In order to develop a deeper sense of English as an academic discipline, students should familiarize themselves with the core learning goals that motivate the teaching of literature and creative writing. In animating the requirements and expectations of individual courses, these goals also underpin the structure of the major and minors. The goals below apply to the entire range of departmental offerings and should be understood as working in conjunction with the other specified goals of individual courses.
Students who major or minor in English will hone their reading, critical thinking, research, and writing skills. They will learn methods of literary analysis. They will gain knowledge of literatures written in English in their diverse historical, cultural, and formal dimensions. Students will sharpen their interpretive abilities while acquiring a working familiarity with critical terms, theoretical concepts, and literary conventions. Through classroom experience, including frequent speaking opportunities, students will gain in presentational skills. They will learn better how to situate their work in relation to others and in citing sources effectively. Most importantly, they will demonstrate the ability to write precisely and persuasively in both scholarly and creative contexts.
Students may also choose to minor in creative writing. Creative writing offers undergraduates in all disciplines the opportunity to advance their communication and critical thinking abilities through the analysis and writing of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. What they learn about fluidity of expression, tone, and compression is of benefit to further work in any discipline. The creative writing minor encourages an appreciation for the powers of language while also deepening the powers of empathy. Further, interactions in the workshop settings of most creative writing classes sensitize students to the social communication skills that come along with diplomatically critiquing the work of others.
Students who major in English or who minor in English or creative writing should emerge with enhanced career opportunities. English majors will be well prepared to function as literature teachers, and those who have minored in creative writing will have the expertise needed to incorporate creative writing pedagogy in school curricula. The English major or minor is also excellent preparation for the close-reading, analytical, and presentational skills valued by law schools. In fact, the talents developed in English better prepare students to succeed in a variety of other professional endeavors, including business schools, medical schools, and corporate life. Nevertheless, the greatest benefits for students who make a serious commitment to the discipline of English are in the lifelong reading habits that will both widen and deepen their experiences as independent thinkers and citizens.