Dr. Jody DeRitter



Professor, Director, First-Year Writing


A.B., Oberlin College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia




Dr. Jody DeRitter, Professor of the English & Theatre Department, has an A.B. from Oberlin College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. His book The Embodiment of Characters (U Penn Press, 1994) focuses on the relationship between the 18th-century London stage and the rise of the English novel; he has also published several other essays on plays and novels from this era. Over the past few years, his research interests have shifted toward "Early Modern Atlantic Studies", which would include the 17th-century as well as the 18th, and American as well as British history and literature. His courses include the Restoration and 18th-century Bit. Lit. survey, Restoration & 18th-century Drama, Race in Anglo-American Culture, and Frankenstein's Forebears. Hobbies include playing soccer, playing piano and irritating local elected officials. Don't mind the chair noises; they're usually in reference to someone who's not actually in the room at the time.

Dr. DeRitter teaches the following courses:

3 cr. (CL)

An exploration of the nature of poetry, its value, aims, and techniques. The emphasis will be critical rather than historical. The range of poems and the specific selections may vary with the individual instructor.

3 cr. (FYS, CL)

Students will be introduced to the college-level study of fictional narratives by reading and viewing a group of novels and films that fall generally into the category of recent and contemporary dystopian science fiction. Discussions and writing assignments will emphasize critical reading skills and forensic argument.

3 cr. (FYS)

This course in literature & literary criticism will begin with an introduction to Marxist & Freudian interpretive frameworks. We will also consider a few important theoretical responses to these approaches & try to apply them to our reading of several literary texts & two or three films.

3 cr. (CL)

An exploration of fiction, poetry, and drama. The approach is inductive; the aims are a greater understanding of literature, and an introduction to techniques of literary scholarship, theory, and research.

3 cr.

An introduction to narrative film considered as an art form. The viewing list will be evenly divided between American films and films produced in other countries (frequently in languages other than English).

3 cr.

A historical overview of the American film industry. The viewing list will begin with early short films produced by Thomas Edison and run through the end of the 20th-century. Each student will be expected to make at least two oral presentations to the class.

3 cr. (CL, D, Theory Intensive)

An interdisciplinary exploration of the influential lives and works of Mary Wollstonecraft (feminist, memoirist, and novelist); William Godwin (anarchist philosopher and novelist); their daughter, Mary Sheley (author of Frankenstein); and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Romantic poet and erstwhile political activist).

3 cr (EPW, CL) (Prerequisites: ENLT with a # between 120 & 179)

The first half of the course begins with the Pocahontas stories of the colonial era and moves on to captivity narratives, autobiographies, and relevant prose fiction; the second half considers Hollywood portrayals of 'cowboys and Indians' & contemporary films by Native American filmmakers.

3 cr. (Area A-1)

An in-depth study of a select group of major American authors from the Colonial Period to the Civil War. Included are Bradford, Franklin, Irving, and Poe. Consideration given to the historical and cultural milieu and development of major American themes and attitudes. (Offered Fall Semester Only)

3 cr (Area B-2, CL, W, Theory Intensive)

A survey of the major formal and thematic developments on the London stage between 1660 and 1776. Discussions will focus on the social, political and institutional changes that re-shaped theatrical productions during this period. This course may be counted toward the Theatre major, minor or track.

3 cr. (Area G, CL, D, W, Theory Intensive)

Through detailed study of such authors as Achebe, Conrad, Forster, Kincaid, Kipling Naipaul, Orwell, and Rushdie, this course explores the myths and meanings of 19th- and 20th-century European colonialism in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

3 cr. (FYW)

Students develop techniques for making effective contributions in writing to intellectual discussions, academically and in other cultural settings. Students are tasked with forming the strong foundation in critical reading, thinking, writing, researching, and reflecting necessary for expressing ideas in a variety of rhetorical situations.