At a college named after one of the most important of nineteenth-century American poets, a man known for his commitment to literary art as an agent of social and political justice, it should be no surprise to know that we believe that the study of language and literature is at the core of the liberal arts, those aspects of education that make us humane and free.
The Whittier College Department of English maintains a deep commitment to interdisciplinary and historical approaches to literary study.
Courses in language, in various forms of writing, and in literary, textual, and cultural analysis, develop the ability to make sense out of both ourselves and the world around us, to analyze experience and data, to express the results of our analysis clearly and effectively, and to take greater pleasure in the experience of life itself. The study, creation, and appreciation of language and literature are thus a significant part of the lives of all liberally educated people and the life of the community.
Our Department offers a major and minor in English, as well as a major in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Courses and preceptorship opportunities—for those students who intend to go into school teaching or who intend to pursue an advanced degree in English—contribute broadly both to personal enrichment in the liberal arts tradition and to professional development in a variety of fields.
While a good number of English majors choose to teach—either at the elementary, junior high, or high school level, or, after suitable graduate work, at a college or university—our emphases on textual analysis and writing skills make English a traditionally strong undergraduate major for many professions, including journalism, law, technical writing, library science, a variety of areas in the business world, and, of course, in creative writing.
The study of literature helps us to read the world around us actively and critically. What’s more, it enables us to understand ourselves and other people—as individuals, as participants in our own and other historical cultural traditions, and as human beings.