Best colleges for english major?

Click here to go to the NEW College Discussion Forum

Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Best colleges for english major?
By Ceruleanne (Ceruleanne) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 12:02 pm: Edit

Hey! What do you think the best colleges for a prospective english major would be?

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 02:49 pm: Edit

It depends on your focus. Do you want to study "english" in the traditional sense (i.e., literature) or creative writing?

All schools obviously have english departments. Find a list of schools that fit your other requirements first and then do some research on the size of their department, how many majors they have, what courses are offered, etc.

That said, Kenyon College in Ohio is known for its English department. Other LACs with good English departments: Hollins, Bard, Oberlin, Reed, Skidmore, Swarthmore, Vassar, etc.

By Perry (Perry) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 03:08 pm: Edit

Amherst, Williams, Columbia, Wellesley, Brown, Middlebury, Carleton, University of Iowa (creative writing). Colby and Bates also have fine course selections.

Not too impressed with Bowdoin's course selection or the fact that many of the english faculty appear to be recent hires, visiting or adjunct faculty. Perhaps indicative of some instability, mass retirements, or something else.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 03:31 pm: Edit



When we visited Bowdoin several years ago, the English Dpt. seemed fine. One thing to inquire is whether the dearth of faculty at an institution is due to leaves (a temporary phenomenon) or to other factors. Because many people get hired at the same time, they go on leave at the same time. So the dearth of courses might not affect current applicants (sabbaticals occur every 6 or 7 years).

By Perry (Perry) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 04:12 pm: Edit

Thanks Marite -- good points. As I recall (perhaps mistakenly), the department website lists who's on leave. But it did seem odd to me that so many of the faculty were assistant professors or visiting and adjunct faculty. Taken together, they comprised two-thirds of the department's faculty. I have no problem with assistant professors -- they're young, enthusiastic, up on the latest material, ambitious, not yet burned out or cynical, etc. I suppose in a sense, they offer considerable benefits. But still, the fact that Bowdoin had relatively few associate and full professors seemed peculiar. The course selection wasn't that great either. I found this strange given Bowdoin's stellar reputation. Perhaps I need to look into it further...

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 04:47 pm: Edit


I'm not pushing Bowdoin, though my son liked it enough to consider matriculating there up to the last minute. But I know of a departments that granted tenure to its faculty in the 60s or 70s and has only one assistant professor slot, which it is desperate to keep open in order to have some variation in its ranks. The poor person who gets hired there knows there is zero chance of getting tenure no matter how excellent he or she is. There are quite a few departments like that across the country because of the wave of tenures in the 60s and 70s combined with the lifting of the age of retirement.

Normally, the issue of untenured faculty is of concern mostly for graduate students who want to know that their advisor will stick around until they finish their dissertation.

My own department had 18 people on leave one year, pretty much in the same very popular subfields. We had to have a record number of visiting faculty. Some catalogs may list courses that are going to be offered over a two year-span so readers can get a better sense of the range of offerings, but most list only the courses that are going to be offered in the current year.

By Haon (Haon) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 06:43 pm: Edit

The current poet laureate of the US is a Williams teacher. They have an excellent english program.

By Perry (Perry) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 10:10 pm: Edit

Marite -- thank you for your perspective on Bowdoin. It adds a new light and warrantes further investigation.

By Momoffour (Momoffour) on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 12:04 am: Edit

I heard at my son's soccer game today that Johns Hopkins has a very good creative writing program.

By Joeseppi5 (Joeseppi5) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit

bu has 2 nobel prize winners in literature (saul bellow and derek walcott) and an ex poet laureate (robert pinsky)

Report an offensive message on this page    E-mail this page to a friend
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

Administrator's Control Panel -- Board Moderators Only
Administer Page