The Department of English seeks to enrich the cultural background and to improve the communication skills of its students. Through a comprehensive and versatile program of period, genre, and composition courses, the department stresses the development of effective writing skills. Both majors and non-majors experience the best of British and American literature, learn to think creatively, and develop proficiency in the use of language.
The regular course offerings are supplemented by frequent visiting professors and writers such as famed critic Cleanth Brooks, novelist John Gardner, poets Denise Levertov, Gwendolyn Brooks and Miller Williams, historian William Ferris, poet/novelist Richard Brautigan, art historian/literary critic George Hersey, British lecturer/critic Michael Slater, and Nobel Prize-Winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney. During one fall term, a unique course in Southern Fiction was offered.
Visiting Professor Robert Drake taught the class, and the following writers made weekly visits: Reynolds Price, Harry Crews, Andrew Lytle, Cleanth Brooks, David Madden, and William Humphrey. One spring term, Dr. Michael Slater, Reader in English at Birkbeck College of the University of London, returned to teach the first half of a lively course in Shakespeare. Other special opportunities include a biennial trip to the home of William Faulkner in Oxford, Mississippi, by the Faulkner class and a yearly term abroad at Birkbeck College, University of London.
The department enjoys a wide appeal to students; it is not uncommon to find a pre-med student majoring in English or departmental classrooms filled with students majoring in other fields. Nevertheless, the English Department is one of the College’s largest, and the College’s English majors enjoy an enviable record of acceptance into some of the finest graduate programs.
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