Old Dominion University
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College of Arts and Letters


Department of English




Chair's Welcome

Welcome to the Department of English at Old Dominion University. Located in the Batten Arts and Letters building on the Norfolk campus, the English department has nearly 50 full-time and approximately 75 part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants, who teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in a number of different emphases. With over 300 undergraduate and 150 graduate majors, English is one of the largest, most dynamic departments on campus.

As its core mission, the English department focuses on superior teaching. Members of our department win teaching awards nearly every year, from Most Inspiring (selected by students with the highest grade point averages in the colleges), the Stern award (one award yearly to the best teacher in the College of Arts and Letters), the Teaching with Technology Award, the Tonelson Award (one award yearly to the best teacher in the University), to the SCHEV award (an annual award given to eleven faculty members from across the Commonwealth of Virginia). Our faculty members encourage productive interaction both in and out of the classroom; in addition, many have integrated computer technology with instruction so that teaching has become an ongoing process. And because the department has hired many new people in the last few years, we have great energy and enthusiasm for the task of teaching.

In conjunction with teaching, we have an active program of research and writing. All of our tenure-track faculty are engaged in projects that lead to publication or dissemination in other forms. From books of poetry, memoir, and fiction to mixed media film/video productions and academic conference papers, or from full-length academic books in gender studies, rhetoric, electronic and technical writing, journalism, and early American literature to articles on a variety of topics, essays, reviews, short stories, and poems, our teacher-researchers stay active on many fronts. Much of what enlivens us as teachers comes from the energy created in sharing our research with our students.

What gives us a constant sense of renewal and focus, though, is the community of students who take our courses. Whether they are individuals from the mountains of western Virginia taking a televised course in public relations or a class in Virginia Beach studying cross-cultural communication or a seminar in Norfolk delving the mysteries of a great writer, our students bring to the classroom or the computer screen or the microphone a rich variety of life experiences that we hope can be engaged and made richer by interaction with English department faculty.

In addition to classroom experiences, students also benefit from opportunities to learn other kinds of skills. Through the Career Advantage Program at Old Dominion, the English department routinely sends many undergraduate and graduate English majors on internships with area businesses and institutions. Whether they are with a newspaper, a major corporation, or a library, these internships can be applied as credit toward bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees. In addition, many of our students earn teaching certification along with their English degree and use their internship time for practice teaching. English majors at Old Dominion can enjoy the courses for themselves, but also know that they can shape a curriculum with practical application.

For bachelor's degree holders who want to go further, we have a number of graduate programs. Our Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing offers a terminal degree in that area. A highly selective course of study, the M.F.A. enables students to take workshops in their chosen specialty as well as courses in theory and literature. The Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics can be used as preparation to teach English as a Second Language or as a stepping-stone to doctoral work at other institutions. The M.A. in English engages students either in Literature, Professional Writing, Composition and Rhetoric, or Teaching. A number of our master's-level students are teachers or other jobholders who need the degree for advancement at their place of employment. At the same time, the M.A. in English degree can be used as a springboard to Ph.D. work. Each year, many of our M.A. degree-earners win scholarships or assistantships at doctoral institutions. Finally, the department offers the Ph.D. in English to selected students with an earned M.A. and outstanding academic qualifications. This new program prepares its graduates to compete for university academic and other professional positions.

In short, the English department at Old Dominion University has the human resources, degree programs, and internship opportunities to suit a broad range of interests. We are an academic department; standards of performance are high. Yet we also recognize the world in which we live and work to assist students in making their degree experience pay off in many ways. Please take a few moments to review the rest of the Web site. If you are interested in further information on, feel free to contact me or the people listed in any of the homepage articles.

With best wishes,
Dana Heller, Chair