As an English major at Castleton, you will become a part of a close-knit, stimulating community of faculty and students who understand that studying reading and writing at the college level can be both practical and intellectually engaging.

Class sizes are often smaller than the college average, giving you a more personal engagement with your peers, professors, and course content. It is not unusual to find students and faculty talking together outside of class. The English faculty take pride in advising students as they navigate their intellectual journey in, and beyond, the university.

The major in English offers you a balance of deep and broad study through a core of common classes and four areas of concentration: American Literature, World Literature, Children’s Literature, and a Concentration by Contract. Each concentration takes reading and writing seriously, for we realize that the best way for us to prepare students for a professional life is to cultivate a sense of intellectual independence and a love of language in its many uses.

As an English major you will follow a rigorous, varied, and stimulating course of study designed to prepare you for any career path you choose to pursue: graduate school, teaching, business, law, medicine, journalism, government, etc. You will not only develop a deep foundational knowledge of literature, but also hone interpretive, analytical, and critical skills that form the basis of the core abilities or skill sets that employers and professional schools find most attractive. Upon graduation you will have the ability to think creatively and critically, solve real-world problems, and communicate clearly and elegantly in both speech and writing.

American Literature Concentration

From the satiric humor of Mark Twain to the playful language games of Gertrude Stein, from the moral outrage of Frederick Douglass and Henry David Thoreau to the caustic social observations of Edith Wharton and Shirley Jackson, American literature offers a window into the diversity and contradictions of American identity. Students who concentrate in American literature can go directly into graduate study or enter into a variety of fields, bringing rich and subtle insights into our peculiar nation and its peoples.

Students concentrating in American Literature typically take:

  • American Literature: Colonial to Civil War
  • American Literature: Civil War to Present
  • American Poetry
  • American Novel
  • American Short Fiction
  • American Drama
  • American Literary Movements
  • African American Literature
  • American Literary Careers
  • Women Writers

World Literature Concentration

World Literature lets you tour the world past and present. Sail the Mediterranean with Odysseus, conquer Asia with Genghis Khan, tour Hell with Dante, and fight demons with Rama. Try new things: defy authority with Antigone, become enlightened with the Buddha, climb Machu Picchu with Pablo Neruda. Find out how it feels to be the outside in Colonial India or Africa. Listen to the voices of people from other countries as they tell you what it is like to experience their cultures from the inside: the Japanese perspective on Hiroshima, the African perspective on the slave trade, the Native American perspective on the United States. Expand your horizons to encompass new ways of seeing. Prepare yourself for life in a global society. See through eyes that are not your own and gain the ability to see the world better.

Students concentrating in World Literature typically take:

  • World Literature through Renaissance
  • World Literature from Enlightenment
  • Epic Poetry
  • Lyric Poetry
  • Greek Tragedy
  • World Fiction
  • Asian Literature and Thought
  • Studies in World Literature
  • Dante
  • Women Writers
  • Folk Tales

Children's Literature Concentration

Why Children's Literature? One of few such academic offerings in the Northeast, the Concentration in Children's Literature treats children's literature as a subject meriting serious study and also practical, "hands on" application. It is typically pursued by students with career plans of teaching at the pre-K through middle school level, working at a library, planning reading programs to meet the needs of children of varying ages, or actually designing and writing children's books.

Students concentrating in Children's Literature typically take:

  • Nineteenth Century Children's Literature
  • Twentieth Century Children's Literature
  • Lyric Poetry
  • Overview of Children's Literature
  • Poetry for Children
  • Images of the Child in Literature
  • Art of Children's Book Illustration
  • Folk Tales
  • Special Topics in Children's Literature

Concentration by Contract

A major by design, the concentration by contract gives students the ability to create their own course of study in English to encompass individual interests and career plans.

The concentration by contract may assume a variety of possibilities. A student desiring to focus upon writing, for example, might, in addition to the required courses Expository and Argumentative Writing (ENG 2010) and The English Language: Grammar (ENG 3690), take such courses as Creative Writing, Technical and Professional Writing, Writing Non-Fiction, Special Topics in Writing, Advanced Creative Writing, Internship in English, or an Independent Study.

Similarly, a student desiring to pursue a concentration by contract with an emphasis on drama might select, in addition to the one required course in Shakespeare, courses such as Greek Tragedy, Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories or Shakespeare's Tragedies and Late Comedies, American Drama, Script Workshop I, Script Workshop II, or an Independent Study.

A student desiring to pursue a concentration by contract in general English, as opposed to a specialization in American, World, or Children's Literature, could choose from among all literature courses (no more than three courses at the 2000 level; at least one course from each concentration), as well as creative writing: for example, Creative Writing, World Literature through Renaissance, Twentieth Century Children's Literature, Lyric Poetry, American Literary Careers, and Women Writers.