Faculty Profile

Carol Ann Johnston

Professor of English, Martha Porter Sellers Chair of Rhetoric and the English Language (1990)

Contact Information


East College Room 410


Her teaching interests include literature of the Early Modern period, poetry workshop, and Southern Women Writers. Her current research investigates subjectivity and agency in seventeenth-century English poetry. She has written a book on Eudora Welty and is working on a manuscript placing poet Thomas Traherne in the context of seventeenth-century visual traditions.


  • B.A., Baylor University, 1978
  • M.A., 1980
  • M.A., Harvard University, 1983
  • Ph.D., 1992

2015-2016 Academic Year

Fall 2015

ENGL 220 Crit Approaches & Lit Methods
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

ENGL 394 Revolutionary Milton
In the popular imagination John Milton remains the grandfatherly Christian poet of Paradise Lost. While Paradise Lost is an epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and thus Christian, the poem also radically addresses polemical subjects such as the role and place of women in an ideal society; the relationship between God and Christ the Son; censorship and printing; the question of personal responsibility; the definition of democracy. Paradise Lost, along with the Bible, was one of the most frequently read books in Colonial America, and Milton’s work played a key role in forming our country. In order to get at these issues in the poem, we will read a variety of Milton’s work, from the short play, Comus, to the prose tract on censorship, Areopagitica. We will discuss social and historical contexts of the later seventeenth century, in which thinkers such as Milton interrogated the role of monarchy and of religion in the state.

ENGL 403 Eudora Welty
The liveliness of Eudora Welty scholarship at her 2009 centennial shows Welty to be among the pantheon of American writers, one of the masters of the short story. Known from the beginning of her career in the late 1930s for its humorous and poignant depictions of life in rural Mississippi during the depression, Welty's work recently has been examined under the lenses of political and cultural criticism, and has been read compellingly as a part of the feminist canon. We will consider Welty's formal mastery as a writer of fiction, as well as reading her from post-structuralist critical points of view. We will also become familiar with the culture of the rural south, using as our starting point the fabulous photographs that Welty took during the depression.

Spring 2016

ENGL 219 Visual Poetry
Poetry began as verse recited by bards and scops going from town to town entertaining crowds with history, myths of origin, hymns, and genealogy. Rhythmic and repeating language made poetry an important aid to memory before writing existed. When the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable type in 1440 Europe, the printing press could produce around 3500 pages per day, as opposed to the page or two produced by the scribe copying by hand. Mass printing of poetry transformed the focus of the genre. We will discover the myriad ways that poetry and print interact, including through typography, illustration, and design, by looking at artifacts such as broadsides, emblem books, and artists’ books; by reading scholars and theorists discussing the evolution of poetry and print; by writing and designing our own visual poetry. Prior experience writing poetry will be useful for students taking the class.

ENGL 404 Senior Workshop
A workshop requiring students to share discoveries and problems as they produce a lengthy manuscript based on a topic of their own choosing, subject to the approval of the instructor. Prerequisites: 300 and 403.