Research and Engagement
In the Department of English, both research and scholarship help us process the past, make sense of our lives, and imagine other worlds. Our authors, poets and scholars help us better understand and appreciate our very humanity.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Our faculty and students augment their creativity and imagination with cutting-edge technologies. Whether through digital humanities, sociolinguistics, rhetoric, film studies or any of a range of explorations into the spoken or written word, we look for meaning, and in the process, we find purpose.
Featured Research More Department News
Wolfpack Writers: Marc Dudley
Marc Dudley is an associate professor of English at NC State. His book Understanding James Baldwin, part of the Understanding Contemporary American Literature series, explores Baldwin’s aspirations, the depth of his work and the tumultuous times in which he wrote. We caught up with Dudley to learn more about his research interests and life outside the classroom.
Wolfpack Writers: Elaine Neil Orr
Elaine Neil Orr is a professor of English at NC State. Her historical novel Swimming Between Worlds follows three young people during the tumultuous years of the American civil rights movement. We caught up with Orr to learn more about her inspiration and life as a writer and professor.
6 Expressions Say it All: Language Variation in the Tar Heel State
As North Carolinians celebrate the many material and cultural resources of the state, we sometimes overlook one of its most noteworthy legacies: its unique dialect and language traditions. No state has a more diverse – or beguiling – dialect landscape. Professor Walt Wolfram writes about the linguistic landscape of North Carolina.
Students at all levels engage in meaningful research here. Undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students work alongside faculty mentors or pursue projects of their own. They participate – and win prizes – in the university’s research symposia for students. They travel to present their research at conferences across the state and nation. They contribute to books, and sometimes write their own. As a student of English, you will be challenged to hone your writing and communication skills, and encouraged to follow your passions through research and scholarship.
Street Smarts and the Arts
Throughout 2016, a group of NC State creative writing graduate students including Tyree Daye and Alabama Stone (pictured) introduced poetry to the men and women who visited Haven House, a local nonprofit serving at-risk youth and their families. As part of their own literary outreach program called Street Smarts and the Arts, the students hosted informal poetry workshops with the young people who passed through the center.
Constructing Identity Among Italians at NC State
A Fulbright fellow from Italy, Cecilia Tomasatti studies sociolinguistics in the Department of English. One of her first graduate research projects after arriving in the United States explored how other exchange students were adjusting to life on campus. We asked Tomasatti about her research, which she presented at the 2017 NC State Graduate Student Research Symposium. Her poster, “Constructing Identity Among Italians at NC State,” placed second in the humanities category.
Language, Gender and Disney Princesses
NC State graduate student Karen Eisenhauer studies how language in the Disney Princess movies can depict and represent gender roles. Eisenhauer, who will earn her master’s degree in linguistics in May, recently presented some of her latest research at the NC State Graduate Student Research Symposium. Her poster, “Directives in Disney and Pixar Movies: A Quantitative Analysis,” won first place in the humanities category.
What the Dog Knows
Cat Warren, professor of journalism, teaches science writing, editing and reporting. In a completely different role, and working alongside the cadaver dog she trained, Warren also helps law enforcement officials search for missing and presumed-dead people.
In What the Dog Knows (Touchstone Books, 2013), Warren combines science, history and memoir to explore the world of working dogs that sniff out bodies, bombs and drugs, even unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers.
Fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry... our faculty are prolific writers. Here’s a short, short list of some of our faculty’s many, many books:
- Jason Miller, Langston Hughes: Critical Lives Series (University of Chicago Press, 2020)
- Thomas Phillips, Sine Wave (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019)
- Cat Warren, What the Dog Knows for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster, 2019)
- Robin Dodsworth (with Richard Benton), Language Variation and Change in Social Networks: A Bipartite Approach (Routledge, 2019)
- Allen Stein, Your Funeral is Very Important to Us (Main Street Rag, 2019)
- Jon Thompson, Notebook of Last Things (Shearsman, 2019)
- Wilton Barnhardt, ed. Every True Pleasure: LGBTQ Tales of North Carolina (UNC Press, 2019)
- Belle Boggs, The Gulf (Graywolf Press, 2019)
- Marc Dudley, Understanding James Baldwin (University of South Carolina Press, 2019)
- Dorianne Laux, Only as the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton, 2019)
- Erik Thomas, ed. Mexican American English: Substrate Influence and the Birth of an Ethnolect (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
- Christopher Crosbie, Revenge Tragedy and Classical Philosophy on the Early Modern Stage (Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
- Jason Swarts, Wicked, Incomplete, and Uncertain: User Support in the Wild and the Role of Technical Communication (Utah State University Press, 2018)
- Barbara Bennett, Smoke Signals from Samarcand (University of South Carolina Press, 2018)
- John Morillo, The Rise of Animals and Descent of Man, 1660-1800: Toward Posthumanism in British Literature between Descartes and Darwin (University of Delaware Press, 2018)
- Elaine Orr, Swimming Between Worlds (Berkley, 2018)
- Bill Lawrence, The Punk and the Professor (Apprentice House, 2017)
- Jeff Reaser, Walt Wolfram (with Carolyn Temple Adger and Donna Christian), Dialects at School (Routledge, 2017)
- John Kessel, The Moon and the Other (Simon and Schuster, 2017)
- Paul Fyfe, Antony Harrison, David Hill, Sharon Joffe, and Sharon Setzer, Victoria’s Lost Pavilion (Palgrave, 2017)
- Marsha Gordon, Film is Like a Battleground (Oxford University Press, 2017)
- Belle Boggs, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood (Graywolf Press, September 2016)
- Leila May, Secrecy and Disclosure in Victorian Fiction (Routledge, 2016)
- Paul Fyfe, By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis (Oxford University Press, 2015)
- Jason Miller, Origins of the Dream: Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric (University Press of Florida, 2015)
- Rebecca Walsh, The Geopoetics of Modernism (University Press of Florida, 2015)
- Huiling Ding, Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic: Transcultural Communication about SARS (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014)
- Wilton Barnhardt, Lookaway, Lookaway (MacMillan, 2014)
- Jeffrey Reaser and Walt Wolfram, Talkin’ Tar Heel (UNC Press, 2014)
- Susan Katz, Start Your Career: Five Steps to Finding the Right Job After College (TIPS Technical Publishing, 2014)
- James Mulholland, Sounding Imperial: Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730-1820 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013)
- Elaine Orr, A Different Sun (Berkley/Penguin, 2013)
Hidden in the Text
English professor Tim Stinson is working with scientists to extract biological clues embedded in old books. Teaming up with bioarchaeologists, Stinson has collected structural proteins and DNA from the pages of medieval manuscripts.
Young and Teen Writers
Workshops for Young and Teen Writers
Sponsored by the English Department and held on NC State's campus, these summer workshops nurture the creative spirit and teach creative writing skills and techniques.
We share our love of the written and spoken word – of literature, film, poetry, of rhetoric and dialects – with the world around us.
Our annual statewide poetry and fiction contests are among the largest in the southeast. And there’s no cost to participate.
Each summer, we hold writing workshops for teens and for younger aspiring writers.
We organize film series and host an exciting list of public readings throughout the year.
Annual Poetry Contest
This annual contest is open to all North Carolina residents, except tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system; writing instructors teaching at NC State (teaching assistants and graduate students are eligible); poets with a published book by an independent press; and previous winners. We feature a special judge each year and winners receive cash awards.
Annual Fiction Contest
The annual event, open to all NC residents (some exceptions apply), is one of the largest free literary competitions in the South. The contest has two categories boasting separate cash prizes as well as honorable mention awards, and is judged yearly by a special guest judge. Contestants may enter in both the longer fiction and shorter fiction categories for a chance to win a cash prize.