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English Literature and Writing Major

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

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

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

Write on location through

  • The England Term program, the longest running international program at Bethel with a unique, ambitious travel itinerary and rigorous cultural engagement
  • Literatures of Faith: Christianity and Islam (on location in the Middle East)
  • World Literature (Japanese or Central and South American)
  • Literature of the Oppressed
  • Travel Writing on location in Japan, Brazil, Cuba, or Australia
  • Media and Communication in Developing Countries

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
  • Marion Larson in The Journal of College and Character
  • April Schmidt in Ruminate
  • Dan Ritchie in First Things

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.

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 monster literature) and our juvenile literature and inter-faith 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. Students serve as editors and authors and do public readings in celebration of their accomplishments
  • The Clarion, Bethel’s student newspaper
  • The Colloquy, a peer-reviewed journal of student scholarship
  • The Jerry Healy Poetry Prize, awarded as part of an annual poetry contest

95% Percentage of Communication Arts and Literature majors who graduate in 4 years or fewer

In a recent survey of 200 department alumni, 85 respondents have an M.A. or are currently pursuing one; 15 have a Ph.D. or are currently pursuing one; and 6 have completed law school.

Upcoming Events

NOV 9 2017

Involving Yourself in the Publishing Process

11:15 a.m. BU Library Fireside Lounge

Celebrate the publication of Dr. Phyllis Alsdurf's newest book and discuss the process.

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 department. See the archive of Coeval issues in the Digital Library

Royal Report

The Royal Report is the outlet for our Journalism students exploring writing, photography, and video content. The Medium site features students' story assignments and captivating images. The Royal Report Youtube channel features short vignettes and stories that provide a deeper look into the people and issues at Bethel. 

Become a Bethel Student

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