The Study of English

The English major at Westminster College promotes the development of rational and creative abilities through the studies of literary texts within the liberal arts curriculum. Majors advance through a course sequence emphasizing the seminar format and culminating in independent study. This sequence is complemented by the majors' participation over four years in colloquia, field experience, and portfolio building facilitated by the mentoring process. Mentoring requires the close supervision and encouragement of students as they choose their literary studies as they develop their abilities, as they work collaboratively, and as they build substantive portfolios that document their responses to literature and experience. The program will have succeeded with those students who become independent scholars realizing the range of their abilities, the multidisciplinary and global natures of their study, the ethical dimensions of their work, and the contexts and strategies for writing and reading.

Vision Statement

The Department envisions majors who become increasingly independent learners across the four years of their undergraduate education. We envision students who gain confidence in themselves and with that confidence express their ideas clearly and boldly. We envision students who are tolerant of others and comfortable with contradictions, complexity, and ambiguity. We envision students who are seekers and creators. We envision majors who grow in an understanding of their own discipline within the broader context of the liberal arts and of world cultures. Ultimately, we envision majors who are empowered by their education to interact effectively and usefully in their society.

Mission Statement

The mission of the English Department, therefore, is to guide its majors through a program that will prepare them to be flexible enough to handle life's vicissitudes and fickleness by teaching them to read widely and critically, to greet everything with a healthy humanistic skepticism, to identify and solve problems, to write and speak clearly and effectively, and to know and like themselves and to be empowered by confidence in their knowledge and abilities. The department must encourage students to become self-reliant learners with the ability to write creatively, to analyze critically, and to think independently about literature, the world, and themselves. The department will succeed in its mission if it graduates independent learners with broad research capabilities who can speak and write with facility about the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions they ask about texts and who can probe the connections between their questions and the questions asked by other disciplines and cultures.

Department Goals

In keeping with our mission, English majors will demonstrate the following:

  • the ability to discuss literature, including engaging in an exchange of ideas, and offering and supporting insights.
  • the capacity to sustain controlled, critical arguments that analyze and synthesize texts.
  • an understanding of the craft of writing, including concision, diction, grammar, and syntax.
  • the ability to produce creative writing that shows an awareness of language, freedom from cliche, and an understanding of genre, style, and topic.
  • the ability to identify and use a range of sources suitable to the scholarly conversation on a particular topic, to evaluate and integrate source material, and to document accurately.
  • an understanding of the literary tradition, the historical and cultural contexts of literature, and critical methods of reading
  • the ability to give well-planned, engaging presentations.

Major and Minor Requirements

Please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for a list of course requirements for English Majors and Minors.