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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  medical narratives, Shakespeare, Latinx Literature, Lighting Design, Victorian Studies, Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction, Environmental Literature,  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.  to see our most recent events. 

Programs:

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. Michael Friedman is currently working on two scholarly articles about Patrick Somerville's HBO Max show Station Eleven, which is an adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel's novel of the same name. In the first essay, Dr. Friedman explores the way in which the television series uses Shakespeare to help present a muticultural future through references to the use of Shakespeare in the original Star Trek. In the second essay, he examines how the television series incorporates the novel's nostalgia for the technological advances of modern times, lost in a global pandemic, by showing how the world must not simply seek a return to the past, but must instead adapt the cultural heritage of the past to reconcile with the circumstances of the Present.
  • Dr. Madeline Gangnes, 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 has 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.
  • ’s has developed and led three different community-engaged projects featuring students. These projects, Proprioception (2015), The Porches Project (2019), and 1902 (2023) were all interdisciplinary and student-centered. In each project, student writers who performed research on their community through historical documentation or via community story gatherings. This research was used to creat dramatic works, which were developed and performed.
  • Dr. Teresa Grettano's scholarship focuses on pedagogy, digital and information literacy, political rhetoric, and WPA work.

Dr. Susan C. Méndez

Dr. Susan C. Méndez

Chair

Professor

B.A., Pace University, New York, NY
M.A., Fordham University, Bronx, NY
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside

Phone: 570.941.4317
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Internal Website

Dr. Brian Conniff

Dr. Brian Conniff

Professor

B.A., Rutgers University
M.A., University of scranton
Ph.D., University of Notre Dame

Phone: 570.941.4238
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Internal Website

Dr. Jones DeRitter

Dr. Jones DeRitter

Professor

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

Phone: 570.941.6148
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Internal Website

Dr. Michael Friedman

Dr. Michael Friedman

Professor

B.A., Tulane University
M.A., Ph.D., Boston University

Phone: 570.941.4229
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Internal Website

Dr. Madeline B. Gangnes

Dr. Madeline B. Gangnes

Assistant Professor

B.A., University of Puget Sound
M.Litt., University of Dundee
Ph.D., The University of Florida

Phone: 570.941.7616
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Internal Website

Dr. Toni Glover

Dr. Toni Glover

Associate Professor

B.A., M.A., University of Texas at Arlington
Ph.D., University of Texas at Dallas

Phone: 570.941.7905
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Dr. Teresa Grettano

Dr. Teresa Grettano

Associate Professor, Coordinator of The Ellacuría Initiative

B.A., University of South Alabama
Ph.D., Illinois State University

Phone: 570.941.7659
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Dr. Joseph Kraus

Dr. Joseph Kraus

Professor

B.A., University of Michigan
M.A., Columbia University
Ph.D., Northwestern University

Phone: 570.941.6331
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Internal Website

Prof. Richard Larsen

Prof. Richard Larsen

Professor, Theatre Program

B.S., Northern Arizona University
M.F.A., San Diego State University

Phone: 570.941.6327
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Internal Website

Prof. Bonnie Markowski

Prof. Bonnie Markowski

Faculty Specialist, Rhetoric & Composition, First-Year Writing Coordinator

A.A., Penn State, Wilkes-Barre
B.A., University of Maryland
M.A., The ĤƵ

Phone: 570.941.7530
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Internal Website

Prof. Bianca Moore

Prof. Bianca Moore

Faculty Specialist, Rhetoric & Composition, First-Year Writing

B.A., M.A., Wilkes University

Phone: 570.941.7530
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Internal Website

Prof. Michael O'Steen

Prof. Michael O'Steen

Associate Professor, Theatre Program

B.F.A., M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University

Phone: 570.941.4356
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Dr. Billie R. Tadros

Dr. Billie R. Tadros

Associate Professor Dept. of English & Theatre, Director of Health Humanities Concentration, Associate Faculty Women's & Gender Studies Program

B.A., Susquehanna University
M.F.A., Sarah Lawrence College
Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Phone: 570.941.7684
Send an email

Internal Website

Dr. Stephen Whittaker

Dr. Stephen Whittaker

Professor

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

Phone: 570.941.7795
Send an email
Internal Website

Dr. Hank Willenbrink

Dr. Hank Willenbrink

Associate Professor

B.A., University of Tulsa
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara

Phone: 570.941.4353
Send an email

Internal Website

Emeritus Faculty

Dr. Rebecca Beal

Dr. Rebecca Beal

Professor, Emeritus

A.B., Westmont College
M.A., The University of Chicago
Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Daniel Fraustino

Dr. Daniel Fraustino

Professor, Emeritus

B.A. State University of New York at Buffalo
M.A. San Diego State University
Ph.D. Binghamton University

Dr. Leonard Gougeon

Dr. Leonard Gougeon

Distinguished Professor, Emeritus

B.A., St. Mary's University, Halifax
M.A., Ph. D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Prof. Carl Schaffer

Prof. Carl Schaffer

Professor, Emeritus

B.A., Fairleigh Dickinson University
M.A., The University of Michigan
M.F.A., University of Iowa

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.

Student Research:

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.
  • Emily Bernard ('22), mentored by Dr. Willenbrink, developed and original full-length play, Piece of Cake, when she was a Student Scholar in the Slattery Center for the Ignatian Humanities. Emily and Dr. Willenbrink worked together over the course of a year as she performed research, wrote and rewrote a play entitled Piece of Cake, about two Wyoming brothers who have a falling out over their family's store, women, and Ed Asner.
  • Maille Alardyce ('23) and Gabriella Palmer ('26) have worked with Dr. Willenbrink as Research Assistants which included organization and correspondence concerning research materials.

Career Outcomes:

You’ll find Scranton graduates with an English or Theatre degree in:

  • Medicine
  • University Teaching
  • Secondary Education
  • Law
  • Library Science
  • Business
  • Journalism
  • Public Relations / Digital Marketing
  • Public Service / Politics
  • Publishing
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Production Management
  • Set and Costume Design
  • Writing / Editing

Graduates leave The ĤƵ with the ability to thoughtfully articulate ideas and the aspiration to share their wisdom to make a difference.  Alumni News