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Ready to dive into the world of literature? Our literature majors learn to think critically about things like the moral vision and worldview of an author. They assess the literary elements of an author’s work. And they study how literature from a variety of time periods and cultures challenges or affirms our values and enriches our lives.

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Program Overview

See the world through the pages you read. Time travel to the 1500s. Even fast-forward to the future. Books force you to think critically as you experience life through words. As an English Literature major, you’ll dig deeper into God’s calling and conviction for your life through a deeper understanding of the written word.

Our dedicated and experienced faculty will encourage you to set your creative spark aflame. Through reading. Through writing. And through challenging discussion. You’ll also enjoy unique opportunities, such as reading your work at student competitions, writing for Dordt’s on-campus publications, getting published in professional journals, and participating in prestigious internships.

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What You'll Learn

As an English literature major, you will develop a variety of different skills and knowledge that will help you to interpret and understand literature from a variety of time periods and culture. Our literature emphasis majors are able to be independent learners that search for, assess, and integrate information on literature and other subjects.

What You Can Do With A Literature Emphasis

When it comes to a literature emphasis, you can choose from several career options, such as:


Journalists prepare written pieces that present news and events to the public.

Literature Teacher

A Literature Teacher educates students in literature, reading, writing, and all other aspects of literature. You'll want to pair your literature studies with an education degree.

Editorial Assistant

Editorial Assistants assist with the production of publications by performing a variety of administrative and editorial tasks.

Students who choose the literature emphasis will choose a variety of courses from the English department as well as five upper-level electives in addition to completing the general requirements for an English degree. This coursework includes workshop classes where students will practice what they are learning.

  • World Literature I: This course offers the study of ancient and medieval texts that are foundational to any study of history, culture, literature and art. It will deal with the major forms of ancient literature, including epic poetry, tragedies, comedies, and lyric poetry. It will discuss the historical transition from literature written during the pre-Christian to the Christian era. Although emphasis may be placed on the ancient literatures foundational to Western Civilization (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, Roman), the instructor may use ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Hindu, Chinese or other influential literatures from elsewhere in the world.
  • History of the English Language: Surveys the Indo-European languages; the emergence, development, and flowering of the Anglo-Saxon language; the seven English dialects; the Chaucerian dialect; and the contributions of the Greek, Latin, and French language and cognate words.
  • English Grammar: A study of traditional and rhetorical grammar. Students will approach English grammar as not only a technical subject but also a craft, a field for research and scholarship, and a domain with socio-cultural, political, and ethical dimensions. As they develop their own arguments, voice, and editing skills, they will explore various topics through readings, discussions, practice exercises, research projects, and writing activities that require them to apply grammar knowledge in context.
  • Introduction to Creative Writing: A course in which students will read and write in four genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting/playwriting. The course will emphasize reading and research as the foundation for creative writing. It will also introduce students to workshopping creative writing and to an integrated understanding of faith and writing.
  • Reading and Writing of Poetry: In this writing course, students read and write various poems with fixed forms and in free verse. They will explore how other poets get started and where they get their ideas for poems. Time in class will be spent discussing each other’s poems, and each student will have at least three personal conferences with the instructor. By the end of the semester, each student will have a portfolio of at least a dozen poems.
  • Songwriting: A study in the craft of songwriting, particularly in lyrical composition. The course will cover listening, reading, and analyzing songs and song structure. Students will write and workshop songs. No ability to write music is required.
  • Advanced Non-fiction Writing: This course will introduce students to types of non-fiction writing sought by online and print publications. It will seek to improve students’ narrative writing skills, especially an engaging voice. Major assignments include the profile, the review, and the personal essay. Students will also read and react to various types of non-fiction writing, both essays and longer works. Significant class time is spent in workshop format, with students reading and discussing their own work.
  • Advanced Argumentative Writing: The primary goal of this course is to help students argue and persuade well in writing, in preparation for careers that demand high-level argumentation—such as seminary, law school, graduate school, political work, and research and grant writing. Students will study the art of rhetoric, writing for specific audiences in order to persuade, dissuade, or inspire them. They will also incorporate research, at an advanced level. Satisfies Core Program writing-intensive requirement.
  • Fiction Writing: Introduces students to the task of writing fiction. In addition to significant reading in the genre, the course will require several exercises in various aspects of the craft, as well as the completion of one original short story. Time will be spent in workshop format and discussing technique, as well as the ways in which one’s faith affects the work of writing fiction.
  • Screenwriting: Students will gain insight into the process and the techniques involved in scriptwriting by studying film scripts and creating their own. Students will receive hands-on instruction in concept development, character development, plot structures, dialogue, and visualization.
  • Five additional courses from courses for majors (ENG 200-393) including Theatre Arts 365 or 366

See the course catalog for more information.

Ready to take the next step?

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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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