Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
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What Does an English Major Do?

What Does an English Major Do?

Students choose from a variety of courses within every area of the English major and may develop concentrations in a number of fields, including historical periods, cultural studies, popular culture, ethnic literatures, film studies, creative writing, and critical theory.  In any given semester, we offer courses like Medieval Epic, Love in the Western World, Mythology, Revenge in Renaissance Drama, 18th-Century Fiction, American Travel Writing, The Bible as Literature, Crime Fiction, Comedy, The Modern American Novel, and National Cinemas. The department offers both a concentration in Creative Writing, staffed by five published poets and fiction writers, and an interdisciplinary Journalism Certificate, staffed largely by working journalists and offering multiple internship possibilities.

Students enjoy a rich array of extracurricular offerings. There are multiple fiction and poetry readings every semester, bringing a range of emerging and established writers to Buffalo. The Buffalo Film Seminar (a course open to the public in a downtown theater) screens great films weekly in the context of discussion led by practicing film makers. Scholarly lectures abound, as do literary events in the city of Buffalo—from poetry slams to opportunities to meet world-famous writers. Students produce their own literary magazine, host their own readings, and form undergraduate clubs on the subjects that most interest them—including, recently, a Shakespeare Club and an Old and Middle English Club.

Students work with faculty on scholarly research projects—for example, on Whitman’s Civil War poetry, on popular fiction in the UK, or on the nineteenth-century literature of politeness. In 2007-08, an English major won an international United Nations writing contest and was flown to Paris as part of her prize; another English major received honorable mention in a national essay contest.

The English Minor easily complements multiple areas of study and assists students wanting to hone writing and analytical skills in their major areas of study.

The English Honors program enables students who have a high GPA or who are nominated by faculty to work even more closely with faculty in seminar-style courses and on senior thesis projects. Honors students are especially likely to participate with faculty on research projects or as research assistants. In the last few semesters, for example, students have worked with faculty members on projects about Irish literature, Italian horror movies, American short stories, and American film.

For more information about our courses, check out The Whole English Catalog.

Contact Us

Associate Professor of English Randy Schiff

Randy Schiff

Associate Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies

427 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0688


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Nicole Lazaro

Undergraduate Secretary

Undergraduate Office

303 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2579