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 three concentration areas: (1) Literature Emphasis, (2) Creative and Professional Writing Emphasis, or (3) Teacher Certification.

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.

Emphasis Areas

  • Literature
  • Creative and Professional Writing Emphasis
  • Teacher Certification Emphasis

Courses may include Literature, Literary Criticism, Creative Writing, Rhetoric, Professional Writing, and Linguistics.

Coursework in English

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
  • Shakespeare
  • Children’s Literature
  • Contemporary Literature & Film
  • Creative Writing
  • British Literature
  • The Novel
  • Rhetoric
  • 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:

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
Advertising Copywriter
Copy Editor
Literary Agent
Civil Service Technician or Manager

English Award

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.  Please visit the Eric Lee Baker English Award page for a list of recipients by year:  http://www.ericofthemistybluemountains.com/The%20Eric%20Lee%20Baker%20ENGLISH%20AWARDS.htm

Some graduates and their careers

Ferrum graduates credit their program of study for landing jobs in their fields, for example:

Kala Brubaker, ’16 Teacher at GilderSleeve Middle School in Newport News.

Jessa King ’16, English teacher with Teach for America at Lee High School in Arkansas

Ashley Dietz, ’14 Analyst at Strategic Management Strategies

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

Michelle Vincent Pruitt ’06, English teacher at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Rocky Mount

Kimberly Wagoner ’95, Editor of The Franklin County Times

Bryce Wuergler ’14,  Special education teacher at Franklin County High School

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:

Kala Brubaker
Amanda Cholko
Diane Hailey
Whitney Scott
Alyssa Walden
Jessica Wimmer