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English Literature and Writing Major

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The English literature and writing major provides students with a solid foundation in literature and an extraordinary opportunity to create literature as a writer. In our classes, students read about the human experience through great works and pen their own experience through creative writing under the guidance of dedicated Christian professors who are published writers themselves.

Why should I study English literature and writing?

Several global crises of the 21st century have been attributed to "colossal failures of imagination." We teach literature and writing with a keen sense of their relevance for our world, emphasizing literary study and creative writing as disciplines of the imagination that develop 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

You'll explore stories through the disciplines of reading and writing to grow in skills that will enable you to employ the important device of storytelling in any career. 

What can I do with this degree?

The English literature and writing major energizes and equips students to develop meaningful career paths that utilize their skills, knowledge, and passion. Our students are strategic thinkers, effective communicators, and dedicated scholars who find success in a wide array of fields. Many students choose to continue their education after graduating from Bethel. Courses such as "Literary Theory" and the "Senior Seminar" are designed to give students interested in graduate study the skills and materials they need to make competitive applications.

Our graduates have gone on to prestigious literature and creative writing programs at:

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

In addition to pursuing careers such as teaching and writing, our department’s alumni work as:

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

See what our students say about outcomes for majors from the English department.

What skills will I develop?

  • Research
  • Effective communication
  • Creative thinking
  • How to develop and deliver effective presentations
  • Quick learning
  • Understanding writing as a process
  • How to invent, revise, critique, and publish
  • How to conduct literary analysis and research
  • The ability to recognize techniques of craft in literary texts
  • Development and editorial skills for longer writing projects and how to prepare them for publication
  • How to apply knowledge to the forces that converge in literary study such as contexts, critical approaches, and methods for interpretation

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?

Learn cross-culturally

  • World Literature (Japanese or Central and South American)
  • Travel Writing
  • The J-Term Textura trip, which gives students the opportunity to practice photojournalism and create a culturally insightful magazine

Our students have also connected with other study abroad programs, taking them to countries including:

  • France
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Russia
  • Scottland
  • Spain

Learn from accomplished faculty writers

  • Joey Horstman in Revolve
  • Dan Ritchie in First Things
  • April Schmidt in Ruminate; her most recent book, Triptych
  • Marion Larson in The Journal of College and Character; her most recent book, From Bubble to Bridge: Educating Christians for a multifaith world. 
  • Scott Winter's most recent book, Nebrasketball: Coach Tim Miles and a Big Ten Team on the Rise, won a 2016 Nebraska Book Award
  • Mark Bruce, in his recent anthology, The Anglo-Scottish Borders and the Shaping of Identity: 1300-1600, worked with distinguished scholars from such diverse institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley; Hamilton University; Cornell University; Auburn University; the University of Oxford; and the University of Nottingham.

Overall, in the last four years, English department professors have published 4 books, 4 book chapters, 34 creative pieces, 20 scholarly pieces, and given 71 professional presentations. As a result of these professional successes, our professors are well-connected with the writing and publishing communities both locally and nationwide—such as Angela Shannon, who serves on the board at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. These connections help to provide students with top internship opportunities where skills can be developed further.

Plug in to a vibrant community of writers

Students are required to attend professional literary events and are encouraged to submit their own work for publication and scholarly scrutiny. Recently, student work was published in the national literary journal Catfish Creek, and 3 of our students were selected to read at a national literary conference, with 1 student taking top honors.

You will also become aware of writing-related communities (i.e. Associated Writing Programs, the Loft Literary Center, Calvin's Festival of Faith and Writing) that sustain the practice and profession of creative writing and publishing.

Get personal mentoring

Creative writing courses are deliberately kept small, following best practices in writing pedagogy and giving each student a chance to receive personal feedback from the instructor. Similar to graduate creative writing programs, students learn how to give and receive feedback through peer writing workshops. Such small group workshops help students to sharpen their craft and build writing communities.

Other courses, such as Publishing and Being Published, Topics in Literature Studies (which most recently focused on the source material that inspired Tolkien), Juvenile Literature, and our interfaith literature courses are designed to equip students with unique insights into specific components of literature. You'll receive individualized attention from experts in these fields.

Develop a professional portfolio

On-campus student writing opportunities include:

  • The Coeval, a student-run journal published once a semester. Once every four semesters, the publication is produced as part of the class, Publishing and Being Published. Students serve as editors and authors and do public readings in celebration of their accomplishments
  • The Clarion, Bethel’s student newspaper
  • Textura, a student–written and designed magazine produced with material from students' international J-term photojournalism trip
  • The Jerry Healy Poetry Prize, awarded as part of an annual poetry contest

Academic Plans and Course Catalog

See plans


straight national championships for student publications

- Associate Collegiate Press


full-time faculty in the department

Recent News

"It’s Worth Dreaming"

May 13, 2022 | 12:30 p.m.

Bethel Clarion Wins First in General Excellence

February 18, 2022 | 11:30 a.m.

Driven by Data and Design

February 07, 2022 | 11 a.m.

Upcoming Events

JUNE 4 2022

Dan Ritchie Retirement Celebration with Students and Alumni

4 p.m. Minnehaha Park | Wabun Picnic Pavilion B

An informal time to swap stories with Dan, Judie, and fellow English majors, Humanities students, TAs, and England Termers from 1985-2021.

JUNE 14 2022


8 a.m.

Student publication leaders will explore print and digital storytelling leadership as they prepare to be editors/leaders or future editors/leaders on their student newspapers, news magazines, literary magazines, yearbooks, and broadcasts.

JUNE 15 2022


8 a.m.

Student publication leaders will explore print and digital storytelling leadership as they prepare to be editors/leaders or future editors/leaders on their student newspapers, news magazines, literary magazines, yearbooks, and broadcasts.

JUNE 16 2022


8 a.m.

Student publication leaders will explore print and digital storytelling leadership as they prepare to be editors/leaders or future editors/leaders on their student newspapers, news magazines, literary magazines, yearbooks, and broadcasts.