Why English?

 

An English degree is about more than the book. English majors learn to see complex problems in their full richness and don’t take the first answer, or the simplest answer, as truth. In our courses, numerous kinds of texts – from medieval poems to postmodern novels, adapted screenplays to literary criticism itself – appear as windows into the cultures and conditions in which they were produced. English majors develop habits of mind attuned to the reasons why people do what they do and write what they write. Our graduates are engaged, empathetic people pursuing a creative, critical, and useful degree.

Program Highlights

The English major includes an array of subjects ranging in literary history to film and visual culture, creative and nonfiction writing, rhetoric and literacy, and the digital humanities. We focus on the big picture and the details: close reading skills and critical analysis, how literacy and language change over time, and how social and historical movements are represented in texts. Reading, writing, active listening, discussing, presenting, and debating are foundational activities in our classrooms. Your first courses will prepare you to understand major historic, cultural, and literary time periods, including surveys of World, U.S., and British literatures and a wide range of elective courses. Upper-division classes call upon you to dig deep into specific authors, historical moments, themes, theories, and writing styles.

Our students study in Moreland Hall – a historic building in the heart of campus, across from the Memorial Union. English majors have access to several study abroad opportunities, from studying post-colonial literature in Cape Town, creative writing in Rome, or Shakespeare in Sydney. Our students also have access to the Smith Media Lab for video projects, podcasts, and other creative endeavors.

Faculty

Faculty in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film are a prolific and distinguished group of scholars, teachers, and creative writers.  In 2018-19 alone, faculty members have written for the Washington Post and other news outlets, and have published books at top university presses and creative publishing houses.  During this same time, their work has been honored by the Smithsonian and other international scholarly organizations and has even been reviewed in Science. They've hosted NPR radio shows, published open-source literary projects, discovered strange new word origins, and have been nominated for 3 Oregon Book Awards.   Housed entirely within Moreland Hall, they work closely with and mentor students at every point in the English major, offering a Liberal Arts experience within a Research-One University.

 

"What is Understatement? A Guide for English Students and Teachers

Professor Lily Sheehan answers the question "What is Understatement?" for the Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms video series, one of many public outreach initiatives within our School.

Professionalization

In today’s highly competitive job market, adding a professional internship experience to one’s degree is attractive to potential employers who often are seeking job candidates with a more versatile and “seasoned” background. While the vast majority of internships are unpaid, the value of an internship experience is significant. The knowledge and experience attained and the internship’s notation on a resume may make the difference in landing a particular job. In recent years, English majors and Writing minors have interned with a wide variety of sponsors:  OSU Marketing and Web Communications, OSU Press, INTO OSU, Nike, the Seattle Mariners, King 5 TV in Seattle, Calyx Books in Corvallis and Portland Monthly, to name a few.

A Literary Community

SWLF is home to the English Literature Association, a friendly organization aimed at encouraging the enjoyment and application of the English language in all aspects. SWLF also hosts three lecture series – the Visiting Writers Series, the Literary Northwest Series, and the Critical Questions Series – that bring renowned visitors to campus. The Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, the largest prize given to a writer by a university in the west, has been awarded to Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff, Rita Dove, and Colson Whitehead. Courses center around the work of the Stone Award recipient, who also visits OSU to deliver public readings and to meet with students.

About Words: Episode 1 - Keith Scribner

 

The Four-Year Graduation Guarantee

The School of Writing, Literature, and Film guarantees that students can earn a BA in English in four years. Thanks in part to this guarantee, our School graduated 43 talented undergraduates in 2019. The four-year graduation guarantee ensures that our students know how they’re progressing through their degree, what courses they can take, and what opportunities are available.

Minors and Certificates

The School of Writing, Literature, and Film hosts not only the BA in English, but also several online and on-campus minors and certificates. Students can choose English, Writing, Applied Journalism, or Film as independent minors, and can complete the Writing minor online through our Ecampus. We also feature a new certificate program in Scientific, Technical, and Professional Communication.

Journalism Minor

Alumna Karli Rumberg (2017) completed her Masters of Education at Stanford University and now teaches at Presentation High School in San Jose.

Alumni

Graduates from our BA in English go on to exciting careers in a range of different fields:

  • Victoria Genovese (2013): Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Mississippi State University
  • Alan Duran (2014): Immigration Attorney in Medford
  • Rachel Sandstrom Morrison (2015): PR Manager at Wild Roots Spirits
  • Darryl Oliver (2015): English Instructor at La Selle College Preparatory Academy in Pasadena, CA
  • Megan Haverman (2016): Project Manager at FINE Brand Agency in Portland
  • Joshua Valentine (2016): Masters of Library Science student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
  • Austin Webster (BA 2017, MA 2019): PhD student in English Literature at UCLA
  • Cecilia Curiel (2017): English Instructor in Shanghai, China
  • Danielle Palatin (2017): PhD student in English at the University of Illinois-Champaign
  • Ethan Heusser (2018): MFA student in Poetry at the University of Iowa
  • Devin Curtis (2018): Media Specialist at Vanderbilt University
  • Garrett Kitamura (2018): Law student at the University of Virginia

  • Sydney Sullivan (2018): PhD student in English at the University of Arizona

  • Justin Bennett (2019): Intern at U.S. Congress / Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Rwanda

Learning Outcomes

  • Write effective arguments about a variety of literary and cultural texts.
  • Use information literacy and new technologies to plan and conduct research appropriate to initial and advanced study in English.
  • Recognize and interpret a wide variety of texts and genres (may include visual, material, inter-cultural texts), using a range of theoretical and interpretive strategies, including close reading.
  • Demonstrate the role of context(s) in production, reception, and transmission of literary and cultural texts (across periods, histories, geographical/national spaces, and cultural differences).

On the Wing Marbled Murrelets by Rachael Vega

Oregon State senior English major Rachael Vega worked closely with Oregon State Productions to write this beautiful essay and record the voice-over.