English Literature

Develop and expand your comprehension of both books and the world.

About the Major

English Literature majors enjoy reading and talking about literature, desire encouragement and rigorous training in the critical skills of reading, writing and thinking, and seek a strong foundation for a lifetime of deeper learning and more articulate communication. English Literature majors pursue the Bachelor of Arts on a specialized track emphasizing British and American literature, composition, poetry, prose, the English language and literary theme. Courses examine the masters, literary criticisms and methodologies of literary scholarship.

The English Literature track consists of 33 hours.

About the Minor

A minor in English in Literature consists of 21 Hours.

Secondary Teacher Certification Program in English

Teacher certification in English (6-12) is available to English majors.

Departmental Honors

Majors on the Literature Track may attain Departmental Honors in English under the direction of an Honors Committee composed of the Chair and two members of the English Department selected by the student. Students complete an honors paper by March of the senior year. A grade point average of 3.50 in upper-division English classes is required for honors on all major tracks. Students who are interested in completing an honors project should begin their preparation during the junior year by:

  • Conferring with the Chair about a possible project
  • Securing a Department faculty member who will supervise the project
  • Securing a Department member as second reader
  • Declaring intent to complete Honors project
  • Registration for Independent Study, a continuing course and takes place during fall semester of the senior year

The Department of English sponsors a chapter of the international English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. Membership is open to undergraduate English and English Education majors, graduate students, and faculty members. Mercer's chapter, Tau Upsilon, seeks to support, stimulate, and strengthen the programs of English majors and to bestow national recognition for achievement and academic excellence on the Department's outstanding students.

Students interested in Sigma Tau Delta membership must:

  • Declare a major or minor in English
  • Complete two English courses beyond FYS 102
  • Maintain a minimum 3.00 GPA in English
  • Complete at least three semesters of course work

Members will receive and be eligible to publish their works in the Society's publication The Rectangle. They will also be eligible for the Sigma Tau Delta key, the Society's prestigious writer's degree, honor degree, and insignia, and the Distinguished Service Degree and insignia. Sigma Tau Delta members also can compete for scholarships, fellowships, and cash prizes for writing. Additionally, the organization holds an international convention every two years.

Outreach and Engaged Learning

The Willingham Garden Society was originally created by students during a course in 17th century poetry and prose and was inspired by the 1989 Peter Weir film "Dead Poets Society." The Society brings poems outside, going beyond the classroom and even the text.

The Mercer Shakespeare Society is an organization of students, faculty, and staff who, following Ben Jonson's lead, find in Shakespeare's works a source of inspiration and delight that is "not of an age but for all time," including our own, here and now in the twenty-first century. Members of the Society meet regularly to read from Shakespeare's works, share favorite passages, hear speakers from the worlds of literature and theatre, view films, and attend performances and other Shakespearean events. 

The Dulcimer is a student-run, student-edited literary and art magazine that publishes poems, plays, fiction, essays, and visual and three-dimensional art by students and faculty and visiting artists. Previous issues of The Dulcimer have included stories and poems by Michael Meyehofer, Margaret Gibson (finalist for the National Book Award in poetry), and novelist Alvin Greenberg alongside the work of student writers and artists.

Internships are available and encouraged where students serve as apprentices under professional supervision at approved businesses, organizations, or academic institutions in which a student's on-the-job responsibilities pertain to editing, writing, or literary or documentary research.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Upper level majors may participate in a Directed Independent Reading where they are provided with the opportunity to do guided intensive reading in a literary field of his or her interest under direction of the instructor selected. The student will meet regularly with the instructor and present written evidence of critical ability and aesthetic appreciation.

In the Classroom

One of the annual highlights of this academic program is the Ferrol A. Sams, Jr., Distinguished Chair of English, which brings to the campus a nationally recognized writer, poet and/or playwright who works with the students and offers special programs to the campus and the community.  

Originated in and maintained by the English Department, the Georgia Poetry Circuit brings two to three nationally known poets to Mercer and Macon each semester. Past poets who have spoken on the circuit include Billy Collins, Derek Walcott, W.S. Merwin and Pattiann Rogers.

Willingham Live is an English department podcast where faculty members gather with students in a roundtable discussion of a short or famous piece of literature, from the Anglo-Saxon "The Dream of the Rood" to Alan Moore's Watchmen. The informal and intimate conversations spotlight the close student-faculty relationships and lively intellectual discussions which are hallmarks of the Mercer English major.

Beyond Mercer

English Literature students have gone on to:

  • Law schools
  • Medical schools
  • Pharmacy schools
  • Graduate schools
  • Teachers in secondary schools

Careers in publishing are also popular – the love of language and the ability to shape its beauty make a natural tie-in to the publishing world. Socially committed students often find careers at organizations committed to improving the state of humanity. And the ability to think and write clearly are skills in high demand in the business world.

Need More Information?

Visit the department's Website.