The English Department seeks to help students improve their abilities to read, write, and think critically and creatively.
Through the study of literature and the instruction of writing in various forms, we endeavor to promote in our majors and minors both a deep understanding of our discipline and an active use of its practices. As a faculty, we recognize and encourage among ourselves a variety of pedagogical and critical approaches to literature and writing. Moreover, we feel that our students should experience and comprehend these different schools of theory and application. Thus, in the course of their studies with our department, students will be exposed to the traditional canon of British and American literature as well as to non-canonical texts in the Anglophone tradition; be asked to apply a variety of literary theories from traditional close reading to recent postmodern methods of investigation; be required to write with style and acumen in every class they take; and be motivated always to examine, to question, and to challenge their own moment and situation in literary and cultural history.
Students at Denison enjoy a curriculum in English that balances the need for broad introductory courses with abundant opportunities to focus on special topics in our more advanced courses. The Department of English participates fully in offering courses that fulfill a variety of General Education requirements, and we also teach First-Year Studies 101, perhaps the most important course that you, as an incoming first-year student, will take. In our small classes, students find varied but uniformly passionate instruction in American, British, and world literature, with consistent attention to interpretive and writing skills.
For more than 50 years, Denison students have studied the art and craft of creative writing through the Writing Program's workshops in poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Students may choose to major in English with an emphasis in creative writing, undertaking a program that culminates in a year-long senior writing project. Recent projects have included novels, books of poems or plays, memoirs, and works of creative nonfiction.
Each year, through the Harriet Ewens Beck Series for Visiting Writers, students have a special opportunity to meet and work one-on-one with such writers as Andrea Barrett, W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Tobias Wolff and many more. Writing students give readings, work for campus publications, and intern at local and national literary organizations. Many students go on to graduate programs and careers in writing, publishing or editing.