University of Dallas’s unique English program

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Photo by Kathleen Miller.

One of the most popular majors at the University of Dallas is the undergraduate English major. At many schools, the English major is looked down upon as one of the “useless” degrees, along with philosophy.

However, the English major at UD prepares its students for life in a different way than other universities.

English major programs at other universities tend to concentrate more on the act of creative writing rather than literary analysis, on which UD heavily concentrates in both its Core curriculum and undergraduate English program. In fact, the only point at which UD students are expected to dabble in creative writing is a short story assignment in Lit Trad IV, a class from which some students are exempt due to AP testing.

English majors at UD delve into works and projects that are not normally explored in undergraduate English degrees at other schools. Any junior English major at UD, including myself, can tell you this. As we begin to wrap up our semester of Junior Poet, we are expected to be able to come to our own conclusions about the most respected works of literature in the western tradition.

This approach to the English degree that UD practices expects a level of analytical thinking that would not be required by the approach to literary education that most universities take.

Thus, the English B.A. from UD uniquely prepares its students through this training in analysis for future endeavors such as law school and professional employment.

The English degree also stands out from the rest in the intensity of the projects that the students are expected to complete, such as the notorious Junior Poet class.

In Junior Poet, the students are essentially expected to become an expert on a single poet over the course of a semester.  Students quickly learn the tedious technical aspects of poetry and language and proceed to apply the things they have been taught into their independent study of a poet.

At the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to discuss their poets’ lives and works not as students, but as professionals, to members of the English faculty in an oral examination.

The English major at UD is especially intense as it prepares the student to emerge as an authority on the English language and the western literary tradition.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call the English major a literature major.

The University of Dallas does not only educate its English majors to be writers as other universities generally do, but more importantly, it fosters scholars and lovers of literature.

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