Why study English at Denison?
Most people know that a degree in English teaches critical reading and writing skills. But studying and writing literature also cultivates a wide variety of skills that employers value because they are not easy to learn in the workplace. In our rapidly evolving world, college is not a place to learn a trade that may become obsolete; it is an opportunity to grow as a human being and develop a variety of attributes that are transferable and adaptable to personal, professional, and civic life.
English majors at Denison choose an emphasis either in literary studies or in creative writing. We offer a diverse variety of courses that engage with human experience, recent and historical as well as local and global. Here are some examples of skills English majors at Denison learn:
Research in neuroscience shows that reading literature and poetry increases empathy. This kind of cultural understanding will help you better navigate an increasingly diverse and globally oriented world.
Reading and writing great literature cultivates the imagination, which helps us see past what exists to unrealized possibilities. This may be true in something as simple as a new piece of technology, or as complex as a social and political system.
People respond to stories. In fact, Nobel Prize-winning economist Arthur Schiller argues that the world needs more English majors who can tell the stories to help people understand the complexities of the global economic system. English majors learn how to share information through good storytelling.
Literature gives readers insight into the relationships between everyday experience and the historical contexts that shape our lives. English majors learn to think critically about information from a variety of places, periods, and cultures, and to use that information to develop arguments aimed at solving problems.
Students of English learn to go beyond the surface of a text to understand how it works. Students look closely at word choice, sentence structure, and organization to analyze how texts create meaning and to consider many possible interpretations —whether the text is a short story, marketing materials, or a presentation in a boardroom.
What Do English Majors Do After Denison?
Don’t let the myth of the unemployed English major deter you from studying what you love. English majors are as employable as other other college majors. Over the course of their working lives, humanities graduates earn as much as STEM graduates.
A Denison education presents you with the precious opportunity to spend four years enriching your emotional and intellectual life in addition to preparing you for the working world. And remember, throughout your life you’ll be sharing your story with employers, clients, and friends. As an English major, storytelling can be your particular super power.
The English department has built partnerships with organizations to provide internships to English and narrative journalism students, and works with Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration to help students understand how the experiences they have in the major translate into valuable skills for the workplace.
The faculty of 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 in our department, students are exposed to the traditional canon of British and American literature as well as to noncanonical texts in the Anglophone tradition; asked to apply a variety of critical approaches from traditional close reading to recent postmodern methods of investigation; required to write with style and acumen; and motivated to examine, question, and challenge their own moment and situation in literary and cultural history.
The English curriculum is intended to serve the general needs of the liberal arts student and also provide discerning programs for the more specialized needs of students who want to major in English with an emphasis in literature, creative writing, or narrative nonfiction writing. In the last thirty years, English literary studies have changed in response to new theoretical and cultural models as well as greater attention to Anglophone international and non-canonical literature and genres. In our courses and major we approach the study of language and literature as a dynamic, living, and lively pursuit, one that integrates political, social, philosophic, cultural, and aesthetic values. We have designed a program that meets a variety of needs and enables students to pursue a variety of personal and professional goals, whether defined by individual or collaborative intent, subject breadth or depth, instructional model, source engagement, writing development, or other pedagogical features. The faculty in English participate actively in the General Education Program, the Writing Program, Women’s and Gender Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, International Studies, Environmental Studies, and service learning opportunities.
All students may enjoy readings and lectures made possible by the endowed Harriet Ewens Beck Fund, which has brought such writers as Susan Orlean, Ted Kooser, Alice Walker, Bill Bryson, Maxine Hong Kingston, Adrienne Rich, Louise Erdrich, and Antonya Nelson for visits or residencies each year. The curriculum in English is also enhanced by a variety of opportunities for students to pursue publishing their works locally in a variety of student-edited journals. ARTICULĀTE (a forum for cultural and literary criticism) and EXILE (a journal of creative writing) are among the publications associated with students in English.