Frequently Asked Questions
1. What can I do with an English major?
English is the All-Purpose Degree. Some of our graduates go on to teach in secondary schools, but a degree in English is one of the most versatile degrees at GWU. Our majors have become ministers, lawyers, business people, technical writers, editors, and novelists. Dr. Frank Bonner, GWU president, was an undergraduate English major.
2. I hated English in high school. Why are English teachers so concerned with trivia like grammar? I want to do something more fun!
The English department does teach writing, but it’s much more than grammar rules. We have writing classes designed for poets and aspiring professional writers. We teach in traditional writing formats, but we also have classes in multi-modal composition and visual rhetoric. Most English professors use cutting-edge technology, and the literature our students read is both classic and contemporary—everything from Shakespeare to Twovels (Tweeted novels).
And—the English Dept. is one of the most fun departments on campus! We are proud of creating a high level of camaraderie among our students and faculty. We enjoy ice cream socials, conversations in the coffee shop, quiz bowls, pizza parties, and a cook-out in the spring to honor our graduating seniors. The students in an American women’s literature class in 2008 became so close that they had a reunion at the professor's home in 2014.
3. Will I get lost in big classes in the English Dept.? Will my professors be teaching assistants?
Most classes for English majors at GWU have about ten students. Even General Education English classes are capped at twenty-five (and many have fewer students than that). We do not have teaching assistants.
4. What can I study in the English Department at GWU?
We have three tracks for English majors:
Pre-Professional Studies for students who want to go to graduate school or enter a profession such as law, the ministry, or business.
The Writing track for students who want careers in professional writing, creative writing, or a combination of the two.
English Education, which trains teachers for the secondary classroom.
5. I like English, but it’s just too impractical. Why should I take a chance on a field in which I’ll never get a job? I can’t sit around and read books all day! I have to earn a living!
We offer lots of internships that help students get jobs. Recent writing interns have worked at the University and Media Relations office on campus, at the Charleston (SC) City Paper, and in the office of the Forest City Owls Baseball team. The English Department is also home of the Broad River Review, a literary magazine that showcases both student and professional writing and artwork and that provides hands-on experience for students who elect to join the staff.
Our English Education majors have had no trouble getting good placements in schools across the state. GWU is known for the high quality of our English Ed. program!
Other graduates have landed very diverse and satisfying jobs:Ron Rash is a nationally known novelist and poet. His best-selling novel Serena has recently been made into a movie.
Heather Adams Burton trained to become a licensed funeral home director and mortician.
Allison Blackwell Arant is in medical sales in Atlanta, GA.
Eric Proctor is the Human Resources projects director at Wake Forest University.
Cherish Wilson (English Minor) has been a reporter for the Shelby Star.
Rachel Jones taught English as a Second Language to fourth graders at Central Christian Academy in Suwon, South Korea.
Larissa Bixler is an attorney with Hedrick, Gardner, Kincheloe & Garofalo in Charlotte.
Erin Bradford holds an MA from UNC-C and is an education specialist at Creating Avenues for Learning in Charlotte.
Christina Hallis is a technical writer for Titan Corporation, a government contractor for homeland security.
Tara Hostetler holds an MA from Florida State University and is an editor at McGraw-Hill.
6. Are graduates with English majors able to get placements in good graduate schools?
Yes, our students have done graduate work at Boston University, the University of Florida, the University of Tennessee, Purdue University, Duke Divinity School, and Carnegie-Mellon, to mention just a few.
7. What are the English Dept. professors like?
Dr. David Parker is a fine classical and jazz guitarist who also teaches medieval literature courses and Shakespeare.
Dr. Janet Land, who teaches British Literature and Professional Writing, is also the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at GWU.
Dr. Chris Davis took a motorcycle trip from North Carolina to California in the summer of 2008 and wrote about it on a blog. In his spare time, he teaches writing at Gardner-Webb.
Dr. June Hobbs teaches American Studies and Classical Rhetoric. She also publishes articles on tombstones and cemeteries and teaches an honors seminar called Death in American Culture.
Dr. Shana Hartman, a former college soccer player, is our English Ed. specialist. In courses like "The Teaching of Writing" and "Young Adult Literature," she asks students to explore topics like the power of language, technology in the classroom, and teacher identity.
Prof. Jennifer Buckner, Writing Center Director and Coordinator for Composition Studies, is enthusiastic about writing and technology. Her "Topics in New Media Studies" course provides opportunities for thinking and composing in the latest technological interfaces.
Dr. Cheryl Duffus is a specialist in post-colonial and world literature. One of her classes is called “Explorers, Pirates, and Captives.”
Dr. Shea Stuart is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature and faculty advisor for our English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. One of her signature courses is Twentieth-Century Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Dr. Nancy Bottoms is professor of both English and Art. She often takes an exciting interdisciplinary approach in her classroom.
Prof. Janah Adams sings and paints in addition to teaching in the composition program.
Dr. Kemeshia Randle teaches American literature, including African American literature with a focus on women's literature, popular literature, and song lyrics as literature.
Prof. Matt Duffus has published short stories and poems. He teaches composition and American literature.
8. Could I get someone to talk to me further about your program?
You bet. Email the department chair, and you’ll get a quick response to your questions. E-mail Dr. David Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.