About the program
The English major at Ferrum College provides excellent preparation for careers or graduate school in a number of fields such as law, religion, education, public relations, management, and journalism. Students majoring in English select one of two concentration areas: (1) Literature Emphasis or (2) Creative and Professional Writing Emphasis.
Through study of literature and writing, the English program allows students flexibility in selecting courses to meet their own interests and needs. Coursework promotes understanding of the expressive capacities of language and appreciation for the psychological, cultural, and historical insights of literature. Students learn how to think critically and to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts.
The curriculum incorporates a variety of topics to prepare students for opportunities in the field of English, and includes courses such as the following:
- World Literature
- American Literature
- Children’s Literature
- Contemporary Literature & Film
- Creative Writing
- British Literature
- The Novel
- Appalachian Literature
- Literature and the Environment
- Medieval Literature
- African American Literature
- Literary Criticism
- Professional Writing
There are over 50 clubs and organizations available to students at Ferrum College. The following are specifically related to English:
- English Club
- The Iron Blade (student newspaper)
- Chrysalis Literary & Arts Magazine
- Ferrum College Radio
- Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society
- Student VA Education Association (for students desiring a career in teaching)
Experiential & hands-on learning opportunities
Internships: Students are strongly urged to explore career opportunities and to establish mentors through an internship.
Chrysalis Literary & Arts Magazine: The Ferrum College literary magazine invites all students to submit writing or art for publication, enter writing contests, or join the magazine staff.
The Iron Blade: College student newspaper.
English Practicum. As in a practicum with the newspaper or literary magazine, students can earn one course credit in a semester by completing 45 hours of work with a professor on an experiential project that provides professional experience related to the study of English, such as editing or writing for the web site AppLit (see English courses in college catalog).
The Appalachian Cluster: This group of general education courses combines English with sociology and environmental science in a one-semester, three-course learning community that focuses on sustainability and modernization issues in Appalachia. Field trips and study of folklore enhance the experience.
E-Term: Every May, the English program offers one or more exciting courses for the three-week E-Term, using experiential learning opportunities to enhance the traditional study of literature and related subjects.
- World Folktales and Literature
- Literature and Film of the American Frontier
- Representations of the Holocaust Through Literature and Film
- The Literature of Slavery
- American Nature Writing
- British Literature I with travel to England
Special Interdisciplinary Courses: The Holocaust: Past, Present, and Future (HUM 200/300) and African American Studies: “Forty Years and a Dream” (HUM 302) are elective humanities courses taught by teams of professors from a variety of disciplines, including English. The courses are further enriched with films, special projects, guest speakers, and trips to important sites (the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., historical civil rights sites, etc.).
AppLit: Resources for Readers and Teachers of Appalachian Literature for Children and Young Adults is a web site on Appalachian literature and folklore founded at Ferrum in 2000 and managed by English professor Tina Hanlon. Student and faculty essays, poetry, photographs, lesson plans, and artwork have been published in AppLit, along with bibliographical and editorial contributions by Ferrum students.
Special Honors Courses: The Boone Honors Program is directed by an English professor, Dr. Lana Whited. Members of the honors program and other qualified students enroll in interdisciplinary seminars that focus on special topics while fulfilling general education requirements. Honors courses in which English faculty participate in team teaching include Reason and the Individual; Art, Literature and Film of the Expressionist Period; Media and Violence; and The Sixties. Honors students also participate in travel to conferences, co-curricular cultural events, and study abroad.
Academic Resources Center: Professors choose students who are offered paid positions in the ARC to help other students with their writing and coursework.
The Writing Center: English faculty members work individually with students on improving their writing skills at any stage of the writing process.
What could I be with a major in English?
A major in English is excellent preparation for traditional careers such as teaching or journalism, as well as many other fields in which excellent writing and critical-thinking skills and creativity are needed. For example:
You can become a(n) …
Public Relations Specialist
Civil Service Technician or Manager
Each year, the faculty in the department of English chooses a student whose work in English has shown exceptional dedication to high standards. The winner receives the Eric Lee Baker Award for the Outstanding Student in English. The award is named for Eric Baker of Woodstock, VA, who attended Ferrum from 1992 to 1996 and died in an automobile accident less than a month before his scheduled graduation. At Ferrum, Eric was the editor of the Chrysalis literary magazine and wrote film reviews for The Iron Blade.
Ferrum graduates credit their program of study for landing jobs in their fields, for example:
Michelle Vincent Pruitt ’06, English teacher at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Rocky Mount
Jessa King ’16, English teacher with Teach for America at Lee High School in Arkansas
Steve Maddy ’95, attorney at Maddy & Nester, PLLC
Sabrina Tribbett Moreland ’04, reference/emerging technologies librarian at Walters State Community College in Tennessee
Whitney Scott ’11, academic recovery specialist at University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Kimberly Wagoner ’95, editor of The Franklin County Times
Bryce Wuergler ’14, behavior technician at Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center
Cynthia Rhinehart ’97, logistician for communication/surveillance items for the Navy
Alyssa Walden, ’08, 4-H Youth Development Agent at Virginia Cooperative Extension
Crystal Shreves Naff ’91, insurance broker
Mike Emberson, ’97, advertising copywriter for Foot Levelers in Roanoke
Misty Stinnette LaPrade, ’98, English teacher at Hancock County High School
Gretchen Hager Tipps ’00, director of marketing at The Willard Companies, former page designer at The Roanoke Times
Amanda Schulz ’02, former sports reporter at the New Bern (N.C.) Sun Journal
Jessica Hylton Davenport ’05, exhibits & publications manager for Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville
In addition, a number of alumni, including the following, have recently attended graduate school:
Instructor of English
M.A., Marshall University
Instructor of English
M.A., Hollins University
M. Katherine Grimes
Professor of English
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Associate Professor of English
Ph.D., University of Virginia