About Our Program
What's Your Story?
Listening attentively to immigrants who had to be creative with limited vocabularies, [Tillie] Olsen found that "not only the speech but so much of the human beings around me was not in literature"...She became "incited to literature," she says, adding that the "factor which gave me confidence was that I had something to contribute, I had something which wasn't in there yet" (quoted in Turan 56).
Opening citation from "Tillie Olsen's Life," Constance Coiner, accessed August 8, 2014.
As globalization brings the world closer together, our ability to understand complex human issues from multiple perspectives becomes ever more vital. Amidst so many tangled narratives, we need to hear individual voices without reducing human complexity into what Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie has called "the danger of a single story."
Individuals who want to write their own story--and those who want to have a voice in the ways that we understand, portray, and speak to one another--require the ability to read perceptively and critically, to understand complex human narratives, to recognize how contexts shape meaning, and to see how language potentially unites or divides us.
The study of English at CSB/SJU combines literature and literary history with cultural studies, literary theory, film, and creative and analytical writing; this multiplicity within the field of English studies leads to constant investigation of the relationship between individual agency and language.
The English major is grounded in the principles of a liberal arts, Benedictine education. We teach the value of the literary accomplishments of the past and of the present. And by examining our own narratives in the contexts of others, we guide our students to a clearer understanding of their own values, and so to a fuller recognition of individual moral agency and a stronger individual voice.
English graduates will:
- Demonstrate knowledge of literary genres, literary criticism, cultural theory, different literary traditions, and will apply relevant methods of interpretation and criticism.
- Understand the formal elements of literary genres (e.g. poetry, short story, novel, drama, film, etc.), their historical development, and cultural variations as well as various forms of cultural production and cultural theory, including the study of historical and contemporary issues in the fields of literary and cultural studies. They will understand the history and development, as well as the aesthetic and ideological dimensions of literary traditions in English.
- Study and apply various forms of literary or textual criticism (e.g. Formalist, Historicist, Marxist, Feminist, Psychoanalytic, Transnational, Gender criticism, etc.).
The study of literature, the habit of critical thinking, and the craft of writing belong together. Therefore, graduates will demonstrate perceptive reading and effective writing.
English graduates will also:
- Demonstrate excellent reading, writing, discussion, and thinking skills as well as discussion skills: clear and logical articulation of ideas, listening, synthesizing, staying focused, leading discussion, etc., and an understanding of the values and ideologies that inform their reading of texts.
- Exercise effective research design and method.