Department of English

Undergraduate

Overview

Student in Stacks

The Department of English offers undergraduates the chance to explore a wide array of literary works—poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction—from the traditions of British, American, and Anglophone literature. We have richly varied offerings in creative writing, in the study of film and other media, and in journalism, rhetoric, and theater. Our classes encourage exploratory thinking and conversation, always aiming to increase the students’ knowledge, their skills in reading and critical analysis, and their strengths as writers. The department offers opportunities for independent research and internships within both the university and the Rochester community, and we maintain close connections with other undergraduate programs in Comparative Literature, Film Studies, Women’s Studies, African and African American Studies, Theater, and Literary Translation Studies.

Students wishing to major in English can choose from four distinct tracks: English Literature; Creative Writing; Theater; and Language, Media, and Communication. Double majoring in English and in another discipline—Astronomy or Philosophy, Political Science or Music—is common for our students. Many combinations are possible. The English Honors Program offers students the chance to write an extended honors thesis—critical or creative—in their senior year. We also offer minors in four areas: English Literature, Creative Writing, Journalism, and Theater, as well as a diversity of clusters for students seeking to fulfill the cluster requirement in the humanities. Students with questions about any of these programs or possibilities should contact the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.

English majors do many things after graduation. Some of our majors have gone on to do graduate work in literature or creative writing, or in other fields in the humanities and the social or natural sciences; others have made careers for themselves in teaching, journalism, and publishing. And yet others have pursued advanced degrees and made a career in medicine, law, and business. In all cases, the capacities that students have developed in English classes—a love of words, an appreciation of creative expression in different media, a sense of history, an ability to write and read critically, suppleness of imagination, an understanding of how stories and metaphors work and why beauty moves us—provide crucial tools for work and life. For a report on the lives and careers of former English majors, and how these were shaped by their work in the major, click here.

English majors at Rochester have traditionally been very involved in the cultural life of the university community. Many participate in theatrical productions on campus, whether overseen by the UR International Theatre Program or separate performance groups; others work on the undergraduate literary magazine, Logos, or are involved with the Campus Times. The Undergraduate English Council (UEC) sponsors numerous intellectual and social events for English majors and minors. These events complement the department's rich program of outside speakers, including its longstanding reading series, the Plutzik Reading Series, which has brought to campus some of the most distinguished poets and fiction writers of the twentieth century, some of whom have offered special seminars or master classes in creative writing during their time at Rochester.