Carnegie Mellon University

The Department of English is both inspired by the richness of the humanist tradition and dedicated to innovation. Our graduates enter careers in academia and other professions well-prepared to meet the changing needs of society with creativity, historical perspective, global awareness, and outstanding communication skills.

Department of English News

Jim Daniels Launches New Collection THE PERP WALK at City of Asylum Event

Jim Daniels, Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English, launched his 23rd book The Perp Walk (Michigan State University Press; May 1, 2019) at an event mid-April at Pittsburgh's City of Asylum.

English Alumni Jodi Balkan and Meredith Paley Return to Campus for "Real Talk" on Professional Writing and PR

On April 5, two Department of English alumni, Jodi Balkan (1989), President and Founder of BOLD PR, and Meredith Paley (Wollins) (1989), VP of Public Relations for fashion retailer Talbots, returned to campus. The two gave a craft talk and Q&A session about their professional writing and public relations career trajectories — starting with how they built those careers from the ground up.

English Alumna Marion Mulligan Sutton Meets Student Recipients of Her Internship Award

On April 1, English alumna Marion Mulligan Sutton (MM 1965) visited the Department of English to meet the current student recipients of her generous scholarship award, The Marion Mulligan Sutton Internship Award for English/ Writing Majors.

The Oakland Review Debuts at the AWP Conference and Releases Volume XLIVI

In late March 2019, Carnegie Mellon University’s national literary-arts journal The Oakland Review announced the release of Volume XLIV. Edited, produced, and distributed entirely by Carnegie Mellon University students, Volume XLIV features poetry, prose, and art by writers and artists from around the world, produced by the Creative Writing Program in CMU’s Department of English. Additionally, senior staff recently attended the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference (AWP) in Portland, OR in late March.

Technology, Music and Art Come Together at TripTech

For three days, the teaching, coding and hip-hop worlds will converge at Carnegie Mellon University’s first-ever TripTech event.

“We thought it was important to highlight the contributions of creatives working at the forefront of STEAM-based community projects, especially those aimed at underserved and underrepresented groups in Pittsburgh and beyond,” said Richard Purcell, associate professor of English and one TripTech’s coordinators.

Taking place March 28–30, TripTech — in collaboration with Google — is organized by Ayana Ledford, director of diversity and inclusion for the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy; Purcell; and Stephen Wittek, assistant professor of English.

Carnegie Mellon Launches Global Communication and Applied Translation Master's Degree Program

Carnegie Mellon University's Departments of English and Modern Languages are now enrolling students in a joint Master of Arts in Global Communication and Applied Translation Program that will launch in fall 2019. The one and a half-year program is designed especially for individuals interested in becoming translation professionals whose careers involve content generation and state-of-the-art translation technologies.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Producer and Alumnus, Presents New Scholarship Award at Craft Talk

On March 6, 2019, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, producer and alumnus from CMU's Creative Writing program in the Department of English, gave a craft talk in The Gladys Schmitt Creative Writing Center and also presented the first Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship to the program. The inaugural scholarship was awarded to undergraduate student Anna Anderson.

The talk and award presentation also signified the launch of the new B.A. in Film and Visual Media in the Department of English.

Creative Writing Professor Jane Bernstein’s Newest Works: From Experience to Imagination

When most writers publish a range of genres in as short a span as Jane Bernstein has done over 2018, people tend to call it a “prolific” year. For Bernstein, however, Professor of Creative Writing in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of English, the last year seems more a true representation of her career’s ongoing, wide array of writing styles and capacity: more the rule of how she writes rather than the exception.

Exploring Languages and Cultures Speaks to CMU Students

Forty-eight percent of 2018 Carnegie Mellon graduates took a Modern Languages course. Nationwide, there are only 7.5 modern language course enrollments per 100 students, according to the most recent report conducted by the Modern Language Association.

This fall our partners in the Department of Modern Languages will launch, in collaboration with our Department of English, a new Master of Arts in Global Communication and Applied Translation.

A Few of the Latest Cool Classes in the Dietrich College

Shared from the Dietrich College, this sample of humanities courses—including English offerings such as "Data Stories" and a Grand Challenge Seminar—highlights ways students learn about data and rhetoric through both storytelling and politics.

Professor John Oddo Publishes New Book on Political Rhetoric's "Game of Telephone"

While most Americans would prefer to believe they are not as susceptible to political propaganda as their fellow citizens, a new book by Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor of English John Oddo argues those influences are far more complex than the public realizes. Published in November 2018, “The Discourse of Propaganda: Case Studies from the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terror” (Penn State University Press) argues “propaganda” is more than just misleading rhetoric generated by one person or group — but rather an elaborate process of keeping discourse alive and effective.

Keynote Addresses from the Creative Writing Program's 50th Anniversary

Carnegie Mellon University’s Creative Writing Program in the Department of English celebrated its 50th Anniversary during Homecoming Weekend this past October. Over 100 alumni returned to campus to take part in panels, readings and meet-ups with their creative writing community and peers, Oct. 25 - 27, 2018. 

The keynote speeches by alumni Elizabeth Currid-Halkett (‘00, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Southern California) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (’91, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and producer) immediately addressed news of that weekend's Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy and the importance of the humanities disciplines.

Two Rhetoric Ph.D. Students Bring Home Major Awards

This past fall two students in the Department of English’s Rhetoric Ph.D. program, CP Moreau (2021) and Laura McCann (2024), were awarded major honors for their research and writing. 

Alumna, Writer, Director, Named Marshall Scholar

Kaytie Nielsen, an alumna of Carnegie Mellon University and international filmmaker, is adding to her impressive list of credits. The 2016 graduate is the fourth CMU student to earn the highly selective international Marshall Scholarship, which funds up to two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom.

Two Department of English Students Named Andrew Carnegie Society Scholars

Earlier this fall, two seniors in the Department of English were selected to represent the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences as 2018-19 Andrew Carnegie Society (ACS) Scholars. Congratulations to Margaret (Maggie) Mertz and Valene Mezmin on receiving this honor.

First Writers Visit in New Speaker Series from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards

This past October, Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of English helped host acclaimed writers Hanif Aburraqib and Cameron Barnett as the first guests in the new Speaker Series presented by the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards.

Creative Writing Program Celebrates 50 Years

Over the days of Thursday, October 25 through Saturday, October 27, the Carnegie Mellon University campus prepared to celebrate several major milestones: From the CMU Homecoming and Inauguration of its 10th President, to the Department of English’s 50th Anniversary of the Creative Writing Program.

As one of oldest the only undergraduate programs of its kind, the Creative Writing Program's alumni gathered from around the country at Baker Hall to share in the camaraderie, success and profound experiences the writing program has given them.

On the last day of celebration on Saturday morning, news of the immense tragedy at nearby Tree of Life Synagogue reached program director Sharon Dilworth, associate professor of English. As CMU Homecoming events were cancelled, Professor Dilworth moved all Creative Writing plans to her personal home, including the keynote speeches.

Four Department of English Students Win Sutton Internship Awards

Four students in the Department of English have each received a Marion Mulligan Sutton Internship Award for English/Writing Majors for 2018-19. Designed to enrich undergraduate education and provide financial support for students with summer internships in English and professional writing, the 2018 Marion Mulligan Sutton Awards are made possible through a generous grant provided by Mrs. Sutton, a CMU alumna and her husband Thomas, through Marion Mulligan Sutton, MM 1965, Internship Fund.

Alumna Apeksha Atal Awarded Fulbright to Teach English in Thailand

Recent biological sciences and English graduate Apeksha Atal has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). “Being selected as a Fulbright Scholar is absolutely surreal,” said Atal. “To think that everything I worked towards is actually happening is beyond amazing. I’m mostly proud to make the people in my life proud. So many people believed in me when I doubted myself, and I’m so glad to have proved them right.”

Hey, Siri...What CMU Linguistics Major Leads Your Language Understanding Team?

Behind every Apple user’s favorite virtual assistant is a Carnegie Mellon University alumna. Enrica Rosato (DC ’13), who graduated from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences with a degree in linguistics, took a job with the tech company in February as the Siri Natural Language Annotation Project Lead. 

Three English Juniors Named Dietrich College Honors Fellows

Nine distinguished Carnegie Mellon University juniors, among them English majors Brian Bizier, Paloma Sierra Hernandez, and Maggie Mertz, will spend the summer working on research and creative projects that span across the college’s various disciplines.

It’s Alive! English Grad Students Revive Frankenstein at Posner Center

In an intership at the Posner Center, graduate students in English Steven Gotzler, Jack Quirk, and Avery J. Wiscomb have imagined a way to mark the 200th anniversary of "Frankenstein."

First Year Writing Class Asks: How Do You Talk About Race?

All semester-long, one First-Year Writing class has been engaged in an often challenging, frequently thorny discussion—they've been talking about race. Specifically, in the course "Interpretation and Argument: Communicating about Race" taught by Gregory Laski, students developed strategies to talk about race in an inclusive and productive way.

Save the Date! The Creative Writing Program Turns 50

Carnegie Mellon University’s Creative Writing Program was one of the first—and remains one of the only—undergraduate programs of its kind. This fall, the program will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

New Inductees Join Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society

In an induction ceremony earlier this year, 11 students from the Department of English joined the ranks of the Omega Tau Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society.

Gerald Costanzo Revisits “Regular Haunts” in New Collection

Never one to shy away from using wit and satire to poetically describe American life, Carnegie Mellon University’s Gerald Costanzo deconstructs a fleeting, popular and consumer culture in his new book, “Regular Haunts.”

Noémie Ndiaye’s Work on Theatrical Black Representation Wins Dissertation Award

The Shakespeare Association of America recently awarded Noémie Ndiaye, assistant professor of English, its annual J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize for distinguished scholarship related to Shakespeare’s life, times, and works.

Celebrate Graduate Student Appreciation Week

To mark Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, the Department of English highlights some recent graduate student achievements.

In Two New Books, Sharon Dilworth Takes on Pittsburgh and Paris

In two new books out this year, Professor Sharon Dilworth uses her fiction to explore two very distinct places. In the novel, it’s the mid-century French Riviera; in the short story collection, it’s about a dozen Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

English Professors Advocate for the Humanities in D.C.

At the National Humanities Alliance annual meeting and its Humanities Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Carnegie Mellon University’s David Shumway and Christopher Warren participated in events aimed at advocating for federally funded humanities programs.

Grad Students Relaunch Publication for Internet Airwaves 

Rhetoric graduate students have recently launched a new podcast called Re:Verb which will air two times a month and feature rhetoric students in lively conversation—and sometimes heated argument—about current events with a rhetorical twist.

Maria Poznahovska Wins Award from Technical Writing Association

In anticipation of its annual conference, the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) grants a group of graduate student awards to aid in particularly promising research. This year, Maria Poznahovska, a Ph.D. candidate in Rhetoric, is among its recipients.

Marian Aguiar Aims to Rearrange How We See Traditional Unions in “Arranging Marriage”

Associate Professor Marian Aguiar noticed shelves filled with books about arranged marriage— there were paperback romances, memoirs, self-help and novels by South Asian feminist authors. She set out to investigate this trend in a new book.

David Shumway Helps Bring Humanities Festival to Pittsburgh 

David Shumway, professor of English and director of the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University, wants people in Pittsburgh to engage in "smart talk about stuff that matters." That is, after all, the motto of the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, which Shumway helped found in 2015. 

Honors Fellow Creates Guide to Sustainable Organizations

Amber James, a senior studying technical writing and communication is using her year as a Dietrich College Honors Fellow to create a tool dedicated to sustainability.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Award Winners Address Contemporary Social Issues

For the nineteenth year, high school and college students from across western Pennsylvania have addressed topics of difference and diversity in Carnegie Mellon University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards. This year’s winners touched on topics ranging from racial and sexual identity to the current political climate and more.

A New Look and Network for Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Gathered in Hunt Library, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and in virtual spaces around the world watching a live-stream, early modern scholars and digital humanists joined forces to contribute nodes to an increasingly growing digital web of "Six Degrees of Francis Bacon."

Kevin González Granted NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) named 36 writers as members of its 2017-2018 class of Creative Writing Fellows — a highly prestigious honor that comes with a $25,000 grant. One of them was Kevin González, assistant professor of English.

New Interdisciplinary Minor Puts the Human in Digital Humanities

Where’s a student of Shakespeare to go when they want to make an interactive video game exploring “Hamlet?” Or what about the computer programmer that wants to code some foundational moral philosophy into their driverless car? Starting now, humanists and technologists alike can turn to a new interdisciplinary minor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of English.

PhDs Calvin Pollak and Natalie Suzelis Earn Mellon Fellowships

Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences has selected five Andrew W. Mellon Fellows. Department of English PhD candidates Calvin Pollak and Natalie Suzelis are among the recipients for their proposals for innovative digital humanities projects.

In 16th Poetry Collection, Jim Daniels Returns to Old Turf With New Eyes

In "Street Calligraphy," Jim Daniels's newest collection of poetry, kids scrawl expletives on broken brick, a nurse gets mugged on her way home from the rehab clinic, fathers drink longnecks of PBR while navigating the Ohio Turnpike and stoned, would-be lovers share cigarettes outside dingy music clubs.

In New Book, Professor Doug Coulson Dissects Shifting Law of Racial Classification

Throughout much of modern American history, to make determinations about the naturalization of immigrants, courts made legal decisions about who was considered “white.” In a new book out this month, Department of English assistant professor Doug Coulson examines this complex dynamics of immigration law and racial rhetoric.

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