Program Requirements and Courses

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Additional Program Information

Why study English?

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 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 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 program.

Why study English at Sweet Briar?

Sweet Briar English 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. 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.

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 and how to effectively use communications technologies, as all media professionals must be able to write and edit for the web.

What can you do with an English 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.