Working closely with dedicated faculty members, students in this department hone their ability to think and read critically, reason persuasively, and write eloquently. Through exploring a constantly evolving range of course offerings, English majors learn the methodologies and vocabularies appropriate to literary study; contemplate the forms and purposes of literary art in a variety of periods and cultures; and investigate the intersections between English and many other disciplines. The English department also fosters a culture of curiosity and intellectual endeavor, as well as respect for a variety of cultures and intellectual approaches, through advising, internships and service learning, study abroad, and extracurricular programming. Students who pursue optional creative writing courses balance critical study with creative endeavor, learning the history and forms of literary art as apprentice practitioners.
English majors are encouraged to study abroad. In addition to Spring Term courses in London and Ireland, English majors can undertake summer study at The Virginia Program at Oxford, a Washington and Lee-sponsored, interdisciplinary summer school program based in St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. The program examines the history and literature of Renaissance England and follows the English system of higher education, combining daily lectures by renowned, British scholars with small, weekly tutorials.
At Washington and Lee, the discipline of creative writing is firmly embedded in the study of literature. Students earning a minor in creative writing read widely; practice critical analysis; study the forms, modes, and histories of literature in English; and develop their own writing through creative exercises and workshop critique. Small classes, dedicated faculty, and a lively program of extracurricular offerings foster a supportive and challenging writing community.
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