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.
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Programs of Study in English
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Student, Faculty, & Alumni Spotlights
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 >
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.
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.
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 >
“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.
“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
Department Features & Student Opportunities
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Otterbein Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Fellows Creating Open Dialogue About Race through Alumni Oral History Project
News - September 20, 2021In 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…
News - July 2, 2021By Catie Duzzny ’21 Otterbein professor Suzanne Ashworth was awarded the 2021 Ohio LGBTQ+ Leadership Award from the Ohio Diversity Council at the annual LGBTQ+ Unity Summit on June 4, 2021. This organization offers the opportunity to engage, learn, and share diversity and inclusion practices with other organizational leaders and businesses. Professor Suzanne Ashworth “We were definitely in a challenging moment because of the pandemic. To get the award at that time, I felt like it was really validating, inspiring,…
News - January 4, 2021By Madelyn Nelson ’23 Allison Asarch ’18 After Allison Asarch ’18 graduated from Otterbein with a major in English creative writing and minor in music, she took her creative skills to Netflix, and won episode six of the streaming service’s singing competition show, “Sing On!” She sang five songs and beat five other contestants in the ’80s mixtape-themed episode. Although the episode premiered on Netflix in 2020, Asarch filmed in London in 2019 — and kept the secret for over a year, “It’s a big secret. People knew I…
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1 South Grove St
Westerville, OH 43081
“We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”