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Why an English Major?

english department

The English major at Boston College is designed to expose students to a wide range of expression in the literary traditions of the past and present. As we now teach them, literary studies may extend from private meditations in letters and journals, to ancient song and ritual and dramatic performances, to long-recognized works in the various traditions of British and American literature, to contemporary film, television and other forms of popular culture. In every era, new questions or angles of study make it possible to read literary works in new ways, and to expand the range of literature through the rediscovery of lost or neglected creative works. Some members of the department study the imagination and development of the individual artist in his or her time, some investigate the history of the English language, some study the relationship between literature and the historical culture which shapes it and is shaped by it; some focus on ethnic literature and world literature in English.

Because critical writing and reading are essential in any field, the English major is invaluable for developing those skills in preparation for graduate and professional studies or entry into the fields of business, communication and education. Recent graduates who were English majors are now teachers, writers, lawyers, businessmen and women, editors, journalists, and librarians.

Prospects: So you want to be an English major

By the successful completion of the English major at Boston College, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to write clear, coherent, organized, and stylistically correct papers,
  • an ability to close-read, interpret, and analyze texts, including poetic texts,
  • a knowledge of literary genres and appropriate use of critical terminology,
  • a recognition of the historical specificity of literary works and/or other cultural products,
  • an awareness that there are a variety of critical approaches to literary and cultural texts.