Department ofEnglish

Why study English?
Why study English?

Study English, Understand the World

The study of English offers excellent preparation for any future requiring integrative thinking, skills in writing, discernment in reading and an appreciation of the human experience and aesthetic values. Business, law, government, technology, education and publishing are areas where graduates frequently make their careers.

Those who pursue studies in English can expect to learn how sensitive readers engage texts through their own speaking and writing, following their insights into the rich pleasures of language and growing more sophisticated in constructing effective arguments. They will also be introduced to the ways in which major critical traditions frame our approaches to texts and define the issues that keep them meaningful and relevant in our lives.

The English department offers emphases in writing and literature, as well as minors in Children’s Literature and Culture and Publishing and Printing Arts. We support study abroad by offering study tours to such places as Africa, Australia and the Caribbean.

The writing emphasis at PLU has been designed for a broad spectrum of students, from those wishing to focus on fiction and poetry, to those interested in more pragmatic types of writing, to those set on exploring theoretical issues in rhetoric and composition.  The English literature emphasis introduces students to the great literary traditions of Britain, North America, and the English-speaking world.

Why is a liberal arts education useful?
Employers are looking for workers who know how to think, how to process information, how to write.  Read the pieces from the National Commission on Writing (linked below) on why this training is invaluable, no matter what career you decide to pursue.

PLU’s minor in Children’s Literature and Culture is designed to give students practical knowledge and critical literacy around childhood and youth.  Our minor in Publishing & Printing Arts offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the world of publishing.

Introducing Kate Slater


The English Department is pleased to welcome Visiting Instructor Dr. Kate Slater to PLU for the 2013-14 academic year. Kate has just completed her Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of California, San Diego, where she focused on the importance of place in American children’s literature. While Dr. Nathalie op de Beeck is on sabbatical, Kate is covering the main courses in the Children’s Literature & Culture minor, as well as offering first-year writing seminars.

Kate’s dissertation, “Little Geographies: Children’s Literature and Local Place,” looks at how children’s literature in the twentieth century engaged two prevailing concerns among adults: first, that local areas or regions were losing their distinctive characteristics, and second, that childhood as a stage of development was also losing its distinctive character. Through her examinations of such well-loved children’s classics as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, and Harriet the Spy, Kate demonstrates that a notion of local place is very much alive and thriving in children’s literature well into the century.

Since completing her dissertation, however, Kate’s thoughts have taken a decidedly darker turn, one reflected in the theme of her WRIT 101 seminars. Her “Representing Horror” course asks such questions as why “big bug” movies were so common in the 1950s, why Hollywood has resurrected zombie movies post-9/11, what’s so terrifying about children, and what does it really mean to be “haunted.” In her own emerging work on this topic, Kate is examining the role of scary content in children’s literature—a matter that, zombie-like, reemerges with each new book that is calculated to raise goose-bumps by its introduction of wild things, wizards, or other wondrous fare.

Solveig C. Robinson

Acting Chair, English Department