English Department

English study at St. Olaf makes a rich connection between traditional British and American literature and the wide diversity of literature being written in English around the globe. Along with Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, and Emily Dickinson, students may study Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, and Zadie Smith.

Students shape their own majors around a core of courses grounded in both the traditional approaches of literary history and genre studies and those using current cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural methods. A student may elect courses in, for example, creative writing, literary theory, literature and film, environmental literature, literature of South Asia, folklore, or children’s literature. Thus, a creative writer, a graduate school-bound literary scholar, an aspiring secondary-school teacher, or a student with broad-based humanities interests can build on the structure of basic requirements to determine the major that best suits his or her purposes.

At St. Olaf:

  • Study-abroad opportunities include semester and full-year programs at universities in England, Scotland, and Ireland, while Interim programs include Theater in London, Literature of the Eastern Caribbean, and Hemingway in East Africa
  • English is a popular liberal arts major that prepares students for work in journalism, communications, public relations, business, ministry, foreign service, writing, law, or medicine

Whatever their destination, graduates find that English is a satisfying and enjoyable major that imparts not only thinking and writing skills, but also empathy and insight that enables them to find common ground with others of different cultures and backgrounds.