Department chair spotlight: Dr. Hilary Donatini

Dr. Hilary Donatini, Chair of the English department at AU.”

Dr. Hilary Donatini, Chair of the English department at AU.”


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The English department at Ashland University is probably known to non-majors as the department that offers a number of core classes, from Composition to Humanities. What they might not know is that they offer three majors: English, Creative Writing and Integrated Language Arts Education.

“The English department offers a space for students to sharpen their writing and reading skills, fall in love with language, and marvel at the power of words,” Dr. Hilary Donatini, Associate Professor of English, said.

This will be Donatini’s seventh year as chair. She is originally from Bucyrus, Ohio is and close with her parents and four younger siblings. After finishing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, Donatini taught at a branch campus of the Wisconsin system for a year.

“I saw an ad for a job at Ashland and knew I was a good fit”, Donatini said. “I’m eternally grateful that my current and former colleagues felt the same way.”

Students in the English department study and continue to sharpen their writing skills as they study and read literature (varying from Beowulf …as well as film and global literatures in English).

Students have also studied novels in their African Literature class, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah.

“They learn how to unlock the deeper meaning of texts through close, careful reading, as well as studying contexts that shed light on the meanings of literary texts,” Donatini said. “Students learn to discuss both published literature and the creative writing of their classmates thoughtfully and respectfully, as our courses are designed to foster community and collaboration.”

One thing that the English department teaches is how to use writing as a tool to express original ideas. This will help students pass classes, but this is also a tool that can be used well after graduation.

Integrated Language Arts Education is the only major of the three that requires an internship of student teaching their senior year. English and Creative Writing majors are encouraged to complete an internship, and nearly all do.

The English department hosts world renowned writers on campus during every academic year and the Ashland Poetry Press, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in continuous operation last year, was founded by English Department faculty and continues to be housed in the department.

“Take a class with us,” Donatini said. “We’d love to have you…we welcome you to our visiting writer events where you can hear published authors read from their own work and answer questions about their craft. Watch out for posters around campus about some exciting visitors this fall.”

Students who are interested in majoring in the English department can talk to Donatini in Bixler 306.

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