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The English Department at NDSU

The mission of the English Department at North Dakota State University is to cultivate understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of the English language, its speakers and writers, and its literatures and cultures, such that students and department members use the language creatively, critically, and effectively to participate ethically in civic and professional life.

2019 Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Award Recipients

North Dakota students announced as 2019 Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Award Recipients.Click here for the names of the announced regional award recipients of the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Congratulations!!

Meet Dr. Weaver-Hightower, Professor and Chair of English

I am delighted to be joining the English department at NDSU and am looking forward to learning about my new campus, getting to know my new colleagues, and meeting the new challenges of this leadership position. I am a transplanted North Dakotan—a southerner by birth, as is my spouse, Marcus (professor of Education at UND)—but we have both come to appreciate the Midwestern culture and almost adjust to the Red River Valley weather. For us as much as our children—Harrison, aged 10, and Evelyn, aged 6—North Dakota has become home, and I am excited to continue to serve the people of North Dakota as a Professor of English and Department Chair at North Dakota State University.

I will bring to the NDSU English department a love of travel and interest in global cultures and literatures. I am a postcolonialist by trade, studying the five-hundred-year British colonization of much of the world and the rich literature resulting from that intercultural contact. My books and essays together investigate why people who are engaged in colonization read certain books and how particular repeated stories can help pave the way for empire by making it seem more palatable. My first book, Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals and Fantasies of Conquest (Minnesota UP, 2007), for instance, looked at how the archetypal story of the castaway stranded on an island—like Robinson Crusoe—helped to make colonization of non-island spaces seem natural by connecting control of the island space to the natural command of one's body.

My more recent work, Frontier Fiction: Settler Sagas and Postcolonial Guilt (Palgrave 2018), focuses on stories of settlers, examining how the stories that settlers tell themselves and others about their appropriation of land can function like defense mechanisms. In particular, this book reads the 19th century contact settler literatures of Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States that helped the colonizing society manage the guilt inherent in displacing indigenous people. I done similar work in two edited collections—Postcolonial Film (Routledge 2014) and Archiving Settlement (Routledge 2019)—and also through my work as coeditor of The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies.  

My work with global literatures occasionally requires travel to work in archives and learn more about the cultures of these places about which I write and teach. I've been lucky to see the world for my work, with trips to Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, and China. My hope is to next find some project that will take me to New Zealand, and then maybe the Caribbean and South America.

I aim to bring the cultures of these far flung places to North Dakota, as well, through my teaching of literature and writing on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Though I especially value my work with English majors and English graduate students, I also very much appreciate the opportunity to work with undergraduates from departments across the University through general education and writing courses. I believe that reading texts produced outside of the United States and discussion of global cultures should be a part of the education of every American, for by studying others we not only become more sensitive and responsible neighbors, but we also better ourselves through the comparison.

Again, I am delighted to be joining the English department at NDSU and look forward to helping our students, alumni, and faculty achieve. 

Grad Studies in English

We are accepting applications

The English Department offers a PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture and an MA in English. Both degrees provide a robust core in rhetoric, writing, literary, and cultural studies, while including practical and immersive learning experiences alongside innovative strategies to specialize within the program of study. 

Our graduate students come to us from five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America. Representing over 15 countries (such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Uruguay, Russia, Germany and Italy), our students create a diverse community of engaged scholars. Together we are committed to learning, collegiality, cultural exchange, world citizenship, civility, and social outreach.

Deadline: February 1.

For more information email the Graduate Studies Director.


All required application materials must be received and processed by the Graduate School before your file is forwarded to the department for review. Incomplete files cannot be reviewed. It is your responsibility to make sure all materials have been received by the Graduate School. 

Required Application Materials

  1. A $35 application fee
  2. All official transcript(s) (grade report) 
  3. Three (3) letters of recommendation (2 of which must be academic), addressing your abilities as a student and your potential for graduate work 
  4. An academic writing sample that demonstrates your abilities as a writer: a research paper (including citations) 
  5. A statement of purpose that includes the following:

    • how your education and/or life experience have prepared you for graduate work
    • research you plan to pursue
    • faculty members with whom you wish to study
    • coursework you plan to complete in the program
    • a sense of what you hope to do once you have completed a graduate degree in English

  6. A letter of interest in a teaching assistantship, describing your qualifications and prior experience, if any. If no teaching assistantship is desired, please state your source of outside funding.
  7. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores, English Proficiency Requirements for international applicant 

    • TOEFL ibT 100
    • IELTS 7

Note that the GRE is not required of any applicants. Interviews in person or via video software may be used to evaluate applicants to our graduate program. Application Deadline: February 1.

Once the department has completed its review, recommendations will be forwarded to the Graduate School and applicants will be notified. Final admission decisions are made by the Graduate School. 

For additional questions, contact the Graduate Program Director at

Meet Dr. Holly Hassel, Professor of English

The Department of English is delighted to welcome Dr. Holly Hassel, Professor of English, to our faculty. We invited Holly to tell you a little about herself, and here’s what she shared:

 I earned my PHD in English from the University-Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002, and am currently a Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County in Wausau, WI. My scholarly work is pedagogical in nature, focusing on teaching and learning in first-year writing and introductory women’s and gender studies classrooms. As a first-generation college graduate, I am particularly passionate about the social justice function of two-year college English and supporting the successful transition of all students to college writing classrooms. My scholarly work has been published in College Composition and Communication, Feminist Teacher, College English, Pedagogy, Teaching and Learning Inquiry, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and Teaching English in the Two-Year College, among others. From 2013-2016, I authored the regular feature “Inquiry” in Teaching English in the Two-Year College, an introduction to systematic inquiry into student learning aimed at two-year college English teachers. My most recent books include Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership (co-edited with Kirsti Cole, Routledge, 2017) and the second edition of Threshold Concepts in Women’s and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, and Knowing, a textbook for introductory women’s and gender studies courses co-authored with Dr. Christie Launius (Routledge, 2018). I have served as editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published through the National Council of Teachers of English, since 2016. I have also delighted in translating my love of Harry Potter by serving with my colleague Jill Stukenberg as co-Headmistress of the annual, week-long summer academic camp for kids, Wizarding Academy, a Hogwarts immersion experience.  

I am thrilled to be joining the English department and its program in Writing, Rhetoric, and Culture at NDSU, and look forward to continuing my work in two-year college English by helping prepare new instructors for teaching in these rewarding educational contexts. I am excited to build partnerships with local two-year college colleagues, to furthering the work that is happening in the field on graduate preparation of two-year college English teachers (see the September 2017 special issue of TETYC on this topic!), and continuing my teaching and research interests on writing assessment, placement of students in first-year writing and learning support courses, the profession, threshold concepts in writing studies (particularly first-year writing) and faculty leadership. On a personal note, the position at NDSU brings me closer to my home stomping grounds in Northern Minnesota (having grown up in Brainerd). In my free time, I enjoy running, yoga, fabric arts (quilting, embroidery, and knitting), science fiction and fantasy films, playing guitar, and spending time with my husband, Ben Schultz, and two children Trixie (12) and Gus (7).

Pen & Pixels

Department Newsletter
Click here to read the
Summer 2019 edition!

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Mailing Address

English Department
NDSU - Dept. 2320
P.O. Box 6050
Fargo, ND  58108-6050

Physical Address
NDSU English Department
318 Minard Hall 
Fargo, ND  58102

Office Phone: 701-231-7143

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Published by the NDSU Dept. of English

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2019 1:19:58 PM
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