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School of English Studies

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College of Liberal Arts

Faculty in English Studies

The School’s faculty includes widely-published scholars and creative writers with degrees from such prominent institutions as Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Oxford, New York University, and the University of Wisconsin. The faculty is also noted as distinguished teachers with a preference for interactive instruction, student participation and personal mentoring.


Jan Balakian
Ph.D., Cornell University
CAS 322 
T: 908-737-0374

Students—E-mail me anytime with questions!!

Always interested in learning about exciting new ways of teaching literature and writing, Balakian welcomes colleagues to e-mail teaching ideas!!

Jan Balakian, Professor of English, teaches modern and contemporary dramatic literature, with a specialization in American drama. She also teaches Writing about Literature, Critical Approaches to Literature, Playwriting, Theater in NYC, American Literature Survey, World Drama, World Literature, Senior Seminar, Creative Writing, and Composition.

Her new book Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein discusses the plays of Wendy Wasserstein within their historical and cultural context.  It  will be published by Applause Publishers in January 2010.

Her prize-winning screenplay, a romantic comedy called Everyone's Depressed ( about first generation college students discovering literature, is now available on Netflix.


Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein (2010)

Everyone's Depressed (2005)



Dean Casale
Associate Professor
Ph.D., State University of N.Y., Stony Brook
CAS 333 
T: 908-737-0379



Daniel Gover
Ph.D., Harvard University
CAS 327
T: 908-737-0386



Ruth Griffith
Associate Professor
CAS 317
T: 908-737-0387



John Cullen Gruesser
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin
CAS 332
T: 908-737-0388

Curriculum Vitae (full)
Curriculum Vitae (short)

Current Research Project: Sutton E. Griggs

Elected Positions:



  • Race, Gender, and Empire in American Detective Fiction, Jefferson: McFarland (2013)
  • The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home: African American Literature and the Era of Overseas Expansion, Athens: U of Georgia P, 2012
  • (Ed.) A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841-1940, Jefferson: McFarland, 2010
  • (Ed. with Hanna Wallinger) Loopholes and Retreats: African American Writers and the Nineteenth Century, Münster: Lit Verlag, 2009
  • Confluences: Postcolonialism, African American Literary Studies, and the Black Atlantic, Athens: U of Georgia P, 2005
  • (Ed.) The Black Sleuth, by John Edward Bruce, Boston: Northeastern UP, 2002
  • Black on Black: Twentieth-Century African American Writing about Africa, Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2000
  • (Ed.) The Unruly Voice: Rediscovering Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, Intro. Nellie Y. McKay, Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996
  • White on Black: Contemporary Literature about Africa, Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1992

Selected Periodicals

  • African American Review
  • American Drama
  • American Literary History
  • Black American Literature Forum
  • CEA Critic
  • Clues
  • Edgar Allan Poe Review
  • The Explicator
  • Journal of African Travel-Writing
  • Journal of Caribbean Literatures
  • Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies
  • North Carolina Literary Review
  • PMLA
  • Studies in Short Fiction

Selected Books Edited by Others

  • American Studies and Peace
  • A Companion to Crime Fiction
  • The Companion to African Literatures
  • Complexions of Race: The African Atlantic
  • The Curious Writer
  • Images of Africa: Myth and Reality
  • Modes of the Fantastic
  • Multicultural Detective Fiction: Murder from the "Other" Side
  • New Readings in American Drama: Something’s Happening Here
  • The Oxford Companion to African American Literature
  • Poe's Pervasive Influence
  • Poe Writing / Writing Poe
  • Polar Noir”: Reading African American Detective Fiction
  • Waging Empathy: Alice Walker's Possessing the Secret of Joy and the Global Movement to End FGM

Fellowships, Honors, and Awards:

  • 2015-16 National Endowment for the Humanities Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant.
  • 2014 Lynn E. May Study Grant, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
  • 2012 Kean University Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Scholarship
  • 2007 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, Columbia University: Hemispheric American Literature
  • 2002 Kean University Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Scholarship
  • 1999 Induction into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Kean University
  • 1994 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, Princeton University: Literary History in Theory and Practice
  • 1993 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for Black on Black: African American Writing about Africa
  • 1990 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, University of California, Berkeley: The Problem of Race in American and Afro-American Literature, 1860-1930
  • 1981 Election to Phi Beta Kappa, University of Notre Dame

Public Lectures (Appropriate for Schools, Libraries, etc.)

  • Poe and New York City
  • Po' Boy: Edgar Poe's Money Woes
  • The Fluid Form: Detective Fiction from Poe to the Present
  • The Origins of "The Cask of Amontillado," Or Some Words about Poe and a (Real) Mummy
  • Quoth the Raven: "Eat My Shorts": The Life, Literature, and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Seminar II: Liberal Studies
  • African American Literature
  • African American Women Writers
  • American Autobiography
  • American Literature from 1860
  • American Literature to 1860
  • American Novel 1920 to the Present
  • Aspects of the Novel
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Literature and Theory
  • Composition
  • Contemporary Literature
  • Crime in Fiction and Film
  • Critical Approaches to Literature
  • Detective Fiction
  • Editing, Annotating, and Preparing a Manuscript for Publication
  • Honors American Autobiography
  • Senior English Seminar
  • World Literature
  • Writing about Literature



Charles Nelson
Executive Director, School of English Studies
Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
Assistant Chair
CAS 318
T: 908-737-0393



Nira Gupta-Casale
Associate Professor
Ph.D., State University of N.Y., Stony Brook
Assistant Chair
CAS 323 
T: 908-737-0389



Richard Katz
Associate Professor
Ph.d. University of Washngton
CAS 433
T: 908-737-0390



Susanna Rich
Ph.D. New York University
CAS 325
T: 908-737-0395



Maria (Mia) Christine Zamora
Associate Professor
Director, MA in Writing Studies & KU Writing Project
Coordinator, World Literature Program

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison
CAS 329
T: 908-737-0385
twitter: @MiaZamoraPhD

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