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Major in English
Harness the power of words.
Students who major in English at Clark don’t just possess a love of language and literature; they have an abiding sense of the power of the word that compels meaningful contributions to the larger world. Seasoned faculty will guide you as you engage in close reading, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and cogent writing. The program encourages the development of a sense of literary history, sensitivity to cultural values, and expansive knowledge of important authors, works and periods of literature in English, as well as the tools to live a life of consequence.
The English major will prepare you for a wide variety of career paths; its adaptability makes it the quintessential “preprofessional” major.
Why Study English at Clark?
- Explore both foundational and emergent areas of literature and culture with experienced professors.
- Hone the craft of creative writing with professors who are also practicing professional novelists and poets.
- Work with primary archival material at Worcester’s prestigious American Antiquarian Society or at Clark’s own Goddard Library Archives and Special Collections.
- Join our close-knit community of faculty and students who participate in lively intellectual and social engagements, such as ClarkWrites (the student-run creative writing blog), our annual alumni event ChowderFest, and the yearly Undergraduate Shakespeare Conference.
Your Will. Your Way.
The Major Path
English majors and minors at Clark epitomize the voracious Clarkie. They possess an intellectual hunger that drives them to make their Clark educational experience their own. Students progress from the simpler pleasures of reading and writing to the empowerment afforded by critical engagement with a variety of texts.
The course The Text, the World, and the Critic: Narrative and Form is required of all English majors. In addition to courses foundational to literary studies, such as Introduction to Shakespeare and Major American Writers, you can choose from innovatively conceived and cutting-edge courses that both expand conventional fields of study and practice and link those fields with other disciplines.
You also can broaden your critical perspectives through interdisciplinary seminars. Examples of such courses have included Science Fiction and the Mind of the Other (English and philosophy), In Sickness and In Health: Narrative and the Art of Healing (English and psychology), and Freedom Dreams: Global Freedom Struggles from Decolonization to the Present (English and history). You can also apply to join, for credit, an American Studies Seminar offered by Worcester’s prestigious American Antiquarian Society, a national research library of American history.
In the fall of your senior year, you’ll take part in the distinctive English capstone experience. During this semester-long, workshop-style class, you’ll develop an independent research project of your own design that will serve as a culmination of your individualized program of study. That program might take the form of a specialization within the major, or a combination of the English major with a minor, concentration, or second major. The capstone is not only an opportunity for you to demonstrate skills emphasized in the English major, but to articulate your own academic career and to look forward to your vocation after graduation.
For the most up-to-date requirements for the major, please consult the 2018-19 English Department Handbook.
In an effort to enhance students’ opportunities for entrance into the health professions, the Pre-health Advising Program has a special arrangement with the English Department that allows students to major in English while meeting the specific requirements of medical schools.
The department and faculty offices are located in beautiful Anderson House. Many English courses, department colloquia, and other events take place in this historic building. We invite you to read our blog and our newsletter, The English Times [PDF], to learn more.
Qualified students are eligible for election to Sigma Tau Delta, the National Honor Society in English.
William H. Carter, Jr. Prize in English
The William H. Carter Jr. Prize in English was established by Harriet R. Carter in memory of her husband, William H. Carter, Jr., an English department professor for over three decades. In addition to his teaching and scholarship, Dr. Carter chaired the department for three consecutive terms. The fund supports a prize to be awarded to an outstanding rising senior majoring in English.
Virginia Mason Vaughan Prize in English for the Most Outstanding Honors Thesis
This award was established by Clark alumni Michael and Lisa Klein Leffell to honor both Professor Vaughan and the most outstanding graduating English majors. Awards are given based on quality of research, overall conceptualization, mastery of a complex literary topic, and elegance in writing.
Skills you will learn include:
- Principles of effective written and oral communication
- Critical theory and analysis — apply critical, theoretical, and interdisciplinary approaches (such as philological, historical, feminist, deconstructionist, psychoanalytic, or linguistic) to a variety of texts
- Collaboration — work successfully on team projects
- Integration of knowledge and skills — develop well-supported original ideas about a variety of texts, write cogent critiques, and deliver effective presentations
- Cultural knowledge and how it applies to civic engagement
During your junior year, you might be accepted into the English honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors thesis topics are:
- “Palpable Verb Tenses:” Non-Patriarchal Models of Readerly and Authorial Position
- Gender in Conflict: A History of Iraqi Women from Ba’athism to Occupation
- There Were Never Heroes: Autonomy, Identity, and the Modern Age in the Super Hero Genre
- A Return to Linguistics: Morrison’s Interpretation of the Song of Songs in Conversation with Song of Solomon
- To Ourselves and Our Posterity: Fathers, Sons, and the American Dream in William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian
The LEEP difference
An education merging knowledge, action, and impact
With Liberal Education and Effective Practice, lessons begin in the classroom but never end there. Your learning includes world and workplace experiences that forge your skills and shape your path.
We’ve Got It Covered
Black Political Literary Movements of the 20th Century
Explore the origins, politics, and legacies of 20th-century black literary and cultural movements like New York’s Harlem Renaissance, the Afrocriollo movement in Latin America, and the Negritude Movement in Paris.
Writing for Modern Media
Want to write an article that might actually sell? Delve into the world of modern media — including ‘zines, social media, and blogs — and identify the essential tools and avenues used by today’s successful writers.
Making Gender Through the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Did you know that gender roles became more clearly defined in 18th-century Britain? Uncover how the texts of this period helped shape perceptions of masculinity and femininity, both socially and culturally.
Traumatic Tales: British Romantic Literature and Nationhood
Explore through a variety of genres how British Romantic writers attempted to articulate a homogeneous national identity by shaping discourses around class, home, and the nation-state.
Explore what the English Department has to offer