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Department of English & Communication

The Department of English & Communication challenges its students to complete a core of courses that explore the varied ways people speak, write and read.

Degree Programs:

Bachelor of Arts in English with undergraduate majors in:

  • literature
  • literature and writing
  • writing
  • creative writing

Literature majors learn to read a variety of texts from multiple perspectives in order to better understand their own literary preferences and the literature of their own and other cultures.

Writing majors have two options: 1. creative writing or 2. writing - both of which focus on the personal and cultural significance of language and literature. The department's combined literature and writing major is designed for those interested in teaching English in secondary schools.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing:
The B.F.A. in Creative Writing is a pre-professional degree that offers students intensive training in the writing of fiction, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction, and screenplays. In addition to courses in creative writing, students are required to write a senior thesis, to take courses in literature, to complete a writing-related internship, and to present their work in a solo reading during their final year.

Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication:
Communication majors concentrate on the purposes, functions and varieties of human communication, including a wide range of theories and practices of communication from interpersonal to mass media.

They study the processes we use to deal with our environment, how we change and accommodate ourselves to it and how we impose our thoughts on the world around us.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Sharmain van Blommestein, Department Chair
Office: Morey Hall 118
Phone: (315) 267-2043

Motherhood and Education

As she handles the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood, Elizabeth Criscitello ’22 has faced the challenges of adulthood much quicker than many of her classmates. Engaged at the end of her freshman year, married the following year, and then having her baby in the spring of 2020, she has continued to balance parenting with her educational goals as she pursues dual degrees in English writing and community health.

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Finding Her Voice

Once an introverted first-year student at SUNY Potsdam, Kiara Espinal ’21 has continued to develop skills as a public speaker and artist, on a path of discovery to find her voice and become a leader among her peers.

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Finding A Way to Say It All

Concluding a semester like no other, SUNY Potsdam students in a magazine writing class poured their thoughts, challenges, struggles and advice into a digital publication they titled “Pandemic Magazine.” Through personal essays, reader-service pieces and participatory articles from students and several professors, the magazine documents the college experience in a time of pandemic. It is a creative and sometimes stark reminder of the role a virus is likely to play in the testament of a generation.

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Vita Ayala ’10

SUNY Potsdam alumna Vita Ayala ’10 is a fresh new voice in the world of comics. After graduating, Ayala spent time working in comic and book retail and worked night security at one of the oldest museums in New York City, before finally pursuing a career as a writer. They have since written for DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Image Comics, as well as having created their own series through Black Mask Studios.

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Mike Rogge '08

When he’s not carving through the fresh powder at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, Mike Rogge ’08 leads a successful career as the editor The Ski Journal and the founder/owner of the media production company, Verb Cabin. Since graduating with his degree in writing and literature from SUNY Potsdam over a decade ago, Rogge has turned his dream into a reality—skiing as many days as possible and writing about it professionally.

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Kalis Nunes '20

Kalis Nunes ’20 has been on a trajectory of success ever since he first set foot on campus his freshman year. After entering SUNY Potsdam through the Bridges Program, he continued to grow both academically and as a leader on campus. He went on to take a persuasive speaking with Professor David Fregoe where he developed the skills and confidence to speak in front of large groups—paving the way for his new role as President of the Student Government Association.

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Dr. Trevor Blank

Dr. Trevor Blank, who started teaching at SUNY Potsdam in the fall of 2012, has either authored or edited nine books. His most recent book, “Slender Man is Coming,” was published in September 2018 and is centered around the fictional horror character Slender Man and looks at Creepypasta in digital culture.

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Kadiatou Balde '19

"My first communication class literally changed my perceptions about this world, and so being a part of this department is one of my best decisions thus far," said Balde, a Presidential Scholar majoring in communications and biology."

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