English is a global language, and the study of English encompasses many literatures. It is also a language with a long literary tradition, from anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets to Zadie Smith. The English Department offers courses ranging from poetry and epic to twentieth-century Irish drama, cinema, creative writing courses, fiction and graphic narrative.
English majors learn to master and analyze the complex meanings, formal structures, historical contexts, and inter-relationships of the texts they read. Students hone their skills in analysis and argument, both oral and written. They consult with their advisors to develop a program of study and ultimately a final thesis project that offers the opportunity to do original critical work on a wide variety of topics, including single author studies, explorations of specific genres or forms, analyses of literature and other arts or media, literary theory, film study, and the literary response to major historical events. Students wishing to write a creative thesis must apply to do so, and must take two creative writing classes before the senior year. See the list of selected recent thesis titles on the department website.
Students majoring in English choose one of two tracks: one develops a cultural context for the study of English literature (requiring two classes in foreign literature in translation and a sophomore-level Humanities course); the other highlights study of literature in a second language (requiring two classes in a foreign literature not in translation). All majors are also encouraged to include a course in creative writing. See “Requirements.”
The Department Office is located in Vollum 320. The Faculty Assistant (Jolie Griffin, ext. 7753, firstname.lastname@example.org) can provide general information. The department maintains both an electronic and a physical bulletin board (near the third floor elevator door of Vollum) to provide information on upcoming lectures and visiting writers, fellowships, graduate programs, and other useful information.