The ability to communicate ideas and information is one of the most valuable skills you can have. The English language is a powerful tool, and those who master it are well-prepared for the multiple career changes most college graduates experience in their lives. 

English majors develop sophisticated abilities in communicating, listening, speaking, reading, writing, critical thinking, information gathering and understanding a broad spectrum of human cultures.

USF’s goal is to heighten and intensify student reading experiences, and help students reflect upon the ways in which written and spoken words deliver meaning. Through this discovery, students can develop the ability to recognize authoritative analysis and question authority. They can even become authoritative critics themselves.

Skilled writing begins with skilled listening and speaking. Through spontaneous and focused exchanges that entertain wide-ranging ideas in a respectful way, USF English majors become confident speakers and can present their ideas in formal and informal settings. Critical thinking skills are honed in every class and assignment, enriched by discovery, originality, humor, creativity, and the pleasure of reading.

Concentrations

The Comparative Literature concentration is an interdisciplinary option for students of literature. Comparative literature, now often understood as international and interdisciplinary study rooted in literature, began as a disciplinary home for the comparison of literatures from different national traditions. It then evolved to encompass cultural studies and eventually became fully interdisciplinary. At its heart is comparison, which involves pondering juxtapositions, asking questions, making connections, starting a conversation, and carrying it through to the end with an awareness of how it all came about. Because Comparative Literature offers great freedom and creativity, it demands in turn great discipline: one needs the appropriate expertise to make the comparison (linguistic or disciplinary), a sound basis for the comparison, an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and implications of the comparison, and the ability to articulate them orally and in writing.

Aside from courses in the English Department, students of Comparative Literature must take two upper-division courses in secondary field (including, but not limited to art, criminal justice, foreign languages, history, philosophy, psychology, theology) that will be relevant to their capstone experience. All courses should be chosen in consultation with the major advisor so that it forms a coherent and individualized curriculum.

The English major concentration in English/Language Arts is our teacher preparation program and is only open to students who are also pursuing Secondary Education with Professional Educator Licensure through the College of Education. The major is jointly administered by the English Department and the College of Education.

For 1,400 years, the English language has been a rich and supple medium for poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, filmmakers, and translators, not only in English-speaking nations but across the globe. To study this long tradition, we adopt a wide variety of lenses; rhetorical, political, and philosophical approaches complement the study of performance modes and material culture. English Literature students read a wonderful mix of old and new everything from ancient epics, Renaissance dramas, and Victorian novels, to the latest memoirs, graphic novels, and spoken-word poetry. They also study writing with published writers in a variety of creative, professional, and digital modes. In our student-focused, discussion-driven classes, students work alongside faculty to develop their own interests as they hone essential skills demanded by the job market: close reading and research, confident analysis and argument, both oral and written. Opportunities for learning outside the classroom are always on offer: internships, conference presentation, spoken word, live theater, and more.

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” –John Milton, Areopagitica (1644)

More than a concentration, Writing at USF is a mission rooted in the universal human right of freedom of expression. Students in our multi-disciplinary writing program determine and hone their writing skills in three arenas: imaginative and creative expression, professional communication, advocacy writing. Within each one, they explore the relationship between conscience and expression, they learn that the right to speak the truth goes hand in hand with the duty to seek it, and they probe real-world tests to the limits that have grown up around the bold assertions of our First Amendment. The premium granted to wit and invention in our society, and the authority that clear and concise writing commands means that our students begin working within professional norms immediately. Research, argument and logic drive them to design innovative communications in multiple media. Adept at code-switching, they distinguish between different rhetorical situations and audiences. They know that using commas is an art and that telling a good story is the secret weapon of advertising, advocacy, business, diplomacy, entertainment, journalism, law, medicine, philanthropy, politics, social-media, and teaching. 

In the discussion-centered, collaborative classes and workshops of the USF Writing Program, learning is not about following rules, but about discovering the freedom of expression through them, challenging them, and writing new rules for professionalism in the twenty-first century.

Accreditations

The University of St. Francis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

First-Year Writing at the University of St. Francis

USF’s general education coursework includes classes devoted to writing in academic and professional settings. This page describes the courses included in the first-year writing sequence and explains how students can fulfill their first-year writing requirement.

The ENGL 101 writing tutorials are a structured series of individual conferences with experts in first-year writing designed to supplement and support student learning in College Writing I. Students are selected by faculty for enrollment in ENGL 101, which they take at the same time as ENGL 111. (For details on the placement process, see below.) When a student takes ENGL 101, she meets with a faculty tutor for two 30-minute sessions each week of the semester, beginning in week three and going through week sixteen. These sessions are scheduled in the second week of the fall semester during a required meeting for all enrolled Writing Tutorial students. At this meeting, each student will determine a regular meeting schedule with their faculty tutor at times that work with their availability.

During tutorial sessions, tutors offer additional instruction and guidance focusing on the major writing assignments in the student’s College Writing I course. This guidance occurs throughout the writing process. When students are planning an essay, they might bring the assignment prompt to tutorial sessions, where the faculty tutor can help students understand what the prompt is asking for, guide students toward clarifying questions they should ask their writing instructor, and help students see connections between the assignment and what they have been learning in class.

Faculty tutors mentor students through the brainstorming stage of their essays, and they also provide support during the drafting stage. Tutoring sessions often focus on a student’s in-progress essay. Student and tutor work together on the essay in both global and local ways. At the global level, a faculty tutor might ask guiding questions to help students outline their essays or incorporate additional evidence, topic sentences, and so on. At a more local level, the faculty tutor will workshop sections of the essay line-by-line to focus on grammar, mechanics, and style.

The success of ENGL 101 tutorials depend on the student’s proactive focus on their own writing assignments. As outlined in the ENGL 101 syllabus, students are expected to bring a writing project to each tutoring session. More than dedicated time and space each week to work on their writing, tutorial sessions offer targeted instruction in the writing process, rhetorical principles, and style and mechanics by facilitating collaboration between student writer and faculty tutor.

This course offers the student extensive practice in writing persuasive and referential prose. College Writing I emphasizes writing as a process and a practice, so students spend time brainstorming, drafting, reviewing, and revising their writing projects. Course assignments are generally essays, designed to build the habits of mind, skills, practices, and confidence students need to succeed in their writing assignments throughout college. The course introduces students to the conventions of academic writing, to rhetorical thinking, rhetorical analysis, and rhetorical appeals, and to genres of prose writing including narrative, analysis, and argument. Additionally, the course introduces strategies for evaluating outside sources and information, especially information found online, cultivating and developing students’ digital literacy.

This course offers the opportunity for writing persuasive and referential prose with emphasis on the process of research and writing with sources.

This course requirement is fulfilled by taking ACAF 120. (IAI Course # C1 901R), which is the second course in the First Year Experience. ACAF 120 is designed to be an inquiry-driven seminar that actively engages the students in developing the basic academic skills required of USF students: reading, writing, and evidence-based and thesis-driven research and thinking. The course is discipline-based and focused on interesting questions within the discipline. Whereas the first course (Foundations I) focuses on seeing oneself within the large frame spanning from the beginning to the end of the universe, this second course focuses on a much smaller piece of that larger framework, while still utilizing the same organizational structure of ‘thresholds’ and ‘increasing complexity.’ This course builds on the academic skills introduced in Foundations I and College Writing I (academic reading, research and argumentation) by demystifying academic writing and utilizing a book-length text written by scholars as a model. This course also actively involves students in applying these skills to explore real-world problems.

First-Year Writing Placement

After you commit to attend USF, you will be required to take a one-hour writing placement exam, which is administered online via USF’s learning management system, Canvas. This exam asks you to write a short essay in response to a prompt, asks you to evaluate sentences for grammatical correctness, and asks questions about your experiences with academic writing.

The placement exam is scored by faculty in the English department, who evaluate the placement essays for their narrative coherence and writing style. The placement exam is used to identify students who will be placed into the Writing Tutorial (ENGL 101). You should complete your placement exam well before the day you are scheduled to register for classes; this will enable the English department to make a recommendation about ENGL 101 to your first-year academic advisor, who will enroll you in the appropriate writing courses. If you do not complete the placement exam in a timely manner, it will be assessed at a later date, and you may be enrolled in ENGL 101 over the summer or at the beginning of the fall semester.

For questions about the writing placement exam or ENGL 101, please contact the director of ENGL 101: Writing Tutorials, Dr. Anna Ioanes (aioanes@stfrancis.edu).

Most incoming students, whether new, traditional freshmen or transfer students, must take ENGL 111. Students can place out of ENGL 111 in the following ways:

  • By successfully completing a dual-enrollment high school writing course with the grade of at least C.
  • With transfer credit for IAI Course #C1 900 from another institution
  • A score of 4 or higher on the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam

For questions about dual enrollment, transfer credit, and AP credit, please contact the director of Academic Advising, Jeff Chiapello (jchiapello@stfrancis.edu)

Most incoming students, whether new, traditional freshmen or transfer students, must take ENGL 112/ACAF 120. Students can place out of ENGL 112/ACAF 120 in the following ways:

  • With transfer credit for ENGL 112: College Writing II from another institution

For questions about dual enrollment, transfer credit, and AP credit, please contact the Director of Academic Advising, Jeff Chiapello (jchiapello@stfrancis.edu)

Additional Writing Support

Students are supported in their writing courses and all writing assignments by peer-tutors in the Academic Resource Center (L-214). Students can take advantage of weekly drop-in tutoring hours or schedule an appointment with a tutor (in person, or online). Tutoring is unlimited and free of charge. Schedules and instructions for setting appointments are available in the MyUSF portal. For questions about tutoring services, contact Assistant Director of the Academic Resource center, Joanna Kourtidis (jkourtidis@stfrancis.edu)

Testimonial

“A variety of courses and small class sizes served as hallmarks of the USF English program for me, but my experience was greatly enhanced because of the commitment and dedication of my professors. Small class sizes helped them get to know us as students better and allowed us to open up and share ideas. Because of their influence, I have been more successful in applying effective teaching methods within my own career as a high school English teacher.”

-Nikki Arendell

What Can You Do With This Degree?

English majors can end up in any number of places—in advertising, journalism, law, politics, business and publishing. They are thrilled by the challenge of writing with playfulness, imagination and critical rigor and become writers and teach in high schools and universities. English majors pursue advanced degrees in a broad range of fields, from literature and languages to library science and other humanistic fields. Like all humanistic disciplines, English is a broad platform from which to launch many different careers that depend on astute thinking, critical reading, excellent oral and written communication, confidence and authority.

Grow Through Real-World Experience

It’s all about internships at the University of St. Francis! Employers often say they look for students who have an internship on their resume, so obtaining one is always recommended for ultimate student success. USF English majors have earned internships at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, the Options Trading Corp., Easter Seals and numerous regional law firms to name a few. 

The writing internship allows students to earn academic credit for applying their skills in real-world settings. Students can also elect to study abroad to expand their cultural awareness and writing experience. The USF International Programs Office offers study abroad opportunities that range from two weeks, one semester or a full academic year.

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