SFC's English Department Revamps as Department of Literature, Writing and Publishing
Leah Schmerl

With an emphasis on cultivating students' writing skills and professional preparedness, SFC's English department will recast itself as the Department of Literature, Writing and Publishing, introducing a revamped curriculum that helps students master written content as delivered in a range of formats, including digital.

The changes will roll out throughout spring and summer 2021 and will be fully implemented by the start of fall 2021 semester.

"As an academic discipline, English continues to have a central place in a traditional liberal arts education," said Athena Devlin, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Literature, Writing and Publishing and who helped oversee the department overhaul. "In recent years, however, our students have been looking for a different relationship with the field, one that isn't focused as much on reading and analyzing storied works of literature. They want to engage with written work they consume everyday – largely in digital and online environments – and may strive to produce professionally themselves."

Three signature courses help anchor the department's new focus:

  • Story in the Digital Age introduces students to narratives delivered in online platforms, including on blogs, websites, and through podcasts, and guides students in producing their own work in these modalities (launches in fall 2021).
  • Digital Humanities delves into the ways writing and the written word serve as content in digital environments (available in spring 2021).
  • Writing and Publishing connects students with guest speakers from the world of professional writing, including editors, publishers, literary agents and others (available in spring 2021).

The department is also renovating its approach to teaching core writing skills – both through general education courses required of all SFC students and upper-level electives – to ensure students know how to deliver written work through digital platforms like podcasts and websites, in addition in the traditional college essay format. The revamp comes under the guidance of assistant professor Caroline Hagood, Ph.D., who the College hired as its first Director of Undergraduate Writing earlier this year.

"Writing is foundational to so much of what students today want to pursue professionally, when it comes to creative fields in social media or elsewhere online," said Dr. Devlin. "The new Literature, Writing and Publishing Department arms students with knowledge and skills that can bridge them to their professional aspirations. Writing is the lifeblood of the creative world many students live in today, and we're giving them tools so they can engage with that world effectively and successfully."

In the coming years, St. Francis College will place more of its students in internships that expose them to writing's professional application. Ian Maloney, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Literature, Writing and Publishing, manages the department's internship program, which currently includes opportunities with the National Book Award, the Brooklyn Book Festival and a growing list of other leading companies and professional organizations.

The updates to the former English department are part of an academic re-structuring that the College will phase in over coming months. SFC will organize academic departments into several broad divisions, helping facilitate learning across complementary disciplines. Some of the 70-plus academic majors and minors will be reworked to ensure they better prepare students for competitive graduate school programs, in-demand careers and lifelong learning. The College will deliver more course instruction in hybrid and online formats, meeting the needs of non-traditional students who may not be able to attend in-person classes consistently."

"The new Literature, Writing and Publishing Department is leading the way in innovation and curricular changes that create fresh opportunities for our students,", said Jennifer Lancaster, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs. "The program will enrich students' knowledge and skills and set the stage for graduate school and fulfilling professional lives."