Department of English, Communication & Media Studies

We humans are textual animals. We are born into patterns of language and culture that to a large extent script our lives — but which we can rewrite to some extent. English, Communication and Media Studies equip students to understand, exploit, and, yes, to enjoy their textual condition.

Areas of Study

Major: English (B.A.)
Major: English with Teacher Licensure (B.A.)
Major: English & Communication Studies (B.A.)
Minors: English / Communication Studies, Creative Writing


Dr. Wayne Johns
Dr. Kathleen Keating, Chairperson
Dr. Elena King
Dr. Sheila Nayar
Dr. Michelle Plaisance

Dr. Heather Chacon, writing director

We also offer writing tutoring to students in any classes, not just English classes.

Our department is special because…

Literary study is a way to understand not just literature but life and culture. To that end majors in English and Communication Studies follow a course of study that allows them to explore a variety of written and visual forms and to study major texts in depth. They learn to read with an awareness of cultural context, to think clearly and accurately about texts, and to carry this precision into their own writing and speaking.

This is all pretty grand, of course. More down to earth, the ability to read critically and the ability to think and write and speak clearly are of immense practical value.

According to a 2004 study by the National Commission on Writing, one-third of employees in the nation’s blue-chip companies write poorly, and businesses are spending more than $3 billion annually on remedial training. (The same group found in 2005 that the states are spending about $221 million annually on similar programs for state government employees.) And in periodic skills-gap reports by the National Association of Manufacturers, writing deficiencies in the workplace always come near the top in employers’ list of workplace problems.

In such a climate, the training one receives in English and Communication Studies well equips one for productive employment in a wide range of professions.

Dr. Wayne Johns

Dr. Wayne Johns

Pop Culture and Cultural Theory students receive research assistance.

Pop Culture and Cultural Theory students receive research assistance.

Selection of American books.

Selection of American books.

How would a student benefit from the program?

  • Three different majors to accommodate different interests: English; English and Comm Studies; English Education
  • Our program emphasizes INTEGRATED studies. The current job market can benefit from generalists with a variety of skill areas. Arguably, this is not the best market for highly specialized entry-level workers. Integrated studies is the way to go.
  • The integrated-studies approach means that emerging technologies are likely to become part of the dynamic curriculum quickly. Example: Social media didn’t exist several years ago; no one could have trained in advance for it. Now, it is an area of growth. Our program can respond quickly to changes in the marketplace by altering curriculum to meet student needs.
  • The small department means that students will be well known. When professors know students, it is so much easier to get truly excellent letters of recommendation for jobs after college and grad school applications.
  • New class offerings as of Fall 2014, especially new courses in communication and media studies. Classes include Media Production and Introduction to Communication.
  • Benefits of the newly approved curriculum for 2014:
    • Increases flexibility and choice as students design their own course of study
    • Includes courses that students specifically requested over the past few years:
      • The introduction to communication course fills the gap on foundational learning for the English and Communication majors
      • A new course, Media Production, addresses student interest in a hands-on course with a practitioner emphasis; it also accords with the recommendation from an external reviewer
      • The 2-credit writing workshop provides a way for students to continue working on creative writing and supplements the existing 4-credit ECM 2450 Introduction to Creative Writing
    • Students see a greater payoff of their investment of time and energy in campus media; students will be able to count 8 rather than 4 credits in the major, thus rewarding their continuing work on the newspaper and The Lyre literary magazine. First-year students can get involved in the newspaper and be writing from their first semester.
    • Students continue to benefit from ECM’s integrated approach and have the ability to sample from these areas without having to choose just one fork in the road, an advantage that colleges with segregated communication and English departments do not offer. To build on the integrated studies approach, the program introduces a more rigorous three-course core that will be more common to all majors. Students will meet and work with other majors, making more salient the interconnections among these related areas.
    • Prepare more thoroughly for the world of work with our new professional and career exploration component via internships, CLD 1100, and the new capstone course. The news capstone is 1/3 about preparing for life beyond college, so there is hands-on assistance with grad school applications, job applications, etc.
    • Enhance their communication and receive more feedback on growth with a new portfolio requirement. The portfolios will improve student learning in writing, media literacy, and technology competencies over several years and more effectively prepare for post-graduation experiences.
    • We have an MA in TESOL graduate program and hope to develop a 5-year combined BA/MA degree program (would have to include some summers).

Related offerings

Greensboro College offers an M.A. program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

What makes the GC program different from and stronger than others?

  • Instead of having to choose EITHER English OR Comm. Studies, our majors can select from both these disciplines, integrated so students can get the best of both
  • Our career and professional exploration requirement allows students to take 2 credits of CLD 1100 for credit in the major OR do an internship. Up to 8 credits internship
  • Students can personalize/customize majors and minors (beginning fall 2014), with much greater flexibility
  • Students can get academic credit for writing on the newspaper for 8 terms (if they take the 1 credit publication)
  • Extremely strong student publications that win awards and honorable mentions in student publication competitions year-in and year-out.
  • Lots of exciting courses are offered that appeal to students:
    • Past courses include Digital Games, Social Media, War Stories and the hero figure, Contemporary poetry
    • Ongoing courses include Popular Culture, Topics in Film, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Gender and Sexuality in Literature, Southern Writers, African American Writers

Teaching Style & Accolades

Year after year, under the leadership of Dr. Wayne Johns, students on The Lyre and The Collegian have taken home awards for student publications. Dr. Johns also takes the publications students to media conferences, usually each year. Sheila J. Nayar, past winner of all the college’s teaching awards, has published two books within the past nine months and was the 2011 winner of the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the field of Media Ecology.

Marshall McLuhan Award

Many professors have published and presented works on literature and technology.

Internships/Hands-on experiences

  • Required internship starting in fall 2014; up to 8 credits in internship
  • Students may take publications, which is hands-on work on The Collegian, the student newspaper, or The Lyre, the student literary magazine. They can take publications for 1-2 credits each semester for a total of 8 hours
  • New in Fall 2014: Media production course that will be hands-on composing (like making documentaries)
  • CLD1100: Students will have the opportunity to explore career options well before their capstone
  • New capstone: 1/3 senior culminating project, 1/3 publishing a portfolio of work that might also be taken to job interviews, 1/3 career exploration

Writing tutors

Our writing tutors, Colleen Colby and Erica Horhn, can assist you in all of your writing endeavors this semester! Tutoring is free and is available both in person in Cowan 202 and online.

Writing tutoring is great for students who want assistance with any number of writing activities, including:

  • revising papers,
  • working on grammar or punctuation issues,
  • brainstorming ideas,
  • organizing writing assignments to create better flow,
  • incorporating research into writing assignments,
  • citing appropriately,
  • working on graduate school application essays,
  • working on resumes, cover letters, etc.

Writing tutoring is not just for English essays; we can help you to create more organized and sophisticated writing assignments for any class! Writing tutoring services are useful for all writing levels; everyone can benefit from another set of eyes.

More information, including how to sign up and hours of availability for Spring 2016:



Dr. Kathleen Keating, chair of the Department of English, Communication and Media Studies, discusses social media in an interview with Guilford County Schools TV. In addition to composition and literature, Dr. Keating teaches courses on gaming and other aspects of multimedia.

To find out more about our department, download this .pdf.