Santa Clara University


Mission and Goals


Students and faculty in the English Department study traditional British and American literatures as well as the great variety of literatures from around the globe.  Writing is integral to every course in the English major, and students engage in critical and creative writing projects of varying lengths.  While developing skills in careful reading and research, many students take poetry or fiction workshops and take courses in argumentation, screenwriting, or business writing.  English major alumni consistently report that their skills in writing and analysis are the most valuable assets they bring from Santa Clara to the world after college.  Many courses use new media and film, and focus on visual rhetoric and cultural studies.  In theoretical courses students explore perspectives ranging from critical race theory, to feminist criticism, postcolonialism, semiotics, and queer theory. 

The English major is designed to prepare students for graduate study in fields as diverse as business, law, teaching, diplomacy, and nursing. The emphasis is on interpretation, empathy, and self-expression. Through their rigorous and creative work, our faculty and students are what they desire to become: informed and engaged citizens, who integrate different forms of knowledge and apply what they have learned to research, writing, and community-based learning. 

Goals and Objectives 

English 20 and English 21

Goal 1.

-Critical Reading.


-Read with increasing awareness of rhetorical situations and of the historical, social, and cultural dimensions of literary texts. 

Goal 2. 

-Rhetorically aware writing.


-Write critically about literary texts in a variety of genres and styles, with an increasing awareness of rhetorical situations.

Goal 3. 

-Analysis and discussion of and facility with a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to studying and writing about literary texts.


-Demonstrate knowledge of multiple critical and theoretical approaches to studying literary texts.  

-Demonstrate ability to conduct effective library research including the selection and integration of appropriate sources of evidence (using both library and internet sites). 

-Demonstrate competence in writing academic literary discourse.

Historically Grounded Courses


-Reading, writing, and oral communication about traditional literature and other cultural texts, informed by an awareness of historical backgrounds, rhetorical and literary contexts, and critical traditions.


-Familiarity with a range of authors, texts, genres, and styles in the context of literary-critical periods.

-Knowledge of particular political, economic, religious, cultural, and social backgrounds of texts.

-Knowledge of the intellectual, philosophical, and literary traditions that shape (and are shaped by) literary discourses of particular periods.

-Acquaintance with critical and scholarly traditions, including recent theoretical approaches.

Upper-Division Rhetoric/Writing/Language Courses

Goal 1.

-Increased awareness and knowledge of the complexities and power of language.

Objectives: (One or more of the following):

-Knowledge about historical and linguistic contexts of language.

-Understanding of differences in varieties of English and of relationships between language and culture.

-Imaginative writing which uses language with precision.

Goal 2.

-Deeper understanding of the variety of goals and purposes for writing.


-Writing in a variety of media and genres.

Goal 3.

-Increased knowledge of rhetorical principles that inform writing in one or more of the following contexts:  academic, creative, business, and professional.


Critical/Creative writing responding appropriately to a variety of rhetorical situations.

Upper-Division Theory/Methodology Course


-Increased understanding of theory that informs literary, cultural, and/or rhetorical studies.


-Demonstrate knowledge of multiple theoretical approaches possible when studying and writing about texts, or of one particular theoretical approach in depth.

Gain substantial experience in reading, discussing, and writing about primary theoretical texts in their historical and cultural contexts. 

Senior Seminar


-Serve as a capstone to the English major by integrating and enhancing the knowledge, understanding, and skills acquired during students’ preceding years of course work in the major.


-Effectively analyze, interpret, and evaluate literary, critical, and theoretical  texts; become more aware of one's own and others' assumptions about literature, criticism, and/or theory.

-Design and complete a substantial and original research or writing project.

-Participate actively and responsibly as a member of a small learning community working on a focused area of study.

Ethnic Global/Gender Sexuality


-Increased understanding of social, cultural, and historical constructions and meanings of race, ethnicity, nation, gender, and/or sexuality through critical reading and rhetorically aware writing. 


-Critical reading and rhetorically aware writing that demonstrates one or more of the following:

-Knowledge about the diverse literary and cultural traditions of historically underrepresented ethnic groups within the U.S. and/or Britain or by non-European writers. 

-Knowledge about the diverse traditions of writing by women and/or sexual minority groups.

-Engagement with approaches to literary and cultural texts that analyze power relations, such as feminist studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, and critical race studies. 

Creative Writing courses


-Production of a substantial body of imaginative writing; reading of imaginative texts with a focus on craft.


-Students will read fiction, poetry, and other imaginative texts with an awareness of the writers’ poetic and narrative strategies.

-Students will compose in particular genres of imaginative writing.

-Students will develop skill in drafting, revising, and providing peer feedback.

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