English Literature and Writing

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The study of literature facilitates a student’s intellectual and personal development. The literary canon of the English language is full of plays, poems, novels, and short stories which contain such profundities and analyses of human life that resonate across decades and even centuries. Culture is affirmed or refuted on the vacillation of a word, so great is the influence of the writer’s mind. Immersion in literature is not merely a discipline, but an art form of itself. Appreciation of the written word sharpens the student’s mind to creative analysis, forging intuition and receptiveness to the world around them.

At Holy Cross, you will learn techniques, forms, and structures of writing, how to recognize these patterns, and how to apply them to your own academic and creative works. The written word is the most concise facilitator of human thought, and it must be honed in young minds in order to foster the next generation of great thinkers. Writing is not merely a skill, but an art form. English literature has been the vessel of discovery and belief for Western thought throughout its history. To study literature is to join the tradition of global citizenry through the sharing and dissemination of ideas.

Program Focus

The English major at Holy Cross College assimilates the essence of every academic discipline from the physical sciences to the social sciences to all of the humanities by reading, analyzing, and critiquing literary works. Great literature teaches the most valuable life lessons, introducing readers to myriad life situations that they may or may not ever encounter. Because authors present their distinctive views of the world and its inhabitants, readers find themselves introduced to every kind of person and transported to every time and place (past, present, and future) through stories, poems and plays.

The ability to speak and write well includes practical skills such as crafting well-written letters and reports. English major graduates also speak well, communicate clearly and persuasively, and master a sophisticated vocabulary. A degree in English trains a student to understand both text and context, which can lead to a variety of careers from law to journalism to education, and everything in between.

For those students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies to become professionals, the Holy Cross English program will serve them with a broad range of foundational courses and materials needed for success on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Because of the program’s emphasis on writing, analysis, close reading, historical context, etc., students in this major will also be broadly educated and prepared for further professional study in areas such as law.

In addition, students in education who seek certification in secondary education will have the option of taking the English major to aid them in attaining English certification at the secondary education level.
english writing

Major and Minor Requirements


It is a well-known fact that individuals who move to the top most quickly in any organization are often those who have developed the ability to speak and write well. These are also among the top two attributes employers will use to judge a job applicant. Graduates with bachelor’s degrees in English from Holy Cross are skilled at crafting well-written letters and reports. They speak well, communicate clearly and persuasively, and master a sophisticated vocabulary. These skills improve their job prospects immensely.

Because it trains students to understand both text and context, an English major is ideal preparation for law, business, and journalism. It can lead to elementary and secondary teaching, or to the host of management and sales positions that require one to be analytical, imaginative, perceptive, detailed and skilled in the use of language. Industries that actively recruit Holy Cross English majors include insurance, advertising, public relations, publishing, hospitality, and sales & marketing.

English BA Careers

Writing Center

The Writing Center is located in the center of the faculty offices. Consultants assist writers with pre-writing, writing, and revision of essays, term papers, college/job applications, and personal creative writing. Clients are served by appointment as well as on a drop-in basis.

Click here for more about the Learning Centers.


Jessica Hughes, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of English

english.melanie page
Melanie Page, MFA

Margaret Garvey, Ph.D.

Br. George Klawitter, C.S.C.

Tyler Gardner, M.A.

Monica Leyes, M.A.

Daniel Murphy, Ph.D.

Emma Vanhoozer, Ph.D.

Department Contact

Jessica Hughes, Ph.D.
Department Chair