Students in the department have ample opportunities to pursue their interests outside of the classroom. Wheaton’s literary magazine, Rushlight, which is edited by students in the English Department, publishes undergraduate prose, poetry, and art. Likewise, students in the department often write for The Wire, Wheaton’s weekly newspaper.
Our students also have the opportunity to gain experience in both teaching and research. Students with strong writing skills can be selected to work as peer writing tutors, and, students wishing to deepen their understanding of a discipline can work alongside English Department professors as research assistants through the Wheaton Research Partners program.
New Plays Festival
The New Plays Festival was inaugurated in spring 2003 and has become a much anticipated annual Wheaton event. Plays from the fall advanced playwriting course are showcased in early April via collaboration with Theatre Department faculty who pair student directors with playwrights, oversee auditions for casting, and help students coordinate rehearsals en route to staged readings in the Kresge Experimental Theatre.
Each performance is followed by a discussion with the audience wherein playwright and director talk about their process of bringing the text into its three-dimensional life for the stage.
Rushlight Literary Magazine
Rushlight, the Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts) literary and visual arts journal, was founded in 1855 by Lucy Larcom (1824-1893), an important 19th-century writer and educator. After working in the cotton textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, she taught from 1854-1862 at what was then known as Wheaton Female Seminary. Larcom’s poems were widely published and anthologized during her lifetime. Harriet Beecher Stowe once referred to Larcom as “America’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Larcom’s memoir of her early life and work as a “mill girl,” A New England Girlhood, is considered to be a classic study of early American childhood. When Larcom named The Rushlight, she proposed as a brief motto this couplet: “A Rushlight flickering and small, / Is better than no light at all.” For the first few years of its existence, Rushlight served as both a newspaper and literary magazine.
Ten-Minute Play Festival
The Ten-Minute Play Festival happens in October and April every year. A topic is distributed to the whole campus via email on Monday morning, plays are due 48 hours later, and ten plays are selected for inclusion in the festival.
Plays are rehearsed for one hour each and presented that weekend to packed houses in the Kresge Experimental Theatre. This is the perfect opportunity for students majoring in subjects far afield from Theatre or English to try acting or directing.
Write a ten-minute three-body problem in which at least one of the voices is off-stage.