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. Students can also earn English credit while studying abroad.

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:

  • teaching
  • publishing
  • journalism
  • new media
  • public advocacy
  • law

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.

If you are majoring in English or thinking of majoring in English, you might find the following articles interesting or helpful:

News Highlights

Read Prof. Chasar's new piece "Lullaby Logics" in Poetry magazine. (May 2015)

Congratulations to senior Melissa White, who will be entering the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Duke University this coming Fall. (May 2015)

Senior Kate Piluso publishes "Just Like a Sunflower" in Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. (May 2015)

Sláinte to senior Saran Walker, who is heading to Scotland in the Fall to begin the Digital Design graduate program at the Edinburgh College of Arts! (April 2015)

For the second time in three years, Prof. Stolowitz wins an Oregon Book Award for drama—this time for her play Ithaka, about a returning Afghanistan war veteran's search for a new home. (April 2015)

Congratulations to seniors Elizabeth Drake and Allyson Myers, both of whom are heading to San Diego State University for graduate school—Elizabeth for an M.A. in English and Comparative Literature, and Allyson for an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. (April 2015)

Congratulations to senior English major Anna Fredendall, who is heading to Bowling Green State University to begin her Master of Education in College Student Personnel. (April 2015)

Senior English majors Emily Hoard and Zane Sparling win journalism internships through the University of Oregon's Charles Snowden Journalism Internship Program. (April 2015)

Prof. Lenox wins the 2015 Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her award-winning manuscript The Business will be published this coming November. (April 2015)

Senior English majors Hannah Brown, Anna Fredendall, Chris Ketchum, Camille Priebe, Patricia Rasmussen, Zane Sparling, and Saran Walker invited to join Phi Beta Kappa's Delta Chapter of Oregon. (April 2015)

English majors Linnea Huomo and Emily Palmgren awarded a Learning By Creating Mellon Foundation Student Summer Research Grant to support their project "Writing Trains" during the Summer of 2015. (March 2015)

Congratulations to senior English major Amy Snodgrass, who has been awarded a City Year AmeriCorps position to work with low-income students in the Dallas schools for next year! (March 2015)

Senior Saran Walker will be presenting her paper "Dost Thou Even Hoist, Brother?: Shakespeare, Derridean Hauntology, and New Media Adaptation" at UC Berkeley's Comparative Literature Undergraduate Research Symposium in April. (March 2015)

Emma Jonas and Lizzy Smith receive Senior Thesis Research Grants from the English Department. Emma will be doing research in Doe Bay, and Lizzy will be presenting a paper at the Critical Ethnic Studies Association Conference. (March 2015)

Congratulations to senior English major Chris Ketchum, who has landed an editorial internship at Rock and Ice: The Climber's Magazine! (February 2015)

Congratulations to senior English major Lizzy Smith, who has been awarded a Teach for America position in New Orleans for next year! (February 2015)

Read Prof. Lenox's new poem "The Take This Job and Shove It Ode" in the Baltimore Review. (January 2015)

Prof. Chasar's essay "Orality, Literacy, and the Memorized Poem" published in Poetry magazine. Listen to him talk about it here. (January 2015)

Gabriel Tallent (class of 2010) has his short story "At Risk" published in Narrative magazine. (January 2015)

Prof. Pérez elected Professor of the Year by the Willamette Mortar Board Society. (August 2014)

Prof. Chasar awarded Kluge Fellowship to spend five months doing research for his next book at the Library of Congress. (August 2014)

Prof. Nadelson wins 2014 Editor's Prize in Fiction from Fifth Wednesday Journal for his story "Between You and Me." (July 2014)

Prof. Stolowitz awarded a three-month Research Visit Grant to Germany by the German Academic Exchange Service to help fund work on her next play. (July 2014)

English major Christa Rohrbach publishes her poem "Time Seems to Be Nothing More Than a Number These Days" in Outrageous Fortune, the literary magazine of Mary Baldwin College. (April 2014)

English major Emma Jonas publishes "On This Rickety Stage," an essay about WU's off-campus poetry parties, in WU's magazine The Scene. (April 2014)

English majors Caitlin Gibson (senior), Blanca Gutierrez (senior), Natalie Lyman (junior), Jennie Miller (senior), Brynn Raymond (senior), Tara Sherman (senior), Torah Skelton (senior), Emerald Smith (senior), and Hannah Staller (senior) invited to join Phi Beta Kappa's Delta Chapter of Oregon. (April 2014)

English major Christa Rohrbach awarded a Learning By Creating grant to support her poetry contributions to "Tandem Travel," a devised theater performance to be developed during the Summer of 2014. (April 2014)

Rising sophomores Tyler Griswold (supervised by Prof. Hobgood) and Olivia Mancl (supervised by Prof. Chasar) are two of four WU students awarded College Colloquium Research Grants to support their independent research during the Summer of 2014. (April 2014)

English majors Courtney Balonek and Hannah Brown present at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature. (April 2014)

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