Languages, Literature and Composition


Our faculty are committed to innovative teaching, significant scholarship, and the creation and maintenance of a collegial community.  

Full-Time Faculty in English, World Languages, and African American Studies

Part-Time Faculty in English and World Languages

English Programs

"Being a true English major is knowing a little bit about everything, always wanting to learn more and being able to use the knowledge that you have to analyze, interpret, draw conclusions and make verifiable arguments in a way that no one else has before." --Madelaine Hoptry '12;

Why study English?

Students in the English major and minor develop strong skills in critical thinking, analysis, written communication, research and reading--skills that are essential in a range of careers. USC Upstate alumni are working as lawyers, journalists, sports writers, business owners, professors, teachers, military officers, film-makers, bloggers, bankers, novelists, poets, public relations writers, fashion merchandisers, coaches, Peace Corps volunteers, librarians and much, much more. 

See this Chronicle of Higher Education article about "How Liberal Arts Majors Fare" in the workplace. What do employers want?  Good Writers!

Tips for Success

In the classroom
English courses share common guidelines for conducting research, interpreting literature and writing about literature. These reflect the shared rules and values of the discipline or field of English Studies. In English 300, students learn about these guidelines in depth.

  • The USC Upstate English faculty prepared several Guides for Literary Study to explain common skills and approaches to English study.
  • See great examples of student writing in English courses in the English Literary File.
Outside the classroom
  • Apply for the Nancy P. Moore English Scholarship for English majors who demonstrate a commitment to community service through volunteer work and the Warren J. Carson Scholarship for Academic Excellence for students studying English or African American Studies. Apply using the Foundation Scholarship form which is available from Nov. 1-Feb. 1 (due Feb. 1).
  • Submit your poetry to Writers, Inc.for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Awards.
  • Join  Writer's Inc.Literary Arts Magazine or the USC Upstate Literary Club
  • Ask your advisor about setting up an internship to get hands-on experience in fields related to English studies

English Studies and Your Future

  • Careers for English Majors and Minors
  • Pursuing Careers in English Education
  • Considering Graduate School?
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in English Literature
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Cultural Studies/Film Studies
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Creative Writing
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Rhetoric and Composition
    • Preparing for Graduate Study in Library and Information Studies
    • Preparing for Law School

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my education at USC Upstate. I have been offered so many opportunities that I feel I would have never received in a larger university. Many of the things that have been most influential in my thinking have been garnered from individual conversations with professors. I cannot overstate the influence that my English professors have had on my education. Their consistent attention and encouragement have given me the confidence to pursue a postgraduate degree and a career in higher education." --Beth TeVault '12

World Languages

In an increasingly global world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is more important than ever. Our world language programs help students learn to speak and read in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and American Sign Language. The programs also help to gain familiarity with the countries and cultures in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Rim, as well as North and South America where these languages are spoken. Through our study abroad programs, international film series and various international festivals, we also introduce students to a range of cultures throughout the world.

Whether you major or minor in a world language or just complete the general education requirements, world language experience can open up a world of opportunities for you. Students who earn an A in two semesters of any world language may apply for the Alpha Mu Gamma Honor Society, becoming eligible for study abroad and other scholarships and grants. Students who study or have native speaker proficiency in languages that are less common in the US, such as Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, Swahili, Punjabi, and Urdu, may qualify for the Critical Language Scholarship Program or a Fulbright U.S. Student Program and Critical Language Enhancement Award. Students who complete four semesters of Chinese are eligible for the Critical Language Scholarship program. 

Which Course Should You Take?
  • Entering students should take the world language placement test during orientation to determine the appropriate course level. According to the Academic Catalog, "The minimum acceptable level of competency is completion of the 101 level of a language. Students who place into the 102 or higher level of a language satisfy the language requirement but will have additional hours in general education electives, if hours are required by their degree program." Students who successfully complete more advanced levels of world languages demonstrate competency above this minimum level and should not be required to complete the lower-level world language courses. 
  • Current or prospective USC Upstate students may take the Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish placement tests in the Testing Center in Media 218. The test takes about 30 minutes. Walk-ins are accepted if space permits. Scores are posted on screen automatically at the end of the test.
  • Native speakers, legacy speakers or students with advanced language skills in Chinese, French, German or Spanish may place out of the introductory language requirement or earn credit for more advanced courses via exam by contacting the Department of Languages, Literature and Composition. 
  • Multilingual students who are fluent in languages we do not teach at USC Upstate may be eligible for an exemption to the world language requirement. Contact the Department of Languages, Literature and Composition for details. 
What Do Your World Language Placement Exam Scores Mean? 
  • Spanish: 0-240 places into SPAN 101; 240-315 places into SPAN 102; 316-397 places into SPAN 201; 398 and above places into SPAN 202 or higher. Students with scores over 500 should talk to Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche to determine appropriate placement in upper-level Spanish courses in order to pursue a major or minor in Spanish, or a minor in Spanish translation and interpretation, or a minor in international studies.
  • French: 0-240 places into FREN 101; 240-316 places into FREN 102; 317-382 places into FREN 201; 382 and above places into FREN 202 or higher. Students with scores over 500 should talk to Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche to determine appropriate placement in upper-level French courses in order to pursue a minor in French or international studies. 
  • German: 0-230 places into GERM 101; 230-306 places into GERM 102; 307-372 places into GERM 201; 372 or above places into GERM 202 or higher. Students with scores over 480 should talk to Prof. Jay Coffman to determine appropriate placement in upper-level German courses in order to pursue a minor in German studies or international studies. 

PHOTO CAPTION: Spanish senior instructor Douglas Jackson and USC Upstate Spanish student Ron Fuentes (center of top row in photo above) work in China with teachers to share strategies for teaching English to speakers of other languages. Here teachers, parents, and students celebrate the end of the program with Ron and Douglas. 


The Writing Center

About The Writing Center

The USC Upstate University Writing Center is dedicated to assisting both experienced and inexperienced writers at all stages of the writing process, in any discipline. We assist students with pre-writing, revision strategies and proofreading techniques. Tutors can offer help with global aspects of your writing such as organization and structure, or provide instruction on word choice, punctuation and grammar. Tutors also assist with other writing projects such as resumes, cover letters, admissions essays and

Students can come in for one-on-one tutoring at any stage in their writing process, which includes:

  • brainstorming
  • developing outlines and drafts
  • organizing drafts
  • learning practical strategies to address specific writing challenges
  • reviewing patterns of grammatical error (not proofreading)
  • reviewing papers for unintended plagiarism and reviewing documentation styles
  • receiving limited instruction on database and other library searching
  • preparing graduate school essays, resumes and other school-related documents
Distance Tutoring

The Writing Center is pleased to offer distance tutoring via Skype for Business! This service is intended for students who are unable to come to campus  particularly students taking courses at the Greenville Campus and students who solely take online classes.

There are two options for participating in distance tutoring: Students may use their own computer or students can use the distance-tutoring portal at the Greenville Campus library.  

Students who attend classes at the Spartanburg campus are ineligible for this service. These students are encouraged to take advantage of the face-to-face sessions offered at the Writing Center. 

To prepare for a distance tutoring session, please follow the directions below:

  1. Schedule your appointment: Call the Writing Center at 864-503-5883 and make an appointment. Be sure to specify that your appointment will be a distance-tutoring appointment, which will allow your tutor to prepare appropriately.
  2. Prepare for the appointment: Before the appointment, email a copy of your assignment and whatever work you have done so far (notes, a draft of the paper, etc.) to
    1. If you are using your own computer, make sure that you have Skype for Business, a camera and a microphone on your computer. All students and faculty can access Skype for Business; for information on downloading and operating it, visit the Skype for Business webpage: 
    2. If using the Distance Learning Portal located in the Greenville Campus Library, arrive at the computer at least five minutes before your appointment. The library staff will provide you with a username and password that you can use to login to Spartan Greensky where you can access Skype for Business.
    3. Log into Skype for Business. This is done by using your Upstate email address and password. 
    4. Test your equipment. By clicking on the gear icon in Skype for Business, you can access video and audio settings. Check to make sure that the camera, microphone and headphones are all functioning. If one is not working, the problem can usually be solved by selecting the correct hardware from the drop-down menus. 
  3. Connect with the Writing Center: At the time of your appointment, you can use Skype to call the Writing Center at this address: If you've provided your email address, your tutor might even call you first!
  4. Work with your tutor: Your tutor will explain how to share your screen. From here, you’ll proceed with the appointment as usual.

If you have technical difficulties in the process, feel free to call the Writing Center for help.

Who are the Writing Center tutors?
Tutors are University faculty members and students who have been selected to work in the Writing Center because of their outstanding teaching and writing ability.

Why should I come to the Writing Center?
Students who come to the Writing Center benefit from sharing their writing with a fellow student who is both knowledgeable and service oriented. By working with tutors, students have the opportunity to learn more about writing and to become better writers over time.

How long are the tutoring sessions? What should I bring? Will I need an appointment?
The Writing Center provides free 50 minute, one-on-one tutoring sessions. Please bring your assignment instructions along with your paper draft. Appointments should be scheduled in advance with the Writing Center, but walk-ins may be occasionally accommodated.

Tutors are very busy during midterms and the end of the semester. Please plan ahead and call the Writing Center at 864-503-5883 for an appointment!

Resources for Writers and Instructors

In-class workshops tailored to the needs of particular students and campus-wide workshops for students are available. This service is offered on a limited basis depending on class times and tutor or facilitator availability. Contact  the Director of the Writing Center, at 864-503-5883 for more information.

Powerpoint Presentations

Professional Writing Assistance  

  • Access professional writing assistance through both video and handouts as provided by Instructor Brock Adams, faculty member in the Languages, Literature, and Composition department.


General Documentation Information  

    Provides a comprehensive set of models in MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style (Turabian) and CSE documentation styles. Is current with updated editions of manuals. A downloadable pdf with models from the new 7th edition MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is also available.
    Provides comprehensive tutorial with useful exercises on paraphrasing, direct quoting and appropriate documentation.

When to Cite Sources  



    Grammar Bytes site includes a dictionary of grammar-related terms, exercises and handouts to clarify common grammar mistakes, and 20 minute lessons to refresh writing skills. Site also offers quick tips and rules for those in a hurry.
    The Norton Write site accompanies the Norton texts used during Freshman Composition courses. It simplifies and provides examples of MLA, APA, CMS and CSE style papers. Proper documentation is also included. Exercises and quizzes are available.

CSE and Science Writing  

YouTube Videos  

Research Logs    

Resources for Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism  

Plagiarism quiz (can send quiz results to professor)  

Additional Links  

Materials on this page have been made available for instructional purposes only. Contact the Writing Center (864-503-5883) for permission to duplicate or use for any other purpose.  

How do I get help from The USC Upstate Writing Center?

Call 864-503-5883 or drop by HPAC 136 during regular hours to schedule an appointment.

What should I bring to my appointment in the Writing Center?

Bring a copy of your writing assignment instructions and a draft of your paper to discuss with your Writing Center tutor.  

Is it ok to use Wikipedia when I am doing research?

In some cases Wikipedia is a good place to get started finding out background information, but in most cases Wikipedia is not an appropriate for formal research and research-based writing because 1. it is an encyclopedia; 2. it is written by its users, not by experts in the field; and 3. there is no single expert authority who edits and vouches for the information. Wikipedia is big, it's free, it's easy to use, but it's not very credible. For a complete policy statement about appropriate use of Wikipedia in a University setting, see Alan Liu's "Student Wikipedia Use Policy" at

When do I cite?

Any time you paraphrase or quote directly from a source, you need a citation at the end of the sentence. In MLA Style, this means including the author's last name or title of article, if there is no author, and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence.   

  • If you use the exact words you found in your source, then the quoted passage needs to be in quotation marks and cited at the end of the sentence that contains the quote.  
  • If you use the basic idea of the source, but restate it in your own words, voice, and style, then you have paraphrased, and you need to cite your source at the end of the sentence. Be aware that simply rearranging the author’s words or phrases, or replacing single words, is sometimes called patchwriting.  This is considered plagiarism because you are relying too heavily on the author’s sentence structure.  You are also not demonstrating that you understand the author’s point.
  • If you paraphrase most of a sentence, but use a few of the source's exact words, a memorable phrase or a particular way of wording an idea, you should put the quoted phrase in quotation marks, leave the rest of the sentence as a paraphrase, and cite the source at the end of the sentence that contains the quote.  
  • If you summarize a source by explaining the overall ideas of the source completely in your own words and usually reducing the length of the information from the source, you may refer to your source in a signal phrase (e.g. "According to xxx,") at the start of the summary. If this summary extends longer than a sentence or two, you should continue to refer to the source to let readers know when the summary ends and your own ideas begin again.  
  • You do not need to cite common knowledge, like an historical fact (e.g. the date Columbus landed in the New World, or the name of the first president of Russia after the end of the Soviet Union). However, if you quote a sentence about an historical fact, you must place the quote in quotation marks and cite your source at the end of the sentence with the quote.  
  • Remember you must include any source you refer to in the body of your paper in your Works Cited or References at the end of your paper.  
  • For more examples, see or  
How do I avoid unintentional plagiarism?

Be aware of your use of any sources, including  Internet, television, film, images, conventional articles and books. Know what counts as someone else's intellectual property (their words, their ideas, their graphics), and cite them properly whenever you use another's work. See the guide to different types of plagiarism at for a list of common errors.  

How do I format my Works Cited without using tabs?

Use Microsoft Word formatting options to create a hanging indent for your MLA Works Cited page. Once you enter your Works Cited entries, highlight them all, then press Ctrl-T.  

In Pages for Mac, you may use the Bibliography Section Template to generate a new section at the end of your paper, already formatted with hanging indents. You may also highlight the items in your Works Cited, then click Inspector on the Toolbar. Press the T for the Text Inspector. Then click Tabs. Set First Line to zero and then set Left to 0.5 inches.  

In both Pages and in Word, you can set indents by dragging the margin and first line markers on the ruler on the top of your document. Highlight the paragraphs of your Works Cited page, then slide the left margin marker to 0.5 inches and the First Line marker to zero.  

How do I format block quotes without using tabs?

Use Microsoft Word formatting options to set the left margin at one inch for your block quotes. You may move the left margin for that paragraph using the ruler at the top of your page, or by clicking twice on the increase indent button. Remember, in MLA style, block quotes start one inch away from the left margin and extend all the way to the right margin of your page. Also try to limit the number of block quotes in your papers. Your ideas should take center stage.  

How do I cite unconventional sources?

For traditional sources, such as books, articles, Web pages, films, reviews, and government documents, see a writing handbook like Rules for Writers or an online style guide like Research and Documentation Online. Select the style required for your class (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago, CSE).  

Some unconventional sources found by our students include the following:  

  • A book published before 1900. In MLA style, omit the name of the publisher and use a comma instead of a colon after the place of publication:  

Brome, Richard. The Dramatic Works of Richard Brome. 3 vols. London, 1873. Print.  

  • Part or all of a film, television or radio program accessed online or through CD/DVD. In MLA style, combine rules for citing television/radio programs with rules for citing from online or electronic sources:  

"Audio Commentary: The Director and Writers." The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Narr. Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh. Dir. Peter Jackson. 2001. Special Extended DVD. New Line, 2002.  

Chase, David. "Peter Bogdanovich Interviews David Chase." The Sopranos: The Complete First Season. DVD. HBO-Time-Warner, 2000.  

Keillor, Garrison. A Prairie Home Companion. With Ledward Ka'apana and Owana Salazar. 12 Oct. 2002. Minnesota Public Radio. 18 Oct. 2002 <>.  

"Visualizing the Story." The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Dir. Peter Jackson. 2001. Appendices Part I, Special Extended DVD. New Line, 2002.  

  • Downloaded Computer Software. In MLA style, include title, version, and date information:  

MacCase. Vers. 1.0. 1 Aug. 1998 <>.  

TACT: Text-Analysis Computing Tools. Vers. 2.1. 24 Sept. 2002 <>.  

How do I alphabetize my Works Cited if some sources do not have authors?

Alphabetize your Works Cited entries by the first word (skip "The" or "A") in each list item. Often this word will be the author's last name, but sometimes this may be the name of an organization or government, or it may be the title of an article, Web page or computer program. See the example under unconventional sources above for proper alphabetizing. In the example, "Audio Commentary" comes before Chase, David.  

How do I do writing assignments in my life sciences courses, like biology lab reports or scientific research papers?

Like all writing, the expectations and format of your writing changes depending on your audience. When your audience is a group of life scientists, they have specific expectations for evidence, organization, and writing voice. The Harvard University "A Student's Guide to Writing in the Life Sciences" (available online at offers great tips and examples to help you approach writing assignments in science courses.  

How do I write a personal statement for my graduate school application?

Be sure to write a draft of the statement and discuss it with your advisor or other professors before you submit your application. For suggestions on writing a statement, see the University of California-Berkeley tips for graduate school statements and the Washington University guide to "Writing a Statement of Purpose." Drew and Karen Appleby list several tips for avoiding application mistakes in "Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process," published in Teaching of Psychology 33.1 (2006): 19-24. Several online communities also offer advice and serve as a sounding board for students applying to graduate school.   

Web Links for Information about APA, MLA, Chicago and Plagiarism

Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online ( provides a comprehensive set of models in MLA (Humanities), APA (Social Sciences), Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian (History), and CSE (Natural/Life Sciences) documentation styles; includes current updated editions of manuals. Models from the new 7th edition MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers are available. The site also includes a guide to finding sources and documenting sources in the humanities, social sciences, history, and natural/life sciences.

The American Psychological Association's APA Style guide ( includes information on the newly released Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition.  A free tutorial, "What's New in the Sixth Edition" is available.  Please note changes especially to the reference citation format for articles retrieved online or from databases. "Digital Object Identifiers" (DOIs), when available, are now required.  

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center provides a guide to using Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian ( for documentation of history sources.  

Penn State University's library provides a "Quick Guide" to using American Chemical Society (ACS) citation style ( for documentation of chemistry and other natural science sources.

Simon Fraser University's guide to Plagiarism ( provides a comprehensive tutorial (with periodic quizzes) to help students understand appropriate quoting, paraphrasing and documentation methods.