Books that Cook
Professor of English Jennifer Cognard-Black's new book, Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal, is being published by NYU Press this August.

Program Information

Christine Wooley, Chair
Professor of English

Office staff: 240-895-4225

Alumni—where are they now?

Monica Powell

Monica Powell (class of 2011) graduated with an English major and a WGSX minor. She currently lives in NYC, where she is pursuing a Masters degree in Theatre Education at NYU.


Student Spotlight

Maria Smaldone

Maria Smalldone finds doors opening for her in Oxford, while studying at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

You may now minor in English, regardless of your catalog year!

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Literature is a treasury of our cultural heritage and an expressive human creation embodying both beauty and knowledge. Close examination of literature improves our thought and our use of language, enhances our understanding of past and present, and provides insight into our interior lives. So, too, does the practice of carefully crafted writing, both critical and creative. 

The English department at St. Mary’s welcomes both majors and non-majors into its courses at every level: many students find that the study of literature helps them in their pursuit of another discipline, such as history or philosophy; others simply enjoy the chance to stretch their minds in an unusual direction, or to try their hand at writing creatively. Some, of course, find that literature and writing call to them more insistently, and choose to pursue a major.

St. Mary’s does not offer separate tracks leading to majors in “Literature” or “Creative Writing”; instead, we are committed to the belief that the study of the two should be an integrated process. The English major is thus designed so that students will read a broad historical and cultural range of literatures and develop a variety of writing skills. The English major also provides the basis by which students can enrich their lives through an ongoing contact with stimulating authors, evocative language, and significant ideas. By graduation, a student majoring in English should:

  • Read and write clearly, effectively, perceptively, and creatively;
  • Be familiar with the basic historical and cultural background of literature written in English, including influential historical events, ideas, literary movements, genres, authors, and texts;
  • Understand how language is used in a range of literary texts;
  • Make connections among literary texts within and across historical periods, national literatures, cultural groups, and formal categories; and
  • Appreciate how literature and writing are vital to living a full and meaningful life.

To achieve these goals, the English program begins with three required courses investigating literature from an historical perspective, as well as 200-level elective writing and literature courses. In the Literature in History classes, students encounter influential writers, works, and ideas that provide necessary background knowledge for further study of writing and literature. At the 300 level, students define their individual course of study by taking more specialized literature and writing classes. In the junior year, all majors must take “Methods of Literary Study,” which will prepare them for the capstone coursework of their senior year. During their senior year, students make use of the knowledge and skills learned in previous courses for further advanced study, including a 400-level seminar. A third to a half of English majors also choose to do a St. Mary’s Project, frequently drawing on interdisciplinary interests, or building on experiences in a specific course or set of courses. Within this overall framework, there is a great deal of flexibility in the program, and faculty advisers help each student select courses that will best meet his or her interests, needs, and goals.

With its stress on clarity of thought and expression, and its focus on choices within the program, the English major provides an excellent foundation for a meaningful liberal arts education as well as a strong preparation for a variety of careers that require analytic rigor and clear, precise communication.


Our postal address is:
Montgomery Hall
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
St. Mary’s City, Maryland

You may reach our office staff at:
fax: 240-895-4958