The English department offers majors in English literature and in English literature-creative writing, as well as a minor.
Our curriculum includes courses in British, Irish, American and postcolonial literatures; film; the history and structure of the language; as well as a full range of courses in creative writing. Students choose from an array of courses that explore literature and writing through 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);
- single or double authors (e.g. Dante, Jane Austen, Hawthorne and James).
Our creative writing program offers introductory courses, advanced workshops, and independent studies in
- creative nonfiction,
- dramatic writing,
- and screenwriting.
Students may also arrange special study courses in literature or writing with a faculty member. Recent topics have included the Harlem Renaissance, writing about film, the graphic novel, and contemporary literary theory.
Our English literature program exposes students to a variety of ways of reading and understanding literature. 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. English Literature majors are encouraged to take one or more creative writing courses as a way of developing their own creativity and as another way of looking at literary production.
Our creative writing program encourages students to try their hand at several genres so that they will develop their creativity and hone their use of language and sense of structure. The curriculum is supplemented by a program of visiting writers, who come to campus to read their works and talk with students. Because good readers make good writers, the English Literature-Creative Writing major includes a strong foundation in literature.
Foundation Course and Senior Seminars
All English majors take a foundation course, Perspectives on Literature, and a capstone senior research seminar in which they produce a substantial original work of literary criticism or creative writing. Prospective English majors should enroll in ENG 280 Perspectives on Literature and 200-level literature and creative writing courses as early as their first year, but certainly during their sophomore year.
Topics and Studies Courses
To allow maximum coverage of the broad expanse of literatures in English, many of our literature courses fall under “topics” or “studies” headings, such as Topics in Film Study, Studies in Early Literature, or Studies in Gender and Sexuality. These courses cover a standard range or era, but the specific focus may change from year to year, and students may take such a course more than once. For example, ENG 313 Studies in Shakespeare offers the specific topics of “Shakespeare and Race” one year and “Shakespeare and the Folktale” another year; a student may take 313 twice since the topics are different.
A student may minor in English by choosing any six courses that reflect her particular interests or that sample the department’s many offerings.
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. This annual gathering began in 1972 and is the oldest continuous literary event in the state. Recent festival guests include Julia Alvarez, Rita Dove, Bapsi Sidhwa, Joyce Carol Oates, Martín Espada, Philip Lopate, Sharon Olds, Susan-Lori Parks, and Michael Harper. The Writers’ Festival is an important part of the cocurriculum for both majors, and English majors participate in many aspects of the event, including having breakfast or lunch with visiting writers and escorting them on campus tours.
Programs, activities, opportunities
Agnes Scott students supplement their English majors in ways that develop their personal and professional interests through programs, activities, and opportunities both on and off campus.
English majors are encouraged to study abroad, and the courses they take may count towards the major. Recently English majors have enjoyed a semester or year abroad at universities in a wide variety of locations, including the Czech Republic; Ireland, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Mexico.
The English department has a close relationship with the department of theatre. English majors participate in the department’s productions and in Blackfriars, the student theatre troupe (the oldest continually performing theatre group in Atlanta). Many students double major in theatre and English, and the dramatic writing courses in our creative writing program are taught by a theatre professor.
The Center for Writing and Speaking, a peer tutoring organization where students help other students develop their writing and speaking skills, is sponsored by the English department, and many English majors work there.
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.
ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Tutoring
Atlanta is an international city with many volunteer opportunities for teaching ESOL in a variety of settings. English majors tutor at area schools and community centers, as well at organizations such as Refugee Family Services. On our own campus, English majors work with faculty teaching ESOL to staff members.
The student-run newspaper The Profile, the yearbook Silhouette, and the creative writing magazine Aurora are often staffed by English majors. English majors frequently work as interns in the Office of Communications, writing, editing, and gathering materials for college publications such as The Alumnae Magazine and Main Events.
City of Atlanta
Atlanta offers a nationally recognized theatre company, the Alliance, along with many other outstanding resident and visiting theatre companies; readings and lectures at the many colleges and universities in town; concerts of all types of music; open-mic nights at local coffee houses; an excellent feminist bookstore, Charis, and an active arts scene, which sustains a variety of mainstream, alternative and underground newspapers and literary journals. The Georgia Center for the Book is located few blocks away. The Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta has a well-regarded readings series, as does Georgia Tech (“Poetry at Tech”).
What can I do with this degree?
Agnes Scott graduates who decide to go on to graduate study in literature or creative writing have an impressive record of admission to top MA, MFA, and PhD programs. From there, graduates go on to careers as teacher-scholars, editors and writers. The degree in English is extremely versatile, and graduates also go on to graduate study in other disciplines and to careers in law, print and broadcast journalism, elementary and secondary teaching, business, government and private nonprofit organizations. Two recent graduates have gone on to be singer-songwriters with their own rock bands.
Recently, Agnes Scott English majors have pursued graduate study at these schools among others:
- Harvard University
- Sarah Lawrence College
- University of Maryland
- University of Rochester
- University of Southern California
- University of Wisconsin
- 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
- University of Georgia Law School
- Emory University Law School
- University of Texas Medical School
- Emory University Medical School
Other popular postgraduate choices include Teach for America, the JET Program, and the publishing institutes at the University of Denver and Columbia University.
The Department of English wants to hear from you. Please e-mail Peggy Thompson, the Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English and department chair, at email@example.com or 404 471-6218.