The English major at Warren Wilson College is a classics-to-contemporary literature program, with an honors option for students of unusual ability.
By studying the classics in their historical and cultural contexts, students learn what motivated authors of the past and begin to see how earlier works have inspired modern approaches to literature. By studying twentieth and twenty-first century literature, students begin to see the classics through the eyes of modern writers and learn how the modern world has sparked innovations in literary form.
The English Department offers interdisciplinary elective courses to combine students' interests in literature with the study of religion, philosophy, women's studies, ethnic studies, or global studies. We also sponsor joint programs with the Theatre and Writing departments, and we house the college's interdepartmental Great Books course. Through the Study Abroad program, the English Department offers field courses on Theatre in London and the Renaissance and Reformation in northern Italy.
The English major is one of the most flexible degrees at Warren Wilson College. Because English majors develop and hone a wide variety of skills in addition to learning about literature and feeding their souls, the English major prepares students for almost any career.
The strengths of the English major have been touted in a number of recent articles. A June 2013 editorial in The New York Times by Verlyn Klinkenborg observes, "Former English majors turn up almost anywhere, in almost any career, and they nearly always bring with them a rich sense of the possibilities of language, literary and otherwise." A 2005 report by Mary Ellen Slayter in The Washington Post reviews a number of the reasons why English majors are great employees. In addition to the writing skills Klinkenborg discusses, Slayter points to strengths in reading, research, and public speaking. A February 2013 open letter to Garrison Keilor by Robert Matz addresses the financial repercussions of being an English major. Matz cites a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education, which reports that the median income for graduates with a bachelor's degree in English is $48,000. In light of the findings of this study, Matz argues, "[S]tudents who want to major in English and are good at it should not believe that they are sacrificing a livelihood to pursue their loves. And students who don't love what they are learning are less likely to be successful."
This final point is one of the primary strengths of the English major at Warren Wilson College. The major is particularly dynamic, even compared to how it is taught at other colleges. The flexibility of the degree requirements allows students to gain a foundation in the fundamentals of the field while allowing them to tailor their schedule to their own needs and interests. Moreover, the design of the major also optimizes the passion of the faculty, who are teaching in their fields of expertise and who are invested in their own research and that of their students.
Graduates of Warren Wilson College with an English degree have gone on to a wide variety of compelling and fulfilling careers. A number of our graduates have elected to continue their education, such as Hannah Jacobs (2011), who is at King’s College in London, and . Rachel Hawkins (2009), who is earning an MA in speech pathology at Colorado University. Several others have chosen to share their passion for English with others, such Joseph Nabholz (2004), who taught K-8 ESL in Taiwan before moving to Pennsylvania to teach Mandarin to grades 1-8. However, an English degree can prepare you for professions other than education, including jobs as librarians, lawyers, and editors. Additionally, Warren Wilson graduates have gone on to apply their skills in other fields; Jennifer Miyakawa Cloke (2010) is a communications coordinator for a nonprofit that promotes organic agriculture production and education in the Southeast, and Samantha Christopher (2008) writes comedy for the web. To read more about our graduates, click here.