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Students visit Greenhead Ghyll in Grasmere, England, the setting for Wordsworth’s “Michael.”(Story)

  • About the program
  • Careers/internships
  • What students say

Augustana offers a major and minor in English, a major in teaching English, and a major in English with a writing emphasis.

There are 12 full-time and three part-time English faculty, the majority of whom hold a Ph.D.

First-year writing classes enroll no more than 18 students; upper-division writing classes close at 15. Literature classes range from 10 to 35 students. Almost all courses use discussion as a teaching tool. All courses are writing-intensive. Students learn to write thoughtful, fluent, well-informed and fundamentally persuasive essays. (More on writing and editing opportunities)

The department operates its own publishing house, East Hall Press, and offers students instruction in all phases of book publishing.

English majors regularly write for and edit Augustana’s weekly newspaper The Observer. Many majors edit and publish a campus literary magazine, Saga, and compete for that journal’s annual monetary awards in poetry, fiction and essay writing.

Majors may apply to work as tutors in the college Reading/Writing Center, where they help students of different disciplines and a wide range of abilities improve their writing.

English professors regularly take students abroad — to Paris and Rome, the Lakes District of England, Ireland or India — during an international study term. Professors also take students on field trips to such places as a Cascade Mountain spiritual retreat center and the Land Institute in Kansas. (More on travel)

English majors possess skills that are in high demand. Organizations value graduates who combine clear thinking with effective communication and creative problem-solving, and look for leaders who can approach issues using more than one perspective. These are all skills built through the English program at Augustana.

The English major provides a strong background for teaching, publishing, law, the ministry, business, and even medicine.

Augustana graduates in English have found their life's work in such roles as professor, teacher, TV news commentator and anchor, foreign correspondent, children's book editor, producer, grant consultant, pastor, museum curator, film crew writer, attorney, judge, entrepreneur, librarian and many others. (See list of Augustana graduates' careers)

English majors can gain experience as paid tutors in the college's Reading/Writing Center. Such hands-on experience in teaching, editing and articulation of the writing process helps graduates stand out to employers and graduate programs.

Stephanie Ewing '08, English major, music and classics minor:

"While experts in any respective field can seem intimidating, the English professors I've worked with here all seem to have a genuine concern for the individual and are very willing to pursue discussion outside of class time. Chats with some have helped me develop a plan for graduate studies, while other chats have merely been about interesting class material that I wanted to explore more deeply on my own... I feel that I will be prepared to tackle my post-Augie graduate studies. Studying literature has changed the way I see and interact with my world. It's so exciting to be able to say that because of my studies, I see the world as a meaningful and interesting place and that I feel more equipped to make a positive difference in it."

Kimberly Hedlin ‘11, English major, religion and New Testament Greek minors:

"When I came to Augustana, I was 100% positive I would major in elementary education with a minor in psychology. Like so many other students, I switched majors when I fell in love with my English classes. The religion and NT Greek minors were also late add-ons that resulted from taking interesting classes. My sister and I presented our Honors Capstone project at the Illinois Reading Council (IRC) conference, which was exciting and rewarding. For our project, we created a research-based poetry curriculum that uses clogging to teach abstract concepts like meter, onomatopoeia and rhyme. We shared our project with teachers at the IRC conference and received a lot of fun, positive feedback."

Jeremy Lang '15: knowledge

Jeremy Lang plans to live in Chicago working for Goose Island Brewery. He's also considering moving West to work at a national park, or going out to sea. "In today's university what is good and true and beautiful has been usurped — and it would seem unassailably — by what is diverse, theory-ridden and career-oriented. Yet there are professors who won't have any of that clap-trap. And I won't either."

Portfolios help students see all they've learned

Learning does not end in the classroom. Students also absorb skills and knowledge — even if they don't realize it at the time — through a variety of activities, memberships and living-arrangement responsibilities. How to measure, assess and demonstrate the educational value of the whole college package? At Augustana, there's a portfolio for that.

Seniors publish their work on local modernist writers

Students discover some of the most important writers in America lived and wrote in the Quad Cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To bring attention to this neglected body of literature, they researched and wrote essays about the writers and published an anthology at Augustana's East Hall Press.

Huse on kids' books as change agents

The 1950s was a hinge decade for noteworthy and nation-changing civil rights events. Meanwhile, there was also a revolution brewing in book stores and public libraries. A handful of children's books were focal points of the movement toward integration. Nancy Huse, professor emerita of English at Augustana, says, "Literature acts as a change agent when a process of interpretation involves various kinds of readers over time and in different media."

Vázquez-Valarezo Poetry Award winners

Marissa Gasper's poem "Body Image" won the 17th annual Vázquez-Valarezo Poetry Award at Augustana. Her poem "Solitude" also took third place. Second-place went to Sara Mosaddegh's "Unfulfilled."
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