Are You Interested in a 21st-Century English Degree?
Technology affects how we write, tell stories, and analyze literature. And there’s no better place to explore the fusion of technology and English than at RIT. Our English bachelor's degree grounds you in critical thinking, writing, and making, all while preparing you with digital tools as well as the soft and hard skills that impress employers. With concentrations in creative writing, linguistics, or literature and media, the English major offers more than 70 courses for you to choose from. In addition to traditional literature, you'll study what interests you.
Our faculty offer exploration in fantasy worlds, Twitter bots, social justice, Afrofuturism, transgender poetics, graphic novels, Twine interactive game fictions, speech technologies, the rhetoric of science and terror, digital poems, and dangerous texts. You’ll gain expertise in articulating your innovative ideas, building collaborative teams, managing projects, creating powerful messaging that gets results, providing critiques and feedback, making intelligent and ethical arguments and decisions, and speaking in ways that make you stand out.
Preparing You for Today’s Dynamic Careers
Today’s emerging careers require English language expertise, writing, and analytic skills paired with computer science, new media, linguistics, animation, and more. Today’s writers are also content creators who use digital tools to communicate a range of messages across a variety of platforms and collaborate with game designers, animators, scientists, engineers, and digital media strategists.
In the English bachelor's degree, we introduce you to digital tools which interface with the study of language, literature, and media. Additionally, your English degree includes professional electives in any area you choose, which empowers you to customize your English degree around your career goals. You’ll have access to a range of computing and tech courses and the world-renowned faculty who teach them.
Writing–Gain a complete command of the English language, including grammar, rhetoric, and argument. This gives you an edge in all types of writing, from effective presentations to video game text, and everything in between.
Storytelling–Learn to tell smart, moving stories about yourself, your organization, your clients, or the products you’re tasked with selling.
Digital Creation and Literacy—Become an expert in creating, reading, and interpreting digital content, developing skills that combine writing and tech, using digital tools for textural analysis, and more.
Close Reading, Critical Analysis, Interpretation–Articulate deep knowledge and understanding of all kinds of media, concepts, and theories, as you interpret difficult concepts, analyze and defend positions, and provide and accept constructive criticism.
Communication–Gain expertise in nuance and subtext, and the different modes of writing and speaking in traditional and digital formats. You’ll also understand how to assess different audiences in order to strike the proper tone and articulate ideas in clear yet sophisticated ways.
Cultural Literacy–Learn about the power of language and its role in creating cultural meaning. You’ll learn how different social and cultural contexts affect language and meaning, and learn about different cultures through their media traditions, from major literary works and genres to critical traditions.
Research–Master a variety of research methods, including digital tools and data methodologies, specific to English majors, as well as presentation techniques.
Organization–Attain the skills needed to work independently and in teams, manage projects, set schedules, meet and manage deadlines, organize projects, execute planning and research, lead and participate in discussions, and present ideas and information.
RIT’s English BS offers three concentrations that provide you with an opportunity to tailor your degree around your interest and career aspirations.
Creative Writing–At RIT, creative writing is more than writing poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. We analyze, write, and revise the traditional and innovative writing that inspires you. With a concentration in Creative Writing, you’ll learn how to analyze and write in multiple genres and forms, including worldbuilding, digital creative writing, and playwriting. With our organizational affiliations to RIT Storytellers, Mental Graffiti, and Signatures Arts and Literary Magazine you can gain valuable professional experience at the same time that you expand and refine your writing horizons.
Literature and Media–Literature involves reading and analyzing meaningful works of writing to dissect and understand their historical, cultural and literary significance. In this concentration, you’ll examine a range of works, both classical and contemporary, to expand your critical thinking, analytical, and interpretive knowledge of writing and text. While you'll study Shakespeare, Austen, and Morrison, you'll also dive into everything from graphic novels to banned books, from anime to the works of rapper and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar. Add to that hands-on experience with the digital tools that English majors need, and you'll be able to pursue your specific interests at the same time you're setting yourself up for professional life.
English as a Double Major
Are you interested in pairing an English degree with your interests in programming, computing, law, foreign language, business, or the arts? With its focus on writing, critical thinking, and communication, an English degree deepens your expertise in both areas and broadens your skill set for a career in a range of dynamic fields. An English degree can complement the following RIT majors:
In addition, an English bachelor's degree is an excellent major for those wishing to pursue careers in law or medicine. RIT’s Pre-Law and Pre-Med programs provide academic advising and guidance on course selection to help you build the core competencies needed to become a strong candidate for admission to law school, medical school, or graduate programs in the health professions.
Opportunities to study abroad enhance your understanding of global cultures. Students may study full-time at a variety of host schools and are able to select courses in their major as well as liberal arts courses. Visit RIT Global to learn more about the range of study abroad programs available, including opportunities at RIT’s global campuses in China, Croatia, Kosovo, and Dubai. Recent English study abroad programs have taken place in France, Croatia, and Portugal.
RIT’s Pre-Law Program
Law schools welcome applications from students majoring in a wide range of academic programs. RIT’s pre-law program will help you navigate the admission process for law school, explore a range of legal careers, and guide you through course selection to ensure you build the skills and competencies required of competitive law school applicants. The program is open to students in all majors who are interested in pursuing a career in law.
RIT/Syracuse University College of Law 3+3 Option
RIT has partnered with Syracuse University’s College of Law to offer an accelerated 3+3 BS/JD option for highly capable students. This option provides a fast-track pathway to law school in which students earn a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctorate degree in six years. In the 3+3 option, students may apply to the option directly. Successful applicants are offered admission to RIT and given conditional acceptance into Syracuse University’s College of Law.
Today’s careers require advanced degrees grounded in real-world experience. RIT’s Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees enable you to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in as little as five years of study, all while gaining the valuable hands-on experience that comes from co-ops, internships, research, study abroad, and more.
+1 MBA: Students who enroll in a qualifying undergraduate degree have the opportunity to add an MBA to their bachelor’s degree after their first year of study, depending on their program. Learn how the +1 MBA can accelerate your learning and position you for success.
Act Sooner. Know Earlier.
First-year students can apply Early Decision by Jan. 1 to get an admissions and financial aid estimate by mid-January.
What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries.
Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. A liberal arts co-op provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your knowledge in professional settings while you make valuable connections between course work and real-world applications.
Cooperative education and internships are strongly encouraged for students in the English major.
“...I hope this work will have an impact on current disciplinary divides—both in research and teaching spaces.
As I excavate this nuanced history of women’s scientific work in poetry, I offer a longer, deeper narrative about the mutual influence of literary and scientific developments.”
— Whitney Sperrazza,...
When it comes to world building, the best worlds result from an author’s immersive understanding of the feelings, smells, sounds, and energy in a setting. In "World Building Based on Historic Worlds,"...
This course will introduce students to the field of English Studies and the kinds of reading, writing, and critical thinking practices central to the field today. English Studies, consolidated as a field in the 19th century in European and American Universities, has evolved well beyond its initial focus on English-language literatures, language practices, and socio-linguistic concerns while retaining its primary concern with literature, language-arts, linguistics, rhetorical practices, and their participation in broader national and global cultures and subcultures. Lecture 1 (Annual).
Literature and Cultural Studies (WI-GE)
In this course, students will study literature, movements, and writers within their cultural contexts and in relation to modes of literary production and circulation. Students will hone their skills as attentive readers and will engage with literary analysis and cultural criticism. The class will incorporate various literary, cultural, and interdisciplinary theories--such as psychoanalytic theory, feminist and queer theories, critical race studies, and postcolonial theory. Using these theoretical frameworks in order to study texts, students will gain a strong foundation for analyzing the ways literary language functions and exploring the interrelations among literature, culture, and history. In doing so, they will engage issues involving culture, identity, language, ethics, race, gender, class, and globalism, among many others. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Text & Code (WI-GE)
We encounter digital texts and codes every time we use a smart phone, turn on an app, read an e-book, or interact online. This course examines the innovative combinations of text and code that underpin emerging textual practices such as electronic literatures, digital games, mobile communication, geospatial mapping, interactive and locative media, augmented reality, and interactive museum design. Drawing on key concepts of text and code in related fields, students will analyze shifting expressive textual practices and develop the literacies necessary to read and understand them. Practicing and reflecting on such new media literacies, the course explores their social, cultural, creative, technological, and legal significance. To encourage multiple perspectives on these pivotal concepts of text and code and their import, the course includes guest lectures by scholars and practitioners in these fields. Lecture 3 (Fall).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
Choose one of the following:
Introduction to Creative Writing: Prose and Poetry (WI-GE)
Introduction to Creative Writing is designed to guide students into the craft of creative nonfiction and fiction prose or poetry. The primary goal is to experiment with various forms of creative writing and to produce at least one polished work. The course uses peer feedback and workshops in the development of creative writing projects. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Introduction to Creative Writing: Forms and Styles (WI-PR)
Creative writing in the 21st century is no longer bound to the printed page; it exists in many forms, across many media. This course introduces students to multi-media creative writing through generative writing techniques, specifically focusing on language as the basic building block of writing. Exercises in reading, writing, workshop, and revision will teach students techniques to manipulate language, construct narrative through non-linear approaches, and generate ideas for particular media through linguistic play. Students will learn elements of craft specific to particular forms and media. Class workshops will provide the opportunity to give and receive feedback as well as participate in collaborative creation. Students will produce creative work for digital and location-based distribution as well as for live performance, therefore highlighting the diversity of physical and virtual media where 21st-century creative writing takes place. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
General Education - First Year Writing (WI)
General Education - Artistic Perspective
General Education - Ethical Perspective
General Education - Global Perspective
General Education - Social Perspective
General Education - Elective
Data Methods for English Majors
Designed for English majors, this course provides an introduction to methods used to analyze, interpret, and visualize textual data. Students will learn how to formulate research questions, collect relevant data, and disseminate findings. Students across tracks will leave the course with a toolbox of approaches for applied work as well as critical understanding of methodological and ethical considerations of working with textual data. Lecture 3 (Spring).
In this course students will focus on reading and analyzing storytelling as a literary practice. It introduces the basic elements of narrative and story, acknowledging these as a primary way that we organize information and communicate our experiences, whether in fictional or real-world domains. The course explores defining characters of narrative expression and storytelling: story arcs, conflict, transformation, plot, and structural relationships among characters and also between author, text, and audience/reader. Exploring influential commentary on “story” and considering significant differences between oral, print, and digital storytelling methods, the course invites students to consider how the foundations of storytelling have evolved over time, and how new techniques continue to emerge in the present day. Lecture 3 (Fall).
English Concentration Course 1, 2 §
General Education - Natural Science Inquiry Perspective‡
General Education - Scientific Principles Perspective
General Education - Mathematical Perspective A
General Education - Immersion 1, 2
Professional Elective Course 1
English Concentration Course 3, 4, 5 §
General Education - Mathematical Perspective B
General Education - Immersion 3
General Education - Electives
Capstone in English
Students will use the capstone as an opportunity to design a project that integrates the knowledge they have gained throughout their English program with experience in the professional track. Students will work with faculty to develop, manage, and execute a project that will culminate in the creation of an academic research paper, analysis of text using digital methods, construction of an argument across media, or demonstration of theoretical and/or aesthetic language use in digital form. Students will work under close mentorship by and/or collaboration with a faculty advisor in the Department of English for project planning. Students will present their project in a venue appropriate to their specific work. (A minimum of 3rd year standing is required to enroll.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Professional Elective Course 2, 3, 4
English Concentration Course 6 §
General Education - Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.
(WI-PR) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
† English Internship (ENGL-498) or English Co-op (ENGL-499) is recommended in the summer prior to the final year of study.
‡ Students will satisfy this requirement by taking either a 3 or 4 credit hour lab science course. If a science course consists of separate lecture and laboratory sections, the student must take both the lecture and the lab portion.
§ Students are required to complete at least one course at the 400-level or above as part of the concentration.
English Concentrations §
Literature & Media
The Art of Poetry
This course emphasizes the enjoyment and study of poetry with primary attention to major poetry in English. Students will develop (and apply) a working vocabulary of the concepts and terminology used to discuss and analyze poetry, through close readings of individual poems, lectures on specific poets, and theories of poetics. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
The Short Story
The short story has been one of the most dynamic and innovative genres in literature. This course uses the genre of the short story to provide material for critical commentary and cultural understanding. Students read a variety for short stories to develop an understanding of the form and its impact on culture. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Drama & Theater
From Oedipus Rex to Hamlet dramatic characters have come to represent human archetypes for millennia. Drama captures both current sociological trends and the universal everyman. In this course students will explore the literary elements that comprise the genre of Drama. Drama is the only literary art that requires an extra step to come to full expression. Playwrights, unlike the novelists or poets, create their work to be performed by others. In this course, students will read a selection of plays and discuss questions of historical relevance, reception, and ask why this form of literature has been so enduring and socially potent. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Mythology & Literature
This course is a scholarly investigation into the cultural, historical, social, psychological, religious and spiritual, literary and performative dimensions of world myth. It examines different approaches to the study of myth emerging from disciplines such as anthropology, history, literary studies, and psychology. Special attention will be paid to the effects of these narratives on literature and other kinds of cultural texts, past and present. We will also use myth to develop, and critically reflect on, comparative approaches to world cultures. Lecture 3 (Spring).
In this course students will read, study, and discuss some of Shakespeare's dramatic work in an attempt to determine the nature of his significance. What political and institutional factors account for the reverence accorded to Shakespeare? In addition to reading a range of Shakespeare’s plays, the course will develop deeper understandings of contemporary literary theory and practices that allow various interpretations of these plays. The approach will be comparative and reflect on the influence and effect of Shakespeare’s work on contemporary culture. Attention will be paid to issues of gender, historicity, iconicity and textual analysis among others Lecture 3 (Spring).
Topics in Literary Forms
This course explores the evolution of an influential literary form (the short story, drama, poetry, autobiographical literature, or the novel). Reading a series of variations on this literary form, likely bridging cultural or historical contexts or themes, the course develops critical perspectives and artistic insights into this genre of writing. Criticism and theory appropriate to the genre will be discussed as a way to understand the form, its social functions, and its cultural and political significance. The course can be taken up to two times, for a total of 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
This course presents a study of American literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts that emerged from within the geography, history, and cultures that constitute the modern United States. This includes work by colonial writers, Native American writers, African American writers, and writers from the many other ethnic and racial groups who have immigrated to and comprised the fabric of American culture. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the ways in which individual works belong to a distinctly American literary tradition. Specific literary works studied will vary depending on the instructor. The course can be repeated up to 2 times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Annual).
This course presents a study of British literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts that emerged from within the geography, history, and cultures that constitute the modern United Kingdom. This includes work by writers from all parts of the British Isles (England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland) and writers from Britain’s vast global empire. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the ways in which individual works belong to a distinctly British literary tradition. Specific literary works studied will vary depending on the instructor. The course can be repeated up to 2 times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Annual).
Ethics in the Graphic Memoir
Graphic novels demonstrate a concern for constructed narrative within a visual structure, character development, and plot strategies. Graphic memoirs, or auto-graphic novels, tell true tales of human experiences and global events, exploring the boundaries between fact and fiction, public and private, interior and exterior, visual and textual, seen and unseen, traumatic pasts and their futures. Graphic memoirs are interested in how these distinctions, and the questions of individual and collective truth, transparency, and communicability they open onto, help to delineate ethical behavior and belief systems. Holding a mirror up to the multiple ways in which contemporary cultures frame and reframe individual and collective experience, graphic memoirs render their subjects’ and cultures’ ethical premises and guidelines explicit, and, therefore, enable readers to revisit, rethink, and redraw accepted ways of behaving, understanding, and circulating. Texts used in this course will be explored through this lens. We will focus on the ethical considerations and concerns conveyed in and by graphic memoirs in order to uncover unique forms of book-length sequential art, as well as enhance critical thinking about ethics and media literacy skills. Designated as writing intensive, this course emphasizes writing practices, recognizing the role writing plays in the formation of knowledge, and the framing of a specific academic specialization, as well as genre. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Since the initial development of the computer, writers have collaborated with programmers, illustrators, and soundscapists to create digital literatures. Following from radical techniques in print literatures such as concrete poetry, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and reorderable/unbound fictions, digital literatures exploit the potential of digital formats to explore questions of interactivity, readership, authorship, embodiment, and power. In this class, we will learn to analyze and appreciate digital literatures not simply through their content, but also through the relation of content to form, media, programming platforms, and distribution formats. Our consideration of digital literatures will lead us to cell phones, web pages, video games, virtual reality environments, and genome sequencers. Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course presents a study of global literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts from different geographical regions or cultural perspectives. Students will discover new modes for thinking about what global literature is, and how globalizing impulses have changed and shaped our world. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the theme of encounter or contact zones. The impact of various factors such as migration, nationality, class, race, gender, generation, and religion will also be taken into consideration. The course can be repeated up to two times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
This course examines popular literature, a designation that has meant different things at different times and that has included literature as diverse as Shakespearean comedies, Gothic fiction, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. In part, students will consider the artistic relationships between popular literature and both historical and contemporary literary forms in order to understand how popular literature draws upon and sometimes invents new kinds of artistic representation. The class will also ask students to explore what social attitudes and pressures help to make a form popular at a particular moment in time, and how popularity is often driven by the social networks of book production, marketing, sales, and adaptation. Different sections may focus on different popular literary forms. Whatever the topic, the course will provide students a lens through which to discuss how the public, mainstream authors, and literary critics, as well as editors and publishers, impact the development of literary traditions. Lecture 3 (Annual).
The course uses both literature and geography, artful writing and creative mapping, to explore both fictional and real places. From Sherlock Holmes’s 221B Baker St. London and Charles Dickens’s 19th century London to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea, geography is more than an artistic theme, and maps are more than creative illustrations. Literary geography explores the ways in which authors work with detail not only to create setting but to depict geographical locations. The course will challenge students to understand “landscape” as a more than a backdrop. Throughout the semester we will engage with the socio-cultural notions of “place”: home and community, borderlands and human migration, smart cities and mundane landscapes, territory and tourism. Students may practice plotting authors and their works, following the routes characters take across a landscape, or making the geography of imaginary worlds visible. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Rhetoric of Science
Exploration of the many ways in which science employs modes of persuasion, and the ways it does so differently in different cases of scientific work. Emphasis will be given to the conjunction between science and rhetoric; examples will be drawn from key figures and texts in the history of science, ongoing controversies in contemporary scientific debates, the popularization of science in public media, and the representation of science in fiction. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
Rhetoric of Health and Medicine
This course draws from rhetorical theory to explore the many ways in which health and medicine is understood, designed, used, and discussed. Students will learn methods developed within the field of Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (RSTM) and apply those methods in the analysis of case studies, (i.e. chronic conditions and pain management, infectious disease and modern plagues, mental illness and mortality). The course offers students opportunities to examine how language and argument shape the cultural and global forces of health and illness, in particular it relates to patient rights, public advocacy and social movements. Students will review rhetorical arguments regarding high-tech diagnostic methods, prosthetic technologies, and new drug therapies–and the unequal distribution of health care among different populations. Additionally, students will consider the transnational circulation of medical knowledge by health care professionals, scientists and nonscientists, and the effect of digital communication on deliberation about health-related issues, arguments and controversies. While the course does not assume a background in medicine or health care, students will be invited to reflect on their own embodiment and experience of health, illness or disability. (Prerequisite: UWRT-150 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Annual).
Rhetoric of Terrorism
This class examines the history of terrorism (both the concept and the term), definitions of terrorism and attempts to explain the root causes of terrorism through rhetorical and ethical analysis of narratives written by historians, journalists, and terrorists themselves. Students will read and discuss charters, manifestoes and messages (terrorism texts) of domestic and foreign, regional and global, non-state entities motivated by politics or religion to commit violence, as well as the efforts of analysts to explain and contextualize their activities. Lecture 3 (Fall).
History of Madness
This course will study the changes in definitions, explanations, and depictions of madness as expressed in psychiatric texts, asylum records, novelists, cartoonists, artists, photographers, filmmakers–and patient narratives. Certainly, madness has assumed many names and forms: the sacred disease, frenzy, hysteria, mania, melancholy, neurosis, dementia, praecox, schizophrenia, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder. Those afflicted have been admired, pitied, mocked, hidden from public view, imprisoned, restrained, operated on, hospitalized, counseled, analyzed, and medicated. The brain, particularly the disordered brain, has long been a source of interest. This course explores the brain from the history of madness. The course takes a humanist, rhetorical, and historicist approach to the question of madness within changing social institutions and popular discourse. Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course provides a selective survey of fantasy from its antecedents in mythology, legend, and folklore through its transformation through the 20th and 21st centuries. Topics may include the development of the genre’s roots in mythology, the epic, and medieval Romance, and folklore as well as diverse contemporary forms such as high fantasy, magical realism, urban fantasy, new wave fabulism, and slipstream. Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course introduces students to the field of adaptation studies and explores the changes that occur as particular texts such as print, radio, theatre, television, film, and videogames move between various cultural forms and amongst different cultural contexts. The course focuses upon works that have been disseminated in more than one medium. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Games & Literature
Who studies game studies? Writing in games can often be hit or miss, so relying on an established story can provide support and allows the medium to evolve to cover more interesting stories than the typical mass-offering affairs. Still, literature and games are fundamentally different media- and as such these differences must be accounted for when mapping literature onto video games. Will game studies ever be as highly regarded as is critical scholarship on, say, literature? Can a video game possess substantial literary merit? Can a video game offer the same depth of characters and insight into the human condition as a novel? Do video games invite the player to do the same things that works of great literature invite the reader to do: identify with the characters, invite him to judge them and quarrel with them, and to experience their joys and sufferings as the reader’s own? In this course we will have these conversations and then go beyond. We will examine works that have visually evocative and varied settings; narratives that make readers wonder what is going to happen next; and a rapidly changing culture that prompts even more questions than it answers. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Storytelling Across Media
This course introduces the basic elements of narrative, reflecting on key concepts in narrative theory such as – story and plot, narration and focalization, characterization, storyspace, and worldmaking – to enhance your understanding of how stories work and your ability to understand how such storytelling strategies convey their meaning and themes. After an initial exploration of storytelling traditions emerging from oral myth and short stories in print, we expand our inquiries into what a narrative is and what it can do by considering what happens to storytelling in graphic novels, digital games, and in recent electronic literature. Reflecting on competing definitions and varieties of narrative, the course raises the overarching question of why how we access, read, write, and circulate stories as a culture matters. Expect to read stories in a variety of media, to review basic concepts and conversations drawn from narrative theory, and to creatively experiment with the storytelling strategies we are analyzing in class. No familiarity with specific print, digital, or visual media necessary, though a willingness to read and reflect on stories in various media and to analyze their cultural significance will be essential. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Is it true that literature makes nothing happen? Experimental writing is built on the opposite assumption! This course introduces students to innovative texts that challenge our usual ways of thinking about the relationship of language to the world: the cultural contexts within which language functions, the conflicts out of which it arises, the aesthetic pleasures with which it is associated, and the purposes – intentional or other – which it serves. Writing experiments can test boundaries and break limits, offering us ways to reconsider and redefine our own experience – social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual. Moving from magic to modernity, from monster to machine, we will explore the transformative power of experimental writing. Students are expected to post weekly responses to the readings in Discussions on MyCourses, work with a group to research and prepare a class presentation on a significant experimental writer, and submit a final paper on a theme to be announced. Expect reading quizzes and a take-home final exam. (Prerequisites: ENGL-211 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Spring).
A transmedia storyworld is a shared universe in which its settings, characters, objects, events, and histories are featured in one or more narratives across many different media, including print fiction, films, television episodes, comics/ graphic novels, and games. This course will focus on the construction of large-scale transmedia storyworlds and how such storyworlds expand in size and detail over time. Students will trace narrative arcs as deployed through different media and consider the strengths and limitations of each medium in terms of adding to knowledge about the transmedia storyworld. The course will also analyze the differences and similarities between transmedia narratives, adaptation, and other forms of serial storytelling; the multi-authored nature of transmedia storyworlds; commercial aspects of transmedia storyworlds; and creative work produced by and for fan communities. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Study of and practice in writing about science, environment, medicine and technology for audiences ranging from the general public to scientists and engineers. Starts with basic science writing for lay audiences, emphasizing writing strategies and techniques. Also explores problems of conveying highly complex technical information to multiple audiences, factors that influence science communication to the public, and interactions between scientists and journalists. The course examines new opportunities for covering science (especially on the internet), important ethical and practical constraints that govern the reporting of scientific information, and the cultural place of science in our society. Lecture 3 (Annual).
This course will examine how suppression of information has been orchestrated throughout history in different contexts. The process of suppressing information –of people in power attempting to hide images, sounds and words– must itself be viewed in perspective. We must recognize acts of censorship in relation to their social settings, political movements, religious beliefs, cultural expressions and/or personal identities. The texts that we will study were all considered dangerous enough to be banned by governments. They are dangerous because they represent sexuality, race, politics, and religion in ways that challenge the current political/cultural norms of their given culture. What, then, is so dangerous about a fictional representation? What is it that makes a certain work dangerous at a particular time and how does this danger manifest itself in stories, novels (print and graphic), and poetry? Studying these dangerous texts and watching some dangerous films we will ask: what features of political and cultural regimes do artists tend to single out for criticism? What is the range of expressive tools they use, including the contemporary context of digital media? What is it that makes intellectuals in general and imaginative writers in particular so potent a threat to established power? Do issues like these matter only in totalitarian regimes, or can we learn something about the book-banning pressures in our own society? How do social media technologies complicate discussions of censorship and creativity? Lecture 3 (Fall).
Literary & Cultural Studies
A focused, in depth study and analysis of a selected topic in literary and/or cultural studies. Specific topics vary according to faculty assigned. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Summermr).
This course familiarizes students with a number of different critical approaches to film as a narrative and representational art. The course introduces students to the language as well as analytical and critical methodologies of film theory and criticism from early formalist approaches to contemporary considerations of technologies and ideologies alike. Students will be introduced to a selection of these approaches and be asked to apply them to a variety of films selected by the instructor. Additional screening time is recommended. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Students will explore the landscape of African-American literature, and learn of its development throughout the 19th and/or 20th Centuries. From Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ida B. Wells to Toni Morrison, from the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s to Hip-Hop this course will explore African-American writers who inspired a civil rights and cultural revolution. Through writing, reading and research, they will grow to understand how, despite legal limits on freedom and social participation imposed because of their color in American society, blacks created styles of verbal and written expressions unique within the American experience and contributed to the shape, growth and development of the nation's literary character. (Prerequisites: ENGL-150 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Topics in Women's and Gender Studies
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with the representation of women and gender in literature and media, and/or associated with the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions provoked by women as producers and consumers of media and texts. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic being studied has changed. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
This course provides an in-depth look at literary giants and the masterpieces of prose or poetry they have created; it's an opportunity to see the role they played both within the context of their own time and within the larger span of literary history. These great authors confront key questions of modernity that continue to occupy us to this day; they ask the question of what it means to be human and explore fundamental human themes. They give us a fresh perspective on the past and on ourselves. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Literature and Technology
Surveying the rise of computing technologies, information theories, and information economies in the last century, this course considers their impact on literature, culture and knowledge-formation. In particular, we will reflect on topics such as the relations between social and technological transformation, literary print and digital cultures and electronic literature. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Maps, Spaces and Places
This course takes as its premise that spatial thinking is critically important. Spatial thinking informs our ability to understand many areas of 21st century culture, as mobile interfaces and geospatial technologies enable us to engage with our surroundings in new ways. The study begins with the history maps and mapmaking, and explores how maps work. As students create representational, iconographic, satirical, image-based, informational, and other map forms, the course emphasizes the map as narrative. The course develops into an exploration of the ways, particularly in texts, that mapmaking creates cultural routes, mobile forms of ethnography, and ways of imagining travel and tourism in the era of globalization. The diverse writers represented in this course are rethinking space as a dynamic context for the making of history and for different organizations of social and communal life. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Free and Open Source Culture
This course charts the development of the free culture movement by examining the changing relationship between authorship and cultural production based on a variety of factors: law, culture, commerce and technology. In particular, we will examine the rise of the concept of the individual author during the last three centuries. Using a variety of historical and theoretical readings, we will note how law and commerce have come to shape the prevailing cultural norms surrounding authorship, while also examining lesser known models of collaborative and distributed authoring practices. This background will inform our study of the rapid social transformations wrought by media technologies in last two centuries, culminating with the challenges and opportunities brought forth by digital media, mobile communications and networked computing. Students will learn about the role of software in highlighting changing authorship practices, facilitating new business and economic models and providing a foundation for conceiving of open source, open access, participatory, peer-to-peer and Free (as in speech, not beer) cultures. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Topics in Rhetoric and Literacy Studies
This course is designed for advanced study of the practices, theories, and pedagogies in the disciplines of rhetoric, critical literacy, and/or writing studies. Topics will vary based on instructor, but will address literacy and discourse in dynamic interactions of power and culture. Themes can include: literacy and public advocacy; rhetorical texts and the study of genre; memory and material-rhetorical objects; digital rhetoric and the technologies of writing; transdisciplinary methods and global mobility. Lecture 3 (Spring).
World Building Workshop
This course focuses on the collaboration construction of fictional worlds. Students will learn to think critically about features of fictional worlds, such as the social, political, and economic structures that influence daily life for the characters who inhabit that world. Students will also participate in extensive character development exercises, and then write short fiction from these characters’ perspectives describing the challenges they face in these worlds. Students will critique each other’s fiction and submit revised work.
Each class will include considerations of sophisticated fictional worlds in print and in other media and discuss world building features relevant to teach. (Prerequisites: ENGL-211 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Digital Creative Writing Workshop
Digital creative writing involves much more than simply writing in digital formats - it can include computer-generated poetry, bots, hypertext fiction, Augmented Reality, or locative narrative. This course is for students who want to explore digital creative writing in all its forms. Through reading, discussion, and exercises, students will produce born digital writings in different applications. Students will learn style and craft techniques for digital environments while also exploring the relationship between content and digital applications. Peer critiques will help students rethink their work and become better editors. Programming knowledge is helpful but not required. This course can be taken up to two times for a total of six semester credit hours as long as the instructors are different. (Prerequisites: ENGL-211 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Creative Writing Workshop
This course is for students who want to explore the techniques of a single genre of creative writing and add to their skills as a creative writer. Through reading and discussion, students will see their own writing in a larger context. Reading/reflection and writing/revision will be emphasized all semester. The focus will be on the creation of creative works and the learning of stylistic and craft techniques. Ongoing work will be discussed with peer editors, which will not only help students rethink their work but teach them to become better editors. Group critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback. Each class will rely extensively on the creative writing workshop model, and will focus on a specific genre of print-based creative writing.
The course may be taken up to three times for a total of 9 credit hours, as long as the topics are different. (Prerequisites: ENGL-211 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Queer and Trans Creative Writing Workshop
This course is for students who want to practice and explore the vast and varied history, craft, and techniques of queer and transgender creative writing. Through reading and discussion, students will contextualize their own writing in a vital lineage and in the contemporary moment. We will read, analyze, reflect, generate, write, edit, and revise throughout the semester. We will create a polished body of creative works by honing those stylistic and craft techniques general to the field and specific to queer and transgender writers. Peer editors and group critiques will provide regular feedback, which will aid in the refinement of each writer’s own work and improve their capacity for supporting a creative work from germinating idea to final draft. Each class will rely extensively on the creative writing workshop model, and will survey the rich variety of genres, styles, forms, and philosophical approaches that QT literature takes. (Prerequisite: ENGL-150 or ENGL-211 or ENGL-212 or WGST-200 or WGST-205 or WGST-210 or equivalent course.) Seminar 3 (Biannual).
Advanced Creative Writing Workshop
This course is for students who want to explore the techniques of a single genre of creative writing and have already completed a creative writing workshop. Through reading and discussion, they will see their own writing in a larger context, culminating in a substantial body of work ready for publication. Reading/reflection and writing/revision will be emphasized all semester. The focus will be on the creation of creative works and the learning of stylistic and craft techniques. Ongoing work will be discussed with peer editors, which will not only help students rethink their work but teach them to become better editors. Group critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback. Each class will rely extensively on the creative writing workshop model, and will focus on a specific genre of print-based creative writing. The course can be repeated up to three times, for 9 semester credit hours, as long the topics are different. (Prerequisites: ENGL-386 or ENGL-389 or ENGL-390 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Advanced Topics in Creative Writing
This course is for students who have completed a college level writing course creative writing workshop and want to explore in-depth a literary genre or add to their skills as a creative writer whether interested in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of genresa specific topic within creative writing. The focus will be on the creation of a significant piece of writing for a final project. In addition to planning and producing a single, sustained creative work, students will complete other exercises and assignments in order to experiment with other genresa variety of writing techniques. Through reading and discussion they will see their own writing in a larger context. Weekly Regular class critiques will provide the opportunity to give and receive helpful feedback. (Prerequisites: ENGL-386 or ENGL-389 or ENGL-390 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
This course is for students who have completed a creative writing workshop and want to explore how games and rules can be used to produce unique and unpredictable narratives. Projects will include individual writing exercises, collaborative writing practice, and critiques of peer writing. Students will examine how different game mechanics produce different kinds of narratives and may be encouraged to develop their own game-based writing projects. Through the reading and discussion of other narrative media, students will learn the affordances and limitations of game-based storytelling systems. (Prerequisites: ENGL-386 or ENGL-389 or ENGL-390 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Admissions and Financial Aid
A strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. This includes:
4 years of English with a strong performance is expected.
3 years of social studies and/or history with a strong performance is expected.
3 years of math is required and must include algebra, geometry, and algebra 2/trigonometry.
2-3 years of science.
Transfer course recommendations without an associate degree
Courses in liberal arts, math, science, and computer science
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Liberal arts with an emphasis in communication and a technical field such as business, photography, or computer science
100% of all incoming first-year and transfer students receive aid.
RIT’s personalized and comprehensive financial aid program includes scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment programs. When all these are put to work, your actual cost may be much lower than the published estimated cost of attendance. Learn more about financial aid and scholarships
“Developing strengths in [worldbuilding] can help many types of professionals become better at what they do. Clearly, game designers, animators, and creative storytellers can benefit, but engineers, technologists, scientists, sociologists, and health care innovators, for example, can also because the process of envisioning and creating a world and all of its interactions can help test out ideas and inform solutions,” said Associate Professor (English) Trent Hergenrader, Ph.D., who will lead the new Center for Worldbuilding and Storytelling.
A current class action lawsuit calls into question whether information from manufacturers about the usage and safety of a chemical herbicide was deliberately misleading consumers. RIT's Amit Ray and University of Rochester's Ray Dorsey explore this issue and connect it with the sociological concept agnotology.