The English major at Franklin & Marshall offers students a choice between two complementary tracks, one emphasizing literary study, the other creative writing. We require majors in either track to have some experience in both areas. Studying literature and practicing creative writing develop in us obvious skills—skills of reading, writing, analysis, creativity and critical thinking—but they also enable us to engage with the rich diversity of human experience.
Since we cannot separate language or literature from their cultural and intellectual contexts, the literature component of the English major at Franklin & Marshall offers a substantial historical base, with core courses on topics in the traditional periods of British and American literature. Additionally, students take thematic courses in subjects like “Caribbean Literature,” “Nature and Literature,” “Graphic Novel,” “African Literature,” and “Baseball in American Literature and Culture,” as well as upper-level seminars in authors or topics that build on the historical core.
The track in creative writing joins the passion for language and imaginative writing with the study of literature. It is built upon the premise that reading widely and deeply in literature, including contemporary literature, is essential to becoming a skilled creative writer: in other words, that the best writers are also avid, engaged readers. Students who choose a concentration in creative writing practice the craft of writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction in workshop settings where writing is valued as a serious art form. The major culminates in an advanced creative writing workshop in which students complete creative theses in the genre of their choice. The creative writing major is a gateway to a lifelong love and appreciation of words.
Literature majors also take at least one course in creative writing. All students, through their own attempts to write creatively, can develop an appreciation for how the great works they study in their literature courses might have been created. English majors in both tracks come to appreciate the rigor that both disciplines—literary criticism and creative writing—entail.
English majors have rich research opportunities beyond the requirements of the major through independent study and Hackman summer research scholarships, which engage students with the scholarly activities of their professors. They also have opportunities for involvement in a range of extra-curricular activities: attending readings by and meeting numerous visiting writers, participating in events at the Writers House, helping to plan the Emerging Writers Festival, or writing for or staffing one of the College’s literary publications.
English majors are highly valued for their abilities to think and write. The study of English is not just good preparation for a career, however. It fosters an engagement with the big questions of living—questions about language, meaning and value. It fosters self-reflection and greater awareness of the natural and social worlds in which we live. Moreover, studying English literature gives us a purchase on how narratives and metaphors work so that we can interpret and deploy them wisely and even re-make them for our own time, with its enormous challenges and demands.
A major in English with a concentration in Literature consists of the following eleven courses, at least two of which must be at the 300-level: ENG226; two “Studies in Pre-1800 Literature” courses (ENG 201, 202, 203, 206, 212, 256, and 300-level courses designated as Pre-1800); two “Studies in Post-1800 Literature” courses (ENG 204, 207, 208, 210, 257, and 300-level courses designated as Post-1800); one course in designated either Pre- or Post-1800; one creative writing course (ENG 225, 381, 382, 383, 384); two electives; and two 400-level seminars.
A major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing consists of the following eleven courses: ENG226; three creative writing courses (ENG 225, 381, 382, 383, 384); one “Studies in Pre-1800 Literature” courses (English 201, 202, 203, 206, 212, 256, and 300-level courses designated as Pre-1800); one “Studies in Post-1800 Literature” courses (ENG 204, 207, 208, 210, 257, and 300-level courses designated as Post-1800); one course in designated either Pre- or Post-1800; one designated Contemporary Literature course; one elective; one 400-level literature seminar; ENG 480.
A minor in English consists of the following six courses: ENG 226; one “Studies in Pre-1800 Literature” course (ENG 201, 202, 203, 206, 256, and 300-level courses designated as Pre-1800); one “Studies in Post-1800 Literature” course (ENG 204, 207, 208, 210, 257, and 300-level courses designated as Post-1800); one course in designated either Pre- or Post-1800; one elective; one 400-level literature seminar.
The writing requirement in the English major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.
Students are urged to consult with departmental advisers about appropriate courses within the department and in related fields.
Majors in the Department of English have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Advanced Studies in England, Bath; various programs in London, Scotland and Australia. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.