Explore the power of language

The Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at St. Edward’s immerses you in the love of reading, the intriguing creative process, cultural history and an option to specialize in creative writing.

In this program you will learn how to analyze and write about literary works with guidance from accomplished professors who share your passion for literature. Studying a broad range of authors from the medieval period to the present will challenge you to think critically about the human condition. Writing about literature develops both analytical and verbal skills with numerous practical applications. In this major, you'll become part of a group of passionate readers and writers who engage in invigorating discussions. 

Students in the program will...

  • Learn to write with skill and grace
  • See the world through the lenses of diverse authors
  • Consider what literature reveals about cultures of origin
  • Analyze formal construction
  • Develop expository writing skills and hone critical reading abilities
  • Have opportunities to submit work to school publications

English literature majors develop solid writing skills that are highly sought after in the professional world and can be applied to graduate studies, depending on the student's goals.

This major is a part of the Department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric.

English Literature Tracks and Degree Requirements

1. English Literature - General

Students in this specialization gain a broad foundation in American and British literature from a variety of periods, and also take literature electives that appeal to more specific interests.

Major Requirements: 42 hours of English Literature major courses are required.

General Education Requirements: 54 hours of general education courses plus major courses and electives.

View and download the full degree plan for the English Literature - General major (PDF).

A few examples of electives in the General specialization have included:        

  • Native American Literature
  • Literature of Crime and Punishment
  • Science and Fiction
  • "Radicals and Revolutionaries" in Literature
  • Uncanny Literature
  • Literature of Love

2. English Literature with a Creative Writing Specialization

The Creative Writing specialization also offers a broad foundation in American and British literature from multiple periods, but allows students to take electives in creative writing.

Major Requirements: 42 hours of English Literature major courses, 9 hours of which are concentrated on creative writing.

General Education Requirements: 54 hours of general education courses plus major courses and electives.

View and download the full degree plan for English Literature with a Creative Writing Specialization (PDF).

A few examples of Creative Writing electives within the Literature major have included: 

  • Poetry and Fiction workshops
  • Writing for Stage and Screen
  • Fantastical Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction

Our Faculty

English Literature faculty members stay active in their fields and bring their expertise to the classroom. They are a part of a larger group of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric faculty.

Catherine Rainwater, Professor of English, Area Coordinator of the Literature major

Dr. Rainwater teaches primarily American Literature and specializes in Native American literature. She also teaches literary theory and criticism, and creative nonfiction courses. She has authored and edited several books and critical essays, and has been recognized with the Norman Foerster Award, the Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, and a Choice Award from the American Library Association. Her current work in progress is a scholarly study of Native American writers' conceptions of personhood. 

Alan Altimont, Associate Professor of English 

Dr. Altimont teaches Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Drama, British Literature, and writing for live stage, screen, and games. His aim as a teacher is to familiarize students with literary cultures past and present, and to foster young writers eager to make their own contributions to these wonderful inheritances. He has published articles on the John Berryman, Andrew Marvell, and William Shakespeare, and recently translated the Latin poems of the 11th-century bi-sexual Angevin priest, Marbod of Rennes.

Barbara Filippidis, Professor of English

Dr. Filippidis teaches Victorian, modern, and postmodern literature. She has directed the Honors Program and created the first honors Living and Learning Community. She enjoys mentoring students as they prepare papers to present at conferences both on and off campus and is the SEU 2015 Advisor of the Year. She has published articles on Walker Percy and T.S. Eliot and is currently researching poetry by working class writers to include in Victorian and early 20th century classes.

Christopher Flynn, Associate Professor of English

Dr. Flynn teaches 18th-century and Romantic British literature, Irish literature, and French cinema. He has taught abroad in Angers, France, on two occasions. Dr. Flynn has published a book and several articles and essays on British and Irish literature, several creative nonfiction essays, and poetry. He has also directed several short films. He is currently at work on Swimming with Byron, a feature-length documentary about the spaces and places of British Romanticism.

Brian Sheerin, Associate Professor of English​

Dr. Sheerin teaches Medieval and Renaissance literature, specializing in Shakespeare Studies. His passion for anything old and British helps students delve deeply and creatively into works ranging from Beowulf to Paradise Lost. He regularly takes his Shakespeare students to live productions of local plays, and recently he co-led a study abroad trip to Ireland and England for literature majors. Dr. Sheerin has published a book and several articles on the intersection of economics and literature in Renaissance England.

Outside the Classroom

Students majoring in English Literature can explore career paths and practical application of their studies through internships and interactions with the greater Austin community.

Sigma Tau Delta

Literature students can join and participate in Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society. The St. Edward's chapter meets regularly and seeks to promote literary collegiality through book clubs, writing workshops, game groups, and creative presentation. If you would like to get involved, contact Dr. Brian Sheerin, the faculty sponsor.

Journals and Publications

The Sorin Oak Review is an annual literature and arts journal produced by St. Edward's University students. Anyone within the St. Edward's community may submit short fiction, poems, creative nonfiction essays, photography and artwork.

Arete is an award-winning, student-run academic journal. It's published annually with student submissions of research papers and essays that present substantive, fresh and well-researched arguments for an informed audience.

Hilltop Views is a weekly student newspaper published with news, life and arts, and sports stories relevant to St. Edward's University students.

Visiting Writer Series

The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series brings working writers to campus to read from their work, talk about their writing and interact with students. You'll have the opportunity to meet award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights.

Alumni Outcomes

What Can You Do With a Degree in Literature?

Graduates develop good writing skills and pursue graduate studies or a career path.

Careers

Graduates with majors in English develop careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Public relations
  • Education
  • Information science
  • Media
  • Public service
  • Publishing
  • Sales
  • Writing
  • Foreign service
  • Librarianship
  • Editing
  • Government
  • Book author
  • Speechwriting
  • Law
  • Graduate Studies​

Graduate or professional study is also an option for those interested.

Many graduate programs are available to Literature majors seeking advanced degrees, such as:

  • Literature
  • Education
  • Law
  • Political science
  • Government
  • Library
  • Information science
  • Public Administration
  • Psychology
  • Counseling
  • Communications
  • Business
  • Religious Studies​

Our students have gone on to graduate programs at many schools, including the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania State University School of Law and Loyola University in Chicago.

Preparation for Law School

According to the American Bar Association, a literature degree is excellent preparation for law school. Practicing attorneys and law school deans frequently say the kind of critical thinking and textual analysis required of English majors provides ideal preparation. Also, humanities majors, including English majors, tend to score above the mean on all three parts of the MCAT exam, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Read about our successful alumni. See what they have to say about life after St. Edward’s.

About the Minor

Students who wish to earn an English Literature minor must take the following coursework, totaling 24 hours.

Required Courses
  • British Literature I
  • British Literature II
  • American Literature I
  • American Literature II
  • One Course from Period Studies
  • Electives​

Students must select three courses from the English Literature electives.

For more information about applicable coursework, please consult the undergraduate bulletin.