About Us

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.We offer three minors, in creative writing, literature, and writing studies; a BA and BS degree in English; a BA and BS in English Education (in cooperation with the School of Education); an MA in English; and a PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. Please explore this web site to get more information about these degrees.

Majors, minors, and students looking for a great General Education or an elective course have opportunities to explore such subjects as British, American, and World literatures; rhetoric, composition, writing and literacy studies; English Education; professional and technical writing; creative writing; and linguistics.

  • Rooted in the liberal arts and humanities, the study of literature fosters creative and critical abilities, promotes multiculturalism and tolerance in a globalized world, and fosters understanding of cultural, historical, ethical, aesthetic, and linguistic forces that shape our lives
  • Effective writing makes social and professional engagement possible. The study of rhetoric, composition, literacy, and professional writing enhances facilities in writing, communication, and technology much valued by local communities, industry, and organizations.
  • Creative writing merges an interest in literary studies with the art of writing, providing a hands-on experience of literature, encouraging students to create literary texts in a variety of media and genres, and emphasizing the power of the individual to respond to human experience in a changing world.
  • The study of linguistics cultivates an appreciation for the English language, its history, conventions, structures, and uses.


A Brief History

A Brief History of the Department (ca. 1890-1999)

The English Department has prepared majors since the beginning of North Dakota State University. Its early importance is underscored by the fact that the building in which the department has had its office was renamed in 1951 for an early member of the department: Archibald Minard, Professor of English and Philosophy who came to NDSU in 1904. Minard went on to become Dean of the College as well, then known as Arts and Sciences. 

The Master of Arts degree in English began in 1954 when Kenneth Kuhn was chair of the department. In 1959, John Hove was hired as chair of English and Modern Languages and in 1962 Catherine Cater joined the faculty and later served as head of the English graduate program. During this period, Lois Hudson and Tom McGrath, both important creative writers, taught in the department. By the late 1960s, a core nucleus of tenured faculty included Hove, Cater, Francis Schoff, Leonard Sackett, Ralph Engel, and Richard Lyons, to which were added Steve Ward, Mary Wallum, Frank Cabral, Howard Peet, Alice Dickey, Harold Dickey, and June Bonfield. Beginning in 1970 a series of young PhDs were hired in the department–Bill Cosgrove and Stuart Hirschberg (1970), Nate Sumner (1971), Tom Matchie (1972), Richard Bovard (1973), and Muriel Brown (1974).

The Bulletin for 1972-1974 lists 16 current members of the department (3 full professors, 2 associate professors, 7 assistant professors, and 4 instructors). At this time the department was housed in Minard 221, the present location of the office of the Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and 223 (which currently houses part of the department). Within a few years, renovation of Minard was begun and the English Department main office moved to a temporary location in Minard 200 with faculty spread out in make-shift offices on the first two floors of Minard Hall. During this period all faculty taught 12 credit hours per quarter, or nine for those who had a large class (usually over 100 students).

In the early 1970s, the renovation of the third floor of Minard was completed and we moved into our present offices, Minard 320-322. This was a time of considerable growth at NDSU and the English Department added lecturers and teaching assistants to accommodate increased numbers of students as well as local and national demands for smaller class sizes in writing courses. Accordingly another of wave of new faculty entered the department in the early and mid-1980s in response to increased enrollments, new demands in teaching composition, and faculty turnover (including deaths and retirements). John Hove retired in 1981 after serving 22 years as department chair, and Richard Bovard took over as the department’s first elected rotating chair.

By this time the tenured faculty was fairly stable though mandated cutbacks were deleting some faculty position from the department as they fell open. Most of the new faculty brought in during the 1980s–R. S. Krishnan, Bob O’Connor, Richard Shaw, and Jean Strandness, have remained in the department. In 1991 Bill Cosgrove was elected chair and he was succeeded by Muriel Brown in 1997. In 1994, additional offices in South Engineering were provided for seven English Department lecturers to relieve crowding in Minard 320-322 and 223.  

The Department of English continued to share its main office in Minard 320 with the Modern Language Department, which became a separate department around 1973. As a result, 55-60 faculty, lecturers, and teaching assistants were supported by one full-time administrative assistant and one part-time secretary. Together with two new PhDs hired–Kevin Brooks (1997) in composition and Anjali Pandey (1997) in linguistics–the tenured faculty in English was nearly all PhDs by the end of 1990s. With the return of another position or two, the department was back to the strength of the 1970s when we taught fewer students, both undergraduate and graduate.

(composed by Bill Cosgrove and Muriel Brown, 1999)

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