Become an English Major Learn about how a degree in English can help you meet your scholarly and career goals.
Learn from our Award-Winning Faculty  Ladrica Menson-Furr receives the 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award.
Meet Renowned Authors and Scholars at Departmental Events Author Bob Cowser workshops with students as part of the River City Writers Series.
Study What You Love and Travel the World Explore the UK with our "Rediscovering Harry Potter: Sources, Landscapes, and Legacies" course.
Visit us in Patterson Hall

Choose English and Write Your Own Future!

The English Department allows you to write a degree program that will help you reach your career goals as you choose one of our six undergraduate concentrations: African American Literature, Creative Writing, ESL, Language and Linguistics, Literature, and Professional Writing.

In addition to our 300 undergraduate students, we have over 100 graduate students, pursuing Masters' Degrees, MFAs in Creative Writing, Graduate Certificates in ESL and African-American Literature, and PhDs.

English graduates succeed as lawyers, teachers, web designers, writers, administrators, journalists, and business professionals. With online degree programs and a variety of classes, the English major is flexible. English also works great as a second major or minor!

Ready to start writing your own future with an English Degree? Explore our website, contact us, or drop by Patterson Hall to learn more!

Department of English News

  • A huge congratulations to Prof. Marcus Wicker who is a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for his book of poetry, Silencer. Click here for more information on the Image Awards which will air on TV One on Monday, January 15th.
  • The Department of English is proud to welcome our new English advisor, Bridget Wells!

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Tucker book cover

  • The Department of English is proud to announce the publication of Dr. Terrence Tucker's book Furiously Funny: Comic Rage from Ralph Ellison to Chris Rock. A combustible mix of fury and radicalism, pathos and pain, wit and love--Terrence Tucker calls it "comic rage," and he shows how it has been used by African American artists to aggressively critique America's racial divide.

In Furiously Funny, Tucker finds that comic rage developed from black oral tradition and first shows up in literature by George Schuyler and Ralph Ellison shortly after World War II. He examines its role in novels and plays, following the growth of the expression into comics and stand-up comedy and film, where Richard Pryor, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Rock have all used the technique.

Their work, Tucker argues, shares a comic vision that centralizes the African American experience and realigns racial discourse through an unequivocal frustration at white perceptions of blackness. They perpetuate images of black culture that run the risk of confirming stereotypes as a means to ridicule whites for allowing those destructive depictions to reinforce racist hierarchies. At the center of comic rage, then, is a full-throated embrace of African American folk life and cultural traditions that have emerged in defiance of white hegemony's attempts to devalue, exploit, or distort those traditions. The simultaneous expression of comedy and militancy enables artists to reject the mainstream perspective by confronting white audiences with America's legacy of racial oppression.

Tucker shows how this important art form continues to expand in new ways in the twenty-first century and how it acts as a form of resistance where audiences can engage in subjects that are otherwise taboo.

Department of English Events

Maggie SmithRiver City Writers Series Presents Maggie Smith!
Tuesday, November 14th and Wednesday, November 15th

The River City Writers Series at the University of Memphis is proud to welcome Poet Maggie Smith for a reading on Tuesday, November 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in UC Beale. Following the reading, Smith will participate in a Q&A and book signing. Join us the next day (November 15th) from 10 a.m. to noon in Patterson 456 for an interview. All events are free and open to the public.

 Maggie Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Good Bones (Fall 2017); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry; and Lamp of the Body, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award. She is also the author of three prizewinning chapbooks. Smith's poems have appeared in the many other journals and anthologies. Her poem "Good Bones" went viral internationally and was called the "Official Poem of 2016" by the BBC/Public Radio International. In April 2017 "Good Bones" was featured on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary, and to date the poem has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, among others.

The RCWS is one of the longest-running reading series in the nation, serving the University of Memphis and the community since 1977. The River City Writers Series is sponsored by the Graduate Writing Program, the Creative Writing Club, the English Department and Student Events Allocation.

For more information, contact Courtney Miller Santo, Series Director, or Prof. Cary Holladay, Coordinator of Creative Writing.

Learn more about English

  • To see which courses the Department of English will be offering in the Spring, click here.
  • Click here for the 2018-2020 Course Template.
  • To learn about Department of English events, click here.
  • To visit the MFA in Creative Writing site, click the image below.

MFA in Memphis