Frequently Asked Questions About the English Major

Q: Can I "double" in two English concentrations?

A: Yes. The core courses can often be the same for both. You will be required to take senior seminars in both of your chosen concentration areas. You must also participate in an appropriate senior assessment for EACH concentration, however, only one exit interview/exam is necessary. Your advisor will work with you to plan your coursework.

Q: If I'm in the Creative Writing concentration, why must I study literature?

A: Great chefs can’t cook all their own meals.
To overcome writer’s block. To attach yourself to a tradition or traditions in writing. To learn how to do it right, how to create drama, establish character, render setting, write a convincing love scene. To feel the exhilaration of reading good writing. To keep your brain active. To study stylistics, learn vocabulary, examine literary dialog. To get ideas for plots. To learn about the world, expand your sense of what’s out there.

Q: If I'm in the Professional Writing and Rhetoric Concentration, why must I study literature?

A: Although Professional Writing can be a rather specialized field, employers are eager for well-rounded graduates. Since your degree will be in English, you will be expected to have some familiarity with literary studies. On an even more practical level, reading and studying literary texts empowers learning and promotes critical thinking skills. Studying literature teaches audience awareness -- how texts can be perceived and interpreted differently, as well as how texts (writing) can reveal important facets of culture (time, place, and local context). And certainly studying our greatest writers can provide insights for your own techniques and style.

Q: Why do English-Education majors have so few choices about major courses?

A: In order to be able to grant certification, we must assure the State Department of Public Instruction that prospective teachers have met all of the state-required competencies for English teachers.

Q: Will the Writing Center really be helpful to me in my upper-level courses?

A: Yes. You can improve your papers at any level by working with a trained responder.

Q: As a literature major, why do I need a “language studies” course and another writing course?

A: The more knowledgeable you are about the English language and how to use it, the more you will enjoy reading literature and the more confident and competent you will be to form critical opinions about it. Writing courses can also help prepare you for employment in many different fields.

Q: In which category do the Special Topics Courses fall?

A: Most of these are upper-level electives, but some can count as "Cultural Studies." The English Department chair can help you with this.

Q: What are the requirements for membership in the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta?

A: A declared English major or minor, junior standing; four English courses beyond ENG 110; 3.00 overall GPA and at least a 3.25 GPA in English courses. Transfer students must have completed at least one semester of study at Elon University.

Q: Once I declare my major, how am I assigned an advisor?

A: You can always request a specific advisor, and the chair will try to assign you to a person in your concentration. However, when faculty members have too many advisees, such requests are hard to fill. When this happens, you will be assigned to another professor in the department. All of the English professors are knowledgeable in each concentration. If you need to change advisors, please see the chair of the English Department. If your advisor is not available for some reason (sabbatical, study abroad, etc.), the chair will assign you another advisor.

Q: What awards are presented by the English Department at the end of the academic year?

A: The English Scholar of the Year, chosen by the faculty, is an honorary award with a monetary gift presented to a rising senior with a high GPA and significant service to the department and the university.

Q: How do I submit to Colonnades, and must I be a Creative Writing major or minor to do so?

A: You do not have to be a Creative Writing major or minor to submit to our student literary magazine, Colonnades. Pick up an application form from Dr. Kevin Boyle (Whitley 203), Andrew Perry (Whitley 303), or Cassie Kircher (Whitley 205) early in the fall semester. Submissions are due by early December.

Q: May I major in one concentration in English and minor in another concentration in English?

A: No. However, it is possible to combine two English concentrations or to double major in English and some other subject.

Q: What can I do with an English degree?

A: Edit journals, articles, magazines, and books; teach; work in a public relations firm; write articles for magazines and newspapers; work for businesses, especially in fields like corporate communication, marketing, advertising, or human resources; enter graduate school programs such as law, medicine, library science, or technical writing. For additional information see "What Can I Do with an English Major?"