English majors will hone their analytical and communication skills, which are essential to any career. They will also develop an appreciation of mankind’s plights, achievements, fears, and desires as they are reflected in literature.
Our English department provides extensive instruction in composition and literary analysis. We believe that focused discussions in small classrooms about good books and good writing provide the best kind of education for students of literature. We also work individually with students on their own writing endeavors and interpretations of literary texts. Several of our majors have published their scholarship in journals or have presented scholarly and creative works at literary conferences.
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From clubs to campus publications, students have several opportunities to gain real-world experience and add to their resumes. Here are just a few of the offerings for Literature and Language students:
Literary Club - Many of our majors are active members of the Literary Club, which, in addition to hosting public readings and writing workshops, provides transportation and travel money for off-campus cultural events. Last year, for instance, members of the Literary Club, accompanied by Dr. Kirk Weixel, attended a production of Rent in Pittsburgh.
Writing Center - Many English majors work part-time in the writing center as tutors. Students are trained and mentored by Dr. Brennan Thomas who directs the writing center. This opportunity is strongly recommended for any student interested in becoming a writing instructor or specialist.
Tapestries - English majors are frequently asked to serve as student editors to the University's Literary and Visual Arts magazine.
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At Saint Francis, you will learn from professors who love the written word and want to share that love with our students. We are all prolific writers and/or active scholars in our respective fields. For instance, Dr. Kirk Weixel has published a number of articles with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dr. Cadwalladerhas presented at more than fifty conferences and serves as the managing editor for Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. We work closely with students on projects ranging from independent studies to campus-wide publications such as The Troubadour (the campus newspaper), and as such, enjoy an excellent rapport with our majors. We also provide students additional opportunities to learn from and write for the broader campus and surrounding communities.
Meet the English Faculty
Elizabeth Arnstein, Class of 1993
When I was a student at what was then St. Francis College, I was frequently asked what I was going to do with my English degree when I graduated. I had a dual concentration in literature and public relations, and two things I was certain of: I was going to work in publicity and marketing, and I would never be a teacher.
For the first seven years after graduating I did, indeed, work in P.R. and marketing, serving in both the nonprofit and corporate worlds. But by 2000, I had decided I wanted to become an English teacher, and the great lessons I learned under the tutelage of people like Kirk Weixel, Donna Menis, Rod Labrie, John Woznak, Laura French and Brent Ottaway continue to inform my career. Every time I read aloud to my students, I recall the way Dr. Weixel used to read poetry and short story passages to his students so that we would hang on every word. When I work with students one-on-one, I try to emulate the generosity of Ms. Menis, who offered me her office, her phone, and her advice for hours as I worked on my senior honors thesis. In the writing I do for my school’s website and alumnae magazine, I think of Mr. Ottaway’s lessons on editing and Ms. French’s guidance on clear communication.
The high school where I work has as its motto Non scholae, sed vitae: “Not for school, but for life.” This could easily be the motto of St. Francis University, too, for the people there and the classes I took continue to impact me today.
Elizabeth was featured in an article by the Star Tribune, which honored her unique approach to teaching students about the Great Depression.
Patti Murphy, Class of 1983
My four years as an English major at St. Francis (with the journalism concentration available back then) brought me into the loop of reading, writing, speaking and listening that reflects our beautiful language and our lives, Almost 40 years later, I'm still in the loop. While each phase of my career has been very different, I continue to apply skills, knowledge and hands-on experience from my college education in all four areas of that loop every day. At first, I did so in traditional ways, covering many kinds of stories for monthly, weekly and daily newspapers/magazines. When I went on to work in the non-profit social service sector, I did so in less conventional ways. Whether interviewing clients, researching potential promotional opportunities for agencies I represented, putting together a newsletter or handling a public speaking engagement, I not only had to have somewhat of a way with words myself, but also had to be a careful listener and reader. This became even clearer when I decided to combine a full-time job as intake coordinator at a mental health agency with writing a newspaper column on disability issues. Almost 17 years ago, I traded those opportunities for my current position on the marketing team at an international company that develops technological solutions that allow people with disabilities (many who cannot speak) to communicate and engage in other ordinary activities more freely and fully.
Something about each phase of my career reminds me of my college days when, at various times, I combined editorship of the student newspaper with a full course load, theater and student government activities, and public relations internships with serious writing courses to help me hone my craft in preparation for the future. The camaraderie and environment at St. Francis encouraged team-building and multitasking long before workplaces began to put a big emphasis on such things. Even and especially when I seemed to have been juggling too many competing interests or resistant to change, my professors had my back. I feel the same about my fellow English majors. Though we may not have known it at the time, we were setting each other up for success in the workaday world--and in life.
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