English and Theatre Department
What We Do:
If you ask our faculty about their research interests, you will hear many different answers. You will hear that we study Chaucer, Shakespeare, Julia Alvarez, Lighting Design, the Rhetoric of 9/11, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction, James Joyce and playwriting, to name just a few of our specialties – and that we love our work.
When you come to class, you'll find that passion informing our teaching. We teach our students to read deeply and well, and to engage with literature on many fronts, whether performing a scene from one of Shakespeare’s comedies, crafting a poem, analyzing a narrative, constructing a set or developing a writing portfolio.
Our distinguished faculty help our students succeed in the classroom, in co-curricular activities and in their lives as professionals and as citizens.
How We Stand Out:
- Our teaching is grounded in Jesuit values such as cura personalis (care for and with the whole person) and the importance of the imagination.
- Our classes develop increasing sophistication in reading, writing and verbal communication, skills that serve our students all their lives.
- Our faculty model the innovation and professionalism that we teach our students.
- Our students succeed in the “real world,” and they learn to measure what success means.
- Our dedicated faculty members work with students outside the classroom — to develop a literary magazine, to present papers at student conferences, to mentor creative activities and to prepare for graduate and professional school.
- Our faculty and students take part in distinctive events that highlight the Arts and Humanities. Click here to see our most recent events.
Meet Our Faculty:
The English and Theatre Department faculty and staff lead by example. Our faculty members model the kind of literary engagement, creative expression and community involvement we work to instill in our students. Their unique talents, love of teaching, creative interests and academic scholarship play intricate parts in the success of our programs and our students. Find out more about our faculty news.
Just a few examples:
- Dr. Brian Conniff, new to our department Fall 2021, is currently working on two long-term projects. the first explores the Catholic imagination in American literature and popular music, including a chapter that has recently been accepted for publicaion called "Everyday People: Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, and the Gospel Tradition." the second is a study of the liberal arts and contemporary education. It is a love story, likely to end in tragedy.
- Dr. Michael Friedman is currently working on a prject concerning an actor in Shakespeare's company, Will Kemp, thought by many scholars to have left the company in 1599 when Shakespeare killed off Falstaff, one of Kemp's most famous characters. He argues that Kemp didn't leave the company in 1599 and instead took the role of Fluellen in Shakespeare's history play Henry V. Dr. Friedman explores the impact that Kemp's assumption of this role might have had on the meaning of the play in performance during Shakespeare's time.
- Dr. Madeline Gangnes, new to our department Fall 2020, specializes in digital humanities, 19th Centure British Literature, and Comics & Visual studies. Dr. Gangnes has recently published "Drawn to Reconcile: The Queer Reparative Journey of ElfQuest" which appears in the Summer 2020 issue of links: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.
- Dr Billie Tadros joined our department Fall 2018 and is also afflilated with The University's Women's and Gender Studies Program. She recently published two Poetry books titled Graft Fixation (Gold Wake Press, 2020) and Was Body (Idolent Books, 2020) and a Poetry Chapbook titled Am/Are I (Francis House, 2020). She is currently working on a narrative research project exploring the gendered implications of traumatic injuries to self-identified women runners, and seeking to articulate a feminist injury poetics.
- Dr. Hank Willenbrink’s play, The Boat in the Tiger Suit, was staged at The Brick Theater in Brooklyn, N.Y. and will be published by Original Works Publishing. His forthcoming short documentary, “The Wave,” looks at the history of surfing and its connections to the environment, performance and oceanography.
- Dr. Teresa Grettano ties new media and social marketing into traditional classroom English lessons. Dr. Grettano specializes in the rhetoric of 9/11.
Dr. Joseph Kraus
Dr. Brian Conniff
Dr. Jones DeRitter
Dr. Michael Friedman
Dr. Madeline B. Gangnes
Dr. Toni Glover
Dr. Teresa Grettano
Prof. Richard Larsen
Prof. Bonnie Markowski
Dr. Susan C. Méndez
Prof. Bianca Moore
Prof. Michael O'Steen
Dr. Billie R. Tadros
Dr. Stephen Whittaker
Dr. Hank Willenbrink
Dr. Rebecca Beal
Dr. Daniel Fraustino
Dr. Leonard Gougeon
Inside the Classroom:
Lessons in English and Theatre reach far beyond the classrooms and stage. Our students learn to channel their passions and step outside their comfort zones to discover something new about themselves and the world around them.
- Teaching emphasizes creativity, intellectual curiosity and incisive analysis.
- Formal written assignments develop strong written and verbal communication skills for thoughtful expression.
- Readings elicit questions opinions, discussion and written responses
- On-stage performances and experiential learning opportunities encourage students to take the lead in the classroom and beyond
- Faculty contribute to the growth and development of nearly every Scranton student through our First Year Writing program.
Many of our students develop their research while working closely with faculty. For example
- Bradley Wierbowski, Class of 2013, developed a paper written in Dr. Whittaker’s class for the International Conference of Sigma Tau Delta, where it took first place in the category of British Literature. Brad later won the Sigma Tau Delta Junior Scholarship and a Barry Goldwater Scholarship; he is currently studying science at Harvard.
- Judith Paltrin delivered her first national conference presentation as a result of research with Dr. Gougeon. She is now an assistant professor of English.
- Corinne Nulton, mentored by Dr. Willenbrink, wrote a play recently staged at The Brick Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently pursuing an advanced degree in creative writing.
You’ll find Scranton graduates with an English or Theatre degree in:
- University Teaching
- Secondary Education
- Library Science
- Public Relations / Digital Marketing
- Public Service / Politics
- Production Management
- Set and Costume Design
- Writing / Editing
Graduates leave The University of Scranton with the ability to thoughtfully articulate ideas and the aspiration to share their wisdom to make a difference. Alumni News