Given an opportunity, I talk about literature and creative writing, about why I see literature and its creation as crucial to an increasingly global culture, even as analysts predict its decline. Popular literature. Academic literature. Classical literature. Hypertext literature. “Literature” is such a familiar word, an everyday part of the buzz and hum of the discipline of English, that it often goes unnoticed or taken for granted. 

And yet, what is so important about literature? Or about continuing to write fiction, poetry, and essays? Why have I devoted my career to teaching, studying, and publishing both literature and creative writing? Put simply, I believe that words matter, that literature is powerful, that it can open minds and hearts—or close and harden them. American novelist Toni Morrison contends that if writing is “thinking and discovery and selection and order and meaning,” it is also “awe and reverence and mystery and magic.” I agree. And it is that everyday awe and magic that brings me back to the English classroom again and again.

Learn more about some of Jennifer Cognard-Black's classes

Other courses taught at St. Mary's include:

Firstyear Composition: Sites of Memory
Introduction to Literature: The Major Genres
The Rise of Anglo-American Literature from 1700 to 1900
Victorian Literature and Culture
Twentieth-Century American Novel
British Literature from 1800
American Literature Before 1865
Short Fiction by Anglo-American Women
Introduction to Gender
Creative Nonfiction Workshop: Narratives of Self and Family