Department of English


Intellectual Life

The Rossell Hope Robbins Library

The Rossell Hope Robbins Library contains over 20,000 books and periodicals devoted to Medieval Studies. Occupying its own reading-rooms and stacks, the Robbins Library provides one of the best research facilities in North America for advanced work in Old and Middle English, medieval history and art, and the continental literature of the High Middle Ages. It is home to The Koller-Collins Collection, as well as The Koller-Collins Center for English Studies.

The Koller-Collins Collection

Housed in the main reading rooms of the Rossell Hope Robbins Library, the Koller-Collins Collection consists of 7,000 primary texts and reference works in all areas of British and American literature and critical theory. Special holdings focus on the works of Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Graham Greene, and the Elizabethan dramatists. These collections, in association with The Koller-Collins Center for English Studies, ensure that graduate students maintain unfettered access to essential materials in a dedicated space.

The Koller-Collins Center for English Studies

Located within the Rossell Hope Robbins Library and focalized around the Koller-Collins Collection, the Koller-Collins Center for English Studies offers its own seminar room and reading lounges, while also housing the offices of the TEAMS Middle English Texts Series and the Chaucer Bibliographies. A veritable hub of graduate-student activity, the Koller-Collins Center contributes to the vibrancy of intellectual community on campus.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Housed within Rush Rhees Library and containing the Hyam Plutzik Library of Contemporary Writing, the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections extends to some 75,000 volumes, ranging from holographs and incunabula to modern first editions.

Areas of strength include:

  • Early English Drama
  • Early American Children’s Books
  • Nineteenth-Century Authors (Robert Southey, Benjamin Disraeli, John Ruskin, and others)
  • Modern Poetry

Objects of special interest include unpublished letters and other materials associated with:

  • Frederick Douglass
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • William Henry Seward
  • Playwrights and Performers of 19th-c British and American Theatre
  • 20th-c Novelists and Poets (Adelaide Crapsey, John Gardner, John MacInnes, Hyam Plutzik, John Williams)

The George H. Ford Lecture Series

A distinguished scholar of Victorian literature and a specialist in Dickens and D.H. Lawrence, George H. Ford served as one of the founding editors of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, steering its Victorian section through six editions. Professor Ford taught at the University of Rochester from 1958 until his retirement in 1984, and served as chair of the Department from 1960 to 1972. Among his many legacies was the establishment of the University of Rochester’s PhD Program in English.

Wanting to ensure the continued richness of the program, George Ford left a bequest for the express purpose of sponsoring the lecture series that now bears his name, and which serves to bring a distinguished scholar to campus each year for a day-long concatenation of intensive interactions with students, culminating in a public address.

Recent George H. Ford lecturers include:

  • Nancy Armstrong
  • Jenny Davidson
  • Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Gerald Graff
  • John Guillory
  • Langdon Hammer
  • N. Katherine Hayles
  • Gordon Hutner
  • Joseph Loewenstein
  • D. A. Miller
  • Christopher Ricks
  • Joseph Roach
  • Hollis Robbins
  • Elaine Showalter
  • Susan Stewart

The George Eastman House of International Film and Photography

One of the most important film archives in the world, the George Eastman House contains over 25,000 motion pictures; 400,000 photographs and negatives; and 3,000,000 pieces of film-related publicity stills, posters, scores, scripts, and other materials.

Together with the University, the GEH offers a number of unique training-opportunities in film research, preservation, curation, and collections management, including:

Digital Humanities

Recently recognized by a $1-million Mellon Foundation Grant, The Digital Humanities at the University of Rochester are a thriving field of pursuit, enhanced by the following resources, programs, and projects: