English Literature

The English department believes that the study of literature, language, and writing elevates our minds, enlarges our capacity to understand and communicate, and integrates liberal learning. Our curriculum includes courses in British, Irish, American, and postcolonial literatures; film, the history and structure of the language; and creative writing. 

The English literature major exposes students to a variety of ways of reading, understanding, and writing about literature. Our courses are characterized by frequent discussion, and most emphasize original analysis and independent research. The requirements for the major ensure that each student will have a grounding in literary history, as well as many opportunities to choose courses that reflect and develop her particular interests. Students majoring in English Literature choose from an array of courses organized according to

  • Period (e.g. Nineteenth-Century Women Writers, Medieval Romance)
  • Genre (e.g. Postmodern Fiction, Developments in Drama)
  • Survey (e.g. British Literature to 1700, The Literature of Ireland)
  • Theme (e.g. Novels of Empire, South to Southwest: Multicultural Storytelling)
  • Or single or double authors (e.g. Dante, Jane Austen, Hawthorne and James)

A system of rotating course topics assures that students have a wide variety of courses to choose from during their four years at Agnes Scott. All English majors take a foundation course, Perspectives on Literature (ENG 280), and a capstone course, Senior Research Seminar (ENG 480), in which they produce a substantial original work of literary criticism. Prospective English majors should enroll in ENG 280 and at least one more 200 level English course as early as their first year, but certainly during their sophomore year.

Each spring the English department hosts the annual Writers’ Festival, inviting internationally known writers (including alumnae writers) to campus for two days of public readings, the culmination of a statewide creative writing contest for undergraduates and graduate students, and publication of the festival magazine. The Writers’ Festival is an important part of the co-curriculum for English majors, and students interact with the visiting writers in workshops and informal gatherings.

Students may supplement their English Literature majors in ways that develop their personal and professional interests. English Literature majors are encouraged to take one or more creative writing courses to develop their writing and as another way of looking at literary texts. Many English majors take advantage of internship opportunities in the Atlanta area at magazines, newspapers, publishing houses, theaters, public relations firms, and radio and television stations. The student-run newspaper The Profile and creative writing magazine Aurora are often staffed by English majors, as is the Center for Writing and Speaking, a peer tutoring organization affiliated with the English department. 

A major in English literature prepares students for almost any career in which analysis, writing, reading, research, and communication skills are important. Many of our graduates go on to do graduate work in English, journalism and publishing; some recent admissions have included

  • Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism)
  • University of Rochester
  • Washington University
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Illinois
  • University of London
  • University of St. Andrews
  • University of Denver Publishing Institute
  • The Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-Upon-Avon

Our English majors have also have gone on to law school, medical school, journalism school, business school, and other professional programs and to careers as diverse as teaching secondary English, editing, publishing, and working for nonprofits, to name only a few.