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Message from the Chair

Kathleen Renk

I am delighted to serve as chair of our dynamic English department. We offer courses in British and American literatures, linguistics, English education, film, ESL (English as a Second Language), and rhetoric as well as in creative, technical and professional writing.  In recent years, we’ve scheduled courses as varied as “Forbidden Language,” “Victoria’s Dark Night of the Soul: The Literature of Horror, 1832-1899,” “Scraps, Orts, and Fragments: Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters and Women’s History,” “Visual Rhetoric” and “Blues and Jazz in Literature and Film.”  Our study abroad program in Oxford has enrolled students for 40+ years and students rave about this transformative academic experience.  Our NIU at Trinity College, Dublin study abroad program is also a highly-successful program that broadens and deepens students’ educational experience.

Our professorial and instructional faculty are stellar.  They publish award-winning books with academic presses that include Oxford, Cambridge, the University Press of Virginia, Routledge and Edinburgh.  Some recent books include: Melissa Adams-Campbell’s New World Courtships: Transatlantic Alternatives to Companionate Marriage (2015), John Bradley’s And Thereby Everything (a saga of Billy the Kid and Henry Ford) (2015) and Jeff Einboden’s Islam and Romanticism: Muslim Currents from Goethe to Emerson (2014).

Faculty also publish in highly-regarded journals, including: PMLA, English Literary History, the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Language and Linguistics Compass, English Literary Renaissance and American Literature.  In addition to our outstanding scholarship, some of our scholar/teachers are also award-winning poets and essayists.  Poetry magazine awarded Amy Newman the “Friends of Literature Prize” for her poem “Howl.”  Professor Newman is also the 2016 recipient of the Board of Trustees Professorship, the highest honor given to faculty members at NIU.

Our department also publishes the journal Style, which is ranked among the best journals of literary criticism in the world. 

Michael Day and our instructional staff lead a highly-successful First-Year Composition program, which showcases student writing and enables students to produce an electronic portfolio that demonstrates the growth in their academic writing.

Our undergraduate students develop successful careers as ESL teachers, technical and professional writers and secondary and middle-school teachers, while others go on to law or medical school or pursue advanced degrees in linguistics and literature.  For more information about the successes of our alums, visit our Careers in English page.

If you’d like to know more about our programs: the undergraduate major (tracks in literature, writing, and teacher certification), our Certificate in Creative Writing, our Certificate in Technical Writing, any of our seven M.A. concentrations or our Ph.D. program please contact us.  We are happy to help. 

Kathleen Renk

Professor and Department Chair 

To keep up with our achievements and to learn more about our students, friend NIU English Department on Facebook!

Contact us

Northern Illinois University
Department of English
Reavis Hall, Room 215
DeKalb, IL 60115

815-753-0611
815-753-0606 (Fax)