Pursue your passions in literature, film, and creative writing as you join a vibrant community of writers and scholars in the Department of English.

Department of English

The Department of English is the center of literary life at Otterbein. Small, seminar-style classes immerse you in rich conversation about life’s biggest questions. The diverse curriculum might lead you to study film noir or flash fiction; Afrofuturism or the art of travel; graphic narrative or American gothic; neo-Victorian novels or nature poetry; 70s cinema or social justice; playwriting or podcasting. Whether you’re writing a poem, reading a novel, designing a lesson plan, or editing the latest issue of Otterbein’s 100-year-old literary journal Quiz & Quill, you will find voice and purpose in close collaboration with your classmates and professors.

Studying English at Otterbein means you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds. You can be a leader in the close-knit literary community right here on campus—perhaps by joining our literary honor society Sigma Tau Delta or our popular Film Club. Maybe you’ll write or edit for one of our campus publications (which include Quiz & Quill as well as the humanities journal Aegis and the feminist zine Kate). And you can venture beyond campus to explore the glitter and energy of literary Columbus. The English Department is home to some of the most dynamic and engaged faculty on campus. We are active scholars, writers, and campus leaders, known for investing in our students and building a rich co-curricular life of visiting writers and scholars, film screenings, student readings, open mics, alumni career panels, regional and international travel opportunities, and social hangouts.

Programs of Study in English

Bfa Creative Writing


B.F.A. in Creative Writing

The BFA in Creative Writing offers a more in-depth study of the craft and a more thorough preparation for professional work in the literary world. Working one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a yearlong senior writing project, you’ll be ready for graduate school or a career in writing, editing, or publishing.

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B.A. in Creative Writing

The English BA Creative Writing concentration builds a foundation in multiple genres (poetry, fiction, essay, and playwriting) and provides support and depth as you specialize. In workshop-style classes, you’ll hone your craft, exchange drafts and ideas with a community of writers, and work closely with faculty mentors.

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B.A. in Literary Studies


Literary Studies

The English BA Literary Studies concentration immerses you in the rigors and pleasures of reading and the artful precision of interpretive writing. You’ll approach literature with passionate appreciation, historical understanding, and a deep engagement with questions related to culture, politics, and social justice.

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Integrated Language Arts


Integrated Language Arts

The English Teacher Education program in Integrated Language Arts offers Ohio teacher licensure in four years. Our ILA students dive into the richness of the English major and explore questions of educational equity and justice. Our alumni teachers are innovators in pedagogy related to literature and social justice.

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Film Studies

The English BA Film Studies concentration explores film as both an art form and a medium shaped by historical, cultural, and political forces. You’ll take courses in horror and noir, queer cinema and third cinema, classical Hollywood and the iconic American 1970s, scriptwriting, media studies, film theory, and more.

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Student, Faculty, & Alumni Spotlights

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Drawing on her BFA in Creative Writing and her second major in Studio Art, Mary Jackson ‘21, is writing a fantasy novel and illustrating its graphic counterpart for her senior Honors thesis project, “Forgotten Things: A Historian’s Tale.”

Mary Jackson ’21

Creative Writing and Studio Art Double Major

As part of her internship at the Abbey Theater of Dublin, OH, Mary is learning the inner workings of a theatrical production.
Learn more about Mary’s work >

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Get a jump start on your publishing or writing career on the staff of Quiz & Quill. Combine that experience with our BFA degree for an intense immersion in the craft of Creative Writing.

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Cultivate intellectual life in the humanities on the editorial staff of our journal Aegis. Shape rich conversations about art, culture, history, and justice for a 21st-century public.

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Amelia And Gyasi Alumni Spotlight


Otterbein English alumni accepted into the highly selective MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa.

Amelia Gramling ’16 and Gyasi Hall ’19

While Iowa rightly deems itself “the first and best home for writers,” both Amelia and Gyasi credit Otterbein’s undergraduate Creative Writing program for sparking their passion and preparing them for the rigors of graduate study.​
Learn more about their story >

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“Another feature of our English major that is really appealing to students is choice. You major in English at Otterbein, but you can choose a concentration in literary studies, in creative writing or in film studies. Or you can pursue our BFA in Creative Writing, which is a rare and exciting opportunity at a small college.”

Dr. Margaret Koehler

Professor & Chair, English Department

Small, seminar-style English classes immerse you in rich conversation about life’s biggest questions. Our diverse curriculum might lead you to study film noir or flash fiction; Afrofuturism or the art of travel; graphic narrative or American gothic; neo-Victorian novels or nature poetry; 70s cinema or social justice; playwriting or podcasting.


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“When we write – and when we read – we learn to stand both inside and outside of ideology, which means that knowledge is not just power. Knowledge is also freedom.”

Dr. Suzanne Ashworth

Professor, specialist in Early American and LGBTQ Literatures

Learn more about Dr. Ashworth’s forthcoming book, Perverse Feelings: Poe and American Masculinity, that engages with the urgent 21st-century cultural conversation around “toxic masculinity.” >

Suzanne Ashworth Spotlight

Department Features & Student Opportunities

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Awards & Scholarships

Submit your portfolio for our BFA in Creative Writing. Apply for an English Department Talent Award. Fund a project with an English Department Travel Grant. Submit your work for our annual Quiz & Quill writing awards.

Learn more >

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Travel Opportunities

Take a Literary Locations class in London, Edinburgh, or Vietnam. See a play in Chicago or Cleveland. Take a field trip to Thurber House, Two Dollar Radio, or the Wexner Center right here in Columbus, Ohio.

Learn more >

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Internships, Careers, & Grad. Study

Work with the Ohio Poetry Association, the Gateway Film Center, or Hondros Publishing. Connect with English alumni to talk career strategies. Prepare for library school, law school, an MFA, a Ph.D, or your next step.

Learn more >

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Publishing Opportunities

Write, edit, or design for Quiz & Quill, our department’s 100-year-old literary journal. Submit critical work to Aegis, Otterbein’s humanities journal. Or collaborate DIY-style to produce Kate, Otterbein’s feminist zine.

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Student Organizations

Get inducted into our chapter of the international English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. Become a staff member or a contributor to the Quiz & Quill literary journal. Cultivate your cinematic life in the Film Club.

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Literary Community

Help build our vibrant “What’s Happening” calendar. Thrive on lectures, readings, open mics, workshops, and alumni panels. Chill at the Spring Idle. Head downtown for a play, museum, or spoken word performance.

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Otterbein Welcomes Nationally Renowned Writers for a Public Talk

News - November 5, 2021
Literary activist Saeed Jones and bestselling author Maggie Smith will come together on the Otterbein University stage to share their collective experiences and perspectives on literature, social justice, and more.  An Evening with Saeed Jones and Maggie Smith will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in Riley Auditorium at Battelle Fine Arts Center, 170 W. Park St. This event is free and open to the public. Both authors will sign books after the reading. For additional information, contact Tammy Birk at tbirk@otterbein.edu. …

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New Creativity and Culture Living Community in Historic Otterbein Residence Hall

News - October 26, 2021
By Catie Duzzny ’21, MBA’23  The study of humanities has a long history at Otterbein University and a new creative and cultural community is bringing first year students together with faculty and students.   Dunlap-King Hall, better known as “DK,” is one of many residence halls students call home at Otterbein. DK is the oldest residence hall on campus and was built in 1926.   “DK has naturally had a higher concentration of humanities majors in the building; students who are in related areas of study, and these students have gravitated…

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Otterbein Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Fellows Creating Open Dialogue About Race through Alumni Oral History Project

News - September 20, 2021
In 2020, Otterbein was selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as one of 23 universities to host Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers across the United States. Otterbein was the first institution in Ohio to receive this recognition.  Part of the work of a TRHT center involves looking inward towards your institution and experiences lived by the campus community. It was this imperative that spurred the work of Otterbein’s student TRHT Fellows.  Four students began to work with faculty…

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Contact Us

Towers Hall 228
1 South Grove St
Westerville, OH 43081

Administrative Assistant

Tess Schwarz

“We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”

Virginia Woolf, "Moments of Being"