Willamette’s English Department teaches the art of reading, of paying close and concerned attention to literary texts. English students participate in literary culture as critics, theorists, historians, and writers. In literature courses, they learn to fashion nuanced interpretative arguments; in creative writing courses, they craft poems, stories, scripts, and songs. Literary studies addresses the breadth of human experience: the metaphorical underpinnings of identity, the affective experience of reading, the various dimensions of aesthetic creation, and the ways literature may reflect a given society’s values, justify a status quo, or imagine a more just world.
The study of literature
English majors approach the study of literature from a variety of historical and methodological perspectives. Courses may address the formal textures of a literary work, its role within a culture or historical period, specific genres ranging from lyric poetry to science fiction, the achievement of a major author, age, or movement, the practices of literary and cultural theory, the politics of interpretation and canonization, and the methods of literary scholarship. English classes are discussion-based and encourage active learning. The English faculty also participates in interdisciplinary programs, including American Ethnic Studies, American Studies, Film Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Many of the courses in these programs may be taken as part of the English major.
The major commences with English 201 and English 202, which introduce students to close reading and literary theory. Majors take courses that focus on literature from different time periods and cultures, but devise a course of study that reflects their own intellectual interests. The Senior Experience—a self-defined Independent Study project, or an English or Humanities Seminar—completes the major.
Beyond the major
The Department offers minors in English and Writing, as well as a number of courses that satisfy Willamette’s general education requirements. The Department promotes Willamette’s writing culture by stressing composition in all of its courses and working closely with the Writing Center.
English students develop skills—close reading, analytical thinking, clarity and sophistication in communication
Preparing our students for a variety of careers:
- new media
- public advocacy
Of equal importance, our students cultivate habits and discover forms of knowledge—an appreciation for the distinctive qualities of imaginative literature, a capacity for self-expression, a sense of historical contingency, an awareness of literature as a force of power—that make life rich and meaningful.
13 April 2013 • English majors Brynn Raymond, Kendra Schmal, Chanel Sulc, and James Volz present at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature.
9 April 2013 • English majors Faith Avery (senior), Emily Golden (senior), Sarah Greiner (senior), Michelle Lashley (senior), Brynn Raymond (junior), Emerald Smith (junior), and Isaiah Swan (senior) invited to join Phi Beta Kappa's Delta Chapter of Oregon.
April 2013 • Professor Stolowitz's play Antarktikos wins the 2013 Angus Bowmer Oregon Book Award in Drama. Antarktikos just completed its world premiere at the Pittsburgh Playhouse where it ran from March 21-April 7.
March 2013 • Senior English major Sean Dart named one of ten national finalists for the Jostens Trophy, which recognizes the top NCAA Division III men's basketball player based on athletics, academics, and community service.
1 March 2013 • Professor Nadelson's book The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress published by Hawthorne Books.
February 2013 • Junior English major James Volz awarded a Summer 2013 Carson Undergraduate Research Grant to support "Sound of the City," a creative project mixing original poetry with audio and digital technologies.
February 2013 • English major Cameron Hill ('12) publishes biographical sketch of former Oregon Poet Laureate Ethel Romig Fuller in the Oregon Encyclopedia.
January 2013 • English major Amy Snodgrass and Professor Chasar awarded a LARC grant to do collaborative research with faculty and students from Art History and Spanish during the Summer of 2013
January 2013 • English major Jack Ewbank ('12) publishes biographical sketch of poet Phyllis McGinley in the Oregon Encyclopedia.
December 2012 • Professor Blackwell's Shadow Man, a noir biography of Lewis Miles Archer, published by Civil Coping Mechanisms Press.
October 2012 • Professor Chasar's book Everyday Reading: Poetry and Popular Culture in Modern America published by Columbia University Press.
October 2012 • Professor Lenox's book of poems Congress of Strange People published by Airlie Press.
October 2012 • English major Rebecca Jolliff ('12) publishes biographical sketch of poet Edwin Markham in the Oregon Encyclopedia.
New to Willamette! Dr. Stephanie DeGooyer (18th century literature specialist), Dr. Alba Newmann-Holmes (Director of the Writing Center), and Dr. Cristina Pangilinan (Medieval literature specialist) to join English Department faculty in Fall 2012.
14 May 2012 • Professor Stolowitz wins $25,000 Fowler/Levin Prize for playwriting from Portland's Artists Repertory Theater.
12 April 2012 • Senior English majors Rebecca Jolliff, Thomas Justman, and Madison Niermeyer invited to join Phi Beta Kappa's Delta Chapter of Oregon.
7 April 2012 • Senior English/Psychology double major Madison Niermeyer wins Best Student Oral Presentation (for her paper on the neural processing of different kinds of Japanese Kanji characters) at the Oregon Society for Neuroscience's annual conference.
3 March 2012 • English majors and minors Sean Dart, Karina Hoogstede, Rebecca Jolliff, Thomas Justman, Madison Niermeyer, and Bethany Williams present at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature.
26 Oct 2011 • Professor Chasar's book Poetry after Cultural Studies published by the University of Iowa Press.
1 Sept 2011 • Professor Nadelson's new collection of stories Aftermath published by Hawthorne Books.