Mason’s English degree is not a conventional one. As an English major, you can study the poetry of Milton and learn to write digital poetry. You can specialize in Renaissance literature or modern world literature. You can take courses on the folklore of Mexico or the films of Bollywood. You can learn about traditional rhetorical strategies and how they have been adapted to the Internet age.
The Creative Writing concentration is designed for students who wish to devote a considerable portion of their work in English to the writing of poetry or fiction (or both). Students fulfill the requirements for this concentration by taking four writing courses, ideally including either the Advanced Fiction Writing workshop and/or the Advanced Poetry Writing workshop.
The concentration in Cultural Studies provides an interdisciplinary course of study that attempts to question and understand how cultural objects of all kinds-texts, technologies, and institutions, for example-are related to particular social and historical circumstances. Whether focused on recent or past forms of cultural life, work in Cultural Studies examines the interrelationships between large social and economic structures, and local and individual identities.
The Folklore and Mythology concentration offers students the opportunity to study oral literature and traditional artifacts in their historical, cultural and performance contexts. Study in folklore addresses secular tales, songs, proverbs, jokes and material culture items as they are performed within and among cultural groups. Mythology explores the texts of the sacred, of the creation, initiation, transformation and destruction of a people. Courses also address the study of folklore and mythology in literature.
The Linguistics concentration is theoretically oriented and provides a solid foundation in the major subfields of linguistics: phonology, syntax, and semantics. As part of their English degree, students who choose this concentration take an introductory course in linguistics and three additional courses chosen from a wide range of electives.
The Literature concentration provides a rigorous course of study in literatures and cultures from the medieval period through the present day. Students may organize their concentration around a specific genre, historical period, theme, or national literature.
The Screen Cultures concentration provides formal, historical and theoretical frameworks for the understanding and appreciation of visual cultures. The introductory course to film studies focuses on formal characteristics and vocabulary of film, with attention to its historical and ideological dimensions. Advanced courses build on this foundation, exploring a variety of genres, national and other cinemas, historical periods and recent developments in technology and categorization.
The Writing and Rhetoric concentration is designed for students who want to write publishable nonfiction books and articles, study writing and technology, or who are interested in professional writing or editing and publishing. Students may choose from several courses that provide instruction and guided practice in diverse types of nonfiction prose including technical and report writing, web writing, ethnography, and various forms of essay writing. They may also take introductory courses in professional editing and computer-assisted publishing.
The Minor in English provides students with a strong background in writing and critical thinking and will also introduce them to significant literary and cultural documents.
The minor in Folklore and Mythology is interdisciplinary and offers students tools to explore the compelling meanings within these seemingly simple, everyday cultural texts, and helps them become more aware of the ways these texts are used by individuals and institutions for various goals. Students study folklore and mythology by juxtaposing the multiple viewpoints of anthropology, art history, classical studies, literary studies, and religious studies.
The minor in linguistics is a 15-credit program that can be combined with a major in any field of study. Students take two linguistics courses, which introduce them to the fundamental concepts of modern linguistic theory. They choose three electives from a wide range of options, which allow them explore how these concepts relate to various other disciplines.
The Middle Ages has had a powerful, long-lasting effect on cultures worldwide. A medieval studies curriculum enables students to discover just how much of our modern world can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The Minor Program in Medieval Studies has been designed as an interdisciplinary minor, to reflect the inherently interdisciplinary nature of the field of Medieval Studies and to best prepare students to develop a complex understanding of the period.
The Native American and Indigenous Studies minor will help students think critically and respectfully about the complex dynamics of Native American cultures, considered both individually and comparatively. Students in this interdisciplinary minor will learn how value systems operate in different cultures, examine the roots of conflict and resolution across a broad historical and cultural spectrum, better understand the importance of language as a means of cultural expression, and heighten their appreciation of the unique status of present-day Native American tribes as nations with certain sovereign powers within the boundaries of the United States.
The minor in professional writing provides students with opportunities to learn and apply advanced strategies for writing academic, professional, and civic documents. Students examine the theoretical, interdisciplinary, and professional aspects of writing and develop their expository, persuasive, organizational, and stylistic skills through close analysis of rhetorical situations and the features and approaches of successful writing. The strong communication and analytical skills developed while earning this minor contribute to student success in a wide variety of professional careers as well as graduate education.
The minor in Screen Cultures explores mass culture in its visual manifestations and helps students develop an informed awareness of culture and media, ideological tendencies, and effects on daily experience. Committed to interdisciplinary studies, the program addresses the increasing complexity and multiplicity of visual cultures and offers students the tools with which to read a variety of texts, including film, television, video, and new media.
The undergraduate minor in teaching English as a second language (TESL) introduces students to the issues involved in the learning and teaching of English to speakers of other languages. The minor in TESL is an 18-credit hour program that combines linguistic theory, second language acquisition theory, and ESL teaching methods. This minor is a good preparation for students who are interested in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in a foreign country or at an adult ESL center in the United States.