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 offer a professionalized M.A. in English with two concentrations–digital pedagogy and digital publishing–and a graduate certificate in English.

Note: The English department is not currently accepting applications for the M.A. in English for Fall 2019. Graduate certificate applications remain open. 

What’s New:


Dr. Sarah Webb

UIS English welcomes new faculty member Dr. Sarah Webb to campus Fall 2018! Dr. Webb, assistant professor of English, holds a doctorate in English from Louisiana State University. She also runs the website and social initiative Colorism Healing “to raise critical awareness, promote healing, and find solutions to colorism through creative and critical work.”


Recent Events:

On February 7, the Shelterbelt Reading Series hosted award winning poet Jenny Xie for a craft talk and reading! Jenny discussed poetic imagery with Professor Whalen’s creative writing class and read selections from her most recent collection at the WUIS Suggs Studio.

Fiction author Amina Gautier joined us for the Shelterbelt Reading Series on April 18! Her reading followed the 2019 Alchemist Review book launch.

Marjorie Carter, Vika Mujumdar, and Kayla Thomas at the Alchemist Review book launch


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

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

Undergraduate students can gain publishing experience through The Alchemist Review, an undergraduate 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.

English Department Scholarships

Frank and Linda Kopecky Scholarship

Based on merit and demonstrated financial need
Awarded to a full time junior or senior
Renewable until the degree is completed
Award: $1000

Alfred and Mildred Roese Memorial Scholarship

GPA of 3.75 or higher
Recipient must display financial need
Preferred female recipient
Award: $500


To apply, please complete the UIS Institutional Scholarship Application

John and Barb Blackburn Scholarship

Awarded to an English or Education major in good academic standing
Award: $1000

U of I President Diversity Travel Award

Awarded to graduates and undergraduates students  presenting papers, posters, or creative works at conferences between Oct. 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019. The topic must be related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.

Award: $600

Feature Stories:

Dr. Cordell and online student Tammy Hollo discuss online learning

Digital Humanities Research at UIS

Digital Humanities, one of the humanities’ (and English studies’) burgeoning fields, uses digital tech to expand the potential of humanistic study. At UIS, students explore this field through ENG 501: Digital Humanities with Dr. Donna Bussell.

At UIS, ENG 501 teaches digital humanities theories and methods. Digital humanities (DH), a relatively recent emergence in humanistic inquiry (and English studies more specifically) uses developing technology to study literature, art, history, and other humanistic subjects in new ways.

Word frequency map from Voyant Tools softwareNo two digital humanists are quite alike. A DH scholar might work with HTML or Java, analyze narrative patterns in video games, interpret data points on a virtual interactive map, track large quantities of data through complex coding processes, or create digital versions of texts. In English studies, DH scholars often use computer textual analysis software to analyze hundreds or thousands of texts at one time.

Most DH content is born-digital, that is, composed for web publishing. Open-access (free to the public) and multimodal (incorporating pictures, video, and sound), such projects expand the discipline’s knowledge base in innovative ways.

In the last section of ENG 501 at UIS, students engaged topics as disparate as 17th century legal documents, reflection writing assignments, and Harry Potter characters. Although varied, each project connected to the course’s unifying theme: digital humanities research.

Amanda Dinardo, digital pedagogy student and English and Modern Languages Graduate Assistant, used Voyant Tools Shea Sims and Amanda Dinardoto analyze critical reflection examples in old composition textbooks. Using word frequency analysis tools, Amanda uncovered how each example text prioritized different writing features. Amanda published her project on

Susan McGrath, digital pedagogies certificate student, used Voyant Tools to analyze 17th and 18th century  wills in New York state. Susan found that the wills, influenced in part by Dutch law, portrayed men and woman as equal in many respects. Susan published her project on Microsoft Sway.

Shea Sims, digital publishing graduate student, used CATMA (Computer Assisted Textual Markup and Analysis) to trace Neville Longbottom’s character development in the Harry Potter series. By isolating text that included Neville performing significant actions, Shea traced his hero’s journey through two Harry Potter texts. Shea published her project on Microsoft Sway.


-Written by Amanda Dinardo


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