Why English

Why Study English at Villanova?

In our department, you will join a community of students and teachers who love reading and writing, who appreciate the power of language and the pleasure of great literature. You'll encounter a range of texts, from the most revered classics to the newest celebrated works, by a range of writers representing vastly different experiences and points of view.  You'll also find a fantastic range of opportunities to develop your skills as a writer, from our popular creative writing classes to our courses in travel and business writing.

Besides the Core Literature and Writing Seminar (English 1975), some fall 2019 courses are especially suited for those considering an English major:

  • ENG 4691, Contemporary Literature and Environmental Change, taught by Prof. Lisa Sewell.
  • ENG 2400, The Classical Hero in Western Literature, taught by Prof. Evan Radcliffe.
  • ENG 2003, Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by Prof. Tsering Wangmo.
  • ENG 4690, Crime Fiction and Gender, taught by Prof. Jean Lutes.
  • ENG 4500, The Black Atlantic, taught by Prof. Travis Foster.
  • ENG 2004, Intro to Creative Nonfiction, taught by Prof. Adrienne Perry.
  • ENG 3520, The British Novel in the Romantic Period, taught by Prof. Joe Drury.
  • ENG 2520, African-American Lit: The Short Story, taught by Prof. Crystal Lucky.
  • ENG 3250, Shakespeare on Film, taught by Prof. Alice Dailey.

Don’t worry about high course numbers.  They do not refer to the difficulty of the course.

See also Why Study English - fall 2019 courses.

Our classes involve constant, active discussion between students and faculty; many are run as small seminars. In class after class you get to develop your thinking as an individual by expressing your ideas and receiving feedback from your professors and fellow students.  This interactive process heightens your intellectual development while also preparing you to be a confident public speaker after graduation.

Outstanding faculty.  In recent years, many of our faculty have won or been shortlisted for major teaching awards at the university.  They have received their education from many of the most prestigious universities in the world, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, and Oxford.  They are equally passionate about teaching and scholarship, developing innovative strategies to enhance your learning, while also writing books that are shaping the field of literary study.

Nearly half of the courses for the English major are entirely free electives, and the others can be chosen from among a number of possibilities.  Moreover, the English Department's unique “track” program gives you the option of shaping the courses you take to reflect your specific interests.  Under the guidance of our faculty, you can develop a track based on a historical field, genre, or topic that fascinates you.

As an English major you will learn to write clearly and persuasively, a crucial skill for almost every profession.  Our professors provide detailed feedback, honing your ability to formulate a compelling argument and develop it with confidence and eloquence.

As an English major, you'll have the opportunity to join the English Department's unique “Student Advisory Committee,” which meets regularly with faculty members to provide feedback and make suggestions about the major and department activities.  As a member of the Advisory Committee, you'll also have the chance to be a peer advisor who answers questions undeclared students have about the major.  This collaborative environment is also evident in our monthly student-faculty coffee hours and in the receptions we hold each semester, in which both students and faculty present information about the department.

Our innovative “Teaching Assistantship” program gives senior English majors, with a GPA in the major of 3.5 or above, the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in introductory level courses.  In this program, you work closely with a faculty member, generating discussion materials, working with your fellow students on their reading and writing, and teaching several classes under your mentor's supervision.

For 16 years, Villanova has hosted an annual literary festival, bringing five to six major poets and fiction writers to campus each spring to do readings and meet with students. Visiting fiction writers have included Jonathan Franzen, Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis, and Diana Abu-Jaber. Poets have included Marilyn Chin, Robert Creeley, Mark Doty, and Harryette Mullen. This event reflects our department's commitment to celebrating and cultivating the ongoing role of literature in American life.

The English major readily accommodates study abroad.  You may elect to study for a summer or a semester at Villanova's Center in Galway, immerse yourself in Irish Theatre in Villanova's Summer Studio course at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, pursue travel writing in Latin America or Asia through our Travel Writing course, or go to one of the many universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe that welcome Villanova students each year.

As an English major, you will find many opportunities to do an internship for credit. For more information on internships and career opportunities, check out our brochure on English careers.

A number of our faculty are working closely with Villanova's award-winning Falvey Library to explore the emergent field of "the digital humanities."  In some classes, you will have the opportunity to explore rare, newly-digitized material from Falvey's special collections.  In others you will learn about how to maximize your research skills through Falvey's vast array of databases.

Our courses introduce you to literature from across the centuries and around the globe.  Our commitment to helping you understand a world of different perspectives is reflected in the fact that members of the English faculty direct the Gender and Women's Studies Program, the Irish Studies Program, and the Africana Studies Program.