INVITATION                                               Altgeld Hall

You are invited to apply to the English Visiting Scholars Institute at Northern Illinois University, which is designed to fit the interests and needs of international scholars interested in studying English in the United States, whether at the graduate or postgraduate level.  The English Visiting Scholars Institute, or EVSI, balances individual attention with intellectual freedom.


              EVSI Program Focus

             2017-18 Topic: “American Ghost Stories and Other Hauntings”

             Program Cost



If accepted to participate in EVSI, you will be part of a small group of scholars who will study a common topic, learning Western methods of research as a group and pursuing your independent research with a Northern Illinois University English faculty member’s support.  In 2017-18, we particularly invite applicants interested in pursuing topics in literary studies, especially of British or American literature.

Benefits of participation in EVSI include:

  • Learning Research Methods as part of a small group of other Visiting Scholars, using as a model topic “American Ghost Stories and Other Hauntings” under the direction of Dr. Deborah DeRosa. 
  • Developing and pursuing an individualized program of research, working with Northern Illinois University English Department faculty having specialization in literary studies. 
  • Housing arrangements in the convenient and comfortable University Plaza apartments, with studio, 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments available, each with its own kitchen. 
  • Group activities , offered to all EVSI participants, including off-campus visits to sites of interest such as Chicago’s “Loop” shopping and commercial district, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.


Chicago River



This year the Northern Illinois University English Department particularly invites participants interested in pursuing topics in literary studies. In subsequent years, the English Department anticipates that the focus will vary, and may include rhetoric, linguistics, or the learning of English as a second language.

For 2017-18, we encourage applicants pursuing various topics within the field of British or American literature, including British Commonwealth literature and Transatlantic literature.  Because program participants will form a cohort, learning together as well as pursuing individual research programs, EVSI will begin in Fall 2017 with a common, exemplary topic for research and reading.  This topic, described below, will be “American Ghost Stories and Other Hauntings.”


In Fall 2017, all participants will work with Dr. De Rosa to establish the ground-work for individual research. In Spring 2018, participants will shift to their own research projects.  EVSI participants will be assigned to work with a faculty mentor chosen from the English faculty at Northern Illinois University.

Northern Illinois University via the sections of the department’s website dedicated to their research and teaching interests, available through the following link: 

In their applications, prospective EVSI participants may request the mentorship of a specific faculty member for the individualized research component of the program. The Northern Illinois University English Department will make the final assignment of program participant to faculty mentor during Fall 2017.

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During the Fall 2017 small-group workshops, Dr. Deborah DeRosa has chosen the theme: “American Ghost Stories and Other Hauntings.”  EVSI participants will meet weekly in a small-group, seminar-style meeting that will feature both discussion of primary literary texts and development of literary research methods.  Inquiries into research methods will focus on research skills broadly applicable to topics within British and American literature, hence serving the individual research interests of all EVSI participants even while exploring a common topic.




Dr. DeRosa holds a 1998 Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is the author of Domestic Abolitionism and Juvenile Literature: 1830-1865 (2002) and editor of Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children’s Abolitionist Literature (2003), among other publications.  Her teaching interests include not only nineteenth but twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, including women’s writing and American minority authors.

Of the topic she has designed for Fall 2017, Dr. DeRosa says:

“Americans seem to have a fascination with ghosts. Television airs re-runs of children’s cartoons Scooby Doo and Casper, the Friendly Ghost. Hollywood has made movies like The Sixth Sense, The Lady in White, Ghost, Ghostbusters, and The Ghosts of Mississippi, to name a few. What do these popular television shows and movies reveal about North Americans’ understanding of, and reaction to, ghosts? Why do ghosts (fictional and/or literal) visit the living? Why do the living remain haunted?  What secrets or experiences must the living and the dead confront before the ghost can rest in peace and the living can heal? 


“These discussion and research questions will help us analyze ghost stories by nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century American authors of different regions, genders, and races. We will arrive at answers by exploring character development, point-of-view, tone, and other literary features.  We will also situate texts in their historical contexts and ask questions regarding gender, race, class, religion, & psychology.

Joy Luck Club

“The EVSI topic for Fall 2017 is based on one of my favorite seminars for graduate students at Northern Illinois University. The texts read and discussed will include short stories, novels, and drama. When using “American Ghost Stories” as a class topic at Northern, I have taught Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Christina Schwartz’s Drowning Ruth, Louise Erdrich’s Tracks, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, and Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. I anticipate choosing several of these texts—or possibly other ‘ghost stories’—as featured readings for EVSI participants in 2017-18.”

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The cost for participation in EVSI is $4,000 U.S. for the 2017-18 academic year.  This does not include living costs, transportation, and other personal expenses.

Included in the cost of EVSI are

  • Weekly workshops hosted by Dr. Deborah DeRosa in Fall 2017, which feature discussion of “American Ghost Stories and Other Hauntings” and development of research methodology 
  • Mentorship of an NIU English Department faculty member focusing on individual research projects, beginning in Fall 2017 and pursued intensively in Spring 2018 
  • Assistance in arranging housing at the University Plaza apartments, DeKalb, IL. 
  • Participation in group events


Each Visiting Scholar will have single-occupation accommodation with kitchen facilities and furnishings.  Studio apartments at University Plaza are available for $695/month; one-bedroom apartments are available at $789/month.  Rates are based on an annual lease, required for on-campus housing: August 19-July 31. 


University Plaza

A scholar bringing a partner or other family member may be accommodated with advance notice, at an additional rate if a one- or two-bedroom accommodation is preferred.

To reserve an apartment at the University Plaza, a deposit equal to the first month’s rent will be required by March 15, 2017.

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Application for EVSI is competitive. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until February 15, 2017, which will be the deadline for the 2017-18 program. Applicants should submit the following:


  • Curriculum vitae
  • IELTS or TOEFL scores
  • A 250-word statement describing the applicant’s research project, indicating a specific interest to study at NIU, and identifying, if possible, the NIU faculty member with whom he or she would like to study.


Applications should be directed to Dr. Mark Van Wienen, who serves as the English Department contact for EVSI, at his departmental email address:  Applicants will be notified of their acceptance to the program as soon as possible, but no later than February 28, 2017.



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Questions about the English Visiting Scholars Institute at Northern Illinois University may be directed to Dr. Mark Van Wienen at