Books that Cook
Professor of English Jennifer Cognard-Black's new book, Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal, is being published by NYU Press this August.

Program Information

Ben Click, Chair
Professor of English

Office staff: 240-895-4225

Alumni—where are they now?

Monica Powell

Monica Powell (class of 2011) graduated with an English major and a WGSX minor. She currently lives in Washington DC, where she works in theatre education with the Young Playwright's Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.


Student Spotlight

Maria Smaldone

Maria Smalldone finds doors opening for her in Oxford, while studying at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

St. Mary's Project

The St. Mary’s Project is a year-long, 8-credit, independently designed and executed course of study intended as a capstone experience for a student's time at St. Mary’s. Working in close conjunction with one or more professors, in or outside of the English department, you have the opportunity to explore, in depth, a question or idea that entrances and intrigues you. Many—although by no means all—SMPs are interdisciplinary, bringing together threads from earlier classes taken across the curriculum. Many are highly personal, involving creative or innovative work that ties together four years of study in a meaningful way. SMPs can, in their final form, take the shape of research papers, collections of essays, anthologies of poetry, films, web sites, suites of paintings, graphic novels, operas—all these, and more, have been done in years past.

The College has established certain guidelines for the SMP:

  • It must be student-initiated;
  • It must demonstrate methodological competence (by identifying an area to be explored and proposing a method of inquiry appropriate for the topic);
  • It must draw on and extend knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. It must include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which the project is a contribution;
  • It must be shared with the larger community through some form of public presentation.

Students usually work on their SMP throughout their senior year; in certain circumstances, however, you may choose to begin your project in your junior year, and finish it a term before you graduate. By the middle of your junior year, you should have given serious thought to whether or not you want to do an SMP. Talk to students a year or two ahead of yourself, both in English and in other disciplines, about their projects—or decisions not to pursue one. Talk to faculty you may be interested in working with. Look at the lists of past projects (found under "what other people did";) all these projects are archived in special Collections at the Library, and you may request any of them to look at. Most projects from the past 4–5 years are also available in a more easily accessible browsing library in MH123. Think about possible topics—what you might wish to spend this much time studying, and about whether the SMP is the right choice for you. For more information, see our guidelines on deciding whether or not to do an SMP.

In order to register for and receive credit for an English SMP, students must apply to the department for approval in the semester before they intend to begin their project—usually in spring of their junior year. For more information, please see our guidelines on on planning your project.

English majors are not required to complete an SMP; instead, they may elect to take an additional 8 hours of upper-division English coursework. For more information about requirements for the English major, go to

For more details on the SMP, see  also the College’s general web page on the SMP.