The Department of English offers students a curriculum that is central to the modern liberal arts education. One of the largest degree programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, the undergraduate major in English allows students to emphasize literature or creative writing; students may also pursue other specialized programs such as honors in the major, an English major with an emphasis in business, teaching certification, or other independent courses of study. In addition to its primary benefits to intellectual growth, the English major also offers practical preparation for professional careers in teaching, professional writing, law, medicine, business, religious affairs, and all levels of government service-local, state, and federal.
The study of literature includes not only contemporary texts but also all the historical periods of British, American and other literature. In addition to familiar period or major authors courses such as the Victorian novel or Chaucer, students will also find courses in related subjects such as popular culture, literary theory, film studies, gender studies, multiethnic literature, folklore, linguistics, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and other postcolonial literatures. All of these courses contribute to the student's knowledge of human culture and how literary texts as cultural artifacts relate to other bodies of human knowledge such as philosophy, history, religion, psychology, classics, and modern languages. The study of writing allows students to work not only in the familiar genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and the essay, but also to study related subjects such as rhetoric and composition theory. Students may also study the editorial and publishing process and take up internships in editing and publishing in a variety of settings.
The English honors program, traditionally the largest in the University, invites the very best students to supplement regular major work with specialized seminars and independent thesis work. Other options such as the English/business program or teaching certification allow students to supplement the major with rigorous and substantial minor courses of study.
A variety of activities and facilities are available to all majors. Two literary magazines, the undergraduate journal Kudzu Review and the graduate student-produced The Southeast Review, a national literary journal, are published in the department. Many students gain journalistic experience by writing for the independent campus newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. The department sponsors a year-long visiting writers series which brings twelve to fourteen writers and scholars to campus each year. The English department, in conjunction with the campus-wide Seven Days of Opening Nights program, also promotes headline writers, such as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Tan, and Billy Collins. In addition, the department has developed a series which brings editors and agents to the campus for presentations and individual consultations with Florida State University students. The department maintains a growing videotape collection to supplement classroom instruction, and two computer classrooms house computer-assisted writing instruction. All majors with a GPA above 3.0 are eligible to apply for membership in Lambda Iota Tau, the local chapter of a national literary honor society, which sponsors a variety of social events and career programs.
The department annually recognizes outstanding achievement with the following awards and honors: the Fred L. Standley Award for Undergraduate Excellence in English, the George Harper Award for Outstanding Essay Writing, the Betty Corry Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Creative Writing, the Cody Harris Allen Undergraduate Writing Award, the John McKay Shaw Academy of American Poets Award, the George Yost Essay Award, and the Mart P. and Louis Hill English Honors Thesis Award.