English Department

Academics | English

English Department

At Ripon, we view the study of literature as an extended, varied, continuous conversation among students, faculty, writers, and their texts. The study of literature is concerned not only with how you read and write, but also how you feel and believe. Requiring the involvement of the whole person, the study of literature engages you in highly personal ways and asks you to respond fully and honestly to the most complex and complete human experiences.

The English major at Ripon prepares students for successful careers in law, journalism, theatre, and teaching at every level. Many graduates go directly into careers in public relations, politics, industry, medical and health professions, library science, and publishing and writing.



David Graham

Douglas Northrop

Ann Pleiss Morris

Kate Sontag

Tom Truesdell

Mary Unger


Our Graduates

Michael TimmMichael Timm ’04 was a double major in English and anthropology. He was heavily involved in the College Days newspaper, first as a writer and then as its editor. Under his leadership the paper won numerous awards for excellence, but Timm says, “The greatest reward was the camaraderie forged deadline after deadline.” Between his sophomore and junior years, he traveled to Peru, where he participated with an archaeological field team from UCLA surveying the Lake Titicaca basin.

As a freelance writer in Milwaukee, Timm has written a book on the history of the Robertson-Ryan insurance agency; now he’s writing a book on the history of the Coakley Brothers moving company. He edits an independent newspaper, the Bay View Compass. During the summer of 2009 he studied creative writing at the University of Oxford in England. He’s written and directed two interactive murder mystery plays, with a third soon to be performed at Milwaukee’s Alchemist Theatre. The next stage in Timm’s multifaceted career path will be pursuing a master’s degree with an emphasis in environmental journalism at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

English Graduate - Kristen McCulloughKristen McCullough ’04, who double-majored in English and communication, considers literature to be the most revealing study of life, people, and history. She says, “Working with the English faculty at Ripon, I dabbled in creative writing, brought prose to life on film, coauthored an independent study course in Native-American literature with Professor Sontag, and most importantly, explored the workings of my own mind.” Outside of class, she was on the editorial board of College Days, and she presented original research at three national conferences, including a paper on the effect Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club had on her audiences.

Following Ripon, Kristen spent five years in nonprofit management consulting, helping mission-driven organizations craft compelling messages about the value they bring to constituents and to the world. Finding herself drawn to the individuals she met along the way, she returned to school and pursued a master’s degree in clinical social work, emphasizing the psychological, economic, and political forces at play in the lives of individuals. “I am now a therapist in child welfare,” she says, “I work alongside vulnerable children, parents, and families to uncover and re-author the story of their lives and the lives of their communities.”


Unique Opportunities

Many Ripon English majors participate in the ACM London-Florence program, in which coursework in art, architecture, literature, and history is supplemented by excursions to museums, galleries, and theaters in England and Italy. The ACM Chicago Program offers an arts emphasis which exposes students to Chicago’s vital arts scene with introductions to theater, art, music, dance, literature and film.

The ACM Newberry Library program in Chicago allows students to tap into the millions of books in the collection of this leading center of research; during three-week-long Maymester excursion to the Newberry, Ripon students researched behavioral restraints in Kafka’s The Trial, marriage conventions in Pride and Prejudice, rules of behavior in early twentieth century Chicago mobs, and tavern behavior from colonial times to Prohibition.

Among the numerous study-abroad programs offered is an exchange program with a college in the town of Ripon in Yorkshire, England, specifically geared toward students with interests in literature and history.

You can learn more about these and other opportunities by clicking here

Explore our students’ work in the 2013 Senior Portfolio below:



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.