Department of English and Modern Languages

Join a Nationally Ranked Program.

The UIS Department of English and Modern Languages offers majors in English on campus and in English online with minors in English and Spanish. We also offer a professionalized M.A. in English with two concentrations: digital pedagogy and digital publishing.

UIS English M.A. alum A.D. Carson discusses Charlottesville and teaching rap at the University of Virginia.


Carson recently defended his unconventional doctoral dissertation– a rap album titled “Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions.” Carson has accepted a job as Assistant Professor of Hip Hop and the Global South at the University of Virginia.

“Even if it’s just a little hope, I’ve got it because of the students.”

What’s New:

Lan Dong

Dr. Lan Dong, literature professor and department chair, has just been recognized as the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences. “My students inspire me. I like to write about the texts I teach and teach the texts I write about,” Dong said.

Read more about the endowed professorship.

UIS composition and literature instructor Jennifer Whalen was recently named a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowships for her short story collection “Eveningful.”
Read more about Whalen’s collection.

Fall 2017 marks the third year for our newly designed Master of Arts in English. The new curriculum emphasizes digital literacies and digital humanities research and facilitates students’ mastery of analytic research skills. M.A. students at UIS tailor their learning experience by specializing in digital publishing or digital pedagogy.

Meet the graduate students.

The Alchemist ReviewUIS’s student-run literary journal, just celebrated its 40th year as a literary tradition. First published in 1977 when UIS was still called Sangamon State, the journal comprises a rich history of poetry, art, and literature.

UIS English professor Dr. Meagan Cass recently won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for her short fiction.

Upcoming Events:

November 6 2017

Kaveh Akbar

The UIS Shelterbelt Reading Series presents Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Portrait of an Alcoholic on Monday, November 6 at 7:00–8:00 p.m in the WUIS Suggs Studio.

For more details, please see our events calendar.

Past Events:

On October 17, 2017, UIS welcomed YesYes Books authors Raena Shirali, Lynn Melnick, Brandon Courtney, and KMA Sullivan for the first Shelterbelt Reading Series event of the fall semester. The poets read from recently published and forthcoming works and engaged in dialogue about craft and technique.

YesYes Books authors
Left to right: Lynn Melnick, Raena Shirali, Brandon Courtney
Lynn Melnick reading
Lynn Melnick reads from Landscape with Sex and Violence

Competitive Degree Programs

Student presents research at STARS SymposiumOur department prioritizes a personalized education experience for English and Modern Languages students. We offer small class sizes to encourage one-on-one communication between students and faculty. Currently we offer a Bachelor of Arts in English on-campus and online; a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in digital publishing or digital pedagogy; a graduate certificate in teaching English; and a minor in English or Spanish. Our program facilitates strong written and verbal communication while emphasizing communication, genre writing, literary analysis, and emergent digital technologies.

Student Involvement Opportunities

English students unveil the Shakespeare sculpture

The English and Modern Languages Department at UIS offers a number of hands-on community engagement opportunities that extend student learning beyond the classroom.

Undergraduate students can gain publishing experience through The Alchemist Review, a student run journal of fiction, poetry, and visual arts, or present their own research at STARS: the Student Technology, Arts, and Research Symposium.

The Shelterbelt Press and Reading Series offers students a unique opportunity to meet nationally-known authors and participate in the publishing process, while digital publishing graduate students manage Uproot, a literary journal dedicated to publishing quality work about experiences of place and movement.

Learn more about our student clubs and organizations.


Professor Jennifer Whalen new to UIS campus; named finalist for poetry fellowship

College Writing and Civic Engagement (ENG 102) class taught by Jennifer Whalen

UIS composition instructor Jennifer Whalen’s short story collection “Eveningful” was recently named a finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowships.

Through imagery the collection navigates “the transition between day and night” and the speaker’s reflections, all while negotiating a relationship to the reader as the “destination of the writing.”

Whalen was nominated by Brenda Shaughnessy, author of Interior with Sudden Joy (1999), Human Dark with Sugar (2008), Our Andromeda (2012), and So Much Synth (2016). The Poetry Society of America offers the chapbook fellowship to support emerging authors and broaden poetry’s audience.

Professor Meagan Cass wins Katherine Anne Porter Prize for her fiction

UIS Creative Writing professor Meagan Cass has just won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for her short story

Dr. Meagan Cass

collection “ActivAmerica,” which will be published in November of 2017 by University of North Texas Press.

Dr. Cass teaches a range of classes at UIS, from women’s literature and feminist theory to creative writing and publishing. Her short fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, DIAGRAM, Joyland, and Puerto del Sol, among other places. She also won the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences teaching award for 2015-16.

You can read more about Dr. Cass’s accomplishments and forthcoming book at UIS’s blog.

New Addition to Campus: The Shakespeare Garden

UIS unveiled the Shakespeare Garden on September 29, 2016, marking the 400th anniversary of the poet and playwright’s death. The garden features a life-size bronze sculpture of Shakespeare on a bench admiring his surroundings. Located in the Patton Park area of campus, the garden is just north of Brookens Library. Read more about the unveiling, or see more pictures.

Dr. Tena Helton speaks at the unveiling
Dr. Tena Helton speaks at the unveiling
Students and faculty enjoying the Shakespeare Garden
Students and faculty enjoying the Shakespeare Garden

To learn more about our department, our mission, and what we offer our students, check out our About section.