• B. A., St. John’s University (MN)
  • M.A., University of Minnesota
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Courses Taught

Some recent courses:

  • English 301: Modern American Literature and Popular Music
  • Journalism 225: Writing about Music, Sports, and Culture
  • English 256: American Transcendentalism
  • English 226: Creative Nonfiction
  • English 301: James Joyce
  • English 205: Creative Writing in Budapest
  • English 196 Modern Irish Literature
  • Journalism 125: Introduction to Journalism

Research Interests

  • American and Irish Literature
  • Irish Nonfiction
  • Jazz and literature about Jazz
  • Henry James
  • Chicago Literature and History
  • James Joyce
  • Captain America
  • The Essay


  • “The Irish Gambit,” New Hibernia Review 22 (2018) 9-18.
  • “Captain America, Vietnam and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome” (book chapter). Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero. Ed. Robert Weiner. (McFarland Press, 2009), 110-124.
  • Synge’s The Aran Islands and Irish Creative Non-Fiction,” New Hibernia Review 11:4 (2007) 129-135.
  • Review of Janet Beer’s Edith Wharton. Journal of American Studies. September 2006.
  • Biographical entries on Snoop Dogg, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Jennifer Lopez, Branford Marsalis, Tupac Shakur, and Joshua Redman in Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990 (New York: Gale, 2003).
  • “An American in Derry,” Colorado Review. Fall 2003. “Edith Wharton.” The Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. London: Fitzroy Dearborn. 2003.

Stories Written on

  • Early Career Report: Tyree Smith’19, TV Sports Anchor and Reporter (Sep 16, 2022)
  • Meme Formalism (Jan 19, 2020)
  • Young Alum Hits It Big in Radio (Jan 18, 2020)

Shawn Gillen

Professor of English
Director of School of Media and the Arts
Department Chair of Studio Art

 Email:  Phone: 608-363-2307  Office: Room 101, World Affairs Center

I teach courses in creative writing, American and Irish Literature, and journalism. My favorite courses to teach include Modern American Literature and Music, Writing about Music, Sports, and Culture, and a capstone seminar about James Joyce’s Ulysses. 

Something I love about teaching here is that our students often take courses outside their majors to satiate their intellectual interests and prepare themselves for purposeful lives after Beloit. My course on American Transcendentalism, for example, attracts students majoring in subjects like Environmental Studies, Philosophy, Media Studies, Anthropology, and, of course, Literary Studies and Creative Writing. Beloit is a wonderful place to engage in ideas and to learn alongside other students.

As the Director of the School of Media and Arts, I work closely with students interested in pursuing journalism, broadcast journalism, editing, and arts careers. Beloit alums are always willing to offer advice and information to current students about internships and jobs, and I keep in touch with as many of them as I can. My work with students draws on my professional experiences as a journalist, music critic, and editor.

Teaching outside the traditional classroom is important to me. I have led five Beloit College study-abroad trips to Ireland. In 2014, I taught creative writing to Beloit students at Eötvös József Collegium in Budapest, Hungary. This summer (2024), I am co-leading a global engagement seminar in Ireland. Students will study Irish history, film, and literature on campus and then travel as a group across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. After we return to the States, students will complete creative writing or media projects about colonialism, conflict resolution, Irish culture, and Irish independence.

If you are interested you can read one of my recent essays, “The Irish Gambit”  published by an Irish Studies journal. It won recognition as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2019.

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