The English Major
It's About Signs
At one time the discipline of "English" was identified principally with the literature of England. Today, English concerns itself not only with literature but with a variety of texts — meaningful arrangements of words, images, or other signs — and not only with England but with all parts of the world where texts are created and read.
At SUNY Geneseo, the program in English prepares students to become critical readers of signs and texts, as well as skilled producers of them.
Our program retains a traditional emphasis on the literatures of Britain and the United States. At the same time, it incorporates innovative requirements and opportunities based on the recognition that diversity — in authorship, subject matter, genre, textual medium, and interpretive approach — is both the reality of our culture and a value to be appreciated and sustained.
Our students learn writing and speaking skills that enable them to communicate and express themselves effectively in the classroom and beyond it, as learners, as jobholders, as citizens.
The English major provides solid preparation for anyone seeking to pursue advanced graduate study, professional training in fields such as law and medicine, or a career in teaching.
English Major Tracks
Students pursuing the B.A. in English at Geneseo can choose between a Literature track and a Creative Writing track. In both tracks, students gain a solid grounding in British and American literature, traditional and non-traditional. In both, students have the opportunity to take courses in creative writing. However, students in the Writing track take fewer literature courses in order to concentrate intensively on developing their skills as writers of fiction, poetry, and prose.
Life After the English Major
In recent years English majors from Geneseo have gone off to graduate school, law school, and medical school. They have gone to graduate school for literature, for creative writing, for technical writing, and for rhetoric and composition theory.
They have also found careers in the business world. Recent graduates of Geneseo's English Department are now pursuing advanced degrees at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, Harvard University, SUNY Buffalo, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of Rochester, Georgetown University, Syracuse University, Washington University, the University of Delaware, and the University of Tennessee.
Geneseo's Creative Writing students have gone on to graduate programs in Creative Writing at such institutions as Arizona State University, Bowling Green University, Miami University, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Buffalo, Temple University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Iowa, the University of Massachusetts, Yale University, Emory University, and Kyoto University in Japan. At least twelve of our graduates have gone on to publish their own books of poetry. Many are now in teaching positions around the country. Others have founded and edited small presses where they are publishing books and anthologies.