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English

Do you love to write? Have dreams of being a professor, a professional blogger, a literary critic, a journalist, a librarian, or an editor? If so, Dordt’s English major is for you.

As an English major, you’ll learn to analyze and discuss what you read and write. With your classmates. With Dordt’s dedicated English faculty. And with the world outside the classroom walls. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively with the people around you. And you’ll discover how you can express yourself in creative and innovative ways.

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Program Overview

By studying English at Dordt, you’ll grow as you read poems, stories, plays, and essays. You’ll study how an author uses language to create imagined worlds and to communicate meaning. You’ll also examine how literature from different time periods and cultures challenges or affirms our values—and enriches our lives.

We also teach our students to write poems, stories, essays, and research papers to help them articulate their Christian understanding of literature and life.

We expect all of our graduates will write for publication. With that in mind, we aim to teach students to write clearly, concisely, and forcefully. Why? So the ideas they express and the causes they represent will be advanced.

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What can I do with a degree in English from Dordt University?

Dordt alumni who majored in English have followed a wide variety of career paths. Some have become published authors, marketing directors, and CEOs. Others enjoy careers as freelance writers, professors, and librarians. Major in English, and you’ll have many opportunities to make an impact in God’s world.

English Teacher

An English Teacher educates and helps students improve on skills such as writing, reading, and comprehension. You'll want to pair your English major with an education major.

Writer

A Writer provides written pieces of work that pertain to a specific interest or specific information.

Librarian

A Librarian is responsible for performing a variety of tasks associated with managing the library and materials within it.

Program Options

English Major

Build your résumé by writing for The Diamond (student newspaper), the Signet (yearbook), The Canon (student literary magazine), or Dordt's Marketing and Communication Office.

Read your work at an annual student public reading and compete for cash prizes in the annual Purple Martin writing competition.

Become one of a growing list of students who has won awards in the college division of the Iowa Poetry Association competition and has had poems published in the association’s annual anthology, Lyric Iowa.

Get published in a professional journal for teachers, as some of our English education students have.

Be part of a writing class team that composes documents to solve real problems—from an EMT training guide for the local ambulance squad to marketing materials for a women’s ministry in Cambodia.

Serve as a teaching assistant working with underachieving college writers.

Participate in an internship such as working in a publishing company on the Chicago Semester Program.

To learn more, you can also view the program strengths and learning outcomes for this program.

A degree in English will require students to complete seven English classes. Students will also need to choose an emphasis in literature or writing.

  • Introduction to Literary Studies: Provides students with a foundation of knowledge and skills for work in the major. It does so by introducing them to the subject matter, critical schools and methods, research strategies, forms of responsive and critical writing, and major contested issues of the discipline.
  • Earlier British Literature: A survey of earlier British literature from the beginnings through the 17th century, including Beowulf, Chaucer, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare (his poems), Donne, Herbert, Jonson, and Bunyan. Special attention will be given to the Scriptural tradition that this literature evokes. Throughout, the course focuses on how the literature of these eras addresses fundamental questions about human nature.
  • Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama: Primary emphasis on a study of Shakespeare’s plays: comedies, histories, and tragedies. Some attention to Shakespeare’s sonnets, to other Elizabethan playwrights, and to background. One paper required.
  • Later British Literature: A survey of British literature from the late 1700s through the 1990s, including poetry, novels, plays, and other creative writings in English by authors in or from the United Kingdom. The course will study the major literary, cultural and aesthetic trends that impacted most of the world. Those include neo-classicism, romanticism, realism, naturalism, and modernism.
  • American Literature I: This course surveys the literature of colonial North America and the early United States republic (1492-1860), including poems, novels, magazines, and newspapers. We will examine the influence of Calvinism, Catholicism, and the Enlightenment on American culture, and we will place American literature in a transatlantic and global context. Authors and texts include Edgar Allan Poe and other American Romantics, Benjamin Franklin, slave narratives, Puritan poetry, and Native American writings.
  • American Literature II: This course surveys the selected prose, poetry plays, and other creative writing by Americans, from 1865 to the 1990s. It will investigate a number of major literary, cultural, and aesthetic trends that impacted the lives and history of Americans and beyond, including realism, naturalism, and modernism. Students will discuss literary works in relationship to major historical events and their lasting cultural effects, which may include the Civil War, World War I and II, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement.
  • Contemporary Literature: The study of selected contemporary literature, particularly novels, written in the last fifty years to the present. Students will be exposed to acclaimed living writers. This course will consider global contemporary literature from non-Western cultures. Writers may include Margaret Atwood, David Foster Wallace, Marilyn Robinson, Khaled Hosseini, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

See the course catalog for more information.

Education Emphasis

An education emphasis is also available with the English program. As you study English and language arts you'll also train in education, giving you the tools to teach others.

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Ready to take the next step?

Student Stories

Dordt students and alumni use their gifts to make a difference in the world. Check out their stories to see how Defender Nation lives out our mission to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.

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Questioning Fearlessly

Ashley Bloemhof

The endless opportunities that Dordt English and Communication departments allowed Ashley to pursue helped prepare her for all the different encounters she faced after college.

Ashley Bloemhof

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Expanding Her Horizons

Hayley Visser

Throughout her four years of college, Dordt has equipped Hayley to see God's vast world and experience multiple parts of it as well as allowed her to be more confident in who she is and who she wants to be.

Hayley Visser

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Creation and Collaboration

Kyle Fosse

With Kyle's first time at Dordt also being his first time out of Africa, he took the opportunity to grow and ran with it, becoming heavily involved in extracurriculars and the community that Dordt had to offer.

Kyle Fosse

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Invaluable Experiences

Jerusha Samuel

Jerusha's hard work and dedication to her education and extracurriculars gave her the stepping blocks she needed to start off on a very successful career path.

Jerusha Samuel

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Related Programs

Still looking for the right fit? Here are some additional program options that we think might interest you or are often paired with this program. You can also view the programs page to keep exploring your options.