The curriculum of the English department is built on a commitment to the literary achievement of both the past and the present. We believe in what T.S. Eliot called "the tradition," but we also honor the "individual talent" we find in contemporary literature. Our courses in literature focus on the writers of our own English and American tradition, but we value as well the achievement of world literature, classic and continental, and works written in English that do not originate in Great Britain and the United States. We provide students the opportunity to pursue special topics through regularly scheduled courses and independent studies.
Our philosophy is pluralistic, which means that our courses approach their subjects from a variety of perspectives: historical, formal, canonical, generic, thematic, national, multicultural, regional, gendered, and topical. We honor both the conventions that create an order of words and the differences that challenge that order.
We affirm the traditional connections between literary studies and both mass communications and creative writing, providing majors in all three areas, and we affirm as well the centrality of rhetorical skills, writing clearly, speaking effectively, thinking critically, arguing persuasively, and following the conventions of literate prose.
We believe that the imagination can be educated, that literature has a social function providing us models of what life can become, and that the visions of life embodied in literature offer critiques of ordinary society.
The English Department at Roanoke College offers Majors and Minors in English-Literary Studies, Communication Studies, and Creative Writing. The English department fosters growth in critical thinking, analytical reading, writing, public speaking, and research skills.
The small class sizes at Roanoke College facilitate class discussion and allow for more personal attention from professors. Roanoke has tripled its number of English faculty in the last twenty years, adding to the accessibility of its professors.
Recent graduates of Roanoke College with majors in English-Literary Studies, Communication Studies or Creative Writing have furthered their studies at various colleges and university graduate programs across the world, including Virginia Tech, Baylor, University of Massachusetts, University of Baltimore, and Regent's College in UK.
Literary Studies Major
The Literary Studies major at RC provides students with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skill to generate independent responses and critical readings that engage with literary and cultural texts. Students will hone the skills of literary analysis, research, and writing as they engage with primary texts and secondary criticism. Finally, our students will participate in the scholarly conversation by communicating their ideas to a larger audience and adapting them to a variety of communication contexts. By encouraging critical engagement with an array of texts, our curriculum will help fulfill the college's mission to develop students as whole persons and prepare them for responsible lives of learning, service, and leadership by promoting their intellectual, ethical, spiritual and personal growth.
The Communication Studies program builds upon the liberal arts tradition of Roanoke College. It encourages students to critically examine how the communication process contributes to the development of information and meaning, selfhood, interpersonal relationships, social influence, and culture. the major encompasses dynamic areas of study such as interpersonal and family communications, varieties of professional writing, and critical thinking skills. The program strives to prepare students for advanced study in graduate school or for careers in media, public life, or organizational communication, and it provides a foundation for students' further development into more discerning and critical members of society.
The Creative Writing program provides students with the opportunity to explore their experience and their imaginations in depth through writing and reading poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and other genres. Majors will hone the skills of carefully crafted writing, critical reading, formal analysis, and oral communication, as they learn to look at and reflect on the world as a writer: closely observing, reflecting, shaping, and interpreting real and imagined experience. Majors will be prepared for life-long enjoyment of reading and writing, as well as for graduate study in creative writing or literature, or for careers requiring excelling writing skills and creativity, such as journalism, editing, publishing, law, public relations, and advertising.