You are here


mercyhurst english


From analyzing classic British literature to writing your own thesis on applied linguistics, the English department at Mercyhurst University offers a focus of study for any student who loves to read and write.

English majors have the opportunity to serve as a research assistant for faculty members, work at the university’s Writing Center, and receive hands-on work experience in professional writing. Active student clubs and organizations like Lumen, the campus arts journal; The Theatre Appreciation Club, which helps promote university productions; and Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, can help you tailor your experience as an English major to best fit your personal interests and career goals.

The department has sponsored nationally acclaimed speakers and writers, such as Robert Bly, Sonia Sanchez and Peter Coyote, who come to offer readings, conduct workshops and lead writing master classes. Our dynamic and dedicated faculty establish close working relationships with students – it’s not uncommon to see a gathering of English faculty and students continue their conversations outside the classroom. Our students leave Mercyhurst well prepared with the requisite writing, analysis and presentation skills needed to for graduate programs at high-caliber universities, or to secure employment with this flexible and marketable degree.


Mercyhurst Literary Festival

Inspired by the renowned reading series at the University of Notre Dame and wanting to build such a tradition here, Dr. Jeffrey Roessner collaborated with Dr. Kenneth Schiff in 2003 to bring the Mercyhurst Literary Festival to life.

The festival brings accomplished writers from a variety of genres to campus each year. Besides offering public readings, these authors interact with creative writing students in small group workshops.
Samuel Hazo was the first featured speaker; later festivals hosted such noted authors as Randall Silvis, Robert Coover, Li-Young Lee, Robert Bly, Grace Paley, Martin Espada, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Larry Heinemann, Peter Coyote, Francine Prose, Terry Bisson, Joy Harjo and Sonia Sanchez.

The final event of each year’s festival honors work by Mercyhurst students. It includes the unveiling of Lumen, the college’s award-winning creative arts magazine; the announcement of student awards in the P. Barry McAndrew Writing Contest; and an open mic opportunity for students to read their own works.


Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society

Mercyhurst College is proud to have a chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a national honor society formed in 1924 to recognize graduate and undergraduate English majors, minors, or faculty who have achieved high standards of excellence in their chosen linguistic or literary fields. The Beta Upsilon chapter of Sigma Tau Delta was established at Mercyhurst College in February of 1986, and has recently seen an increase in membership. Candidates are selected by the English department and student advisors during the spring term each year. Induction ceremonies are held each fall.


English majors at Mercyhurst can develop their knowledge and skills and make friends who share similar interests through involvement in college-sponsored clubs.


The English department sponsors Lumen, the college's creative arts magazine. Developed by students, its aim is to showcase faculty and student writing, photography and graphic design.

English Department presents Lumen 2013


Science Fiction & Fantasy Guild

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Guild is a student-run social club open to any student interested in science fiction and fantasy literature, film, and culture. The club meets three times each term to watch films and organize events both for club members and for the campus community. This year the SFFG hopes to host a 30th anniversary screening of the original Star Wars for the college, as well as to attend the ErieCon, a science fiction and fantasy convention held every spring in Buffalo.

A degree from Mercyhurst prepares you for this exciting and dynamic career.

Major(s) English Major
Minor(s) Creative Writing Minor
  English Minor
  Film Studies Minor
  Theater Minor
  Writing Minor
Concentration(s) Creative Writing Concentration
  Pre-Law Concentration
  Writing Concentration

Ready to begin your journey in english?  Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult the course catalog for more information.  As a liberal arts institution, all undergraduate students complete Mercyhurst's core curriculum

As members of the Mercyhurst English Department, we are dedicated to the intellectual growth of our students. The courses we offer teach students to think critically and imaginatively about language, culture, and literature and prepare them for graduate work as well as numerous professional careers. As a faculty, we are diverse in our backgrounds, experiences, and intellectual pursuits, but we are united by our desire to produce discerning and creative readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers. With that in mind, we expose our majors and minors at Mercyhurst to a variety of challenging texts from American, British and world literature, as well as classes in creative and professional writing and literary theory. We encourage our students to develop a personalized course of study while exploring the depth and breadth of reading available in our core curriculum, the foundation of a liberal arts education and of the English major. Above all, we are dedicated to helping our students develop the skills they need to excel in their careers and to develop an appreciation of literature and culture, and we are enormously proud of our graduates and their successes.

  • Present a specific thesis as the basis for an academic argument
  • Demonstrate key elements of successful writing (i.e.: control of voice, focus, and organization) when presenting writing to an academic audience
  • In essay form, produce close readings of assigned literature to demonstrate understanding of the formal and aesthetic features of texts
  • Locate, use, and document (in current MLA format) appropriate academic sources through print and electronic research
  • Write about texts critically to demonstrate knowledge of the relationship between literary texts and their cultural and historical contexts
  • Select and apply appropriate oral communication forms in small or large group settings to convey information, positions, and ideas
  • Discriminate between more and less credible and accurate readings of texts to determine whether certain positions are warranted

Our Graduates

The Mercyhurst University English department prepares students to be successful in graduate programs at high-caliber universities. Recent English graduates have secured rewarding employment in many fields, including publishing, editing, technical and professional writing, television, newspapers, libraries, high school teaching and college teaching. Our alumni have recently finished graduate programs at Georgetown, Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, and the University of Colorado at Boulder among others. Here's a sampling of where recent Mercyhurst University English graduates are studying now:

Zoey Alderman-Tuttle College of William and Mary American Studies
Melisa Kirwin University of Pittsburgh International Affairs
Nick Rex Rutgers University Jazz History
Eric Dellio Penn State University Law
Emily Mosco Penn State University Law
Lindy Joe Smart Mercyhurst University MA Applied Intelligence
Erin Lewis Central Michigan University MA Creative Writing
Sarah Arnold Canisius College MA English
Joe Dipasqua Carnegie Mellon University MA English
Chrissy Mitalic John Carroll University MA English
Jamie Mahoney Marymount MA English
Katie Rissetto Long Island U./Northwestern U. MA in Library Science/M.A. English
Al Jones Quinnipiac University MA English
Joe Weidenboerner St. Bonaventure MA English
Patrick Thomas Kent State University MA English and PhD Rhetoric and Composition
Bethany Shaffer University of Texas at Arlington MA English and PhD Young Adult Lit.
John Ladd Georgetown U./Washington U. St. Louis MA English 
Sr. Juliet Nakayiza Alverno College MA English Education
Vincent Auditori Univeristy of Pittsburgh MA English Literature
Jason Sepac Boston College MA English Literature
Lakyn Bianco Indiana Univeristy of Pennsylvania MA English Literature
Hannah Alberstadt Gannon University MA English, Suffolk University-Law
Brady Hunter Northwestern University MA Journalism
Emily Whitaker Edinboro University MA Media Studies
Ger Power Boston College MA Philosophy
Richard Sadlier Duquesne University MA Rhetoric
Chelsea Boothe (Hicks) Catholic University of America MA Social Work
Ryan Noles Cleveland State University MA Urban Planning and Design
Sarah Dowden ( Andrews) Emerson College MA Writing and Publishing
Ray Horton Case Wetern Reserve MA/PhD English Literature
Kyle King Penn State University MA/PhD English Literature
Dave Suscheck Gannon University MA English
Elizabeth Geist Fordham University MA English

Brett Johnson
Assistant Professor
Office: Preston 221
Phone: 814-824-2663

Brian Reed
Dean of Faculty, Associate Professor
Office: Preston 215
Phone: (814) 824-3347

Christina Rieger
Associate Professor
Office: Preston 217B
Phone: (814) 824-2103

Christina Riley-Brown
Department Chair, Associate Professor
Office: Preston 218
Phone: (814) 824-2350

Gregory Brown
Lecturer, Director of the Writing Center
Office: Library 129
Phone: (814) 824-3092

Heidi Hosey
Office: Preston 210
Phone: (814) 824-2336

Jaclyn Watterson
Assistant Professor of English

Jeffrey Roessner
Associate Professor
Office: Preston 220
Phone: (814) 824-2136

Joanne McGurk
Assistant Professor
Office: Preston 219
Phone: (814) 824-2544

Marnie Sullivan
Visiting Professor
Office: Preston 212
Phone: (814) 824-3759

Sister Lisa Mary McCartney
Associate Professor
Office: Egan 101
Phone: (814) 824-2572