Marting Hall, Rm. 212
Do An Independent Study
Available on the basis of academic and intellectual interests, it encourages independent thought and research. It may be of the following kinds:
(1) Examination of an area of literature or linguistics, or of an interdisciplinary context involving literature or linguistics.
(2) Creative writing or journalism
(3) Special writing projects approved by the department as a whole.
Versatile Career Field
English is a flexible and open-ended degree suitable for career areas associated with for-profit, non-profit, government and education, including, but not limited to the following:
- Computer systems analyst
- Technical writer
- Media representative
- Public relations practitioner
- Law enforcer
- Personnel director
An Eminently Practical Major
English isn’t just for people who know the joys of reading, of imagination, of creative and expository writing, and of the life of the mind. The study of literature also provides students with powerful critical tools for understanding both themselves and the world. Moreover, English majors develop the characteristics employers most value in new employees and expect to find in college graduates. Consider the top five results of a survey by Hart Research Associates (commissioned by AAC&U in 2010):
- "Effective oral and written communication"
[No major provides better preparation in written communication than English, and our majors tend to be highly articulate in oral communication as well; English is preeminently the study of the power of words. Come see why, in the words of the Bard, "The pen is mightier than the sword."]
- "Critical thinking and analytical reasoning"
[English majors develop excellent critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills by studying both literature and rhetoric; that is one reason why English and its sister subject philosophy remain the best preparation for law school, among other possible careers. The practice of close reading enhances the ability to use logic, to juggle various points of view, to understand how meaning is determined by context, to grasp and evaluate the implications of theoretical models, and to develop a sustained argument, among many other skills.]
- "Ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings"
[Literature is the most complex model ever invented for the study of society. English majors learn how to read and interpret social texts and contexts. They learn how to apply rhetoric to persuade others. They develop a heightened capacity for what the noted scholar Martha Nussbaum has called, "the narrative imagination," which is the ability empathically to imagine what it's like to walk in another's shoes. And when you add internships or another major to these skills, it's an unbeatable combination. Moreover, English is excellent preparation for graduate school in virtually any area.]
- "The ability to analyze and solve complex problems"
[The study of English develops analytical and problem-solving skills in many ways. Indeed, every literary interpretation is an exercise in complex problem-solving, including the ability to synthesize diverse points of view. In an English class, the whole world is our oyster, and students learn to apply multiple perspectives—whether social, political, economic, philosophical, religious, historical, psychological and/or other--to the understanding of literary texts, just as they learn to apply literary texts to the understanding of themselves and of their world. As Einstein once wrote, "Imagination is more important than knowledge," and nothing spurs the imagination like the reading and study of literature.]
- "Ability to make ethical decisions"
[Nothing so continually provokes reflection on ethical issues as the study of literature. Literature is like a vast laboratory of the mind, in which readers continually reflect on the meaning and consequences of human action. Should Ahab take revenge on Moby-Dick? Should Madame Bovary indulge her romantic passions? Is Raskolnikov justified in killing the wicked old moneylender in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment? Moreover, literature enables a deeper understanding of ethical questions by contextualizing them. English majors develop a heightened capacity to deal with complexity and with ambiguity.]
Our alumni consistently express high satisfaction with the major, even many years after they have graduated. With English you can have it both ways: you can study something that is personally rewarding and professionally useful.
Beyond the Classroom
Consider studying British writers by spending a semester in Great Britain. Work on an independent research project or intern at a magazine, newspaper, communications company or other organization. Through off-campus study and other experiential learning initiatives, you can be in the neighborhood and across the world.
If you’re looking to get published, you can turn to BW's literary magazine or student-run newspapers. Another invaluable source is BW's faculty, many of whom have published books, poems, articles and scholarly works.
Offered as a major and a minor focused on literature or writing.