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Popular Literature

Let’s face it, you probably read a book at one time or another in a high school English class and thought to yourself: Did anybody ever like this stuff? Well, you won’t be asking that question in the Popular Literature minor because you’ll be reading hits from across genres and decades, including forays into horror, romance, and a host of other page-turning styles.

Degree Types
Complementary Programs
Graduate Program Opportunity

In the Popular Literature minor, you'll have conversations about some of the most well-known media to figure out what makes it resonate with a wide audience. What fundamental truths are explored in horror fiction? Why is romance one of the largest, most lucrative genres? How has popular literature changed over time and between cultures, if at all? Faculty in the English department provide expert mentorship while helping you explore these questions through courses and research in Popular Literature.

Future Career Paths

An English degree from McDaniel College prepares students for employment in a variety of fields and provides them the tools to be successful in their jobs. Recently, students from McDaniel’s English department have found career placements at:

  • Marriott International, Inc.
  • Baltimore City Board of Education
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
  • Capital-Gazette Communications, Inc.
  • Maryland Ensemble Theatre

Career Success

Our graduates have gone on to law school and pursued academic study. They’ve also become:

  • Novelists
  • Journalists
  • Teachers
  • Marketers
  • Scholars and Professors
  • Editors

Distinctive Courses

ENG 2260 - Horror Fiction

An investigation of the dark and popular world of horror fiction, with special emphasis on the Gothic tradition within British and American literature since 1764. Students examine and discuss why horror stories fascinate, and how anxieties about sexuality, the unconscious mind, scientific discoveries, social injustice, and other topics are translated into the horror literature we read.

An investigation of the most popular form of fiction in the western world: the romance novel. Readings begin with the advent of the modern form of the romance novel in England in 1740, but are drawn mostly from the nineteenth-through-twenty-first century American romance novel. Students explore the popularity of romance fiction and consider its depiction of courtship and sexuality through a variety of critical approaches including formalist, feminist, and gender studies.

ENG 3362 - Austen

A study of Jane Austen’s novels and juvenilia with special focus on the place of women in regency society and Austen’s place in the history of the novel in English.

Special Opportunities

Students outside of Budapest campus.

Writing Opportunities

Flex your literary muscles. Publish your fiction and poetry in the student-run Contrast Literary Magazine, get a job in the Writing Center helping fellow students polish their papers, or write a column for the student-run newspaper, the McDaniel Free Press.

Header from the Westminster Detective Library website

Westminster Detective Library Research Opportunities

McDaniel is home to the Westminster Detective Library, founded by professors Mary Bendel-Simso and the late LeRoy Panek. You can explore the history of detective fiction in the United States as a research assistant, or browse it for literary inspiration.

Pamela Regis

Nora Roberts American Romance Collection

McDaniel's Hoover Library is home to the Nora Roberts American Romance Collection, established in 2011 by the Nora Roberts Foundation.  The collection houses novels written by important romance writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a national resource for scholarship. It is maintained by McDaniel expert and scholar Pamela Regis.

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Mary Bendel Simso

English professors’ book examines early detective fiction

After unraveling the mystery of the void in 19th century detective stories and following a decade-long trail collecting and compiling the forgotten whodunits, professors LeRoy Panek and Mary Bendel-Simso authored a new book exploring early detective fiction. “Essentials Elements of the Detective Story, 1820-1891” examines detective fiction during its formative years, while focusing on such crucial elements of the stories as setting, lawyers and the law, physicians and forensics, women as victims and heroes, crime and criminals, and police and detectives.