Some majors - like chemistry or accounting - teach a specific set of skills that are easy to define and recognize. Studies in English produce skills that often seem less tangible. That doesn't, however, make studying the language and its use any less valuable. English is a diverse field that develops practical, broadly-applicable communication and critical thinking skills. Students and professors come to the discipline of English from a variety of fields and go on to many different careers after they graduate. "I can't think of a profession where I don't know an English major working," says Dr. Annamaria Formichella-Elsden, professor of English.
The BVU English program offers courses in literature and composition. It helps develop critical skills to analyze and produce written and spoken words. It examines "signifying practices" - how words and images make meaning.
The study of English employs tools from a variety of fields, including cultural and communication studies. Many students in the English program double major in media studies, psychology, or other social science or humanities programs. "So many different fields converge in English studies," says Matt Packer, assistant professor of English. "I started out in philosophy, studying the classics and Greek. With English, you are studying philosophy. You're studying language and society, and you're studying it all in-depth."
Literary studies in English encourage students to explore meaning and ambiguity in texts through questions of genre, theory, and history. The English program offers broad surveys of literary movements in American, British, and Pacific literature. Recent special topics courses have covered literary material on colonialism, Native American literature, fairy tales, and American coming-of-age stories. The program values variety in textual interpretations and heavily incorporates literary theory into upper-level courses.
Writing is as much about the process as the product. As you read, you develop an eye for craft. The more you write, the more you understand the techniques in what you read. Composition courses show you how to take time with your writing and choose precise words and phrases, while classroom-based workshops offer the opportunity to revise and improve your work in a critical and respectful environment. You will also be able to explore creative writing by getting involved with on-campus writing groups and working closely with the English faculty, who are themselves published authors in journals and popular literature.
Faces - the campus student-operated literary and art magazine - is published each spring. The student staff solicits original creative material from the BVU community, makes editorial decisions, and oversees design and production. Submissions include poetry, short stories, essays, photographs, paintings and other visual works.
There's this myth that with new technology, we're moving away from traditional media. Given new modes of communication, however, reading and writing are as busy as they’ve ever been. Kindles and Web sites and blogs have created all sorts of new means of availability, but the basic critical skills you apply to them are the same. Text is still at the core.
Buena Vista University's student newspaper The Tack has placed 2nd in the nation for best Online News Web site in the 2012-13 Society for Collegiate Journalists national media contest. Read more...