Learning to read and write well—for both professional and personal reasons—enables students in the English program to fully explore their place in the world, and thereby live a richer, fuller, more examined life.

Human beings live in words; we can’t have a thought outside of language; we are always “narrating” in order to make meaning of why we’re here. At Wells, we investigate literature for historical and cultural significance, for expression of a writer's artistic and personal vision, and for the ways literary works relate to our own lives.

English Students with  painting of Shakespeare
Books in Long Library
Student reading her work
Professor reading his work
Evenline pride
Creative Writing

Develop your skills in creative writing—whether poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, drama or humor or journalism. Advanced writing courses in each type of form will encourage you to develop a refined awareness of your strengths and interests. You'll learn the "rules" for writing for different purposes or audiences and the ways to best express your ideas through language and style. You'll also gain opportunities to publish your work long before graduation.

Creative writing is available as a concentration in the English major or as a minor.


Literature students learn to apply different methods of critical interpretation, craft meaningful and persuasive arguments, and become familiar with many different writers and their work—including both well-known classic literature and lesser-known but equally-important authors from minority communities. Wells professors teach both classic texts (from 1750 onward) and contemporary ones, focusing on those that continue to generate remarkably different responses over time.

Literature is available as a concentration in the English major. Students wishing to add a minor with a focus in literature can simply choose the minor in English.

Writers don't just tell stories. At different times, they inspire political action, express scientific facts while making them personal and understandable, explore the subtleties of language (or multiple languages) and shifting perspectives, and shine light on both personal and global issues.

The English Department—its classrooms filled with art works, built-in bookshelves, busts of famous writers, and round tables of pine wood—offers a perfect setting for intense discussions of literature and writing. These conversations develop from close reading and personal essays—in the major, you'll discover new topics, create critical questions through rhetorical analysis, and arrive at a sophisticated and meaningful thesis.

The goal is to enable English students to thoroughly and thoughtfully investigate any text—be it an article, journal, poem, essay, or book—and write their own papers or stories worth sharing.

Wells professors teach both classic texts (from 1750 onward) and contemporary ones, focusing on those that continue to generate remarkably different responses over time—that reward re-reading. They teach students how to use the imagination to inhabit other places, people, and perspectives, and encourage a sensitivity to language that helps students learn to say what they mean, to mean what they say, and to understand the world as a rich, complicated, and dynamic place.

Our approach to education emphasizes an awareness of other types of knowledge as well. In literature and writing classes, you'll share space with students who are majoring in history, chemistry, political science, psychology, and more—as a result, you'll learn how to understand our complex world a little better. More importantly, your education in English will prepare you to approach professional writing or critical reading and research in any field.


Internships offer an opportunity to link your classroom learning and independent work to a professional context. These experiences provide insights into publishing, technical writing, library work, journalism, and other careers through interactions with the individuals and groups who are driving them. The following is a sample of internships recently held by Wells English students:

  • Elle magazine, New York City
  • HarperCollins Publishing, New York City
  • New York State Archives, Albany, NY
  • The Perseus Book Group, New York City
  • The Rome Sentinel, Rome, NY
  • Frick Reference Library, New York City

Would you like to travel the world and write about your adventures? How about studying the British classics in Bath, England? English majors can pursue fascinating programs across the country and around the world Check out our off-campus study programs.

Hands-on Learning

Want to see one of your stories published? Enjoy practicing your reporting skills? Wells has student publications and literary organizations that provide out-of-the-classroom and out-of-the-box learning for English majors. Students have the opportunity to write for publication, learn to closely edit the work of others, and meet with many visiting writers and publishers. Below are just a few clubs and activities that might catch your interest:

  • The Sycamore (student magazine)
  • The Chronicle (literary and visual arts journal)
  • The Cardinal (yearbook)
  • Collegiate (student government)
  • Campus Greens environmental club
  • Women's Resource Center
  • The Book Arts Center

What comes next?

Students who study literature and creative writing at Wells come to understand that what they do in class constitutes  pre-professional training in a variety of careers—from teaching, law, library science, journalism, book publishing, editing, theatre (especially dramaturgy), the hospitality industry, “gaming,” and filmmaking to original writing in drama, the novel, poetry, musical criticism, and so forth.

As an English major, you'll learn to analyze and explain individual works while receiving a thorough training in the writing skills necessary for many career paths. Graduates of this program in recent years are now working in law, editing and publishing, marketing and public relations, social work, stage acting, law enforcement, and teaching, and can be found in a variety of graduate school programs such as Cornell University, Mills College, Brown University, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Simmons College, and the Denver Publishing Institute.

"I think one of the things that really drew me to Wells was how important student participation was and how you could be involved in so many different aspects on campus. I help organize events and participate in the discussions, which is awesome because the small size makes everyone's voice heard."

Michelle Lee '16
Women's and Gender Studies Major
joan murray
The Wells College Visiting Writers Series presents a reading by poet, writer, and playwright Joan Murray at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 7, in the Art Exhibit Room of Macmillan Hall. She will also join...
News: Writing

Wells College Press invites submissions to its annual Poetry Chapbook Contest. The deadline for the competition is November 30, 2016...


During Wells' 2016 Commencement ceremonies, the College granted special awards and honors to exceptional members of the Wells...


Michelle Lee '16 has been chosen as the student speaker for Wells' 2016 Commencement ceremonies. Michelle is well-known on campus...

Program Faculty
Catherine Burroughs
Professor of English
Cynthia Garrett
Professor of English
Dan Rosenberg
Related Opportunities

Long essays and research papers in the proper format are far from encompassing the experience of English majors—but if you have the energy, we will teach and encourage you to write, write, and write! The small English department has endless advantages, given the opportunity to build your talents through personalized advice from our expert professors. The Visiting Writing Series brings in a variety of poets and writers to share their professional point of view. A student in this major has opportunities to read their work at campus held poetry slams, readings, thesis readings, and other special events. Publications such as The Sycamore and The Chronicle give firsthand experience writing, editing, laying out, and publishing an actual magazine or literary journal. Opportunities to get your name out there are undoubtedly lurking around the corner, whether it is presenting at the National Conference on Graduate Research (NCUR) or having your work published in local literary journals.


Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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