Department of English, Philosophy & Modern Languages
Welcome to the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages
Our Department houses three disciplines leading to a variety of majors and minors, and our faculty members are committed teacher-scholars in literature, linguistics, languages, writing, philosophy, and religious studies. The Department also houses MSUB's Writing Program, which serves all undergraduate students, and a graduate program Certificate in Teaching Creative and Expository Writing.
The mission of the undergraduate English Program is to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of the development and aesthetic achievement of literatures in English, including the cultural, linguistic, and historical influences on English, American and world literatures. In Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Department provides students with diverse ethical, philosophical, religious and cultural perspectives. In Modern Languages the Department’s mission is to provide students with critical skills in the use of the Spanish language and familiarity with the cultures and literatures of that language, both Peninsular and Latin American. The Department also offers French, German, and other languages.
Why the Humanities?
The term humanities, broadly defined, refers to the study of human cultures, languages, and systems of meaning and values. Students of the humanities explore the interrelated disciplines of philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language. The MSUB Department of English, Philosophy & Modern Languages prepares students to engage in these disciplines with historical perspective and an appreciation for complexity, nuance, and difference. We encourage our undergraduates to develop their own positions and arguments, to articulate them clearly and incisively, and to be leaders in a rapidly changing century. See also:
Stanford University: "Why the Humanities Matter"
Junot Diaz on the Power of Art
The Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages celebrates the careers of two beloved faculty members -- Dr. St. John Robinson, Professor Emeritus of Spanish, and Dr. Bill Kamowski, Professor Emeritus of English. Both St. John and Bill retired in 2017.
Dr. Bill Kamowski
Since the beginning of his career in this department in 1985, Bill Kamowski demonstrated excellence in teaching, with admirable consistency across the range of his courses, from mythology to business communication, from British Literature to Senior Thesis / Capstone. In his career at MSUB, he taught over 25 different literature and writing courses that required over 25 distinct preparations.
His rigorous scholarly work led to seven journal publications or book chapters on Geoffrey Chaucer, the British author of the Canterbury Tales. During his years at MSUB he presented conference papers on a regular basis at various venues, most notably seventeen times at the prestigious International Congress on Medieval Studies. He also chaired panels at the same conference five times: this indicates his scholarly peers hold him in high esteem.
Within the past few years Bill transitioned from rigorous scholarly work to creative writing. The latter includes his essay on Elkhorn, Montana, blending personal experience with research and historical speculation, published in a journal on the contemporary west. (This essay, “Back to the Dream,” could be required reading in the Senior Thesis class as a long-form model of the students’ personal experience-based assignments.) His other recent writings include mystery fiction and science fiction stories, some already published, others under submission. As one colleague noted, these writings suggest “a very active mind [and] a creative spirit.” All his colleagues in the department look forward to the continued success of these efforts in Bill’s post-teaching writing career.
Dr. St. John Robinson
Since joining the Spanish faculty in 1982, Dr. Robinson has made major contributions to his department, university, and community in teaching, service, and scholarship. In addition to serving as Chair (1987-1993, 2000-2009), he also served as Director of the Japanese Program (1983-1986), Director of the area FLES Program (Foreign Languages in Elementary Schools), Chair of the Academic Senate (1990-1992), Co-Chair (1989-1990) and later Chair (2003-2004) of the College of Arts and Sciences Policy Committee, and was the Academic Coordinator of the International Studies Minor. He is also a Board Member of the Montana Migrant Council.
St. John’s dedication and expertise have sustained and promoted the language programs at MSUB for decades and his commitment and service to the university is and has been exemplary.
In scholarly contributions, Dr. Robinson has presented and published with consistency. He has published two books, several book chapters, numerous journal articles, over 20 encyclopedia articles, dozens of presentations at the local, state, national, and international levels. He also has translated documents for the university, hospitals, legal services, and a variety of community organizations for 35 years.
On a more personal note, St. John contributed to the department not only in service, scholarship, and teaching, but he also made our work enjoyable, and it has been a pleasure to work with him. His guidance and mentoring of junior faculty has been invaluable to the department, to the success of the language programs, and to the university as a whole. We wish to thank him for his many contributions to the university and the community.
From the 2017 Dedication of The Rook:
To Dr. St. John Robinson
At first, his intensity and put‐you‐on‐the ‐spot teaching style could be unsettling, but Spanish students grew to respect and love Dr. St. John Robinson for guiding them through a language and culture with enthusiasm and passion. One student remarked, “His anecdotes about his life and events when he lived in Spain were always delightful. His ability to produce from his memory and experience a Spanish
vocabulary word, regardless of its obscurity, was impressive.”
When asked about his colleague, Dr. Thomas Regele commented, “It has been wonderful to work with such a complete professional. I have never worked with someone more dedicated to the profession, nor have I ever worked with someone with whom it is so easy to get things done. I suspect that the latter is due, in great part, to the former. In any case, it has been a great pleasure and an honor to work with St. John Robinson. I have always been, and continue to be, impressed by his commitment to our students, our program, our university, and our community. "
Dr. Robinson’s commitment to the Spanish program at MSUB has helped shape a bright future for many students who have carried that dedication into their lives and community. As Dr. Regele points out, “One of his former students, who is now a successful professional in the community, recently remarked that St. John is an amazing professor who really cares about his students. He has been this student’s teacher, mentor, and boss, and he will always be her friend. I could not agree more.”
The Rook Staff would like to thank Dr. St. John Robinson for his 35 years of service at MSUB, and we wish him the best in his retirement.
“I'm currently teaching middle school at Stream Academy, a brand new charter school in Alaska. It's the first year of the charter and my first year teaching, so I am quite tired as well (and not just with grading). I'm the only Language Arts teacher of 77 students with two sections of 6th grade, a section of 7th, and a section of 8th. Oh, and I also teach a social dance elective. Whew!
All things considered, I really do love middle school. It took me a while to calibrate, but they are really delightful.
I've decided that I really should do better with keeping in touch with everyone from the English Department. There's something about being a part of something so meaningful for such a short period of time that makes me sad and proud at the same time.”
- Laura-Ashlee Twiford, ‘16
New Books by Our Faculty