As a discipline, English offers students the opportunity to experience the pleasures and responsibilities of the imagination. Our courses examine works of literature — and related texts such as films and songs — in their most important contexts: historical, cultural, linguistic, socio-political and philosophical. The skills students gain through studying and writing about literature prepare them to participate in a growing global community whose common language is often English.
English majors develop their own speaking and writing skills in the process of learning how to read a wide range of texts critically and imaginatively. They expand their understanding of the world they live in and its possibilities while becoming familiar with the literature that has mattered most to readers of English in different places and times. The range of works studied extends well beyond Britain and America — to the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia, for instance. The department also offers courses in expository and creative writing that encourage students to refine their capacities for expression, invention and style.
Two optional concentrations are open to students within the English major: one in Creative Writing, and one in Race and Ethnicity. See the English courses page for details.
The study of English is central to a liberal arts education. It develops critical thinking, the habit of writing clearly and effectively and the ability to construct and support an argument. These features make English an excellent first or second major in combination with many other disciplines. Recent majors have linked their majors in English with majors in government, religious studies, environmental studies, economics, music and dance. They have also graduated with certificates in all of the college's interdisciplinary centers, and particularly in the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) and the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy.
Whether you choose English as your only major or as one of your majors, it will serve you well in a wide range of professions. Recent graduates have pursued careers in many fields, including publishing, teaching, writing, diplomacy, community organizing and the media. Because of their analytical and verbal skills, English majors are also especially attractive candidates for medical, business and law schools.