Engage with diverse literatures and contexts to develop your critical thinking and writing skills as an English major at Wilkes. Concentrations in digital humanities, literature, writing and education will prepare you for a wide range of careers.

Program Snapshot

Program Type Format Credit Hours
Major, Minor On Campus 120 (18 for minor)

Why Study English at Wilkes?

The close-knit community and co-curricular activities are hallmarks of the Wilkes English department.

As an English major, you spend a significant amount of time reading and writing. To thrive, you will need not only concentration, but conversation. No writer writes alone! Our faculty share their expertise and creativity, and welcome yours in and out of the classroom. You’ll be a vital part of the Kirby Hall community, the English Department’s home on campus.

You can hone your writing, editorial and leadership skills outside the classroom through co-curricular activities like:

Curriculum       Admission Requirements     Faculty & Staff

What Will You Learn as an English Student?

  • Through an examination of American and world literature, you’ll develop critical thinking skills that will serve you in your professional and personal life. You’ll learn to effectively communicate your thoughts through exercises in academic, creative and workplace writing.
  • You’ll build an appreciation for and understanding of genres, including fiction, poetry, drama and nonfiction.
  • In our digital humanities courses, you’ll analyze and create literary and non-literary digital texts to enhance your experience in the remote work space.
  • Choose a concentration in digital humanities, literature, writing or education to best suit your education and career goals.
  • You can also minor in Creative Writing to develop your creative imaginations or Workplace Writing to prepare for opportunities outside of the classroom.

Program Highlights

Workshops with Guest Artists

English majors have access to intimate writing workshops and conversations with rising and established authors through the annual Allan Hamilton Dickson Spring Writers Series. Past guests include Salman Rushdie, Dave Eggers, Alice Sola Kim, Phil Klay and Valeria Luiselli.

International Membership

You can become a member of Alpha Gamma Alpha, our award-winning Sigma Tau Delta chapter. This international honor society lets you exhibit your academic achievements and have the opportunity to present at conferences, network at conventions and earn scholarships.

Real-World Experience

Earn valuable hands-on experience in leadership roles with The Inkwell and The Manuscript Society.  Develop skills as a consultant and workplace writer in the University Writing Center.  You can also earn scholarship funds for your commitment to editorial positions. If you want to venture into off-campus opportunities, you have access to a variety of local and remote publishing and workplace writing internships.


Wilkes was a place for me to foster my intelligence and critical thinking. Keep your options open. Don’t be afraid to go off road and see what happens.

Brianna Schunk '20 - English and Individualized Studies

concentrations (digital humanities, literature, writing and education)


of English majors get full-time work in a related field with their bachelor's degree

Nearly 100%

of English majors with an education focus pass the required teacher certification exam

Explore Our Courses

Do you wish to...

  • Explore the rhetorical and linguistic strategies used by legal, government and media experts?
  • Discover the roots of English drama starting in the 10th century?
  • Analyze the conflict of rational and irrational that permeates Gothic literature?

Our diverse course offerings provide an abundance of opportunities to study every and all aspects of the English language.

Featured Upcoming Courses (Fall 2022)

Taught By: Dr. Helen H. Davis
Tuesday/Thursday | 2:30-3:45 p.m.

This course is designed to provide an upper-level focus on rhetorical strategies. It will introduce students to classical rhetoric and apply principles of rhetorical analysis to a variety of nonfictional texts, including argumentative essays, rhetorical studies, literary criticism, magazine and newspaper articles, internet sources, speeches, legal writing, leadership discourse and digital discourse. Students will practice scrutinizing linguistic choices while enhancing their own writing through a variety of modes and types. We will start with classical rhetoric and move towards a discussion of rhetoric in the digital age, thinking about how rhetoric has shifted in the 21st century. This course will include Digital Humanities components, and will count towards the writing and digital humanities concentrations, or as a 300-level elective for literature and secondary education concentrations. It also qualifies for the Women’s and Gender Studies minor. This course is open to non-majors and is useful for anyone who is interested in thinking critically about how to communicate effectively.

Course Learning Objectives and Goals

  1. Learn about classical modes of argument, and apply those modes to contemporary writing.
  2. Understand the basic progression of rhetorical thought from classical rhetoric through contemporary rhetorical theory.
  3. Apply the writing process of prewriting, determining purpose/audience, drafting, revising and editing.
  4. Apply principles of rhetorical analysis to a variety of texts, including argumentative essays, rhetorical studies, literary criticism, magazine and newspaper articles, legal writing and leadership discourse.
  5. Evaluate the quality of one’s own and one’s peer’s writing in terms of focus, content, organization, style and mechanics/conventions.
  6. Use standard MLA documentation conventions in the preparation of writing projects.
  7. Apply technology to the writing process.
  8. Write competently according to these criteria:
    1. Content: originality, careful thought, clearly defined central idea or thesis, substantial and concrete support of the central idea.
    2. Organization: clearly ordered plan of development, consistent development of central idea and unified and coherent paragraphs.
    3. Expression: appropriate, clear and accurate choice of language, as well as complete, clear and varied sentence structure.
    4. Mechanics: consistent and correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage.
    5. Documentation Formats: correct MLA citation and documentation format.
  9. Identify and explain principles of rhetorical analysis.
Taught By: Dr. Mischelle Anthony

Though we could say that all writers write against some aspect of mainstream thought, the Gothic style is more direct, harsh and heavy-handed. Highlighting the conflict between rational and irrational forces in our lives, the Gothic is about subversion. Whether it’s the Swans singing their ballad Goddamn the Sun or Mark Danielewski’s complete breakdown of fictional structure and language itself in House Of Leaves, the Gothic emphasizes the fragility of our taxonomies and paradigms.

This course will explore why these texts encourage breakdown - to criticize? to entertain? to shock? to encourage social justice? Gothic scholars and Gothicism’s scope are legion. We will investigate how and why violence permeates Gothic texts. Beginning with the Gothic novel’s origins in mid-eighteenth-century England, we will move to contemporary violent fiction to study how structure and content relate in these texts.

Tentatives Texts

  • The Castle of Otranto
  • The Italian
  • The Monk
  • Wieland
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Little Women
  • Geek Love
  • Blindness (trans. from Portuguese)
  • Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves

Assignments Include

  • Presentation & paper, weekly
  • Response papers
  • Research essay, midterm/final

DH-Designated; Women and Gender Studies (WGS) minor eligible

Taught By: Dr. Thomas A. Hamill
Monday/Wednesday/Friday | 12-12:50 P.m.

This course offers an in-depth analysis of English drama from its earliest manifestations within local tenth-century churches through its pervasive presence as part of seventeenth-century London’s growing metropolis. We will focus in particular on the complex relationships between early English modes of dramatic representation (such as religious ritual, allegory, festival pageantry, comedy and satire) and the theatrical spaces within and on which these modes were staged (such as churches, fields, medieval towns and cities, scaffolds, London and, of course, theaters).

Some of the general questions we will be asking throughout the semester will include:

  • In what ways do the physical features of a performance space (whether it’s a theater or a field) impact theatricality and performance?
  • How are content (plot) and form (dramatic representation) interrelated with the physical context of a performance (an enclosed theater, a church altar, a city street)?
  • What happens when actors perform the roles of God and Jesus, and does the fact that they do so in front of drunken crowds during a holiday festival change the situation?
  • How might costumes and props be considered part of a play?
  • What happens when men dress as women to perform female roles?
  • What happens when everyday citizens become actors?

As we address these and many other questions about space, drama, and performance, we will draw heavily on our own spatial environs, namely the campus of Wilkes University. In addition to reading plays and discussing them in class, we will perform them (individual scenes and entire plays) throughout campus: in and around Kirby and Weckesser Halls, on the steps of Farley Library, on the banks of the Susquehanna, on the campus mall, in and around Dorothy Darte Center, and in classrooms. Along with these performance elements, the course will devote extensive attention to the economic, social, religious and political contexts of the period and for the history of drama and the stage. We will consider also the historical and editorial processes by which plays written and performed in a medieval town 800 years ago - or in London’s burgeoning metropolis 400 years ago - make it to the printed pages of our textbooks.

Students need not have any theatrical training or experience to excel in this course. Students from both theatrical and non-theatrical backgrounds are encouraged to enroll.

Courting Success

If you’re pondering a career as an attorney, consider pursuing an English major. A BA in English will give you a solid foundation of reading comprehension, compelling writing and analytical thinking.

Through Wilkes’ pre-law program, you’ll work with a pre-law advisor in addition to your advisor in the English department. The pre-law program provides guidance on law school preparation and admission, as well as access to guest speakers and law school visits.

Wilkes English majors consistently earn some of the highest scores on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as well as admission and full scholarships to highly ranked law schools.

Explore the Pre-law Program

Careers & Outcomes

English majors often pursue careers in writing, publishing, education or law, but a variety of industries and corporations need the creative and analytical skills English majors bring to the table.

Job Titles

  • Secondary or Middle-Level Educator
  • Attorney
  • University Professor
  • Managing Editor
  • Senior Editor
  • Content Writer
  • Public Relations Representative
  • Grant Writer
  • Health Care Manager


  • Google
  • Wyoming Valley West (PA) School District
  • Winchester (VA) Public Schools
  • Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance
  • Syracuse University Press
  • Elsevier Publishing
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior
  • Web.com
  • Salisbury University
  • Think Company (PA)
  • Epic Games

Graduate Schools

  • Penn State Dickinson Law
  • University of Illinois
  • UCLA School of Law
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Hofstra University
  • Rosemont College
  • Villanova University
  • New York University
  • Tulsa University

Spring Writers Series

The Allan Hamilton Dickson Spring Writers Series brings published authors to campus, providing the Wilkes community and other literature lovers with access to readings and book signings.

English majors have a unique opportunity to connect with these professionals and gain insight into the creative process through small class sessions and writing workshops.

We’ve hosted writers such as Zach Linge, Poupeh Missaghi and Howard Norman, who shared a diverse look at poetry, fiction and memoir.

Explore the Writers Series


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