English Language and Literature, General

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About the English Language and Literature Major

Are you the type who doesn't dread reading assignments? Do you have a knack for finding the hidden meaning between the lines of literature? Are you great at organizing your thoughts and observations into interesting and poignant papers? Sounds like you'd make an excellent English major!

English majors study literature in all its forms, from short stories to novels and poetry to plays. They explore the meaning behind that literature and write essays that analyze and interpret it. English majors study literature from all historical periods and geographic origins, spanning from the earliest written English literature like Beowulf, to modern literature like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Shakespeare is always a focal point in an English curriculum, and students often have the option of taking an entire class on the subject.

English majors also have the opportunity to take courses to improve their writing skills, such as creative writing, playwriting, poetry, and fiction.

You can't study literature without reading it! English majors are expected to do a heavy amount of reading on a regular basis. What you read depends on the classes you choose. Classes often focus on specific time periods of literature, such as medieval Britain and Modern America; specific types or genres of literature, such as poetry, short stories, science fiction, and novels; or specific authors, such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. In these classes, not only do students learn more about the subject in general, but professors will also facilitate discussions that explore themes and interpretations of the literature at hand.

In addition to reading, English majors can expect to do a heavy amount of writing. For traditional English classes, most of the assignments involve writing of some kind, whether it is a short response to a piece of poetry or a ten-page essay exploring a particular topic within a novel. Instead of a traditional exam, oftentimes English majors are required to submit a multi-page, well-written, and thoughtful essay.
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