Advanced Writing Intensive Attribute, Diversity Attribute; Field 3 

This course explores works of American Literature that, in some meaningful way, are informed by the concept of the challenging movement from one place to another. In some cases, these journeys are literal, at least on the surface. These narrative events are the scaffolding upon which the writer’s larger concerns are built. We will read and discuss works in traditional narrative forms. We will also explore film and the way directors rely upon our knowledge of the journey motif, examining the ways in which diverse creators grapple with the same issues. We will examine and define thematic statements, identifying the vastly different ways narrative journeys manifest and express these ideas, and the ways those choices shape our experience with the work. Virtually all of our text will be from the mid-20th century on, though we will also reference core works from earlier eras in relation to our primary texts on the literary continuum. 

ENG 285  Animals in Film & Literature                                                             Porter, Barbara

English major 200-level course; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute; Field 3 

This advanced writing-intensive course enables students to explore and evaluate representations of animals, as well as how those representations signify human uses and understandings of animals, in a range of literary texts and films. 

Some central inquiry includes: How are animals portrayed, especially in relation to humans? What purposes are served and what audiences are addressed by representing animals in particular ways? What can be learned from comparing literary representations of animals to actual scientifically determined animal behavior? What can be learned about humans from the ways we portray our interaction with animals? Students will write a series of short descriptive and analytical papers in the first part of the semester. In the later part of the semester, we will analyze various popular, literary criticism, and scientific publications addressing animal behavior and animal studies, with the aim to emulate one of the styles in a research project addressing some aspect of animal representation that emerged from analysis of course readings. Some knowledge of or interest in animal behavior strongly recommended.

ENG 294  Introduction to Creative Writing                                                        Cochrane, Mick

Creative Writing major requirement; English major Writing course or 200-level course; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute, Field 3 

This course will allow students to explore the fundamental skills of fiction and poetry writing, and is designed around the belief that one must read widely and closely in order to write well. This is an intensive writing course, meant for students who are dedicated readers and serious about the process of writing. We will examine the works of both established and emerging writers in hopes of discerning and emulating the qualities of good poetry and fiction. Frequent writing exercises will provide the opportunity to practice, to imitate, and to experiment. Class members will work together to create a welcoming and productive workshop, including extensive in-class discussion of both published writers and student work. 

ENG 299  Introduction to English Studies                                                        Hodin, Mark

English major requirement 

English 299 is a gateway course for our major, so this class is designed to move you from the work you have done in English 101 and 200-level English courses to the kind of literary study you can expect to do in your 300-level English major coursework.  First, we sharpen the close reading and comparison skills you have already developed by analyzing and relating similar stories told through different perspectives and genres.  Next, we learn about the discipline of English Studies—what it means to be an English “major” rather than someone who reads and writes in English.  Finally, you will be introduced to several theoretical approaches to literary study and apply these skills and theory to the literature we discussed earlier in the semester through an informal presentation and a researched critical paper. 

ENG 305  Age of Shakespeare                                                                          Woodward, Marshelle

English major Pre-1800 British Literature or 300-level elective course 

Beginning with the Protestant Reformation and ending with the English Civil War, the age of Shakespeare was one of turbulent transformation. This course explores how English Renaissance writers imagined and helped to shape events such as the Copernican revolution, the English colonization of North America, and the regicide of King Charles I, all of which pushed an essentially medieval society, however violently, towards modernity. We will read widely across a variety of genres, sampling revenge tragedies and scientific utopias, metaphysical love lyrics and epic poems. As we survey these texts, we’ll consider how imaginative literature enabled Renaissance thinkers to ask world-changing questions about science, love, politics, and religion. Authors taught in this course may include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, Lady Mary Wroth, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, George Herbert, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, Lady Hester Pulter, Lucy Hutchinson, and Thomas Hobbes. Shakespeare may make an occasional appearance.

Eng 316  Revising the American Renaissance, 1820-1865                                   Desiderio, Jennifer

English major Pre-1900 American Literature course or 300-level elective course 

A British critic in 1819 asked, “Who in the four corners of the globe reads an American book?”  His comment was meant to deride the young American literary culture—a literary culture that was on the verge of experiencing a renaissance. The period between 1820 and 1865 is typically known as “The American Renaissance,” a time of rapid growth and accomplishment in the literary arts. This time period witnessed the transcendental philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller; the slaves narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs; the “golden age” of American magazines and the contributions by Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne; the sentimentalism of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Fanny Fern; the first African American novels by William Wells Brown and Harriet Wilson; and the efforts to represent the violence of the Civil War by Herman Melville and Walt Whitman.  We will study the period’s various literary movements, from romanticism to the gothic; read a number of different genres, from the slave narrative to the domestic novel; and learn to appreciate the vast number of authors writing at one of the most critical times in our nation’s history. 

ENG 331  Irish Literature                                                                                  Pribek, Fr James S.J.

English major Writing course or 300-level course; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute, Field 3 

The entire island of Ireland is slightly larger than the state of Maine in area, and is just ahead of Arizona in population.  Yet it can boast of the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe, and in the last century, four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Beginning with the early modern era and moving to the present, this course examines what makes Irish poetry and prose distinctive, in general and among literatures in English.  Students will consider and employ ten “lenses” on Irish literature offered by major writers and critics.  They will also give presentations on their own family stories of migration and ethnic identity.  Come and explore this literature of satire, wordplay, character, instability and possibility, as it takes readers to a place beyond (in James Joyce’s words) “wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.” 

ENG 350  The Theater Experience                                                                     Dugan, Eileen

Theater minor elective; English major 300-level elective course; Oral Communication attribute 

This course is intended to give students the opportunity to see how a play goes "from the page to the stage".  We will examine scripts for clues to how a production comes from them--what actors, directors and designers contribute, and what a playwright envisioned.  We will meet with professionals who work in various aspects of the theatre, and learn about their education, tools, and process.  Students will work on design projects, and participate in acting and directing activities.  In addition, each student will see a total of four theatrical productions, and write a brief analysis of each.  For one production, students will examine a design element in detail. 

ENG 365C  Core Capstone: Culture and Conflict: Representing World War I       Fisher, Jane

Core Capstone; English major elective

(Note: English majors may only count ENG 365 for an English major elective once) 

As we approach the centennial of World War I, this course will focus on the breadth of diverse participants in the major cultural debates surrounding it. Taking as its center Adam Hochschild’s social history To End All Wars which emphasizes the protests of conscientious objectors, this course will examine a range of literary and historical works representing conflicting viewpoints surrounding World War I.  

While students may be familiar with the War’s general history, we will focus on perspectives often neglected or absent in conventional accounts of World War I, such as social justice issues regarding women’s suffrage, the treatment of shell shock, the use of colonial troops, and the punishment of war protesters; the role of illness and disease in the War; how poetry became an important part of War culture; nursing and the War; African-American soldiers and World War I; new technologies’ impact on the War; and changing gender roles during and after the War. Course readings will include fiction and poetry as well selected historical and critical essays. We will also examine the material culture of the period, especially World War I propaganda posters which played such an important role in communicating governmental policy to the public. 

ENG 365D  Core Capstone:  Post-Colonial Studies                                           Gregorek, Jean

English majors may count one core capstone as an English major elective course

This course should be of interest to students of Literature, History, International Relations, Political Science, and Religious Studies

One of the most dramatic world-historical shifts in the twentieth century has been the political liberation of three-fourths of the planet from European domination.  The new 'interdiscipline' of postcolonial studies examines this shift, the complexities of the process of decolonization, and the hybrid culture of peoples and places emerging from European colonial rule.

This course seeks to introduce students to the field of postcolonial studies, drawing primarily on examples from the Islamic world of North Africa and the Middle East.  Through the study of literature, film, and history, as well as of current events, we will investigate encounters between the West and the Middle East, including ways in which twentieth-century European artists and writers have represented these lands, as well as how some Middle Eastern artists and writers have responded to these representations.  Reading and viewing works from North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will consider some important postcolonial themes:  the paradoxes of assimilated or hybrid identities; the place of tradition; the public role of women; debates around revolutionary violence; healing the scars of war; the possibilities for cross-cultural understanding; what modernity looks like outside of the West.  This course should be of interest to students of Literature, History, International Relations, Political Science, and Religious Studies.  

ENG 365E  Core Capstone:  Nazi Germany in Contemporary Fiction                Fisher, Johanna

English Majors may count one core capstone as an English major 300-level elective course

This course should be of interest to students of Literature, History, International Relations, Political Science, and Religious Studies 

This course explores various representations of Nazi Germany in contemporary fiction. Students will read four contemporary novels and reflect on their relationship to history, how they are shaped by it, and how they represent it. The focus is not so much on the actual historical event itself, but rather the focus will be on the human experience reflected in the novels themselves. As part of our thinking about this literature we will consider literary phenomena such as reference and self-reflexibilty as a way into both the study and the discussion of the important human questions that the novels ask. Furthermore, we will consider the problems and possibilities of historical representation in contemporary fiction. 

ENG 373  Jane Austen                                                                                      Wolf, Amy

English major elective 

Jane Austen is as popular as ever in the twenty-first century, the subject of fictionalizations, adaptations, films, books clubs, and fan clubs.  Her lively characters, social realism, and pointed satire still fascinate and move readers.  We will read six of Austen’s novels and some of her letters and juvenilia, along with literary criticism and other eighteenth-century texts that will help us understand her and her time.  We will consider the role biography, history, and culture play in our interpretations of texts as well as the meaning and significance of her novels individually and as a body of work.  Requirements include active discussion, in-depth close reading, three literary analysis essays, including a long compare/contrast paper, as well as regular homework assignments. 

ENG 385  Persuasive Writing                                                                            Reber, Thomas

English major Writing course or English major 300-level elective; Writing minor course; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute; non-majors are welcome 

This course will focus on analyzing and constructing arguments.  You will analyze arguments made by many different professional and student writers and also write arguments of your own, drawing on the arguments of others a) as rhetorical models for organizing your own arguments, and b) as sources of ideas and material.   The arguments we will read and discuss will come from such fields as politics, education, and law.  Thus, while the course satisfies the requirement for an upper-division writing course in the English major, its content should appeal to students majoring in many different fields—especially those interested in current events.  And the argumentation skills you learn should help you with many of your other college courses.  Composing multiple drafts of written assignments and meeting with classmates to discuss your writing will be integral to the course.  Class discussion of our readings will also be important.  In addition, there will likely be one brief "soapbox speech" given by each student on a topic of his or her choice.  

ENG 388  Literary Publishing                                                                           Cochrane, Mick

Creative Writing elective course; English major 300-level elective course 

The theoretical component of the course will involve a study of the history of the literary magazine from the founding of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1912 to the present time. We’ll attempt to understand both the function of the magazine as a literary force and the interaction of design and text. Readings will be supplemented by guest speakers—professional editors, publishers, designers, writers, and a bookseller—who will add their perspective. The practical component of the course will focus on editing The Quadrangle, the Canisius College literary and visual arts magazine. The work will include soliciting and selecting material, copy-editing and proofreading, design, layout, printing, publicity, and distribution. You do not have to take the course in order to work on the literary magazine, but you do have to work in a significant role on the magazine in order to take the course. 

ENG 389  Business Communication                                                                 Hammer, Mark

English major Writing course or English major 300-level elective; Advanced Writing Intensive attribute 

This course is taught as a practical introduction to a wide variety of communication methods that students will find present in their future work environments.  Students are asked to produce short (letters, memos) and lengthy (business plan) pieces of writing, many of which mimic workplace requirements that they'll encounter in their professional lives.  Discussion moves from how to find a job to corporate culture, management styles to marketing plans, all in the context of a pseudo-business environment.  ENG 389 is a communication primer for the student who will soon be entering an American workplace where employees must "communicate or die!" 

ENG 392  Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry                                                    McNally, Janet

Prerequisite: Introduction to Creative Writing 

Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry continues with many of the foundational aspects of writing poetry engaged in the Introduction to Creative Writing course. We will concentrate on a variety of facets within the genre, spending equal time on examples from established contemporary poets and the work of class members. We will use focused reading, discussion, exercises, and workshop activities designed to allow beginning writers to practice versatility in order to begin cultivating individual voices. Before a writer makes an explicit decision to embrace or reject the principles of a given form, the writer should have a meaningful relationship with and an understanding of the opportunities the form offers. We may use the work of established writers as stepping off points to begin conversations about the directions you, as beginning writers, will take. It is true that anyone can write poetry, but in order to write poetry well, for an audience other than oneself, a writer must make a serious commitment to the study of the form. This course offers both directed study and room to cultivate and nurture one's voice in a supportive environment.  Prerequisite: ENG 294 or permission of instructor.

ENG 396Z  English Honors: 20th Century Coming of Age Narratives                 Fisher, Jane

English Honors seminar; English major 300-level elective course 

In this course we’ll read a number of coming of age narratives by male and female writers and consider how “the shock of the new” transformed identity for both men and women during this turbulent century. For young women, we’ll consider how mother/daughter relationships, body image, the role of fantasy and gothic, and the simultaneous danger and promise of the public sphere interacted in constructing women’s sense of self. For men, we’ll begin with James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man and think about how Stephen Dedalus’ tools of silence, cunning, and exile continue to apply to other 20th century male writers.  Readings will include Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, Shirley Jackson, Ann Patchett, James Joyce, James Baldwin, and John Lennon among others. 

ENG 490  Creative Writing Capstone                                                                 Gansworth, Eric

Creative Writing major requirement 

The goal of this course is to teach students to do all the things that working writers do: prepare, submit, and present work consistent with professional standards; understand and articulate how their work fits into larger literary traditions; and show a practical knowledge of the particular professional lives of writers, what they do and how they prepare themselves to do that work. In this course, students will produce a polished, accomplished portfolio of creative work in a genre of their choice; they will research markets for their work and prepare their own professional-quality submissions; and they will also learn to present their work publicly, concentrating on the selection and delivery of their creative work for a live audience, and as part of the course, participate in a formal, public reading. They will, in addition, prepare an artistic statement, reflecting on their influences, aesthetic values, and goals as writers, and, finally, research and explore career options and opportunities. We will use work of established writers as a basis for examining the fruition of specific stylistic choices in the development of sustained work. 

Prerequisite: Senior Standing, ENG 294 (or ENG 394) or permission of instructor