Chair or Program Director: 

Kathryn West, Ph.D., Chair
Alumni Hall 101, Phone 502.272.8210, kwest@bellarmine.edu


Jennifer L. Barker, Ph.D.; Jonathan W. Blandford, Ph.D.; John S. Gatton, Ph.D.; Charles T. Hatten, Ph.D.; Annette H. Powell, Ph.D.; Frederick Smock, M.A.; Jessica Hume, MFA; Conor Picken, Ph.D.; Michele Ruby, MFA; Amy Tudor, Ph.D.

English as a discipline of thought and study is fundamentally concerned with literacy. Critic and teacher Robert Scholes helpfully defines what such literacy means: “the ability to understand and to produce a wide variety of texts that use the English language—including work in the traditional literary forms, in the practical and persuasive forms, and in the modern media as well.” English is, then, a wide-ranging field of study. Historically, it gives attention to the great variety of texts that human culture has produced over centuries. Conceptually, it aims at developing deep abilities in reading and writing—again of a great variety of texts.

The Department has carefully designed its program of study to represent the challenges and the pleasures of such a diverse field. We reflect this in the variety of courses offered and in the sequential way in which we ask our majors to approach their study. That study begins with ENGL 201, The World of Texts, which introduces the student to the basic principles underlying the discipline. The 300 and 400 level courses presume the solid grounding in literary history and critical reading skills that our 200 level courses are designed to provide. In the student’s senior year, the major provides a distinct “capstone” experience through ENGL 450, the Integrative Seminar. In working through the variety of courses, students in English may expect to find themselves engaged in the reading of novels, short stories, poems, creative nonfiction, films, and graphic novels, among other texts.

The deep literacy that one can achieve through careful work in the major prepares the student for a range of post-graduate opportunities. Not only does it give students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of literature and refine their interpretive techniques, but it also enables them to develop critical thinking and communication skills they can apply to good effect in any occupation.  Naturally, one can pursue the discipline further, through graduate study in English. But the major in English can lead also to a wide range of professional opportunities. Graduates will find themselves qualified to work in such fields as law, journalism, banking, publishing and editing, advertising, medicine, management, public relations, insurance, teaching, grant and proposal writing, non-profit work, and academic administration. They will also be prepared for graduate study in such areas as library science, institutional technology, technical and scientific writing, and most all humanities disciplines.

Departmental Mission Statement

The English Department serves the mission of Bellarmine University through its focus on developing those abilities crucial to a liberal arts education: writing as a fundamental means of learning and expression; close, creative reading of a culturally diverse range of literary and non-literary texts; and the critical thinking abilities grounded in such writing and reading. It provides English majors with a fundamental sense of literary history–American, English, and as much as possible international–and of the social history relevant to it. In exploring literature–in the largest definition of that word–as a central mode of human inquiry and experience, it reflects the university mission of open and authentic conversation about ideas, values, and issues, and does so with respect for each student’s individuality and dignity.

Departmental Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate familiarity with major texts and traditions of language and literature written in English and will be able to relate them to the social, cultural, theoretical, and historical contexts in which they were produced.
  2. Students will demonstrate awareness of intertextuality, of how literary works influence and related to one another, as well as to other texts.
  3. Students will demonstrate familiarity with and the ability to apply to diverse texts—literary, cultural, visual, film, digital—a variety of literary theories and methodologies.
  4. Students will understand and practice writing as a fundamental means of learning and expression and will produce effective written, visual, and oral texts, in diverse purposes, genres, and audiences.
  5. Students will perform close reading of a culturally diverse range of literary and non-literary texts.
  6. Students will engage questions of justice, value, and meaning inherent to literary and cultural texts and will demonstrate understanding of the ethical, political, and social responsibilities inherent in producing, receiving, and assessing written discourse as practiced within academic, civic, and professional communities. 

General Reminders for Majors and Minors

  1. The General Education courses (ENGL 101 and ENGL 200) do NOT count as part of a student’s curriculum in the English Department. English majors take ENGL 201 rather than ENGL 200.
  2. Per university guidelines, if a student exceeds 51 hours in the major, he/she must add the same number of hours to overall number of hours taken at Bellarmine.

Academic Policies for Majors and Minors

  1. The successful completion of ENGL 101 is a prerequisite for all other English courses.
  2. We recommend that ENGL 201 be taken during the sophomore year.  While we prefer ENGL 201 be taken first, a student may enroll concurrently in a 300- or 400-level course with ENGL 201.
  3. Students should take at least one half of the American Literature Survey before moving into upper level American literature courses and one half of the British Literature Survey before moving into upper-level British literature courses.
  4. All students in the English Dept. must earn at least a C- in coursework. If a D or F is earned, the course must be repeated to count toward the major or minor.
  5. English majors must take 6 hours of a foreign language or demonstrate an equivalent proficiency, in keeping with requirements for all Bellarmine College Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Department Activities for Students

  1. Students majoring and minoring in English are encouraged to involve themselves in Ariel, the department’s literary society. To strengthen their writing, students are also encouraged to write for the literary magazine, Ariel. This student-run organization offers many opportunities for students to enhance their writing and editing skills, to make social and professional connections, and to celebrate reading and writing.
  2. Our students have been very successful in the Metroversity Writing Competitions, which are held every spring. Our students fare well in these competitions, and our majors are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to hone their writing skills. Work on the school newspaper and yearbook represents another valuable avenue for students interested in writing.
  3. English students are encouraged to apply for the annual English-Speaking Union Scholarship, in support of summer study in Great Britain.
  4. English majors entering their junior or senior year are encouraged to apply for the annual Elizabeth Norton Hagan Scholarship, which provides a substantial cash award for that academic year.

Degree Requirements

Course Listing