2023-2024 College Catalog

English with Writing Emphasis, Bachelor of Arts

Department Chair:

Rob Seguin (Acting Chair)


David Cody; Lisa Darien; Bradley Fest; Susan Navarette; Robert Seguin; Tessa Yang

Adjunct Faculty:

Martin Christiansen; Alice Lichtenstein; Carol Silverberg; Jeff Simonds; Angela Vincent


English with Writing Emphasis


The mission of the English Department is to enhance our majors' ability to think critically, contextually, and creatively about a broad range of literary and cultural topics, and to express these ideas in clear and powerful analytic prose. The mission of both the Literature and Creative Writing majors is to develop in students the ability to apply their acquired literary knowledge to the practice of writing in an array of literary genres.


We are prepare our graduates for fields for which critical thinking, creativity, and effective writing are essential skills that will serve our majors throughout their lifetime. An informed appreciation of aesthetic design in the creative use of language forms the basis of literary and textual study. Department faculty teach a disciplined approach to reading and writing about literature and various media from a wide range of critical and theoretical perspectives. Through analysis, interpretation, critique, and debate, students become better able to formulate and express their ideas about the world in which they live and their place in it.

The study of literature reminds us that all people have voices and that much of our greatest literature has articulated as well as challenged prevailing cultural norms. The individual’s encounter with literature has always been a crucial part of the process of transformation, of self-definition. Poems, stories, novels, plays, and films record our blindness, our follies, and our crimes just as surely as they record our insights, our virtues and, occasionally, our genius. We study literature, literary theory, writing, and culture-history in order to examine our beliefs and traditions critically.

In keeping with its emphasis on written expression, the department offers a variety of courses in analytical, expository and creative writing. Creative writing courses rely on literary study, workshops, and individual conferences to help student poets, novelists, essayists and playwrights understand the creative process and create afresh imagined worlds. Courses in the Writing Competency Program employ several rhetorical and pedagogical strategies to ensure that students graduate knowing how to write well. The Writing Center works in concert with writing and literature courses and across the disciplines, helping students from all majors achieve skill, precision, and grace in their writing.

Our mission includes maintaining and staffing the following programs:

  • Program I Literature Courses for Majors: a wide range of courses, including period surveys, major author courses, and topic-oriented courses.
  • Program II Creative Writing: introductory, intermediate, and advanced workshops devoted to writing and critiquing of fiction and poetry. These are the core courses of the Creative Writing Major, even as they support the English Major with an emphasis in writing and additionally meet the Experiential Learning requirements of the general education curriculum. They also prepare students for M.F.A. programs in creative writing.
  • Program III English Major with an Emphasis in Writing: Students seeking to major in both English and Creative Writing should declare the "English Major with Emphasis in Writing," which blends essential coursework in the two majors and requires two separate senior theses (one in literary analysis, one in creative writing). 

English majors are advised to attain an intermediate-level competence in a foreign language, especially if they plan to do graduate work in English. Other recommended professional pathways include; courses in Political Science, Anthropology, Business, Visual Culture and Digital Design, and Media Studies.

In the spring of junior year, each English major meets with her or his advisor and another department faculty member of the student’s choosing to complete the Junior Review, a formal review of the student’s course selections, plans for a senior project, and post-graduation aspirations. The Junior Review helps to ensure that majors will complete all College and department requirements by his or her declared ACD (“Anticipated Completion Date”) and will have taken a variety of upper-level period and genre courses featuring critical methodologies prerequisite to writing that perpare one to write a Senior Project. These methodologies will combine close reading, textual analysis, scholarly research, and literary criticism and theory. English majors and Creative Writing majors must complete a senior project, typically during January Term of their senior year. The project consists either of a long paper exploring a particular author or subject in depth or an original manuscript of creative writing. Individuals majoring in English with an Emphasis in Writing are essentially double majoring in English and Creative Writing, and therefore complete two senior projects, one in literary analysis and one an original manuscript of creative writing. The thesis writer “defends” his or her project in an oral review by the student’s study advisor and another department member selected by the student.

English majors who plan to earn a teaching certification in secondary English are required to have earned a 3.0 average in their major by the start of the semester before they student teach, with allowance for exceptions in extraordinary circumstances. Such students should obtain a copy of the department’s “Policy on Student Teachers” from the Department Chair or Chair of the English Education Committee no later than their sophomore year. Students must meet the requirements outlined in this policy statement to qualify for student teaching.

The department offers extracurricular opportunities for special study outside the classroom. Students meet and interact with prominent writers and scholars through the Visiting Writers Series and the Babcock Lecture Series. Throughout the years students, have had an opportunity to meet Nobel laureates Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott, Pulitzer prize winners Donald Justice, Marilynne Robinson, Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Billy Collins, well-known authors such as Jamaica Kincaid and Joyce Carol Oates, and scholars such as Amitava Kumar and Brian Greenspan. English majors also write for and edit Word of Mouth, the College literary magazine, and Hilltops, the student newspaper. Faculty nominate students to work as Writing Consultants at the Writing Center, gaining valuable experience and academic credit, as well.

The department encourages its majors to do internships in fields such as marketing, public relations, law and publishing. Hartwick English majors graduate with verbal and analytical skills that serve them well in a wide variety of occupations, including law and medicine, libraries and museums, corporate and government agencies, and publications and communications.