English Major Track Descriptions

For an application to become an English Major, please visit the Arts & Sciences Advising Center or apply online.

Literature Track

Are you looking to become a better and more careful interpreter of literary craft? Are you interested in how written art contributes to philosophical, political, economic, and cultural thought? Would you like to explore how literature in English is central to diverse communities around the globe and here at home? If these kinds of questions interest you, and if you’d like to read beautiful and thought-provoking works to boot, please consider taking courses in the Literature Track of the English major.

Literature students develop strong historical knowledge of fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction, and they explore literary craft across a range of composing and publishing practices, including social media, film, comics, and print and digital books. In addition to studying genre, authorship, and craft, students engage with written art as both commentary on and contributor to issues of profound social moment. Faculty encourage participation in critical discourses that take seriously the traffic between matters of art and matters of individual and community identity, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, class, and sexuality.

Writing about literature is not only central to student engagement with the complex legacies of literature in English. Writing necessitates critical thinking, clear communication, and empathy. These are crucial skills in business, law, journalism, education, publishing, medicine, creative writing, or any other professional field you might pursue. Writing experiences in Literature Track courses are designed with these far-reaching outcomes in mind. Our faculty serve as personal writing coaches, providing guidance on how to take advantage of your existing interests and histories, and helping you identify ways to advance your skills in analytic writing.

Our literature students have a range of opportunities to apply their hard-won communication and critical thinking skills. Many literature majors participate in our internship program, earning academic credit in professional contexts, including publishing houses, tech companies, medical labs, entertainment companies and nonprofits. They compete successfully for university and national fellowships to support research and study abroad. They also participate in events such as the annual African American Read-In at Ekstrom Library, the Axton Reading Series, and The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture.

Creative Writing Track

The Creative Writing Program at UofL offers a variety of creative writing courses covering the major genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction. Our track guides students through Introductory to Advanced courses, with Special Topics courses along the way.

The Creative Writing program hosts several visiting writers each semester through the Anne & William Axton reading series. In addition to the public reading given by each writer, the Axton series affords undergraduate students an opportunity to have their work read and critiqued in master classes led by these distinguished fiction writers, poets, and playwrights. Recent visitors include Terrance Hayes, Junot Diaz, Brian Teare, George Saunders, Kim Edwards, Maureen Howard, Colson Whitehead, Galway Kinnell, Edmund White, Cleopatra Mathis, Mitchell L. H. Douglas, and Erin Belieu.

Creative Writing majors also have the opportunity to hone their editorial and publishing skills through the Miracle Monocle, an online journal of innovative literary and visual art. Miracle Monocle has been nationally recognized for the high quality of its content, including the National Program Director's Prize from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in 2018. The journal is staffed by a team of graduate and undergraduate editorial interns, who earn course credit for assisting in the production of our issues.

The Creative Writing Program awards more than $20,000 in creative writing scholarships annually among exceptional, active students at UofL. The program also sponsors the international Calvino Prize, which honors two writers of outstanding pieces of fiction in the fabulist, experimentalist style of Italo Calvino.

Click here to learn more about scholarships and contests available to our CW students.

Students interested in serving on the staff of the Miracle Monocle should reach out to us by email here: miraclemonocle@gmail.com.

Professional and Public Writing Track

Do you enjoy writing for different communities? Do you want to use your writing to create change? Are you great at what you do but want to improve how you communicate about it? Consider taking courses in the Professional and Public Writing track of the English major.

Even better, consider making it official by becoming a PPW major. Our faculty are award-winning teachers and writers dedicated to helping you navigate the diverse worlds of professional, technical and scientific, and public writing.

Students in the PPW track gain experience: 

  • Managing complex writing projects 
  • Developing their own voices as public writers
  • Editing and designing flyers, infographics, memos, reports, and social media strategies
  • Writing for various audiences and in a range of styles 
  • Collaborating with fellow writers
  • Thinking creatively about how to communicate in innovative ways
  • Thinking critically about how to communicate in ethical, equitable ways 
  • Working with a variety of media, including print, film, and digital

PPW courses cover topics like Science and Technical Writing; Writing in and about Organizations; Writing for Social Change; Digital Storytelling; Editing, Design, and Advocacy, just to name a few.

In the process of learning strategies for effective communication, students in our courses also pursue questions like, how has social media changed storytelling practices? What does it mean to engage ethically with others? Why is "fact" under debate in our present, digital era?How do writing practices contribute to the futures and/or foreclosures of various peoples and communities?