Department of English

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For More Information, Contact:
Sylvia Pamboukian, Ph.D. 
Interim Department Head, English
English Department
412-397-6450 Phone
412-397-6469 Fax
Wheatley Center 234
Moon Campus

Julia Newcome

ELIT 1070 Children’s Literature 

The Book Thief 

The Book Thief, by by Markus Zusak, is a story which illuminates an era: World War II.  According to its narrator (Death himself),it is a “small story . . . about a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.”  Death is a compassionate, likable narrator who shows us that human kindness and love can prevail even in the most horrendously destructive of times.  We see, along with 9-yr-old Liesel Meminger, the power of words.

Diane Todd-Bucci

ELIT 2030 African American Literature and Experience 

The Color Purple 

In ELIT 2030, African American Literature and Experience, students learn that reading need not be painful! The reading list, which begins with the classic slave narrative and ends with the contemporary novel, Nappily Ever After, includes Alice Walker’s neo-slave narrative, The Color Purple, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Not only do we read celebrated literature, but we also “listen” to the story that the literature tells about the history of the Black experience in the United States.


M.C. Kiliany

ELIT 1040 Reading Literature: Coming of Age 

The Giver 

ELIT1040 Reading of Literature: Coming of Age revolves around those adolescent days when we struggle with who we are, what we believe, and who we can become. This novel captivatingly conveys that difficult struggle with self-image, morality, choice, and potential in a “perfect world.”  Will Jonas choose perfection or emotion?


Edward Karshner

ELIT 1060 Reading Literature: Myths 

The Buried Book:

The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh

 Mysterious tablets are found in the Iraqi desert. Translated by a young archaeologist, the texts speak of a world- wide deluge. Except, this tale predates the Old Testament by a thousand years. The young archaeologist dies mysteriously on his way to Syria, his work confiscated by the British Museum. The plot follows rival archaeologist and British secret agents racing through lost history and cover-ups to the palace of Saddam Hussein. Is this the latest Dan Brown novel? No. This is the very real story of the discovery of The Epic of Gilgamesh.


Connie Ruzich

ELIT 3130 British Literature from 1789

The Uncommon Reader 

Reading:  is it a common activity?  Here’s what others have said:
We read to know we are not alone.”  (C.S. Lewis)
A home without books is a body without soul.”  (Cicero)
Every man [and woman!]who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting”  (Aldous Huxley)
What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us”  (Thomas Carlyle) 
In ELIT 3130, not only do we read British literature, but students have the opportunity of participating in a book club in which the group selects its own extra-curricular text to enjoy and discuss.  The Uncommon Reader is one of the choices available to book clubs, a starting place to begin the journey “after the professors have finished with us.” 


John Lawson

ENGL 3020 Creative Writing

Naked Lunch 

Arguably the first postmodern novel, Naked Lunch uses writing techniques that challenge students' ideas about the role of the author – techniques that can help students generate their own hard-hitting and original fiction, poetry, and drama. I use excerpts from William Burroughs's novel Naked Lunch in ENGL3020 Creative Writing.  


Sylvia Pamboukian

ELIT 4800 Seminar in English Literature


Keen to impress his employer, young Jonathan Harker embarks on his first job abroad only to find himself working for a strange Romanian count…who may be planning to feed Jonathan to his beautiful, horrifying coven of vampires and then wipe out London. This classic of Victorian Gothic fiction popularized the vampire, but it is more than a monster story. Dracula offers readers a window into Victorian culture’s hopes and anxieties as it confronted now-familiar aspects of modern life: illegal immigration, pandemic disease, serial killers, international statecraft, and crime.

Julianne Michalenko

COSK 2221 Intercultural Communication

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

“He looked at her in the darkness, at this woman who was everything to him— mother, Africa, wisdom, understanding, good things to eat, pumpkins, chicken, the smell of sweet cattle breath, the white sky across the endless, endless bush and the giraffe that cried, giving its tears for women to daub on their baskets…”  (p. 234). Who could be better suited to investigate the mysteries of domestic life?
In Intercultural Communication, you may meet characters like Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s first lady detective, as she confronts cultural boundaries to help her countrymen find answers to life’s nagging problems. Critics have called The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency “charming” and “life affirming.”  Precious’s story is a study in intercultural communication that will leave you smiling.