Welcome to the English Department
English is one of the largest majors at Westmont–more than ten percent of students here choose to major in the study of literature and writing. We take pride in the fact that Westmont has double, or even triple, the percentage of English majors found at many other colleges and universities. Currently we have eight full-time professors on our English faculty.
One reason for the popularity of the major at Westmont is the department’s emphasis on classroom teaching. Although we as professors are all actively engaged in scholarship and writing, at heart each of us is a teacher first and foremost. We keep emphasizing classroom teaching and students keep returning to our classrooms. Not that we can take all (or even most of) the credit. Students keep returning to our classrooms in large part due to the delightfulness of the works we get to read. We get to spend time with the plays of Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard, the fiction of Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Chaim Potok; the poetry of Milton, Spenser, Blake, and Eavan Boland. With authors like that, sometimes we professors just try to get out of the way to allow students to immerse themselves in the texts and share what they find.
Yet another reason for the popularity of the major at Westmont is its flexibility. The English major consists of 36 units, or nine 4-unit courses. That works out to an average of just over one course per semester for a student attending Westmont for four years, so it is quite feasible to complete another major as well. We also offer an English Preparation Program for Secondary Teachers of English, which is over 50 units.
Many English majors at Westmont focus primarily on courses in British, American and World Literature. Others choose the Writing Track, which combines literary study with courses in journalism, creative writing, film analysis, and advanced composition. You may also choose a Graduate Study Track, a more intensive preparation for advanced work in English after graduation.
Every other autumn, the English Department sponsors a semester-long study-tour of Great Britain, in which about 25 Westmonters study English and Irish literature and drama in the lands of its origin. The semester alternates between periods of residential study and coach tours of the Lake District, York and Ireland, plus theatre visits to London and Stratford-upon-Avon. The department also offers a pair of First-Year Honors Seminars to thirty entering students who show special promise in literary study.