Majoring in English
Worksheet for English Majors
The Writing Club and Desideratum
The Moravian Prize
an English Major?"
The love of words and joy in the creative use of language form the basis of literary study. That study emphasizes the rich heritage and diversity of American and British literature and includes works from other cultures. The Department teaches a disciplined approach to reading this literature and writing about it, from a wide range of critical perspectives.
The study of literature reminds us that all people have voices and that much of our greatest literature has challenged prevailing cultural norms. The individual's encounter with literature has always been a crucial part of the process of transformation, of self-definition; for poems, stories, novels, and plays record our blindness, our follies and our crimes just as surely as they record our insights, our virtues, and occasionally our genius. We study literature, literary theory, writing, and culture-history not just to affirm our beliefs and traditions, but to examine them critically.
In keeping with its emphasis on written expression, the department offers a variety of courses in creative and expository writing. Courses in creative writing use literary study, workshops, and individual conferences to help student poets, novelists and playwrights understand the creative process and create afresh imagined worlds that delight, disturb, and challenge. Courses in the Writing Competency Program employ several rhetorical and pedagogical strategies to ensure that students graduate knowing how to write well. The Writing Center works in concert with writing and literature courses and across the disciplines, helping students from all majors achieve skill, precision, and grace in their writing.
KEYS TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS
|William Butler Yeats, Professor of English, and Director of Writing. Ph. D., Trinity College, Dublin. He chairs the Department of English and Theatre Arts, administers the Writing Competency program and the creative writing program, and teaches courses in both creative writing and composition. He writes poetry and literary criticism, both of which have been extensively published.|
|Johnna M. Synge, Assistant Professor of English. M.A., University College-Cork. Her areas of specialization include Victorian and play writing. She teaches Composition, Business Writing, Advanced College Writing, and FYS: Children in War. While directing the First-Year student programs, she wrote and edited XXX, which won a national award for "outstanding handbook."|
|George Brockport, Assistant Professor of English, Babcock Scholar. Ph. D., Acme University. A specialist in 19th-century American literature and culture, he is particularly interested in the relationship between English and American literature, in the interplay between science and literature, and in the literatures of imperialism and horror.|
|Lisa Darnell, Assistant Professor of English, PhD University of Parkersburg. Her teaching and research focus mainly on the literature and culture of North-west Europe during the medieval period, specifically on Old English, Middle English, and Old Norse-Icelandic.|
|Robert Frost, Writer in Residence. A teacher of creative writing and poetry, he has published several volumes of poetry.|
|Susan Robison, Associate Professor of English, Ph.D., University of Wakeegan. Her field of teaching specialization is genre and cultural studies, with a primary interest in the English novel from its 18th-century origins through its early 20th-century treatments. Research interests include 19th-century British culture and society; women's literature and culture; the influence of 19th- and early- 20th-century scientific theory on literary form; and contemporary popular responses to technology and scientific discovery.|
|Kim H. Regan, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair. Ph. D., Martinsburg University. She specializes in the English Renaissance and particularly in its drama, on Jacobean London and Bristol as dramatic subjects and theatrical sites. She teaches the Sixteenth Century, Shakespeare at all levels, and Composition at the beginning and advanced levels.|
|Margaret L. Leonhardt, Professor of English, Ph. D., University of Daytona. She teaches Victorian, modern British, American ethnic, and women's literature. She was elected by the Class of 1991 to receive the Rebecca Nurse Award for Excellence in Teaching.|
|Marco P. Suarez, Professor of English. M.A., State University of New York, College at Otsego. He teaches composition, First-Year Seminars, and creative writing courses and specializes in American Literature, especially the American Romantics.|
|D. G. Hobbes, Professor of English. Ph. D., University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in science fiction literature. He has published a book on the author Neal Stephenson. He is currently compiling an examination of current hacker activity in relation to the debates surrounding American civil liberties. He has recently taught advanced courses in modern and contemporary poetry, cyberpunk fiction, and the novels of Pynchon. He also teaches an advanced course on cryptography in contemporary fiction.|
|M. Beth Tucker, Professor of English. Ph. D., Lititz University. She specializes in American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries and women's poetry. She teaches in the areas of mythology and women's literature and Magical Realist fiction.|
Majoring in English
You may also major in theatre arts or take theatre
courses as part of a major program in English. Students with a strong
interest in an academic field other than English may choose to complete
a second major in that discipline, or to combine a major in another field
with a minor in literature or writing.
In keeping with our mission as an English faculty and our vision for our students' literary education, we offer our majors a curriculum with a philosophical focus on intellectual discovery. Our intentions are both to foster student engagement in creating coherent programs and to ensure a structured preparation for the Senior Thesis.
The centerpiece of the major is the concentration, four related courses selected by the student in an area of special interest. No later than the fall of their junior year, English majors design and formally propose this four-course concentration in a specific area of literary study or in creative writing. Each student presents a written rationale for this concentration at a Preliminary Junior Review conducted by the student’s advisor and another department faculty member of the student’s choosing. These faculty determine the coherence and feasibility of the concentration, review the student’s writing, and help the student to plan a program ensuring that the student will have taken the necessary "Approaches" course in critical methodologies (described below) prior to writing a Senior Project (thesis). The faculty members at the Preliminary Junior Review may approve the proposed concentration as submitted, return it to the student for revision, or forward it to the whole department for its decision.
It is hoped that some students will declare a concentration prior to junior year; to facilitate early planning, the department will increase its efforts to announce the likely schedule of upper-level courses as early as practicable.
Each term the department will offer at least one "Approaches" course,
a seminar-sized course highlighting critical methodology and/or literary
theory as it is used to read and write about literary texts. Students will
write a properly documented critical analysis of at least ten pages using
both primary and secondary sources. Both an "Approaches" course and Writing
Level IV are prerequisites for the Senior Project.
Requirements in the English Major
Requirements for the major with a concentration in literature: Minimum of 12 courses, distributed as follows:
Two courses at the 200 level:
Requirements for the major with a concentration in creative writing: Minimum of 13 courses, nine in literature, four in creative writing, distributed as follows:
Two courses at the 200 level:
Requirements for the major with an emphasis in writing: 16 courses, distributed as follows:
1 300-level course after 1800
2 additional literature courses
The Preliminary Junior Review
Submit copies of this declaration to your advisor and to a second English and Theatre Arts faculty member of your choice, setting a date for your Preliminary Junior Review. At this meeting, which should take place before the end of the Fall term of your Junior year, the three of you will review both your proposed concentration and your writing. To that end, you should give your advisor a clean copy of a piece of your best work in literary criticism; if you are proposing a concentration in creative writing, you should also submit a copy of a creative piece. At the Preliminary Junior Review, the faculty members will approve your concentration as written, suggest revisions for you to make prior to your sending it to the department for its decision, or forward it unrevised for the department's consideration. It is your responsibility to see that the declaration form, whether signed showing initial approval or referred without approval to the department, is submitted in a timely fashion to the Department Chair, Dr. Bensen.
The Junior Review
Junior Review is a formal review of the courses you have taken to date. It takes place during the Spring semester of your Junior year, and involves your advisor and another member of the department, who meet with you to insure that you are on track to meet all degree requirements, to approve your proposed course of study for your senior year, and to begin the discussion of possible thesis topics.
Junior Review Form
(NOTE: You will need
to open the form in Netscape's editor and save it to your own file both
before and after you enter information; only then can you print the
Senior Thesis Proposal Form (NOTE: You will need to open the form in Netscape's editor and save it to your own file both before and after you enter information; only then can you print the completed form.)
If you would like to intern during fall or spring term, there are many opportunities available locally: on campus, for instance, you might intern with the Publications Department, with the Public Relations or Alumni Relations departments of Institutional Advancement, with Sports Information, or with Computer Services as a technical writer. In Otsego County, internships have been available recently at local law firms, elementary schools, The Daily Star, and the Oneonta Bureau of the (Binghamton) Press and Sun Bulletin, WZOZ radio, the Soccer Hall of Fame, Senator Daniel P. Moynihan's office, and the Smithy-Pioneer Gallery in Cooperstown.
For ideas about internships outside of Oneonta, go to the Internship
Exchange database , a nationwide list of internships made available
to member colleges.
Department Policy on Internships
The Aim of Internships: The aim is to bridge the gap between the academic world and the world of work by demonstrating that the writing, reading, research and analytical skills developed in typical English and Theatre Arts classes are valuable in the market place. Valuable also is the knowledge of human nature and of Western culture fostered by the study of literature. Placements should provide students with the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge.
Criteria for Selecting Candidates:
The Committee on Individual and Directed Studies and Internships reviews the student's college record. It gives preference to department majors and minors but does not exclude others. The minimal criteria for an internship in English are the following:
1. Sophomore standing.
2. Meeting course requirements. The student should provide the committee with a transcript.
b. Theatre Arts Internships. Theatre Arts 120 and 220.
4. A completed Internship Learning Agreement
Method of Evaluation:
Internship advisors will exercise their judgment about how to weigh each of the following requirements, but as a rule of thumb the first should count 75% and the second, 25%.
1. The work experience, evaluated in writing by the job supervisor.
2. The report, evaluated by the internship advisor. The report of at least ten pages will describe the work done, including samples, and will contain a section on the relationship between the work and the study of English or Theatre Arts. The internship advisor will provide special help, if needed, with the latter section of the report.
Responsibilities of the Internship Advisor:
1. The advisor will meet with the student in personal conference at least four times during the term. If the internship is out of town, conferences may be held by phone, mail, or E-mail. The advisor will contact the supervisor at least twice.
2. The advisor will normally supervise no more than one intern during a term.
Begin your planning at least a semester in advance, if possible, by
picking up the Student Internship
Handbook from the Trustee Center. It will take you step-by-step
through the process. Please note the "Note" on Step
8! The English Department does indeed have an earlier deadline for the Learning
Agreement, as well as its own requirements, above, for anyone wishing to
receive English credit. Departmental policy is to have the Committe on Individual
and Directed Study and Internships, chaired by Professor Cody, review all
the material, and then forward the approved Learning Agreements to the Trustee
Center by the official deadline. The deadline
for submitting the required materials (Learning Agreement, transcript, and
two letters of recommendation from members of the Department) to the department
committee is two weeks prior to the deadline set by the Trustee Center.
Currently this college does not offer its own semester in England, but students may avail themselves of various alternatives: institutional ties, for example, make it possible for students to enroll in the Central College of Iowa's program in London (you will be charged tuition, to which many grants and loans can be applied). Adventurous students interested in post-colonial societies and their literatures might also investigate the Semester in India, a consortium program--for which, again, you are charged tuition fees, and to which financial aid (other than campus-based aid) may be applied. With approval of the Department Chair, some of these courses will count for credit in the major.
Majors may also arrange their own study abroad programs while they take an academic leave of absence. Recently our majors have studied in tutorials with Oxford dons through other programs, or matriculated alongside English students in a more American-style program of course work at Manchester University. Others have enrolled in the "Semester at Sea" offered by the University of Pittsburgh, studying while circumnavigating the globe on a "floating university."
English majors intending to pursue journalism or museum studies can
enroll in the Washington Semester at American University in Washington,
D.C., or at affiliated programs at Boston and Philadelphia. If you relish
the idea of a term or year spent in a different environment but need additional
ideas and information, consult the staff of the Sondhi Limthongkul Center
for Interdependence, in Yager Hall.
Writing Competency: A Handbook
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION (Defines topic, purpose, extent of discussion)
ARGUMENT (Whole paper: relation of subproblems to main problem)
CLAIM/SUPPORT (Paragraph: proportion and relation of support to claim)
SENTENCES (Grammar, syntax, variety, continuity, fluency)
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION: Little or none.
ARGUMENT: Simplistic, circular, repetitious. Simplifies main problem into subproblems.
CLAIM/SUPPORT: Strings claims together. Negligible support offered for subproblems.
SENTENCES: Fragments, run-ons, comma splices; or, short and cautiously correct.
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION: Emerging sense of need to represent problem, but lacks definition, forecasting, context.
ARGUMENT: No clear line of reasoning. Argues from sense of what conclusion should be, rather than from evidence.
CLAIM/SUPPORT: Emerging structure of claim and support, but lacks development, cohesion, direction, firm logic.
SENTENCES: Fewer errors than at I. Errors in pronoun reference, diction, punctuation not as crippling to meaning as those at I.
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION: Represents problem and forecasts direction. Emerging sense of need to address task to audience.
ARGUMENT: As at II, preconceptions tend to dominate over analysis of evidence. Conclusion may be lacking, or may fail to relate discussion back to main problem.
CLAIM/SUPPORT: Structure more readily apparent. Erosion of structure, support, and grasp on main problem as paper proceeds.
SENTENCES: Fluent syntax, variety of sentence structures. Continuity tends to be achieved mechanically with pronouns, repetition, other transitional signals.
PROBLEM REPRESENTATION: Represents problem fully, relating assignment to specific task, audience, context.
ARGUMENT: Subproblems clearly related to main problem. Emerging sense of social, historical or other contexts in which to situate problems. Confronts complexity and ambiguity in problem, subproblems and supporting evidence.
CLAIM/SUPPORT: Ample support for claims. Sense of inquiry and revelation
in exploring subject. Authoritative handling of knowledge.
SENTENCES: Concise diction, pervasively confident writing. Continuity
tends to be achieved implicitly.
List of names here
You should also be clear about what "paraphrase" means and what it entails. To paraphrase is to express someone else's meaning in your own words. Paraphrase without acknowledgment is plagiarism. Paraphrase which is inadequately documented is also plagiarism because it blurs the distinction--which must be carefully maintained at all times--between your own ideas and those that belong to others. In any case you should avoid overindulging in paraphrase, since another person's ideas cloaked in your own words are still not your ideas: though it is not dishonest to paraphrase or summarize the contents of another's work as long as the source or sources are clearly identified, such paraphrasing does not constitute independent work.
If you have any questions, doubts, fears, or anxieties relating
to plagiarism or any other aspect of literary research, you should immediately
consult the MLA Handbook and any of your professors, who will be
glad to clarify the conventions for you.
The purpose of Sigma Tau is not only to honor students who appreciate good writing but to help promote that love in others. Sigma Tau has sponsored readings by guest writers and our own talent, celebrated Shakespeare's birthday and Walt Whitman Day, hosted October campfire readings, Poem and Cookie Day--our version of the former Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky's, Favorite Poem Project--and the organization has sponsored faculty readings as well as upcoming senior project readings. Apart from these campus-wide events, service to the community includes tutoring for students taking the English and American Lit survey courses; there have also been attempts to carry out creative writing projects with children and nursing-home residents in Oneonta, and each year the organization arranges a Thanksgiving basket to help needy families in the community. Some club events are largely social, such as a Halloween reading at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus, and an end-of-senior-thesis party. Although Student Senate funds support many of the club's activities, the members supplement expenses with these occasional fund-raisers and with annual dues of $10.
A few students have taken advantage of the larger network of the international society by attending the regional or national conference of Sigma Tau. These conventions are a prime opportunity for you to get experience presenting an academic paper in public. If you are considering going on to a doctoral program in English or applying for a prestigious scholarship, having a paper accepted for one of these conferences is definitely an asset!
So, too, would be the honor--not to mention the financial rewards--of receiving a national scholarship from Sigma Tau. There are awards for graduate study and for beginning teaching; if you wish to compete for these, see Professor Suarez, the Sigma Tau advisor, in the fall term for further information.
Although club activities are both co-curricular and social, invitation to Sigma Tau Delta is based strictly upon academic standards, as calculated by the Registrar's Office. Twice a year, invitations go out to declared majors and minors who, having taken at least three units of English (excluding Composition 110), have achieved a 3.0 or better in English and a 3.0 or higher overall GPA Those who accept the invitation pay an initiation fee of $30. There is no pledging involved, and only a pleasant initiation ceremony (usually including dinner or brunch.)
Members in good standing--that is, those who support the club activities
with both their efforts and their dues--are allowed to wear honor cords
in the Sigma Tau Delta colors of carnelian (red) and black at Commencement.
To avoid disappointment or misunderstanding, seniors should make themselves
aware of the prevailing requirements for wearing honor cords.
Classes include workshops on the various stages of the poetic process, lectures, manuscript conferences, and readings by staff and guest writers. The daily classes cover such topics as traditional meters, free verse lineation and the uses of metaphor. The workshops place emphasis on building a critical foundation to sharpen participants' perceptions about revision, and the poems and parts of poems written during the week will form the basis for these sessions. Emphasis also will be placed on the poems brought to the Workshop. Thus two individual manuscript conferences with Workshop faculty and visitors are scheduled for each participant.
Both faculty and such visiting poets as Tom Lux, Angela Ball, Mark Jarman,
and Ellen Bryant Voigt give public readings. A sample schedule of two days
from a recent year shows how theWorkshop is organized:
|7:30-9:30 Breakfast||8:00-9:00 Breakfast|
|11:00-1:00 Lunch||1:30-2:15 Lecture:
Magazines and Editorial
Policies, Stephen Cramer
Stephen Dobyns, Judith Baumel
The State of Art, Voigt,
Waters, Dobyns, Justice, Stitt, Frost
Shakespeare, Petrarch, and Bessie
Smith: Notes on Form, Carol Frost
|4:30-6:00 Dinner and Free Time||6:30 Gala Barbecue|
Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Pictured at left: poet Donald Justice at a reading
A work-study scholarship offers a student a free stay at the conference
and the position of Assistant to the Director, and any student who is recognized
by the Department as having successfully completed the week of activities
will be granted one half credit.
Department Store Retailing
Editing & Copy-editing
Free-lance Writing & Editing
Government Research and Analysis
Indexing and Abstracting
Journalism, Print and Broadcast
Law, including Paralegal Profession
Newspaper, Magazine, and Book Publishing
Queen's English Keeper
University and College Teaching
Video Programming & Production
X Hey--it's a flexible major,
Z but not that flexible.
If you are uncertain as to how a degree with a major in English might point you toward a lucrative or at least a fulfilling post-graduate career, you can find reassurance--and lots of information--at the Trustee Center for Professional Development in Marist Hall. If you would like to get your information from a living, breathing human being, arrange an interview with one of the career counselors; if you'd rather explore an interactive database, ask to be set up with SIGI-Plus; if you are a member of the pen-and-pencil set, you may embark upon the Holland Self-Directed Search, an interest and skills inventory. Of course, as an English major, you might just prefer to read some books. The Markee Center can lend you any of the following titles:
Jobs for English Majors and Other Smart People
Career Choices for Students of English
Career Choices for Students of Communications and Journalism
Careers for Bookworms & Other Literary Types.
You might also want to look at English: The Pre-Professional Major, an inexpensive booklet published by the Modern Language Association and available at the bookstore. As a general rule, the earlier you are aware of your options the more likely you are to select the courses (including work-oriented courses in writing) and internships that will be most useful to you.
When we asked our recent majors what they were doing six months after graduation, we found that they were employed in a wide range of positions--some clearly career oriented, and others more eclectic, perhaps reflecting a decision to "take the summer off" before embarking on a serious job-hunt. Many graduates were working in sales, management, customer service, order processing, marketing, or wholesaling; some are interns. Job titles include Graphics Specialist, Technical Writer, Sports Information Director, Hostess, Meeting Manager, Writer, Radio DJ & Part-time Producer, Counselor, Law Assistant, and Assistant Concepts Director. Keep in mind that though your first job out of college may be the first step in a professional career that will keep you occupied for the rest of your life, it is also likely to be an entry-level position in which you must "pay your dues" as a new entrant into the work force.
Certain more traditional career paths leading from an English major
require a great deal of training and planning, both under- and postgraduate,
and so we elaborate on them on the following pages: the professions of lawyer,
secondary-school teacher, and college professor.
--Become a lawyer
The skills that you will acquire as an English major--in reading, analyzing, researching, and writing--are equally useful in the practice of law, and successful English majors have always been good candidates for law school admission. As the Assistant Dean of Chicago Law School, Richard Badger, wrote many years ago,
Traditionally, it was possible to fix on the legal profession as a last-minute option during one's senior year of study, since it requires no set undergraduate "pre-law"curriculum. Today's very competitive market, however, makes it unlikely that anyone sporting a mediocre record--one lacking not only in distinction but in challenging courses--will be admitted to a reputable law school. Although grades and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores are perhaps the most important admission criteria, other indicators--an ambitious program of courses, the assumption of leadership roles in selected extra-curricular activities, and signs of good character--can make the difference. The acceptance of an invitation to the Honors Program, for instance, and the completion of its series of challenges--or a program heavy in 300- and 400-level courses both within and outside the major--may be taken as a sign that you possess the kind of drive needed in the legal profession.
Professor Peter Markinson is the Pre-Law Advisor. If you are even vaguely contemplating the notion of taking up the law as a career, you should make an appointment to talk with him early in your planning process. Other members of the Pre-Law Advisory Committee, including Professor Hobbs in the English Department, keep informed about the law school scene. If you are on the Pre-Law list you will be kept up to date on the on-campus programs sponsored by the committee as well as on the doings of the student-organized Pre-Law Association.
The Trustee Center maintains an extensive library of catalogs and other
publications related to the law as a career. It also has copies of The
Law School Quest, a booklet and computer disk designed to ease students
through the process of applying to schools. Though somewhat out-of-date,
it covers the basic timetable of activities, which begin in junior year:
Students often do a legal internship, take an LSAT review course, research
and visit law schools, sign up for the LSAT's, and register with the Law
School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), all before senior year. The application
process has become so complicated that it no longer possible to race through
it at the last minute.
--Become a Secondary English Teacher
"I suppose I can always teach." English majors who choose to become teachers have often--and unfairly--been stigmatized as falling into the cliched "those who can't do, teach" category. The reality, however, is rather different: the teaching of middle school and high school English should not be considered as a fall-back position, nor as the last resort of those who never quite felt engaged by literature. (Would you want such people teaching your children?) The ability to handle teenagers is a prerequisite but not sufficient in itself to permit both you and your students to flourish in the classroom: you must love and appreciate literature as well, and know how to read and analyze fiction, poetry, drama, and essays. So, if you can do, teach!
The Education Department on Clark 3 should be your first stop. Pick up the brochure on English Education, read it carefully, and make an appointment with Dr. Jose Rivera, the Chair of the Education Department, to discuss your program. That brochure should answer many of your questions about teacher preparation program, which leads to secondary (grades 7-12) certification. Alert your advisor in the English Department of your plans to teach so that you can choose courses appropriately. Do not postpone many of your English courses until senior year; you will need them as a student teacher. Be demanding of your writing skills, seizing any opportunity to improve your grasp of grammar and style. If you are invited to tutor in the Writing Center, by all means accept: there is no better spur to learning English grammar than tutoring it.
Although the Education Department takes the lead in preparing students to qualify for state certification, the English Department not only bears much of the responsibility for preparing future teachers of English, but also shares in the supervision of those who student teach while at college. Student teachers represent the college and the department to the local community. It is to no one's benefit, least of all the student teacher's, to send out those who are unprepared emotionally or educationally for the pressures of a full-time job in the classroom. To protect all the interested parties, the Department has established the following "Policy on Student Teaching":
An English major who wishes to student teach on the secondary level during his or her senior year must apply to the Chair of the Department of English and Theatre Arts by the third week of the preceding semester. Each student must submit a transcript and a letter of application on the topic "Why I Want to Teach." The letter should be at least 300 words long, and should explain how student teaching relates to the student's long-term goals. Every application will be voted on by the full Department following its interview of the student at a time arranged through the Department Chair.
Before beginning student teaching, students must also
2. Have completed Anatomy of English if they entered school in the fall of 1996 or more recently;
3. Have earned a 3.0 GPA in their major by the start of the semester before they plan to student teach;
4. Have achieved Level IV by January of the junior year.
If you decide late in your college career to teach, or if you prefer a writing emphasis or a second major to a teaching certificate, you still have options in secondary teaching. Some students proceed directly from their major to an English M.A.T. or M.Ed. program, deferring student teaching and a job until they are ready to move to wherever the jobs are. If you plan to be certified later through another institution, spend your time here getting a solid education in literature and liberal arts; many institutions will transfer in Foundation courses in Education but will not accept pedagogical courses from elsewhere towards their certification programs. Professor Yeats would be glad to advise students about alternative paths to certification, whether at the secondary or elementary level.
If, on the other hand, you would like to teach without immediately going on with your schooling, consider the many private day and boarding schools both here and abroad. International schools recruit at conventions in the States, and many private schools subscribe to specialized placement agencies that will send out your credentials to appropriate schools without any charge to you. Some of these schools place high value on your being willing and able to help coach a sport, advise a newspaper or literary magazine, assist with dramatics, live in and supervise a dormitory, or run challenge programs; if you have relevant experiences and skills, flaunt 'em. Even if they don't win you a job, they might still help you to a spot as a teaching fellow at a secondary school. These short-term positions, though paying less than regular appointments, are often competitive and prestigious; even those that are not may offer training and that invaluable commodity, "relevant work experience." The Trustee Center maintains a listing of over 120 teaching fellowship and intern programs at private schools nationwide.
If you are willing to teach where the need is greatest, in the urban
and rural public schools that suffer from a shortage of teachers, you can
apply to Teach for America. This program actively seeks out talented liberal
arts and sciences students who have not majored in education or been certified,
but who bring a commitment to the idea that all of America's children should
have an equal opportunity to succeed. The program predates AmeriCorps, the
national service initiative, and will no doubt survive that program's (at
the time of this writing, impending) demise. The connection with AmeriCorps
makes possible a partial forgiveness of principal or interest on certain
student loans. Even without that connection, employment by Teach for America
can bring a living wage, since salaries are equivalent to those of other
first-year teachers in that school district. The program requires a two-year
commitment and flexibility about the grade level (K-12), subject area, and
geographic region of the placement. The Trustee Center can give you a pamphlet
with further details.
--Teach English as a Second Language
Students interested in teaching English as a Second Language or in teaching
English as a Foreign Language will find that there are graduate programs
leading to a Master's degree in ESL/EFL offering theoretical and methodological
training which will equip them to assume professional, instructional, and
administrative roles in ESL/EFL programs both in the United States and abroad.
--Become a college professor
Obviously you don't have to look far to observe one possible profession open to English majors. College and university teaching offers those who love to read and analyze literature a chance to share that love with undergraduates, graduate students, colleagues, and academic readers. Schools such as Moravian that value teaching over research focus a professor's energies on communicating with undergraduates and colleagues, while research universities may direct a professor's energies to graduate students and to academic readers beyond the walls of that institution. In all cases, you must love language--must love to read, to speak, and to write, and do them all well.
College teaching today usually requires a Ph.D., a course of post-graduate study that can take from four to seven years to complete. Despite predictions that job prospects would brighten during the '90's, the market is still extremely competitive. The total number of teaching positions advertised in the English Edition of the MLA Job Information List has in fact fallen rather precipitously during the past few years, from a high of 1,500 in 1989 to approximately 850 in 1993, and though most of the listed jobs are open to recent graduates only about 40% are tenure-track positions. At the same time the number of PhDs granted has been rising steadily, from 750 in 1987 to a current level of 1000 or so. Although a Masters program might be something you could embark upon simply in order to feel better read, a doctoral program is training for a profession. It certainly can be parlayed into training for nonacademic jobs, but you should not seek a Ph.D. if you are not deeply interested in a specific field--and while you may well be driven to study by curiosity and a love of learning, you should also bear in mind that the job market, as noted above, has expanded and tightened unpredictably during the last two decades.
Graduate study in English, particularly at the doctoral level, is quite different from undergraduate literature study. Primary works are only part of the story. It is expected that graduate students in English today are or will rapidly become conversant with literary theory and with a variety of critical approaches, not all of them currently fashionable. Graduate students must also concern themselves with the literary and cultural contexts of the works in their major period or genre, and most programs expect their graduates to become competent enough in one or more relevant foreign languages to be able to read the sources or the criticism necessary for dissertation research and subsequent scholarship. More and more, graduate students are urged to publish critical articles or their dissertations as signs of their promise as scholars.
At the Trustee Center, you can learn ways to access current information on graduate programs through the Internet. Petersen's Guide to Graduate Study is available on-line, as are many university catalogs. Once you have learned to use Catapult, a program developed at Moravian to make access easy to these resources, you can browse from any Internet connection.
The structure and tone of doctoral programs differ immensely from school to school. When you research programs, be sure to delve into the details before making any decisions. Some programs, for instance, admit large numbers of M.A. students (perhaps to insure that large courses will be staffed with teaching assistants), but allow only a select few to proceed to the doctoral program. Others make a commitment from the beginning to all the students they admit for doctoral study. Some programs have traditional requirements, including a uniform exam for all students at an early stage of the program, whereas others allow each student to tailor a program to meet specific interests. Financial support may or may not be available for up to seven years; it may include "tuition remission" with a teaching assistantship, or you may have to pay tuition out of your meager stipend.
Such details make the difference in the way your years of graduate education
feel; though a school with a good name certainly helps your chances of landing
a job once you've earned your degree, the name will not make your life as
a grad student bearable. The catalogs issued by the Graduate School of a
university usually will not include these key details. After exploring the
online resources, look at the graduate program materials collected in the
Writing Center filing cabinet, and then write to departments that interest
you for further information, including a listing of professors with their
scholarly interests and the courses they teach. Members of the department
may be able to advise you about the reputations of professors and programs.
--Apply to Graduate Programs in Literary Studies
The Markee Center's pamphlet "Graduate School" is well worth reading
as you begin considering graduate school. It will help you examine your
motives and goals, lead you through the process of obtaining adequate information
so that you can evaluate programs, and encourage you to begin the process
early. By the end of your junior year, you should be well along in your
planning if you hope to proceed directly to graduate school: recently, in
fact, one of our top graduates found that a highly competitive program had
already accepted its class of Ph.D. students by the application deadline--so
be sure to apply early.
--On taking the GRE
At the very least, you will need to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test. The typical "paper-and-pencil" test is being phased out in favor of a computer-based test; as the transition proceeds, expect to see fewer test dates. Plan ahead so that you can spread your test-taking out; otherwise, you may need to take the General Test and the Subject Test on the same day. The Subject Test (also called the "Achievement Test") is required for admission to most M.A. and Ph.D. programs. English departments pay particular attention to the Analytical and Verbal sections of the General Test and to the English Subject Test, often publishing median scores of successful applicants in these areas.
The GRE 1994-95 Information & Registration Bulletin catalog, a copy of which is available in the Department Chair's office, describes the "Literature in English" subject test as follows:
The test contains approximately 230 questions on literature in English
from the British Isles, the United States, and other countries. It also
contains a few questions on major works, including the Bible, in translation.
Factual questions test a student's knowledge of writers typically studied
in college courses; for example, a student may be asked to identify a writer
or work described in a brief critical comment or represented in a short
excerpt. Interpretive questions test a student's ability to read passages
of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction prose perceptively; such questions
may address meaning, use of language, form and structure, literary techniques,
and various aspects of style" (19).
Anon.: Bible (King James Version): Genesis, the Gospel According to Saint
Anon.: Sir. Gawain and the Green Knight
Arnold: "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" and selected poems
Austen: Emma or Pride and Prejudice
Baudelaire: Selected Poems
Beckett: Waiting for Godot
Behn: The Rover or Oroonoko
Blake: Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Borges: Selected stories and essays
Boswell: Life of Johnson (selections)
Bradstreet: Selected poetry
Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Brontë: Jane Eyre
Browne: Religio Medici
Browning, R. : Selected Poems
Bunyan: Pilgrim's Progress
Byron: Selected Poems
Calvino: The Baron in the Trees
Carlyle: Sartor Resartus (selections)
Cather: My Antonia
Cervantes: Don Quixote
Chaucer: Canterbury Tales
Chopin: The Awakening
Coleridge: Selected poems including "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Congreve: The Way of the World
Conrad: Heart of Darkness or Lord Jim
Crane : The Red Badge of Courage
Dante: The Divine Comedy: The Inferno
Defoe: Moll Flanders or Robinson Crusoe
DeQuincey: Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Dickens: Great Expectations or David Copperfield
Dickinson :Selected poetry
Donne: Selected poetry
Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dryden: "Essay of Dramatic Poesy"
Eliot, T.S.: Selected poetry
Eliot, G.: The Mill on the Floss
Ellison: Invisible Man
Emerson: Selected poetry and essays
Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury
Fielding: Tom Jones or Joseph Andrews
Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
Forster : A Passage to India or Howard's End
Frost: Selected poetry
Hardy: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter and selected stories
Hemingway : In Our Time
Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey
Hopkins: Selected poems
Irving: The Sketch Book
James: Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, or What Maisie Knew
Jewett: The Country of the Pointed Firs
Joyce: Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka: Selected stories
Keats: Selected letters and poems
Kingston: Woman Warrior
Lamb: Essays of Elia
Lawrence: Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow
Lessing, D.: Selected stories
Lowell, R.: Selected poems
Marlowe: Doctor Faustus
Marvell: Selected poems
Milton: Paradise Lost (selections) and selected shorter poems
Morrison: Beloved or Song of Solomon
Olsen: Tell Me a Riddle
O'Neill: A Long Day's Journey into Night
Plath: Selected poems
Poe: Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque
Pope: The Rape of the Lock and other selected poems
Pound: Selected poems
Richardson: Clarissa or Pamela
Ruskin: Selected essays
Shakespeare: As You Like It, Hamlet, 1 Henry IV, The Tempest or Winter's
Tale, Macbeth, sonnets
Shaw: Heartbreak House or Pygmalion
Shelley, P.B. : Selected poetry
Shelley, M.: Frankenstein
Sidney: Defence of Poesy
Spenser: The Faerie Queene (selections)
Sterne: Tristram Shandy
Swift: Gulliver's Travels, "A Modest Proposal," selected poems
Tennyson: Selected poems
Thackeray: Vanity Fair
Thomas, D. : Selected poems
Twain: Huckleberry Finn
Virgil: The Aeneid
Walcott: Another Life
Wells: Selected stories
Wharton: The Age of Innocence
Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest or The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
Woolf: To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway
Wordsworth: The Prelude (selections) and selected poems
Wright: Black Boy or Native Son
Yeats: Selected poems
There is no short-cut to becoming familiar with literary and critical
terminology, but you might begin with a book such as M. H. Abrams' Glossary
of Literary Terms. The sixth edition includes helpful short essays on
various critical approaches and types of literary theory.
M.F.A. programs have been classified by the Associated Writing Programs
(AWP) into three types: Studio Programs, in which the student's writing,
as developed through workshops, tutorials, and a creative thesis, is paramount;
Studio/Academic programs, which balance student writing with literature
coursework; and Traditional Literary Study and Creative Writing programs,
which train students as literature professors as well as writers. Our creative
writing faculty can provide you with additional information on various programs
and you may wish to consult the AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs,
which also describes M.A. degrees in Professional Writing, in English/Technical
and Professional Communication, in the Teaching of Writing, in Corporate
and Organizational Communications, and M.S. degrees in Technical and Professional
". . . A whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard."