The English Department values critical and creative thinking, innovative research and writing, and ethical engagement in our communities. Students and faculty explore writing in inventive, transdisciplinary ways and foster an understanding of the ways in which literature and writing are created, studied, and understood in their historical, cultural, and political contexts. Our graduates are prepared for the evolving career landscape with skills in writing, reading, communication, research, synthesis, analysis, and reflection.
All the reading and writing you do as an English student serves as excellent preparation for a job market built on information and communication. Your classes will promote your reading, writing, and presentation skills -- the skills employers want.
You'll learn to work both independently and as part of a team to address complex problems and create noteworthy content. Through your classes, you'll also develop cultural awareness and a heightened sensitivity to the views and ideas of others, while cultivating your own personal values and ethics: a must in the global marketplace.
Do you want to learn more about the English major? Need facts and figures to prove why the English major is right for you? Visit our "Why Study English?" page.
Cheyenne Riley received her BA in English at NKU in 2020, during which time she was the poetry editor of Loch Norse Magazine and worked in the Writing Center.
In 2021 she was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Maine where she studied and worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Her research interests are primarily concerned with British and Irish Modernism, narratology, and the role of women in literature. She completed her Master's in 2022 and is now back in Ohio embarking on the journey towards her next chapter and career.
India Sada Hackle, received her BA in English at Northern Kentucky University in 2019. Currently, she is working on an MFA in Poetry at Cornell University (where she received a full-ride fellowship) in a very prestigious program where only four students are admitted in each genre – poetry and fiction – each year. Students complete two years of master’s of fine arts (MFA) work, taking workshops and other classes as they write a creative thesis. She also teaches writing seminars as part of her program.
Hackle is a founding artist and collaborating poet, scriptwriter, editor, and art curator for Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories Project here at NKU. Her pieces "I Love You With All My Weight", "Ohio River", "The Girls Who Went Away", and "Letter to My Son" feature in the project's three documentaries: The Categories Black and White, Let Our Loss Be Heard, and Whiteness (Forthcoming 2020).
She has workshopped with Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation in Washington, D.C., and in April 2020, her poem "I Am Daughter" appeared in the Golden Streetcar Journal.
Her current research follows the movements of traditional religious beliefs (such as the Kalunga line, cross, and cosmology) from Africa’s Congolese to South Carolina’s Gullah. At the nucleus of her coming thesis is the embodiment, memory of, and communion with water. She seeks to braid Audre Lorde’s term biomythography into her poetry and other inventions. Her writing is constantly disassembling “missing” and “time” to storytell how the erotic (Lorde) and fractured selves (Emezi), of African-Black diasporic folk, traverse parallel and intersecting realms.
Charley graduated in May 2019 with her BA: Literature Track. She is currently attending The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, about to enter her 2nd year. She is passionate about the intersections of law and social justice, especially in the fields of drug policy, animal law, and social movements generally. in 2021 she worked two internships, one studying expungement law through OSU's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and another doing legal research and developing educational materials for a local grassroots vegan advocacy organization. She has also worked at an immigration law firm. Currently she is a legal intern for the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation. In her (limited) free time she hangs out with her husband and 4-year-old son, and does Irish stepdancing.
For undergrad, Charley chose NKU primarily for location, but also in large part because of its student to faculty ratio. She was homeschooled in her younger years, and went to a tiny high school, so being able to really know my fellow students and the faculty was super important to her. She took Honors English in her first semester with one of the core English faculty and they spoke with her about the program and how she might enjoy it based on her writing from that class, and she decided to switch to English from her original major (Psychology).
When asked about advice she has for current students, Charley said, "Chase your passions! There are tons of opportunities to do all sorts of things all around the university to do research, write, and just generally be connected with the university and with the field of English. Don't be afraid to reach out to faculty about things you're interested in exploring - you never know what kind of doors it will open or projects it could lead to."
Mackenzie graduated with her BA in May 2018. She double majored in Journalism and English with a creative writing track.
She currently works at Campbell County Public Library as the Public Relations Coordinator, along with being a freelance journalist and editor. She writes features regularly for the local alt-weekly Cincinnati CityBeat, where she formerly worked as the Arts & Culture Editor. From cover stories about local artists, niche history and culture to interviews, personal essays and film reviews, she's written a bit of everything.
In the past year, she was also able to work with non-profit World Wildlife Fund on a long-form article about the climate crisis in Cincinnati for their magazine. She feels passionate about the subject so it was truly an honor to report.
Her end goal is, hopefully, to be an established culture writer with bylines under many publications. Mostly, she wants to work with publications and organizations whose mission and voice she believes in. Writing a children’s book has also been a long-held dream of hers.
Mackenzie's advice to current students is, "You are more than your job, career and major. Most of us are still trying to figure ourselves post-graduation. It’s important to find sources of happiness and identity outside of your day job. Life is meant to be lived, to connect with others and to care for those in and outside of our community. We are more than our work. And explore! With writing, you may encounter what feels like an avalanche of rejection emails, but it makes those acceptances even sweeter. It’s also humbling. There is so much room to grow as a writer and person, outside of academia. I would also say to not limit yourself to any one thing. That’s one of the highlights of being an English major!"
Aaliyah received her BA in English (Creative Writing) at NKU and her MFA in Fiction Writing at California State University, Fresno. She now teaches writing courses at California State.
A writer of speculative fiction, and a practicing Rootworker, her stories work as a vehicle to navigate different types of generational trauma and often reflecting the hidden rituals and folklore that permeates Black culture in the American South. her story The Bones Stay was published in the anthology 101 Proof Horror by Haunted MTL. She will soon publish her first book, a collection of short stories titles The Bones Stay, with Passengers Press.
James O'Bannon received a BA in English from Northern Kentucky University in 2016 and an MFA in poetry from Fresno State University in 2019.
His poetry reflects on societal views of Black mental health and how we engage with our own memory. James says he owes everything to his grandmother, who instilled al ove of reading and language in him from a young age.
His writing has appeared in Waxwing Magazine, Spry Literary Journal, Switchback Journal, and Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets.
He is currently an adjunct professor at several Cincinnati area universities and colleges, including NKU.
Jennifer Whalen earned her BA from NKU in 2012 and her MFA in poetry writing from Texas State University - San Marcos, in 2015.
TSU's MFA program is highly competitive and has visiting writers such as Jorie Graham and Sherman Alexie. While at TSU, Jennifer taught freshman composition and acted as the public relations manager for the online literary journal, Front Porch. She was the 2015-2016 writer-in-residence at the L.D. & LaVerne Harrell Clark House in Smithville, Texas.
She is now an Instructor of English and Modern Languages at the University of Illinois in Springfield.
Her poems can be found in Gulf Coast, Southern Indiana Review, Fugue, New South, Grist, & elsewhere.
Keith received his Bachelors in English from Northern Kentucky University and a Bachelors in Computer Information Technology from Southern New Hampshire University. He then earned his MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University.
He is an Affrilachian poet and Cave Canem fellow.
He work as an editor, teaching artist, and game designer and is interested in the ways these disciplines intersect toward his primary interest: community outreach, creating platforms and safe places of discussion for under-represented voices, and the advocacy of civil liberties for people of color, women, the queer community, people with disabilities, and other minority groups.
He is a poet, game designer, essayist, and editor and has speaking and performance experience throughout the Appalachian region with the Affrilachian Poets.
He has experience teaching teenagers in poetry, literature, and game design (analogue and digital, with special emphasis on procedural rhetoric). He is very interested in representation and creating spaces for under-served voices in the classroom, in the world of publishing, and in his own art.
His poetry surrounds identity, love, topics surrounding science fiction/science/mythology, and ekphrastic work. His games include those topics and include teaching goals and STEM instruction.
He is also a current faculty member in the graduate program for Spalding University in KY.
Find more information at www.keithswilson.com
Judi Ketteler recieved her BA in English from NKU in 1996. She then went on to earn an MA in Literature from Miami University.
Judi is a freelance writer who makes her living strategizing with organizations to figure out how to best craft and deliver their message, from web sites and videos to speeches and books. In addition, she frequently works with content marketing agencies and editors at a variety of publications, especially in the areas of health, self-improvement, and culture.
Judi has worked with brands such as American Heart Association, Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, ASICS, Origami Owl Jewelry, and Petco.
Judi got her start working at an agency as a copywriter, but has been on her own since 2002. A magazine-industry veteran, Judi has written for dozens of markets, such as Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Runner’s World, Self, Women’s Health, and many others.
An essay she wrote for Whole Living won ASJA's award for "Best Magazine Essay" in 2011.
She is the author of three non-fiction books. Her most recent, Would I Lie To You? The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies, tackles what it means to live a more honest life.
When she’s not writing, Judi loves running, yoga, and flea markets. She lives with her husband and two young children in Cincinnati, Ohio.