Coe students studying in a gathering space

English & Creative Writing

Laura McAdam

“I took a Jane Austen course, and it was amazing. I got to read great books that I've always wanted to read and have amazing discussions every class with a great professor and really fun classmates.”

Laura McAdam ’20, English and German

In the English Department at Coe, you'll have the opportunity to take courses in two majors, English and creative writing, and join a community of faculty and students committed to the literary arts.

You'll also have the opportunity to work closely with faculty on research projects and honors theses and to take what you have learned with you into the community through internships and civic engagement projects. In English courses, you can explore works of imaginative literature from different time periods and disparate parts of the world. In creative writing workshops, you can sharpen your skills in fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. In all of your classes, you'll gain knowledge and critical and creative skills that will prepare you for a wide range of careers in fields like business, education, law, library and information science, publishing or the arts.

English Major

In English courses at Coe, you can explore the power and resonance of the written word. Our faculty are award-winning teachers and scholars who are passionate about their fields of expertise and committed to helping students succeed. Most of our classes are capped at 18, which means you will have frequent opportunities to practice expressing your ideas in small, discussion-based courses and to receive detailed feedback on your writing. You’ll finish up your studies with a senior seminar in which you'll bring together the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout the major in an extended research project that demonstrates your unique perspective and voice.

Because the English major at Coe is wide-ranging and flexible, you'll be able to tailor a course of study to your own interests while also acquiring a broad knowledge of various literary traditions and approaches to literary study. You'll also practice skills like the ability to read critically, to think creatively, and to write clearly and with verve — fundamental skills that will prepare you to adapt to a quickly changing world and for jobs that don't yet exist.

Creative Writing Major

The creative writing program at Coe offers courses in fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. Students in our courses engage in creative reading and writing, with an emphasis on craft and technique. Our program focuses on the workshop method, which encourages student-centered discussion of creative works, with a focus on generative writing and revision.
The creative writing major is a nine-course collateral major, meaning it needs to be taken in conjunction with a departmental major. This ensures your writing is informed by engaged, intensive study in at least one discipline. It also allows for a richness of experience in the workshops as creative writing students study in all areas of the college.

Writing at Coe is not a solitary, lonely venture, nor is it confined to the classroom. The creative writing program emphasizes collaboration, public presentation and participation in campus publications and the visiting writers reading series.

The major culminates in the manuscript workshop your senior year — you will thoroughly revise and polish a unified manuscript, typically a collection of short stories, a novel, a collection of poems, a collection of one-act plays, a full-length play or a screenplay.

Marissa Bouska

Connections Made it Possible

Marissa Bouska '17

“Coe's English Department not only gave me a family away from home during my time at Coe, but they also gave me the connections and opportunities I needed to succeed after college.”

Marissa says the skills she learned working on the Coe Review and studying in England helped her get internships at a publishing house in New York and the University of Iowa Press. Thanks to networking opportunities in the English Department, Marissa got a job in the publishing industry right out of college.