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The English literature major at Bethel nourishes the imagination—the "sacred art of seeing." Studying literature creates meaningful connections between the seen and unseen through the study of metaphor and figurative language.

Why should I study literature?

Several global crises of the 21st century have been attributed to "colossal failures of imagination.” We teach literature with a keen sense of its relevance for our world, emphasizing literary study as a discipline of the imagination that develops a/an:

  • Intellectual capacity for critical thought
  • Emotional capacity for sympathetic understanding
  • Aesthetic capacity for appreciating beauty
  • Moral capacity for ethical action
  • Creative capacity for effective communication

The smaller size of the English literature major makes it easy to manage as part of a double major. Many students pair their B.A. in English Literature with majors in the humanities, social sciences, music, biblical and theological studies, business, economics, philosophy, and many of the physical sciences. Students also often minor cross-departmentally—in fields such as photography, graphic design, and media production. The goal of the English major is to help students learn about stories through reading and writing and to give them the tools they need to succeed once they decide how they want to engage the art of storytelling in their future career.

What can I do with this degree?

See what our students say about outcomes of their degree from the Department of English and Journalism.

Many of our graduates pursue teaching and writing. But because Bethel's English degree equips students with essential strategic thinking, analytical and communication skills, our students also enter a variety of other careers, taking roles as: 

  • Corporate trainers
  • Web developers
  • Attorneys
  • Project managers
  • Human resource professionals
  • Marketing professionals
  • Farmers

Bethel's English literature graduates also have a strong record for acceptance into top-notch graduate programs in literature at schools like:

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Emory University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Iowa
  • Cambridge University
  • University of Chicago

What skills will I develop?

  • Research and literary analysis
  • Clear and effective communication
  • Effective presentation skills
  • How to learn quickly
  • A comprehensive understanding of literary study, including contexts, critical approaches, and methods for interpretation
  • An understanding of the history and representative works of British and American literary traditions and those of other cultures

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in the R.E.A.L. Experience—a program specifically designed to help you gain the relevant, hands-on experience employers desire—so that when you graduate, you’ll be as impressive in practice as you are on paper.

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

Study literature on location

Study abroad on England Term, the longest running international program at Bethel, where you’ll get to:

  • Study Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, his birthplace
  • Learn stage combat techniques from members of the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Read Jane Austen on location in Bath and Lyme Regis
  • Walk through T.S. Eliot's London
  • Hike up Mount Snowden with William Wordsworth
  • Enjoy an ambitious travel itinerary and rigorous cultural events

Our students also find many other opportunities to study English abroad, in countries including:

  • Australia
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • England
  • France
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Lithuania
  • Russia
  • Scotland
  • Spain

Take advantage of the best internships

The Twin Cities is home to many publishing houses, news outlets, and other distinguished creative businesses. Our highly networked faculty members have helped our majors land excellent internships at places like:

  • Kansas City Star
  • Christianity Today
  • Local literary presses
  • Local community newspapers
  • Important nonprofit organizations

Delve into unexplored literature

Our program is designed to go beyond traditional literature study; that's why we've introduced courses like our rotating Topics in Literature Studies, where students delve into courses featuring topics like "Monster Literature," "Big Bad Books" (studying evil in literature), and "Tolkien's Environments" (studying the source material that inspired Tolkien). In addition, we offer robust studies of juvenile literature and inter-faith literature—meant to position students as experts of these genres. 

Embody your learning

When not reading, our majors also:

  • Participate in a capstone experience that integrates knowledge and skills from previous coursework and suggests and enables avenues for vocation and study beyond the undergraduate level
  • Attend and participate in literary and cultural events such as readings, plays, and period dances
  • Learn about graduate education, career opportunities, and lifelong learning
  • Write for, edit and publish in peer-reviewed or on-campus publications such as the Coeval, the student literary magazine; The Clarion, Bethel’s student newspaper; or Textura, a magazine produced as part of an international J-Term trip
  • Participate in our annual poetry contest for the Jerry Healy Poetry Prize
  • Attend literary society, networking, and national conference events

Academic Plans and Course Catalog

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Student Media

The "Coeval" Undergraduate Literary and Art Magazine

The Coeval, meaning "of the same age," is Bethel's undergraduate literary and art magazine. Published each semester, the Coeval is edited by students and advised by the English and Journalism department. See the archive of Coeval issues in the Digital Library

The Clarion Newspaper

The Clarion is Bethel's student newspaper. It has received multiple national awards for writing and photography, and most recently for its website, including being named Best in Show by the Associated Collegiate Press. 


Textura is a J-Term trip that gives students a unique opportunity to practice their photojournalistic skills internationally and work together with graphic designers to turn their content into a magazine. The Textura Guatemala magazine from the 2017 trip to Guatemala received a national Best Feature Magazine award from the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP).

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