English studies at Central College is concerned with both the interpretation and production of a variety of texts. The discipline provides students with a range of critical approaches to reading the world of words—literary and non-literary texts alike—and it offers formal instruction in various kinds of writing: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The department offers a thorough and flexible curriculum of English courses which prepares students for graduate and professional schools, for high school and elementary school teaching, for teaching English as a second language, and for the business world. Most important, English majors are prepared to be culturally informed and critically conscious citizens.
Although the English Department contains a variety of teaching styles and personalities, in general our classrooms are interactive rather than passive, and our teaching style is invitational. We value vigorous class discussion, small group work, student presentations, and individual conferences on writing papers. Literature class enrollments are capped at 25 students and writing courses limited to 20 students.
English majors usually begin with a series of courses which survey English and American literature, but the curriculum is not entirely Euro-centric; students are encouraged to take world literature and post-colonial literature. Students take courses which feature major authors such as Shakespeare and Chaucer; or major topics and fields, such as literary criticism, film and literature, and linguistics; or major genre studies such as drama, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Students also support their English majors with courses in history and philosophy, and they pursue competency in a modern foreign language.
Writing is likewise an essential part of the English program and students are encouraged to take writing courses in short story, poetry, nonfiction, technical writing, and journalism.
All majors are expected to take the senior seminar, a capstone experience for the major which usually features a detailed look at the work of a single author. Recent seminars have focused on such major figures as Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Willa Cather, Jane Austin, Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison.
The ESL endorsement program is designed for those who would like to teach
English as a Second Language in the Iowa public school system, K-12. Those seeking endorsement must take 24 semester hours of coursework in each of the following areas: teaching English as a Second Language, applied linguistics, bilingual education, second language acquisition, language in culture, and the nature of language. Those seeking endorsement must complete the ESL Practicum, which involves 90 contact hours with ESL in a combination of grades K-6 and 7-12 settings.
The English Major with an Emphasis in Writing is designed for students who want to couple literary and linguistic study with intensive work in creative or professional writing. In addition to a slightly modified English major, students completing the emphasis take an additional 15 hours in writing courses from among over a dozen writing offerings–including courses offered in London and Wales.
- The Creative track is capped by an independent study, completed during the student’s junior or senior year, that results in a substantial body of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction.
- The Professional track is capped by a writing internship in a professional setting completed during the student’s junior or senior year.