Why study English or English/creative writing?

Our programs are united by an appreciation for the power of language as both an aesthetic medium and a social force. Students read analytically, think probingly, and write creatively and persuasively. They become part of a thousand-year-old tradition of shaping themselves and their world through the study of the English language and literature.

The skills students develop through the study of English are highly marketable. Employers value creativity, analytical thinking, and effective communication — as well as historical perspective and the ability to synthesize the views of others. These attributes are mainstays of a major or minor from the English department.

Why study English or English/creative writing at Sweet Briar?

Sweet Briar English and English/creative writing majors are supported in and outside the classroom. In small, discussion-based classes, students are given the opportunity — and responsibility — to ask questions and join a community that values different ideas. We expect students to take an active and interested role in their own learning.

English ClassEnglish students choose from a wide range of courses spanning British, American, and Anglophone literatures, from Old English through the 21st century. They also study works in translation. In creative writing courses, students work closely with professors and classmates as they produce fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction in intimate, themed workshops. Film courses introduce students to the history, theory and vocabulary of film production and analysis, building a strong foundation for the study of the cinematic and literary arts.

As seniors, English majors undertake a yearlong research project of their own design. They work one-on-one with professors and in faculty-led seminars toward a thesis and public presentation. English/creative writing majors complete a portfolio of their best work in collaboration with a faculty member.

Visiting writers bring fresh perspectives through readings and class discussions. Recent authors include United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Barbara Kingsolver, Edith Pearlman, Masha Hamilton, Salman Rushdie, and Yiyun Li.

The journalism, new media and communications minor builds on the study of the liberal arts to prepare students for a career in journalism. Students learn the fundamentals of newswriting and reporting, as well as the effective use of communications technologies, since all media professionals must be able to write and edit for the web.

What can you do with an English or English/creative writing major?

The study of English at Sweet Briar prepares students for the challenges of advanced study and the rigors of the workforce. Our English majors and minors have gone on to world-class graduate programs in literature, creative writing, law, journalism, and business, as well as to successful careers in education, publishing, marketing, journalism, business, finance, public relations, communications, and library and information science.

English/creative writing majors have received fellowships to some of the country’s most distinguished graduate creative writing programs, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Pittsburgh. Others have pursued graduate degrees in literature, education, communications, law, and library science.

Interdisciplinary Programs

The English department works closely with the following interdisciplinary programs: