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Articles on English:
   Major in English
   A future in English

Major in English

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“The Divine image has been stamped upon us…God has given us the glorious task of…showing the world what [He] is really like…that [He] is a creative master who loves to bring beauty out of chaos… When a writer assembles letters into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into books, she is reflecting the image of God.”  ~Stephen Altrogge, writer

Language is powerful! Maybe you have experienced the way a good book can transport you to another time and place, been stirred by a moving speech or sermon, or caught off guard by emotion elicited by a strong screenplay come-to-life.  English, as a major, is the study of literature and language arts. It explores the written word in various forms—plays, poems, short stories, scripts and novels—and explores grammar, word usage and writing style. Can you define terms like rhetoric, philology and syntax? This interdisciplinary major delves into these topics and others, such as reading through an interpretive lens and persuasive writing.  Have you dreamed of writing “the next great American novel?” Do you enjoy cuddling up and reading for hours on end? From Shakespeare to Steinbeck, Dickens to Dillard, an English major spends vast amounts of time reading, analyzing and writing texts.

If you are a “word person” considering English as a major, you may also consider whether you possess these other important skills. For example, do you communicate in an organized, clear, effective manner? Are you ready to grow in this area and if so, are you able to handle the criticism necessary to improve? Are you a critical thinker, able to analyze and break down complex ideas and think logically about the “big-picture?” English majors must have keen observation skills and organize and express thoughts in a systematic way. Strong time management, organization and creativity are also helpful. 

An English major must complete a wide range of core credits. Once these requirements are met, you will start into courses related to your major including all kinds of literature classes focusing on specific time periods or geographic specifications such as British or American literature, Victorian or Medieval literature, literature written by women, minorities, modern or international writers. You may write for your school newspaper, participate in poetry readings, join an on-campus literary group, drama club or book club. You may take electives focusing on film, publishing or poetry. Other classes you may take include:

  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Creative writing 
  • Linguistics
  • Public speaking
  • Composition 
  • Journalism
  • Translated works

Not all English majors end up crafting sparkling narratives from a fireside easy chair. Some aspiring novelists do arrive at that goal, and others write great screenplays or become stage directors.  But this broad-based, versatile major also prepares you for other careers including those in the fields of advertising, publishing, journalism, education, public service and media. Some graduates find employment writing for newspapers, magazines or doing internet writing. Others get ESL (English as a Second Language) certification and teach English in primary, secondary and university settings, and even internationally. You may add an educational tract and pursue a career in teaching English. There will always be a need for strong communicators in specific areas of writing like science and technology, sports, health and fitness, entertainment, politics, business and finance, just to name a few. Other common career outcomes for this major include:

  • Freelance writer
  • Editorial assistant
  • Copy editor 
  • Grant writer
  • Technical writer
  • News writer

If reading and discussing excellent literature stirs your soul and you love spinning a good tale through descriptive writing, then perhaps God has wired you for a major in English!