Forum Series

11/03/2016 1:35 pm

Highlights of the Spring 2017 Forum Series include a celebration of the 170th anniversary of the signing of Rockford University’s charter, a visit from artist and activist Che “Rhymefest” Smith, insights from a world-renowned art detective and a presentation by the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

The Forum Series’ central programming focus is geared toward students. Lectures and performances are concerned with intellectual, social, and cultural matters of general interest to deepen and broaden students’ education at Rockford University. Participation is required for all full-time undergraduate students.

Spring 2017 Lineup 

View printable PDF: Spring 2017 Series

Orchesis Spg 2017 Forum

Action / (Re)action: Orchesis Dance Company in Concert
Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 26-28, 7:30 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

The Rockford University Orchesis Dance Company presents their annual concert of classical and contemporary dance. New works by dance faculty members Amy A. Wright and Mitchell Stolberg include ballet, modern, dance theatre, contemporary jazz, and tap.

C.L. Lindsay

Sex and the Law: C.L. Lindsay
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

Attorney, author, and student advocate C.L. Lindsay will explain how the law applies to the more sordid parts of the college experience. Learn the legal aspects of consensual sexual issues, contraception, STDs, public nudity, sexting, stalking, and more.

Chris Czarnik Sitting.Socks Spg 2017 Forum

14 Traits of Leadership: Chris Czarnik
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 3 p.m., Severson Auditorium, Scarborough Hall

Leadership is hard to define but easy to see. This seminar analyzes the fourteen traits that leaders must demonstrate on a daily basis in order for others to follow them and for you to lead your own life. We will also discuss the most common mistakes that new leaders make and how to avoid them. Chris Czarnik is a national career search expert with 12 years of job search counseling and motivational speaking experience. His innovative approach to job search has helped thousands of people land rewarding careers.

GreatAmerican Trailer stock image Spg 2017 Forum_PA

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 23-25, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 26, 2 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

You’ll want to sing along with The Great American Trailer Park Musical, a naughty, bawdy, mischievous, and dysfunctional Florida community set to music. Directed by Jeff Hendry, Professor of Performing Arts.

beloit college president scott bierman

Charter Day
Monday, Feb. 27, 4 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

The 170th anniversary of the signing of the charter for Rockford University includes an academic procession of faculty in traditional robes depicting their rank, with stoles representing their respective alma maters and degrees. This year’s speaker will be Beloit College President Scott Bierman.

Smith CR-Spg 2017 Forum

Breaking Down Walls & Building Bridges: Che “Rhymefest” Smith
Tuesday, March 14, 7 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

Che “Rhymefest” Smith discusses how to citizens can use positions of leverage to address issues of police brutality, systematic biases, and lack of services. As a writer, artist, activist, political organizer and teacher, Che has cracked glass ceilings and shattered negative stereotypes about hip-hop. Among other awards, he won a Grammy for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West and an Oscar for his work on the song “Glory,” featured in the film Selma.

robert-wittman Spg 2017 Forum

 Priceless: Robert Wittman
Monday, March 20, 2016, 7 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

Called “the most famous art detective in the world,” Robert Wittman founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. He is responsible for recovering more than $300 million in stolen art and cultural property around the world. Since retiring from the FBI in 2008, he authored the New York Times bestseller Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue The World’s Stolen Treasures. He speaks about his FBI career leading audiences through notorious art heists and incredibly daring undercover recoveries.

Penny Boston Spg 2017 Forum

Astrobiology: Penelope J. Boston
Thursday, April 6, 4 p.m., Severson Auditorium, Scarborough Hall

Dr. Penelope Boston is the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. Prior to joining NASA, Boston founded and directed the Cave and Karst Studies Program at New Mexico Tech, where she also served as a professor and led their Earth and environmental sciences department as chair. She also served from 2002 to 2016 as associate director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, a congressionally mandated institute in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

A Flea in Her Ear stock image Spg 2017 Forum_PA

A Flea in Her Ear
Thursday-Saturday, April 27-29, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 30, 2 p.m., Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center

Paranoia, infidelity, and lechery take center stage in raucous bedroom farce A Flea in Her Ear, a hysterical cocktail of chaos that could only have been devised by the master of comic stagecraft, Feydeau. Directed by Deborah Mogford, Performing Arts Chair, Professor of Performing Arts.

Forum Series FAQs

View printable PDF: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Forum Series?

A: The Rockford University Forum series presents speakers from a variety of disciplines and performers of stature in the arts. The series is designed to provide a shared experience for students while broadening their education at the University. The Forum Committee, comprised of faculty and student representatives, selects the events.

Q: Are all students required to attend all the Forum series events?

A: All full-time undergraduate students are required to attend a minimum of two Forum series events each semester. (Exceptions: student teachers and participants in off-campus programs such as Washington Semester or study abroad programs.) In most cases, students who reduce their course load below 12 credits at any point in the semester must still meet the Forum series requirement. Consult with SAS for further information on exceptions to this rule.

Q: Is a ticket required for Forum events?

A: Yes. A ticket is required for all Forum events. Student tickets are free with a Rockford University ID card; one free ticket per student. Tickets must be obtained at the university Box Office, located in Clark Arts Center.

Q: How is Forum series attendance taken?

A: In order to receive credit for attendance, students must fill out a Forum card at each event. Forum cards can only be obtained from the faculty member(s) at the door of the event (not other faculty, staff or student workers, etc.). The faculty member(s) will be wearing a badge to identify him/herself. Only one card will be given to each student. Students need to bring a pen to fill out the card.

No Forum cards will be distributed after the event has begun. If students arrive late, they will not receive a Forum card. Forum cards can only be returned to the faculty member(s) at the door of the event (not other faculty, staff or student workers). Only one card will be collected from each student. No cards will be accepted until the end of the performance—including any question and answer period—or the end of an academic procession. (All students are expected to remain seated until the entire event has concluded.) Students should print their information on the cards. If cards cannot be easily read, attendance cannot be recorded accurately.

Use of cell phones and electronic devices or other inappropriate behavior during any Forum event could result in the loss of Forum credit at the discretion of the Committee.

Q: What happens if the requirement to attend two events a semester is not met?

A: Students who fail to fulfill the Forum requirement by the end of any semester will receive an “F” for that semester.

If a student fails the Forum requirement for any semester, the only way to make up the requirement is to submit an essay via e-mail to the Forum Committee based on event recordings (available in the library) from the semester failed (and only from an event you did not attend).

If students have any existing failed Forum grades, essays are due no later than 5 p.m., Monday, April 3, 2017, to the Forum Committee. Essays must be submitted via e-mail to Forum@Rockford.edu.

Late submissions will only be accepted via e-mail. They can be submitted at any time, but will not necessarily be reviewed at the time of submission. Essays are not reviewed over the summer.

WARNING: You must make up all failed Forum grades before you can graduate. If you plan to graduate in fall, your makeup essays are due by the first Monday of November; if you plan to graduate in spring, they are due by the first Monday of April. Because essays are not reviewed over the summer, summer graduates must also submit essays by the first Monday of April.

Essay Submission Guidelines: Copies of the Forum essays must be submitted to the Forum Committee via e-mail. The Forum Committee will only accept and pass essays that meet the following minimum requirements:

1. A minimum of two full pages, double spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins, word processed. Headers are not part of the page count.

2. It must be based on viewing or listening to a recording of a Forum event that the student did not attend from the semester in which the “F” was received. The recordings are available in the Howard Colman Library and are for in-library use only.

3. The heading of the essay must include the following: student’s full name, the semester being made up and the name of the event/speaker listened to or watched.

4. The essay must clearly show the student has listened to or viewed the entire recording. In the essays, the committee is looking for:

• not a simple summary

• critical thought

• explanation, reflection, and comment upon content/meaning/message of the Forum event.

5. If your essay is not written professionally, following the rules of standard written English, it may not pass. Therefore, please carefully edit your sentences for style, grammar, and punctuation.

The essay-writing option is intended to remove only past semester failed Forum grades, not for the current semester. The Forum Committee reserves the right to deem an essay acceptable or unacceptable. If the essay is not accepted, it must be rewritten and resubmitted (by a deadline set by the committee) in order to remove the Forum failure. Save a copy of the essay until any grade changes are finalized.

If there are any questions about the Forum policies, please contact the current Forum Administrator, Prof. Kyle Stedman at KStedman@rockford.edu.

Notice: Failure to complete the Forum Series requirement bars a student from the dean’s list or distinguished scholars list and from receiving their degree.

How to get tickets

Tickets are required for all Forum events. Student tickets are always free. To get tickets:

  1. Email boxoffice@rockford.edu.
  2. Call the box office at 815-226-4100.
  3. Drop by the box office (Clark Arts Center lobby) M-F, 1-5 p.m.

How to suggest an event

Want to suggest an event for the Forum series? You can do so by filling out the Forum Event Suggestions form at any time; just click here.

Each spring semester, the Forum committee makes selections for the following school year. Suggestions for the following year are most likely to be reviewed and accepted prior to March 1.

Rhetoric Courses FAQ

08/05/2016 4:01 pm


Frequently Asked Questions: All-University, General Education Rhetoric Sequence

Note: These FAQs are answered here for your convenience.  The answers are not provided to replace or supersede the Rockford University academic catalog.

Q. What is the all-university rhetoric sequence?
A. The rhetoric sequence comprises three courses:  two 100-level courses, and one 300-level course. The two 100-level, four-credit courses of the sequence are:

  • RHET 101, Introductory Rhetoric
  • RHET 102, Introductory Rhetoric

The 300-level, three-credit course of the sequence can be satisfied by RHET 351, Applied Rhetoric.

Q. Can I graduate from Rockford University if I do not fulfill the rhetoric sequence?
A. No. The rhetoric sequence is an all-college, general education graduation requirement. To earn the B.A., B.F.A, B.S., or B.S.N. degree, all-college general education requirements must be fulfilled.

Q. May I waive the all-university rhetoric sequence requirement?
A. Please refer to the Academic Catalog for instructions on seeking a waiver of any degree requirement.

Q. What is the ‘Upper-Division Rhetoric Requirement’? 
A. The ‘Upper-Division Rhetoric Requirement’ is another phrase that refers to the 300-level rhetoric course (RHET35x) in the all-college rhetoric sequence.

Q. What are the prerequisites for RHET 101?
A. RHET 101 has no prerequisites.

Q. What are the prerequisites for RHET 102?
A. To enroll in RHET 102, the prerequisite is completion of RHET 101 with a final grade of ‘C’ or above or by departmental approval of transfer credit.

Q. What are the prerequisites for the 300-level RHET courses?
A. All RHET 35x courses have the same two prerequisites, both of which must be met: A grade of ‘C’ or above in RHET 102 or equivalent and forty-five (45) hours of college course work.

Q. How do I know which Rockford University courses can satisfy a rhetoric requirement? 
A. Rhetoric courses are identified in two ways. First, their four-letter course designator is ‘RHET.’

Second, the course description includes the course listing code ‘Rh’ (fulfills rhetoric sequence requirement).

Q. Is there a test I can take to place out of any rhetoric classes? 
A. Yes. If you received a 4 or 5 in the Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition exam, you will place out of RHET 101.

Q. May I use transfer courses to fulfill the 100-level rhetoric courses?
A. Yes. If you are a new transfer student, registering for the first time at Rockford University, your transcript will be reviewed to determine whether or not you have fulfilled the requirements for RHET 101 and/or 102.

If you are a continuing student at Rockford University and want to transfer a course to satisfy the RHET 101 or 102 requirement, you must have approval on file with SAS before you take the course. To secure approval, pick up a “Transfer of Credit” form at SAS and return the completed form with the appropriate authorizing signatures to SAS before you take the course.

Q. Can transfer courses fulfill the 300-level rhetoric course?
A. No. Transfer credit is not accepted to satisfy the 300-level course.

Q. When is the best time to take the rhetoric courses?
A. For most students, two options seem to work equally well. Many students take one course per year: RHET 101 in freshman year, RHET 102 in sophomore year, and RHET 351 in junior year. Many students take RHET 101 and RHET 102 in their freshman year and RHET 351 at the end of their sophomore or in their junior year.

Q. What if I am not a very good writer? 
A.  At Rockford University, we set high standards and work with you to achieve them. To complete RHET 101 and RHET 102, you have to earn a ‘C’ or above in each course, but should you happen to fall short in either, you can repeat the course. If you think you might need to take advantage of this repeat opportunity, do not put off taking these courses. In other words, especially when you are not confident about your writing skills, take these courses as early and as soon after each other as possible. As any smart coach knows, steady and focused practice works.

Q. How do I get help with writing outside of class?
A. Three great resources are available:

  • Take advantage of one-on-one discussions with your professor about your writing. Your
    professors hold office hours that they set aside to work with their students.
  • Check out free peer tutoring available in the Writing Center.
  • Visit the Rockford University Learning Center in Starr Science, which provides yet another approach to individualized instruction.

Q. Are all the sections of a rhetoric course the same?
A. Yes and no. Every rhetoric course has a core syllabus that explains the shared descriptions, policies, goals, requirements, or assignments that students taking any section of that course may expect. These core syllabi are posted on the portal. Uniformity is greater in RHET 101 and 102 than in RHET 351 courses. For example, RHET 101 and 102 use the same texts across their respective sections.

While all the RHET 351 courses share core goals, types of assignment, and policy, they deliver this core through different content. The RHET 351 courses provide an interesting menu from which students may choose the topic in rhetoric that they will be investigating over the course of the term. Click on the section to read the section content description.

Q. Why do all the rhetoric classes have the same attendance policy?
A. Students called attention to the potential unfairness in having different attendance policies in the rhetoric courses. Attendance is important because one key to academic success in the rhetoric courses is student participation in workshops, presentations, peer review, and in-class writing exercises. The English Department agreed that concerns about fairness across sections would best be addressed by establishing a uniform attendance policy for all.

Q. How do I take a rhetoric course that includes community-based learning (CBL)?
A. Refer to the individual section description of RHET 351 to determine if it contains a CBL component.

Q. Which 300-level course fulfills the all-university, general education rhetoric requirement? 
A. All RHET 351 courses fulfill the 300-level, all-university, general education requirement.

Q. When are RHET courses offered?
A. RHET 101 and 102 are offered during fall and spring semesters. RHET 351 is offered in fall and spring semesters, and in the summer when staffing allows.

Q. What if I want to take a rhetoric class that is closed?
A. The course instructor cannot add you to the waitlist or to the roster of a class; you need to add your name to the waitlist through Self-Service. Once you are waitlisted, plan to attend class as if you were enrolled, otherwise you risk being dropped for non-attendance. When spots open in a section, students are enrolled in accordance with their position on the waitlist (first on the waitlist, first off the waitlist). The English Department discourages over enrollment in rhetoric classes.

Q. What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the content, grading, or teaching in a RHET course?
A. We hope that speaking to the course instructor will address your concerns, but when it does not, you are strongly encouraged to speak to the English Department Chair or to the Arts and Humanities College Dean.

Q. What if I have more questions about the rhetoric sequence?
A. Please contact any full-time faculty member of the English department with your questions and suggestions.


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.

Rhetoric Core Syllabi

08/05/2016 4:00 pm


RHET 101: Introductory Rhetoric

Course content
The first of a three-course sequence, Rhetoric 101 introduces rhetorical principles and their use in persuasive academic writing. Required papers will emphasize argument and focus on strategies such as literacy narratives, comparison and contrast, and cause and effect. Students will complete in-class writing assignments, and journaling/blogging assignments, and at least four papers. Required course: student must achieve a grade of “C” or above to meet this requirement. PRQ (Pre-requisites): None. Required unless entering with an Advanced Placement score of 4-5 or departmental approval of transfer credit. Scheduled: Fall/Spring, yearly. Meets: Rh

Student goals

  • Use sound rhetorical principles when constructing and presenting arguments in multiple genres
  • Identify basic components of arguments
  • Critically analyze the effectiveness of arguments in their contexts
  • Experience writing as a recursive process (pre-writing, drafting, and revising)

To pass RHET101, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.

RHET 102: Intermediate Rhetoric

Course content
The second course of the rhetoric sequence, RHET 102Intermediate Rhetoric, reinforces the rhetorical principles of argument introduced in RHET 101 Introductory Rhetoric. The focus of RHET 102 is on research-based writing, offered in three units: rhetorical analysis, research literacy, and applied rhetoric. Assignments include rhetorical analyses, descriptive and evaluative research review, and a substantive research project. Required course: student must achieve a grade of “C” or above to meet this requirement. PRQ (Pre-requisites): Grade of “C” or above in RHET 101 or departmental approval of transfer credit. Scheduled: Fall/Spring, yearly. Meets: Rh

Student goals

  • Learn sound rhetorical principles to build arguments in multiple genres and modalities.
  • Analyze and synthesize sources while noting points of convergence and divergence.
  • Articulate an argument that responds to sources in both oral and written forms.
  • Evaluate the authority, reliability and validity of digital and print sources.

To pass RHET 102, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.

RHET 351: Applied Rhetoric

Course content
RHET 351 Applied Rhetoric is the third course of the rhetoric sequence. Students demonstrate their skills in rhetoric by applying rhetorical principles of argument to a focused topic, which varies by section. RHET 351 builds on RHET 102 by assigning rhetorical analyses, research reviews, and a research project; however, these assignments are completed in the context of the section’s focus and with an emphasis on both oral and written arguments. Required course. PRQ: Grade of “C” or above in RHET 102 or equivalent and 45 hours of college course work. Transfer credit will not be accepted to meet the RHET 351 requirement. Scheduled: fall and spring, yearly. Meets: Rh.

Section description
The course and section descriptions are posted/published in the course schedule. A sampling of offerings follows:

“Gender and Rhetoric” This course offers students an opportunity to study Rhetoric on a variety of topics related to gender, including gendered media, gender in the workplace, gendered communication, and gender in the socialization process. The course will also examine the role of Rhetoric in the development of women’s and men’s movements in the United States. Readings for the class will range broadly from speeches and advertisements to essays and film. With a grounding in these texts, students will then move on to develop their own research projects related to Gender and Rhetoric. This course includes a CBL component.

“The Rhetoric of Sports” Consider: Michael Jordan’s tongue; Monica Seles’s grunt; John Madden’s bus; Tiger Woods’s apology. The evolution of sports rhetoric over the past two decades, with 24 hour cable and Internet coverage, permeates a good deal of the current cultural lexicon. Whether or not one considers him/herself a sports fan, the aforementioned names invoke some mix of verbal and visual cues. This class, within the context of classic rhetorical theory, and along with an anthology of Sports writing from the past century, will examine the visual and verbal arguments present throughout the 20th century as Sports solidified its hold on American culture. Students will read, analyze, the write on the arguments inherent in selected examples of sports writing and iconic sports images throughout the 20th century; in so doing, the class will consider the language of the sports themselves, including terminology, slang, and phrases employed both on and off the field; we will also consider the larger implications of the evolution of sports to broader issues of American identity as it pertains to issues of morality, gender, race, and class.

“Arguing about Art” Art, whether we are speaking of music, film, theater, dance, visual art, or literature, is essential to us as human beings. Because it is, we continue to discuss its nature as well as its purpose and function. In this class, we will explore a variety of aesthetic issues. We may question, for example, the relevance of art, what is meant by “public art,” what is an “authentic performance,” the role of fakes and forgeries, art and morality, photography and representation, who determines what is considered to be “artistic.” Students will be invited to learn more about these issues in order to enable them to construct arguments of their own that place them in the center of these ongoing debates.

“Rhetoric of/in Digital Spaces” In unprecedented numbers, people are writing in various online spaces. And often, this writing is composed of more than just words, as digital texts are integrated with images, audio, and video. Ever-changing digital tools make it easier than ever for everyday people to compose these rhetorically sophisticated compositions for sharing online. Of course, these new composing habits have also led to plenty of criticisms from those troubled by issues of authority, quality, economics, and intellectual property, which sometimes become muddied in the world of online communication. In this class, students will explore both the rhetoric about digital spaces and the rhetorical moves that are possible within digital spaces. That is, we’ll confront the arguments of those who praise and critique various aspects of online, digital communication culture even as we practice making the moves we see modeled online. We’ll be guided by the fundamental questions of classical rhetoric as we compose rhetorical analyses and arguments of our own: how does our understanding of audience, purpose, and community change when anyone in the world with a networked computer can access our work? Students will blog regularly, read a variety of print and digital texts, and compose a researched, multimodal text to be shared online.

“Rhetoric of Change” Leaders strive to think locally and globally about the world, and they take action to change it. “Change” is one of the most popular campaign pitches for politicians. In this course, we will approach the rhetorical persuasiveness of such calls to action. Eric Fromm distinguishes the rebel from the revolutionary precisely to the degree to which the rebel has an agenda that can be understood as a cogent rhetorical argument. Calls for change can come in many forms, including films, essays, slogans, Op-Ed pieces, and protest art. While working with primary sources from the Library of Congress and also various secondary sources, we will apply classical rhetorical theory to study various calls to action. Students will collaborate on a presentation wherein they use primary sources from the Library of Congress to investigate targeted texts about civil rights. The final project includes an extended research essay that analyzes rhetorical arguments used in achieving a particular societal change in recent history. If they prefer, students may demonstrate their abilities to effectively wield rhetorical strategies in other ways. They may put forth an argument for how a particular change occurred, or they may produce an extended, researched argument that calls for societal transformation.

Student goals

  • Use the components of arguments (including claims, evidence, and proofs) in multiple rhetorical situations and genres
  • Analyze the effectiveness of arguments in their contexts
  • Apply sound rhetorical principles to build arguments in multiple genres and modalities
  • Demonstrate information literacy skills

To pass RHET 351, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.

Rhetoric Courses

08/05/2016 4:00 pm


The rhetoric sequence at Rockford University consists of three classes:

  • Rhetoric 101 – Introductory Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric 102 – Intermediate Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric 35n – Applied Rhetoric

The applied rhetoric classes provide students with opportunities to refine their skills in critical thinking and practice developing oral and written arguments that respond to the complex situations they will face after graduation, both in the context of the workplace and in the wider public sphere.

Some rhetoric classes include community-based learning projects that contribute to an environment in which students consider how their skills may be applied to resolving issues arising within the context of the workplace and to problems affecting their communities.

Interdisciplinary reading, writing, and speaking assignments will help students discover connections among disciplines and will encourage them to develop strategies for synthesizing the knowledge they have acquired during their study at Rockford University.


Additional Resources


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.


08/05/2016 3:59 pm


Associate Professor of English; Chair, Department of English
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A., Loyola Marymount University
B.A., University of Washington
Phone: 815-394-5213
E-mail: WGahan@rockford.edu
Adjunct Professor of English
Dean, College of Arts & Humanities; Associate Professor of English; Faculty Athletic Representative
Ph.D., Arizona State University
M.A., University of St. Thomas
B.A., Augustana College
Phone: 815-226-4098
E-mail: MPerry@rockford.edu
Associate Professor of English and Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Michael Perry started his tenure at Rockford University in 2008 upon completing his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. In addition to his academic roles at RU, he also serves as faculty athletic representative.

Michael’s interests in teaching and research include African American literature, popular culture, and creative writing. Each February since 2010, he has spearheaded a “Read Aloud of Black American Voices” in honor of Black History Month. Furthermore, Michael regularly presents at the Popular Culture and American Culture Association National Conference, where in addition to presenting in areas as wide-ranging as black culture, horror, and rhetoric, he also chaired a panel of three RU undergraduate students who presented work that stemmed from his class in graphic novels and the literary tradition.

Prior to obtaining his doctorate of philosophy in English from Arizona State, Michael taught for two years in the Minnesota community college system in a variety of settings, including the prison system.  Michael obtained his master of arts in English from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and his bachelor of arts in English with minors in math and classics from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Michael lives in Rockford with his wife, Karen, who is a registered nurse, and three children: Caleb, Julian and Zoey.
Visiting Associate Professor of English
Ph.D., Southern Illinois University
M.A., Southern Illinois University
B.A., Stony Brook University
B.A., Michigan State University
Phone: 815-226-4179
E-mail: JRea@rockford.edu
Assistant Professor of English
Ph.D., University of South Florida
M.A., Georgetown University
B.A., Rollins College
Phone: 815-394-5048
E-mail: KStedman@rockford.edu
Andrew H. Sherratt College Professor
Ph.D., University of Missouri-Columbia
M.A., Emory University
B.A., Emory University
Phone: 815-226-4079
E-mail: MWeaks-Baxter@rockford.edu
Assistant Professor of English
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
M.A., Colorado State University
B.A., Colorado State University
Phone: 815-226-4058
E-mail: TWood@rockford.edu
Phone: 815-226-4043


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.

Scholarships and Awards

08/05/2016 3:59 pm


Colleen Holmbeck Poetry Prize 
The Colleen Holmbeck Poetry Prize is sponsored by the English Department of Rockford University and the Academy of American Poets. Named in recognition of a 1956 RC graduate and advocate of the arts on our campus, the prize offers a monetary award of up to $100. Winners are also listed in the Academy’s Annual Report.
Senior Seminar Award  
A yearly award voted upon by the English Department given to the best Senior Seminar project.  Includes recognition and English Luncheon and a small gift.
James M. Wight Scholar Award 
Established to encourage the study of English literature, this designation is awarded annually to a junior majoring in English who shows distinguished ability in literary criticism and analysis. This award is based upon a competitive examination open to all junior English majors.
For more information on scholarships relevant to this department, please visit the Academic Catalog (pdf).

Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.

Careers and Internships

08/05/2016 3:58 pm


English continues to be one of the premier majors for graduate programs in law, medicine, business administration, international relations, library science, education and journalism. English is a respected major in the business and professional community for entry-level management. We also enjoy a strong partnership with the education department as we jointly prepare students for teaching English at the secondary level. And our internship program offers English majors opportunities to consider different career options.


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.

Programs of Study

08/05/2016 3:58 pm


Degree Requirements

All students majoring in English are required to take the core and supporting courses plus credits from among literature, creative writing, and rhetorical studies seminar courses. To graduate with a degree in English, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the major’s required courses.

Secondary Education Licensure (Grades 6-12)

Students interested in becoming licensed to teach English at the secondary level must complete all English major degree requirements, Education 363, a minor in secondary education, and additional General Education requirements for state licensure. For further information, see the Education department section of the Academic Catalog.

English Major, B.A. (42 credits)

Note: A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required in the major’s required courses.

Required Courses (21 credits)

ENGL 240 Introduction to Critical Theory  3
ENGL 280-283 Survey in Literature I-IV  12
ENGL 342 Seminar in Critical Theory  3
ENGL 495 Senior Seminar  3

Senior Seminar is offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Students will prepare a prospectus for the Senior Seminar project in English 342 prior to taking the seminar. Once English department faculty members have approved the prospectus, the student will be allowed to enroll in Senior Seminar and will complete the project during that semester.

Seminar-level Coursework
(15 credits)

ENGL 381 Seminar in Literature  6-15
ENGL 371 Seminar in Rhetorical Studies  0-9
ENGL 364 Seminar in Creative Writing  0-9

Students may choose to pair literature-focused seminars with either (or both) creative writing and rhetorical studies-focused seminars. Total credits must equal 15 (6 of which must be literature)

Supporting Course Requirements 
(6 credits)
Any 300-400 level courses that are neither ‘ENGL’ nor cross-listed with ‘ENGL’

English Minor
 (21 credits)

As with the major, the analytical and communication skills that minors in English acquire provide career flexibility, which is crucial in an age that rewards adaptability to rapid changes in the workplace.

Required Courses (21 credits)

Note: A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required in the minor’s required courses.

ENGL 240 Introduction to Critical Theory  3
ENGL 280-283 Survey in Literature I-IV, choice of 2 out of 4  6
ENGL 364/371/381 Seminar in Creative Writing/Rhetorical Studies/Literature  12


Additional Information


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.


08/05/2016 3:57 pm


The English department offers students many ways to meet the challenges of Rockford University’s mission and vision. Our courses help students discover the practical value of critical inquiry and intensive textual analysis, consider how different cultural perspectives contribute to distinct ways of viewing the world, and appreciate connections among literary traditions and liberal arts disciplines. Moreover, we envision our majors building on the sense of global awareness they acquire through their course work as they engage with the world outside academia.

Both our major curriculum and the required rhetoric sequence offer strategies for reading, critical thinking, and communication that provide students with a strong foundation for achieving professional success, finding individual fulfillment, and developing a sense of civic responsibility. We encourage our students to take their study seriously, but to view their work with language and literature as a source of joy that will continue to sustain them long after they have graduated from Rockford University.

Each member of our department is committed to helping students succeed in meeting the ambitious goals we set for them. We see ourselves as mentors, and in that capacity we take an interest in our students’ success both inside and outside the classroom. Our faculty members take pride in being accessible to students, and our curriculum reflects the fact that our students’ welfare is central to our work. The flexibility of the major allows students to explore areas that are of particular interest to them, while the required elements challenge them to expand their knowledge of literature and critical theory.

Our literature, creative writing, and rhetorical studies seminars explore topics of interest to both majors and non-majors, and they help students discover connections among texts that extend across time periods and literary genres. All of our courses are designed to encourage students to play an active role in their learning — through lively class discussion, encounters with alternative interpretations, and writing assignments that expect the demonstration of independent critical thought.

We have found that students who take responsibility for their learning in the classroom are also good citizens on campus. Many English majors excel academically and are active in a number of campus organizations. The English department sponsors awards and scholarships that recognize student achievement, such as the Colleen Holmbeck Award for poetry and the Jeremy Ingalls Scholarship. English department faculty members participate in campus life in various ways. This participation allows us to maintain an active understanding of issues that affect our students. The English department also maintains an important presence on campus through the Writing Center, a facility staffed by student peer tutors who offer free assistance to students at any stage of the writing process.

Our faculty’s interest in students during their time on campus is matched by our desire to help them prepare for the future. Internships offer English majors opportunities for considering possible career options after graduation as they gain immediate experience with putting their knowledge to use in the community. Our department also enjoys a strong partnership with the education department as we jointly prepare students for teaching English at the secondary level. Our faculty members are committed to maintaining current knowledge in their field, and they are well prepared to help interested students prepare for graduate study.

An English major will:

  • Appreciate the ways in which literary study involves the individual in an exploration of ethical questions.
  • Develop ideas about literature through careful textual analysis, recognizing that literature has multiple interpretations.
  • Write essays that demonstrate the ability to think independently.
  • Be conversant with the evolution of literatures in English, fusing British and American literary texts with those of other cultures.
  • Understand the cultural specificity of literature and recognize the reciprocal relationship between literature and culture.
  • Demonstrate skills in using contemporary critical theories to enhance analysis of literary texts.
  • Actively engage in workshopping original creative work (Creative Writing Seminars).
  • Analyze and apply the craft of writing in multiple genres (Creative Writing Seminars).

Career opportunities
The major in English continues to rank among the premier majors for graduate programs in law, medicine, business administration, international relations, library science, and education. Moreover, the major not only prepares prospective secondary-level teachers, but it also provides the practical and academic foundation to pursue graduate studies in MFA and journalism programs. Professional writers can pursue careers, often as freelancers, in media relations, publicity, marketing, communications, and publishing, to name a few. The analytical and communication skills that all majors in English acquire provide career flexibility, which is crucial in an age that necessitates adaptability to rapid changes in the workplace.


Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

William Gahan, Ph.D.