In the English degree program, students learn to cultivate creativity, actively appreciate the beauty and power of great writing, and consistently strive to connect art with life.
English majors and minors enjoy small classes, a congenial atmosphere, and high standards that combine to foster individual student growth. While the classrooms and gardens of the Pearson House offer inviting study environments for scholars of reading and writing, students are also encouraged to explore courses in the arts, history, science, and foreign language, and to study abroad at one of Webster University's international campuses so they can investigate the importance of literature around the world as well as in their own lives. Graduates leave Webster prepared with the critical thinking and communication skills they need to succeed in whatever career they choose.
Areas of Emphasis
The creative writing emphasis is a dynamic program featuring classes in poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction and translation. Creative writing is taught in workshops limited to 15 students by teachers who are themselves working, published writers. The primary focus is learning the art of reading as a writer: opening up influences, gathering strategies and widening the range of what's possible in a student's own writing. Publication as an end in itself is not the ultimate aim here; however, a dedicated faculty who are constantly writing and publishing operate on the assumption that students also will be seriously committed to the development of their own work. Students can take advantage of St. Louis's thriving literary scene which includes long-standing community reading series which bring writing talent to St. Louis from all over the country.
Literature, Society and Politics
The emphasis in literature, society and politics reflects the English department's interest in literature's relationship to the human endeavors of the larger world. Unlike literature courses at most institutions, Webster students study texts not as a part of a historical sequence, but rather as they illuminate a particular theme or genre, allowing students to explore literature aesthetically and within a given cultural or historical context. The curriculum explores a range of literatures written in English (US, British, Canadian, South African, Caribbean, Indian, etc.) as well as literature in translation from all eras. In addition, this emphasis provides a full experience of literary study with courses that focus on single authors, literary theory, linguistics and narrative as it is translated from literature to film.
World Drama and Playwriting
The English department's emphasis in world drama and playwriting is designed to give students a strong grounding in our rich legacy of dramatic literature from the Greeks to the present day. Survey courses like Global Dramatic Literature give English majors the big picture drawing links between writers, ideas and important periods while more narrowly focused courses like Tragic Themes, Modern Drama, Contemporary Drama and Shakespeare I & II help students become better acquainted with specific authors, themes or periods. Faculty view plays as performance texts and encourage students to read as actors, designers, writers and critics. Additionally, collaborations with the Leigh Gerdine School of Fine Arts allow playwriting students to explore other dimensions of the dramatic arts.
Points of Distinction
- Classes are small and discussion-oriented, which encourages students to learn from one another.
- Courses in each emphasis are taught by professors who are also active scholars and published authors such as award-winning poet David Clewell, award-winning playwright Michael Erickson and literary critic Meg Sempreora - winner of the 2007 William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching.
- Webster’s Visiting Writers Series gives students firsthand access to well-known and well-respected writers. Visiting writers have included Billy Collins, George Saunders and Lynda Barry.
- The English department is a close-knit community of students and professors who meet regularly for readings, book discussions, and other activities in the Pearson House.
- Student publications The Green Fuse and The Mercury give students experience with publishing their own creative and academic work, as well as working to edit a publication.
English Academic Programs
To read about specific program requirements, learning outcomes and how to apply, click on a program from the following list:
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- Anthropology & Sociology
- Biological Sciences
- General Studies
- History, Politics, & International Relations
- The Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies
- International Languages & Cultures
- Legal Studies
- Nurse Anesthesia
- Professional Counseling
- Religious Studies
- English as a Second Language