Department ofEnglish

Why Study English?

Written works preserve our history, describe our current reality and color our future beyond imagination. Whether you aspire to analyze literature or write it, the study of English offers a versatile and challenging major. Through reading we have the opportunity to live a thousand lives, while writing with care and imagination can reveal new self-truths. A disciplined experience with the written word develops broad vision, fresh insight, and the more sophisticated skills of analysis, interpretation and communication.

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Why Study English at PLU?

English offers excellent preparation for any future requiring integrative thinking, skill in writing, discernment in reading, appreciation of human experience and aesthetic values, or the mastery of critical and creative expression. PLU offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with emphases in Literature and Writing, as well as minors in Children's Literature and Culture, and Publishing and Printing Arts:

  • Literature
    The PLU literature program introduces students to the great literary traditions of Britain, North America and the English-speaking world, as well as courses in ethnic American, women’s and world literature. At the heart of the program are courses organized by historical period, allowing students to read the great works that define the periods and explore the ways in which cultural contexts have an impact on the literary imagination.

    Students who select the emphasis on literature can expect to learn how educated readers engage texts through their own speaking and writing. They will develop confidence in their insights and grow more sophisticated in constructing effective literary arguments. Students also are introduced to the ways in which major critical traditions frame our approaches to literature, and define the issues that keep literature meaningful and relevant in our lives.

  • Writing
    The Writing Emphasis offers English majors an opportunity for intensive practice in imaginative, analytical and pragmatic modes of writing. Students learn to shape their writing for particular audiences and settings, as well as expand their own creative, stylistic and interpretive gifts. Students develop writing skills in several genres, extensively and carefully read great writers and reflect on theoretical and practical issues raised by the making of meaning.

    The English Department offers capstones in Poetry, Fiction, and Non-fiction writing. Some popular courses are Introduction to Poetry and Fiction, Autobiographical Writing, The Personal Essay, Writing for Children, and Freelance Writing. The inspiration for this program came directly from a group of past PLU English majors. The unique program design addresses the interests and ambitions of students past and present.

    By completing the English major with a Writing Emphasis, undergraduates learn to integrate their thinking, inquiry, and writing skills in order to adapt to a large range of creative and professional settings. After graduation, some will produce imaginative writing through freelance work. Some will move into writing positions in science, law, business, or industry, and others will find themselves well prepared to pursue advanced degrees in English studies and Master of Fine Arts programs.

  • Children's Literature and Culture
    Children’s Literature and Culture (CHLC) is a minor designed to give students practical knowledge and critical literacy around childhood and youth. This minor helps students prepare for advanced study and careers in fields involving children’s literature, childhood studies, creative writing, and education. Students in the CHLC minor engage in a popular and diversifying discipline with high standards for critical literacy and the university’s mission of service and care. In addition, those looking ahead to graduate school are prepared to apply to vibrant national and international graduate programs in children’s literature and childhood/youth studies at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels.

  • Publishing and Printing Arts
    For more than twenty years Pacific Lutheran University’s Department of English has offered a way to help students translate a love of books into an exciting professional career in publishing. One of only a few such programs in the country, PLU’s distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum in Publishing and Printing Arts (PPA) is highly respected by employers. It combines pre-professional skills and experience, with the solid foundation of a liberal arts education. PPA is a six-course minor that gives students with talent and interest in writing, graphic design, communication or business a head start into the world of publishing and a broad variety of related professions.

    The Publishing and Printing Arts program is an especially valuable complement to majors concerned with language and the written word, majors such as English, other languages, education, public relations, journalism, marketing and graphic design. Students majoring in a wide spectrum of disciplines—from biology to music to religion—have also discovered the value of a PPA minor. It helps to connect them to publishing career opportunities in their field, and provides a richer understanding of the complex roles that written communication plays in our modern world. Go to www.plu.edu/~ppa/Alumni.html to find out what jobs recent PPA graduates have.

Careers for English Majors

A major in English lays the foundation for many endeavors. PLU English majors have gone on to be practicing writers, pursue Ph.D. programs in literature and composition, follow careers in business and law, and become educators in both the private and public sectors.

The pursuits of recent graduates attest to this:

  • Marc Boyer - graphic designer, Warfield Creatives, Tacoma, Wash.
  • Kevin Kay - graduate student, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Wash.
  • Emily Larson - online marketing manager, Alexandria Digital Literature, Seattle, Wash.
  • Ingrid Lindeblad - graduate student, writing and publishing program, Emerson College, Boston, Mass.
  • Heidi Robinson - editor, Amazon.com, Seattle, Wash.
  • Maggie Santolla - publicity agent, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Wash.
  • Kevin Schultz - technical writer, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.
  • Candice Ulam - technical writer, Intel Corporation, Portland, Ore.
  • Heidi Zimmer - informational literature production, Trustees for Alaska, Anchorage.

Additional Opportunities for English Majors

Are There Fellowships or Scholarships?

Each year the English Department awards the following talent scholarships to current PLU students: the Music and Art Scholarship and the Jimmy Knudsen Scholarship.

The English Department also regularly appoints a Student Fellow, an English major planning to teach at the college level. This student attends department meetings, works with faculty on projects of special interest and has the opportunity to plan classroom projects and presentations.

PLU's Publishing and Printing Arts program sets the standard for academic departments offering internships to their students. The PLU Writing Center (253-535-8709) is another potential employer for the skilled student writer. While helping PLU students improve their writing as a peer writing consultant, you can gain experience in reviewing and revising texts — valuable preparation for students thinking of teaching or graduate school.