Department of English

Voted 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 Department of the Year by Student Government!

The department that once worked with the Unicorn Hunters to publish the Woods-Runner now provides editing and publishing opportunities for undergraduate English literature and creative writing students. Competitive internships are available for editors and readers in poetry and fiction through Border Crossing, the Creative Writing Program’s teaching journal, which occasionally publishes the very best student work alongside that of emerging and established writers. Students may also work on Snowdrifts, our undergraduate journal  run by creative writing students. Every year, the English Department holds the Osborn Poetry Contest and the Fiction Short Story Contest. Submissions are due in the spring, with the winners announced at the end of the year.

At LSSU, you’ll enjoy personal attention and thought-provoking classes in both American and English literature. New classes include a class on visual texts like graphic novels and a class on post-apocalyptic literature! You’ll be invited to join our active English Club and take advantage of faculty with expertise in everything from eco-criticism to graphic novels and children’s literature. Our majors have a high graduate school acceptance rate and have gone on to study at Northern Michigan University, Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Kansas State University, Warren Wilson College, and other schools. A number of students have presented undergraduate work at conferences. Past graduates have become college professors; one is a novelist and contributing editor to the American Book Review. Students may work on Snowdrifts, our undergraduate journal written, edited, and published annually by the English Club. Every year, the English Department holds the Stellanova Osborn Poetry Contest and the LSSU Short Story Contest. Submissions are due in the spring, with the winners announced at the end of the year.

Majors and Minors

Literature (major and minor)

As a major or minor in Literature, you’ll enjoy personal attention and thought-provoking classes in both American and English literature. You’ll be invited to join our active English Club and take advantage of faculty with expertise in everything from eco-criticism to graphic novels and children’s literature. Our majors have a high graduate school acceptance rate and have gone on to study at Northern Michigan University, Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Kansas State University, Warren Wilson College, and other schools. A number of students have presented undergraduate work at conferences. Past graduates have become college professors; one is a novelist and contributing editor to the American Book Review.

Creative Writing (major and minor)

As a major or minor in creative writing, you’ll be part of an intimate program with enthusiastic faculty. We give undergraduate students opportunities to get publishing experience before graduation. Unlike larger programs where your work may be lost in large workshop classes, our faculty are excited to work one-on-one with undergraduate students. To encourage innovation and experimentation as students develop their voices, all majors complete coursework in prose, poetry, and performance writing. A junior course lets students refine their voices and practice their craft in their preferred genre in a class where they will get feedback from students of multiple genres. Seniors take the Creative Writing Portfolio course, a capstone class in which students write a unified collection of publication-ready work in their preferred genre, working with the instructor of their choice on an independent study basis. Student publication is encouraged in Snowdrifts, an annual publication produced by creative writing students. You can also get involved in publication production through our internships with Border Crossing, LSSU’s teaching journal.

Elementary English Education (major and minor)

Language Arts is a major or minor for those who wish to certify to teach in elementary schools with a focus on the English language arts or middle school English classes (grades K-8). As a Language Arts major or minor, you can help run our annual children’s writing festival, serve as a judge for an elementary school writing contest, edit a grade-school writing anthology, and practice your teaching skills in our 21st century learning environment.

Secondary English Education (major and minor)

A major or minor for those wishing to certify to teach English to middle or high school students. As an English Language and Literature–Secondary Education major, you can take courses on YA Literature and visual texts such as graphic novels. You can learn how to publish your own future students’ work in student journals by working as an editing intern in the department or lead a community writing workshop. You’ll also get to practice your teaching skills in our 21st century learning environment.

Redefining the Classroom

The English Department provides publishing opportunities for undergraduate students through Snowdriftsour undergraduate online creative writing journal, and Border Crossing, our international journal of literature and art. Students in first-year creative writing courses work with faculty and upper-level creative writing students, every year, to put out Snowdrifts. Once students have completed the first-year sequence of creative writing courses, they can apply for a publishing internship with Border Crossing.

Fiction Editors

LSSU student Janessa Stutz, left, Prof. Mary McMyne, center, and student John Keller, right, discuss line edits for a selected short story in the LSSU journal Border Crossing.

Our annual Creative Writing Contests encourage students to write the best fiction and poetry they can. We host a Visiting Writers Series for which nationally recognized, award-winning writers and poets are invited to campus to give readings and master classes. We also organize trips to other literary events, and collaborate with LSSU’s fabulous theatre program in providing students with opportunities for public readings and performances. Read more about our creative writing program in our online brochure.

2015 Young Authors AnthologyEvery year, elementary education candidates work to host an annual elementary school writing event for the community. The event is open to all area children from kindergarten through fifth grade. Every story or book submitted with a complete entry form is “published” — that is, put on display for the community to see at the festival — in addition to being considered for our anthology.

You can read about our 2015, 2014, and 2013 young authors online and in the Soo Evening News. Our 2015 young authors were also featured in the Sault Tribe Newspaper. You can read the 2015 LSSU Young Author Anthology  online and check out the 2015 Quest Writing Lesson Plan.

 2015 Young Authors Anthology edited by students in English Language Arts teacher education candidates in EDUC 411 with Prof. McMyne.

Recent News & Updates

Opportunities to Explore

Michael D. Nelson of St. John’s, Mich. wrote the “Four Mondays” to combine his two minor fields of study, creative writing and professional communication, with his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. He is using the production as his senior project.

LSSU Communication Prof. Gary Balfantz, Nelson’s advisor, helped him develop the idea of writing the play, while LSSU Creative Writing Prof. Julie Barbour guided Nelson with his writing.

Nelson said that writing a play has been a drastic change of pace, since he is accustomed to writing short stories, mostly.

“Coming up with the idea wasn’t easy. It took a long trip home to figure it out,” he said.

Being a fan of comedic productions, he decided to write a story that revolves around him and a few friends later in life.

“The majority of the play takes place in a diner where the four friends try to grasp the adulthood aspect of growing up while talking about the impossible nature of women, life and the universe,” he added. “They spend their Monday mornings drinking coffee, swapping outrageous ideas, and bantering back and forth with their favorite waitress, who is usually less than happy to see them.”

Degree Programs

Career Choices

The communication and critical-thinking skills you’ll learn in our English programs are valuable in a number of well-paying jobs.  Our internships and work study positions give you on-the-job experience before graduation. Our advisors will work with you one-on-one to choose coursework that makes you competitive for your planned career path:

  • Managing Editor – Manages the development of and determines the final content of books, magazines, trade journals, newspapers, technical reports, company newsletters,  broadcasts, and advertisements.
  • Freelance Writer – Creates content on spec for media organizations or private companies. Content may range from news to travel to lifestyle content.
  • Elementary School Teacher Help children develop a lifelong love of reading and writing as a English language arts specialist.
  • Middle School or High School English Teacher – Share your love of literature with students, while helping them to develop their reading and writing skills.
  • Technical Writer – Puts scientific and technical information into readily understandable language. Prepares operating and maintenance manuals, catalogs, parts lists, assembly instructions, sales promotion materials and project proposals. Plans and edits technical reports and oversees preparation of illustrations, photographs, diagrams and charts.
  • Public Relations Director – Handles media, community, consumer and government relations; political campaigns; interest-group representation; conflict mediation; or employee and investor relations.
  • Nonprofit Executive Director – Creates policies and strategies to help organizations meet their goals. Writes grants to fund projects and coordinates work with the community.
  • Marketing Director – Plan, direct, and coordinating the marketing of products for private companies or nonprofits.

Alumni Updates

  • Grace Williams, our 2016-2017 Outstanding Arts & Letters Graduate and Outstanding English Graduate, has accepted a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University’s literature master’s program and will be working as a teaching assistant, teaching first-year composition, in Fall 2017 at EMU.
  • Clay Winowiecki, a 2017 Creative Writing graduate and the recipient of the 2016-2017 Georgegeen Gaertner Award, has been accepted to 5/5 of the graduate schools to which he applied and has accepted a scholarship to Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland.
  • Adam Uhrig, a 2015 Literature graduate and the recipient of the 2015-2016 Georgegeen Gaertner Award, received a scholarship to Northern Michigan University’s literature and pedagogy program and is working as a teaching assistant, teaching first-year composition, in Fall 2016 at NMU.
  • Joseph Haske, a 1999 Literature graduate–now a professor at South Texas College and contributing editor at American Book Review–has published his first novel, North Dixie Highway, set in Sault Sainte Marie and the surrounding Eastern Upper Peninsula.
  • Peter Pietrangelo, a 2010 Liberal Studies graduate with concentrations in English and professional communication, presented a research paper at the 2010 John Burroughs Nature Writing Conference and Seminar in New York. Peter was accepted on scholarship into the environmental law program at Wayne State and is now an editor/writer for the Oregon Bend Bulletin.

Successful Graduates

Clay Winowiecki, B.A., Creative Writing ’17

“My studies at LSSU helped prepare me to be an effective graduate school candidate because of how small of a campus this is and how incredibly talented the professors are in my department. I was able to work multiple internships, which most undergraduates can hardly dream of working at bigger schools. I was able to work at a deep level on my writing with professors whenever I desired to, which often translated to weekly meetings. I was able to have wonderful classmates in my department who meticulously edited me and kept my head straight to keep my writing tight. There’s so many incredible things about the English department at LSSU. I cannot thank the professors and my classmates enough!”

Clay Winowiecki, B.A., Creative Writing ’17Georgeen Gaertner Award-winner, Travel Writer, and Graduate Student at the Edinburgh Napier University in ScotlandCheck out Clay’s archive on Thought Catalog
Grace Williams, B.A., Literature, ’17

“At Lake State, I was able to receive personalized instruction in my classes. I developed a reading and critique style under the close tutelage of three main professors. Being in the Honors Program was also beneficial to me because it allowed me to take classes with professors I otherwise wouldn’t have and hear perspectives from students with different majors. Taking honors classes like “Big Data” and “Abnormal Psychology in Film and Memoir” allowed me to find where other fields touch literature or how I can approach other fields from a literary lens. The English Club was a place where I met some of my best friends.”

Grace Williams, B.A., Literature, ’17Arts and Letters Outstanding Graduate, Outstanding English Graduate, Honors Graduate, now Teaching Assistant and Graduate Student at Eastern Michigan University
Jessica Hirt, B.A., English, ’09

“One of my favorite things about LSSU is its size. The classrooms, especially as you get to the upper levels, get smaller, so you not only have a chance to discuss your ideas in an honest, supportive manner, but you also get to know your professors and classmates. The upper level courses really allow you to focus on what you love, and the small class size allows you to have time to share and to discuss your ideas.”

Jessica Hirt, B.A., English, ’09English and Honors GraduateRead more about Jessica Hirt’s Lake State experience