The English major is designed to develop insightful readers and persuasive writers who appreciate the great artistic achievements and insights of our literary heritage. The English program offers deep preparatory work in the foundations of literature, particularly British and American. Upper-division courses explore exemplary work in specific periods and genres, literary research, film, creative and expository writing, and the history and structure of English. Students who complete an English major leave college with a well-rounded knowledge of English literature and the skills required of many types of careers or graduate programs: reading, writing, and critical thinking.
If you enjoy reading and writing, if you enjoy thinking about the subtleties and complexities of life and literature, if you did well in English courses in high school, you may be an excellent candidate for a major in English. The study of English develops your ability to think analytically and imaginatively, to communicate clearly and persuasively, and to be sensitive to the ways you and others use language—abilities desirable in most professional work and fields of graduate study. The English department offers a range of approaches to literary studies. The classes are taught by friendly, approachable professors, and small class sizes assure each student individualized attention and many opportunities for in-depth discussion, qualities that fit the goals and spirit of a liberal arts college.
English & Other Disciplines
A four-year program for the English major allows students to take a complementary major or minor in a second discipline, such as journalism, business, history, education, theatre, computer information systems, foreign languages, political science, or philosophy, among others. A minor in biology, chemistry, or physics would provide solid preparation for technical writing, medicine, or health sciences. For those interested in human relations, a combination of English with sociology or psychology would be appropriate. Internships and study abroad opportunities are also available: for example, students may apply to intern at the Globe Theatre in London.
The Globe Experience
English and theatre majors at Franklin College have the opportunity to spend two weeks of the summer volunteering at the Globe, the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Renaissance theatre in London. By serving for approximately twenty hours a week as ushers, students will get to see numerous performances of Shakespeare’s plays. The Globe Experience Coordinator at the college can help students find housing in London for the duration of the experience, but participants are responsible for all costs related to transportation, housing, and meals. Internship credit and travel scholarships may be available for those interested in incorporating the Globe Experience into a ten-week summer internship. For more information, please contact the Globe Experience Coordinator, Dr. Susan Crisafulli, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 738-8240.
The Write Place
Located in the Academic Resource Center, the Write Place is a resource area for students to work on their writing assignments with the assistance of trained tutors. Students at all levels of college work bring in drafts for feedback about organization, clarity, sentence structure, and word usage. The tutors are faculty members or skilled upper-level students. If you are interested in a teaching career, being a Write Place tutor can be an excellent first step.
English is a discipline that provides many different opportunities for students. Examples of where students have held past internships include the following locations:
- Publishing Companies
- Social Service Agencies
- Law Offices
Quotes from English Grads
Randy Kahn '72: "Undergraduate studies are not about vocational education, especially in a world changing as rapidly as ours is. My English studies at Franklin College prepared me for a series of careers and taught me to analyze, think outside-the-box, and to develop expert communications skills. After seven years in teaching and journalism, I decided to go into business. While working at two large banks, alongside people with more conventional inside-the-box thinking and lesser communications skills, I was able, because of my education, to progress to Senior Vice President of one of the country's largest banks, then to President of a Fortune 500 Internet subsidiary, and now I am a relatively young, semi-retired international consultant, and (for something completely different) I am also a Hollywood producer. I could never have predicted the paths my life would take, but I'll always be grateful to Franklin for preparing me for the unknown adventures that lay ahead of me."
Jeff Rawlins '86: "Franklin College, and more particularly, the English Department taught me about possibilities. Not only was I doused in a deluge of great literary pieces, but I was also exposed to the foundations that went into creating those works, thus broadening my view of the world at large and forcing me to realize that not everything is as it seems. As a career educator, this "philosophical approach" has helped me tremendously particularly in surviving the "fluidity" that has now become our world...our reality."
Trena Paulus '91: "Working in the Write Place and majoring in English (and philosophy) while at Franklin not only taught me how to think and write critically but also how to teach those skills to others. That ability has helped me succeed in many endeavors in the years since - from teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer to teaching ESL at the university level to completing my doctoral program. Recently my life has come full circle - I'm using narrative and discourse analysis in my research into online communication and find myself drawing more and more on my experiences as an undergraduate English major at Franklin!"
Jennifer Smith, Ph.D. '98: "Earning an English degree from Franklin College proved to be a truly formative experience. Having a liberal arts education cultivated a sympathetic imagination and curious intellect as well as enabled me to understand the relationship between seemingly disparate topics, to examine all sides of an issue, and to ask difficult and probing questions and then seek out answers to those questions. My experience at Franklin also incited a lifelong love of learning, prompting me to earn a Ph.D. in English and to teach at the university level; in this way, I am able to pass on to others the excellent education I received at Franklin."
Bralynne Meunier '04: "Being an English major has had an amazing impact on my life. I am now attending law school and because of the analytical skills, the writing skills, and the researching skills I developed as an English major at Franklin, I am in the top of my class. I have found that these skills have not only had an impact on my law school career, but on my everyday life as I handle diverse situations. Franklin's English department will always hold a place in my heart for all the wonderful conversations and intellectual discussions that not only challenged me, but also changed my perspective. Thanks!"
Famous English Majors
Below is a list of some famous individuals who majored in English but who went on to pursue non-academic careers (source: English Department at Mississippi State University). Do you recognize anyone?
- Alan Alda—actor, writer
- Russell Baker—journalist
- Dave Barry—humorist, writer, actor
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason—television writer/producer (Designing Women)
- Carol Browner—former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Johnny Carson—TV talk show host
- Chevy Chase—comedian, actor, writer
- Jean Chatzky—financial editor of Today
- Mario Cuomo—former governor of New York
- General Martin Dempsey—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Michael Eisner—former Walt Disney CEO
- Josh Elliott—news anchor of Good Morning America
- Harrison Ford—actor
- Jodi Foster—actor, filmmaker
- Kathryn Fuller—former World Wildlife Fund CEO; now Chair of The Ford Foundation
- A. Bartlett Giamatti—former President of Yale University and Commissioner of Baseball
- Cathy Guisewite—cartoonist (Cathy)
- Don Henley—songwriter, singer
- Chris Isaak—songwriter, singer
- Mat Kearney—singer, songwriter
- David McCullough—historian (Truman, John Adams)
- Bethany McLean—journalist (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room)
- Paul Newman—actor, food entrepreneur
- Conan O’Brien—TV talk show host
- Christopher Reeve—actor, lobbyist for disabled rights
- Donald Regan—former president of Merrill Lynch, Secretary of the Treasury
- Sally Ride—astronaut
- Joan Rivers—comedienne
- Diane Sawyer—broadcast journalist
- Marty Shottenheimer—NFL football coach
- Paul Simon—songwriter, singer
- Steven Spielberg—filmmaker
- Sting—songwriter, singer, environmental activist
- Brandon Tartikoff—television executive
- Clarence Thomas—U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- Grant Tinker—TV executive and producer
- Harold Varmus—Nobel laureate in medicine; former Director of National Institutes of Health
- Barbara Walters—broadcast journalist
- Sigourney Weaver—actor
- Pete Wilson—former governor of California
- Reese Witherspoon—actor
- John Wooden—college basketball coach (UCLA)
- Bob Woodward—journalist (All the President's Men)