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Readers, Writers and Thinkers Encountering the World

In the Earlham English Department, we read and write in order to encounter, understand, and ultimately help change the world. We study literature to engage with the beauty of language; to explore the intellectual questions and challenges that literature raises; and to participate in its power to reshape our identities and societies, including both the pursuit of personal wisdom and communal truths.

Earlham’s English majors grow as sophisticated readers, writers, and learners; attentive to how imaginative works are made and how those works influence our lives today. Students read literature from various canons, hearing voices that have been silenced throughout history, as well as those that have influenced literary scholarship for centuries.

Our program provides a rigorous introduction to the tools and content needed for studying English literature from different times and places. Each student takes classes that focus on methodologies, on genres, and on the themes of peace and justice in literature. We have a transnational approach, with an emphasis on both international and U.S. diverse voices.

Special Learning Opportunities

There is an upper-level research seminar in which each English major engages in scholarly research on a text of set of texts.

Students have the opportunity to do archival research in Earlham’s own archives, to find resources elsewhere in Richmond, Indiana, to participate in a seminar and independent research at the Newberry Library, as well as to use archival resources around the world.

English department faculty have collaborated with students researching: Nature Poetry and Ethics; the reception of Adrienne Rich's work; relationships between architecture and literature; Nuyorican literature of the late 20th century; Subjectivity and Romantic Landscape Poets; the concept of the Nation in Postcolonial Literature; Peace Journalism; Postmodernism and Ecology; and creating a new production of Othello.

In addition to writing papers that are often published or expanded in graduate studies, students have compiled anthologies used for other classes, have compiled oral histories and collected the work of local poets, have offered informative tours of local places, and have presented their findings at academic conferences both on and off campus.

We structure the major so that students are able to study off campus. Particularly popular are programs in England and Northern Ireland, India and East Africa, and Border Studies and the New York Arts program.  English department faculty members have led off-campus programs in England, India, Japan, and Ghana.

A campus Writing Center that both assists English majors with their writing and hires accomplished students as tutors. Summer positions are also available for students interested in working as writing tutors.

The Great Lakes College Association brings three creative writers to campus a year for workshops and readings. Other opportunities for students interested in creative writing include: the Crossroads readings in collaboration with other area colleges; Literary Arts House where students who wish to share reading and writing with peers can live in community; a literary arts magazine, the Annual Research Conference on campus.


Our alumni have used the English degree as a foundation for various careers involving many forms of communication and research, including novelists, poets, teachers, librarians, journalists, lawyers, and people working in both the non-profit and business worlds.

Earlham English alumni have also pursued advanced degrees in law, medicine, education, and social sciences. Recent alumni are pursuing graduate work at Butler University, Columbia University, Indiana University, and UC-San Diego, among other places.

Earlham students have access to a number of postgraduate fellowships, including Fulbrights and the Watson.  Students find that their English degree has prepared them for all sorts of graduate programs, and have gone on to earn the Ph.D. and M. A. in a number of fields, the M.F.A. in creative writing, the M.B.A., M.A.T., M.S.W., J.D., M.D., R.N., and others.

In addition to teachers from pre-K through 12 and professors in a wide range of fields, many English majors go on to careers in writing and in resource preservation and access. Alumni are serving as lawyers, editors, and librarians.

Among Earlham English alumni are a cartoonist, a software engineer, an archivist and digital assets manager, a social media coordinator for a newspaper, a policy analyst, a book publicist, a rare book conservator, a library director, a director of communications for an IndyCar team, an executive pastry chef, a grant writer, a counselor, a social worker, directors of nonprofit agencies, and an acupuncturist.  Writers from Earlham have won major awards for their novels, poems, and plays.

Earlhamites in English

Charles Davis
Real Poetry

His words are lively and personal and as he speaks the raucous room is hushed.

Dan McCoy
Comedy Writer

Dan McCoy '00 finds himself at the top of his profession as a staff writer for “The Daily Show,” hosted by Jon Stewart. It is the first time he has held a full-time job in comedy. But this is not as improbable as it sounds.

Josh Friedberg
Finding Context

Josh Friedberg ’10 says he’s been able to put to good use a lot of what he has learned at Earlham and in life.

Distinctively Earlham
Our department draws on Earlham’s Principles and Practices as we examine the values and ethics expressed in texts and connect those to the values and experiences each person brings to the classroom.


Many graduates have pursued the M.F.A. in creative writing, and Earlham ranks 29th in the nation for percentage of graduates who earn doctorates in the Humanities.
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