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Supporting Success in English Literature

The Knox College English Department's presence in Old Main -- the sole remaining site of one of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debates -- is a symbol of the department's dedication to the role of community in shaping history and literature.

Just as Old Main brought together a wide spectrum of individuals to hear intellectual discourse, the English Department assembles a variety of resources to shape students’ academic experiences. The English curriculum is enhanced by Seymour Library’s strong holdings in literature and literary studies. The department also brings outstanding scholars to campus for lectures, master classes, and individual conferences with students.

Recent visiting scholars have included:

Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and cultural critic.
Reeve Parker, scholar of English, romantic poetry, and drama.
Wendy Hyman, scholar of sixteenth and seventeeth-century literature, the history of science and intellectual history, ovidianism and mythology.
Georgia Johnston, scholar of modernist autobiography.
Astra Taylor, social theorist and filmmaker.
Annette Wannamaker, scholar of children's literature.
Susan Beegel, a leading Hemingway scholar.
Jane Gallup, scholar of psychoanalytic and feminist theory.
Valerie Traub, a leading Shakespearean critic and author of Feminist Readings of Early Modern Culture.
Robert von Hallberg, editor of Modernism/Modernity, author of forthcoming book about the poetics of Gwendolyn Brooks.
Bernard DuKore, internationally acclaimed theatre scholar and author of more than 30 books on playwrights such as Shaw, Pinter, Ibsen, and Albee.
Vicki Mahaffey, modernist scholar.

Also: Susan Sontag, Marilynne Robinson, Tobias Wolf, Barry Lopez, Alvin Kernan, Maxine Kumin, Houston Baker, Alicia Ostriker, Natalie Zemon Davis, Jane Smiley, Tess Gallagher, Etheridge Knight, Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Pinsky, Jane Gallop, Evan Boland, Alice Fulton, Maxine Kumin, Rita Dove, Sharon Olds, Aimee Bender, Carole Maso, James Galvin, Roger Weingarten, Robert Hass, Valerie Martin, and many others.

Other Special Programs

  • Caxton Club - a scholarly and creative presentation by faculty, visiting scholars and artists
  • John and Elaine Fellowes Lecture Series - readings and lectures by distinguished scholars and artists
  • Writers’ Forum - student presentations of writing and scholarship

Recognition of Outstanding Work
The departmental courses are also supported by a policy of recognizing outstanding student work. Each year, the following prizes are awarded by outside judges:

The Davenport Awards in Poetry, Playwriting, and Fiction - for outstanding original work
The Procter Fenn Sherwin Prize in Fiction - awarded to a senior who submits the best original short story
The Bev White Prize in Fiction - given to a beginning writer for the most outstanding piece of creative writing
The Howard Wilson Prizes in Literary Criticism - awarded to students writing the best pieces of literary criticism
The Lorraine Smith Prize in English - awarded to a sophomore for writing the best essay in an English course
The Nina Marie Edwards Memorial Fund - provides assistance to juniors and seniors carrying out independent or Honors projects in English and Creative Writing
The Scripps Prize - awarded to a graduating senior with the highest grades in English.
The Elizabeth Haywood English Research Award - given annually to support a student project in England.

Campus Publications

Catch - a nationally award-winning student creative arts magazine.

Common Room - an on-line student journal of literary criticism.

Seymour Library
Seymour Library’s special collections include such notable holdings as the Hughes Collection of Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation -- first editions, letters and rare periodical publications of Hemingway, Cummings, Passos, Eliot, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound and Stein. Large videotape and audiotape collections on American and international writers, Shakespeare’s plays, and feature films are all available as well.

Works of Galesburg native Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters, a Knox alumnus, are also among the extensive holdings of Seymour Library -- which houses more than 300,000 volumes and 700 periodicals. Beyond its collections, Seymour Library has also been ranked as high as third in the nation among college libraries, in a student survey of characteristics such as user-friendliness and ambiance.

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