Why major in English? Here’s what a few of our current majors have to say.
I love being an English Major at UH Mānoa because it’s given me the opportunity to become a better reader and writer. I plan to use my degree to help others through reading and writing to better express themselves.
Orange County, California
I plan to do an editing internship at UH before graduating and would love to use my English degree to pursue editorial/publishing jobs, like a copy-editor or editorial assistant.
Zoe Sprott, English major
I’ve loved listening to stories since I could hear, telling them since I could speak, and writing them since I could hold a pencil. Now, I’m working on a creative honors thesis, planning to apply to graduate school, and dreaming of a career as a writer in academia.
Declaring the Major
To declare English as your major, or if you declared English as your major upon admission, you are required to attend an initial English major advising session. We will assign you to an English faculty advisor who will consult with you to develop a coherent program to address your interests and needs as well as the Department’s requirements. See the English Major Worksheet for major requirements.
Majors must meet with their advisor at least once a semester in November and April. Watch for an email reminder from your advisor during these months. If you do not see your English advisor, we will place a hold on your registration. For advising on general education and graduation requirements, be sure to see an advisor in The Advising Center for AH & LLL (QLC 113) at least once a year.
Graduating soon? Fill out an English Department Goldenrod with your advisor.
Pathways Through the English Major
Students are expected to consult with their advisor about how best to organize the choices built into the major, which allow for many combinations in a do-it-yourself fashion. However, the English department also provides the following pathways, each of which offers a set of courses that students can use toward particular goals. See the full list of Recommended Courses for Pathways or click on each pathway title for recommended courses.
Creative Writing: You learn to attend closely to the world, both as it is and as you might want it to be. You experience literature from the inside, by writing it. You gain an active knowledge of forms, genres, and tropes (metaphor, metonymy, and so forth). You share your work with audiences of other writers in workshops. This pathway prepares you for careers in writing, publishing, law, advertising, social activism, or any other field where an expansive and creative view of the world is necessary. Finally, you gain pleasure in your life by learning how, in the words of Emily Dickinson, to “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.”
Literary Histories and Genres: This pathway gives you a solid grounding in the diversity of literary forms and the complexity of literary history. Alongside refining critical thinking and analytical skills, this pathway will cultivate your ability to read across diverse forms – such as poetry, drama, the novel, and nonfiction – and understand their formal nuances. It will also deepen your understanding of how literature has developed over time and how it is produced by specific social and cultural contexts. Alongside cultivating the practical skills of writing, critical thinking, and close reading, as well as sensitivity to cultural and linguistic difference, you will develop a firm grasp of the connection between literary forms, content, and history. This pathway is ideal for students who want to advance to graduate studies in literature or a related field, yet it is also useful for careers in which strong writing and critical thinking skills are desirable, such as law, government, or business.
Cultural and Literary Geographies: Our ability to imagine physical geography is arguably being eroded as we become more and more attuned to traveling and navigating the world through the internet, geolocation devices, and other forms of technological mediation. The goal of this pathway is for you to think about alternative ways of mapping the world through cultural and literary forms that delineate their own relationships between place and time, and how cultural memory and literary art produce their own sense of history and belonging. This pathway is ideal for students planning graduate studies in literature, as well as in other fields like history, geography, sociology, ethnic studies, political science, and the natural sciences. It is also useful for careers in media, translation, urban planning, tourism, or any industry that demands critical thinking about globalization, global capitalism, social justice, and the modern search for meaning.
Composition, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy: The courses in this pathway aim to give you a comprehensive grounding in the histories, theories, and practices of rhetorical action, scholarship, and writing instruction. This pathway gives you the opportunity to study the relationships between language, thought, and public action and to explore how these relationships are inflected by the cultural diversity of Hawaiʽi. Courses in composition and rhetoric will prepare you for careers in editing, publishing, journalism, digital media, marketing, public relations, law, education, writing program administration, and college or university teaching.
Writing, Editing, and Digital Media: The courses in this pathway aim to make you an effective writer in a variety of media and for a wide range of audiences. You will learn the principles of clear, engaging, and persuasive communication, and you will build essential skills in editing, researching, critical thinking, and collaborating. In courses focused on digital media, you will develop the flexibility and creativity that will allow you to adapt as digital technologies and social media platforms evolve. All the courses will deepen your understanding of writing as a social act with ethical and political consequences, and many of your assignments will give you the opportunity to explore particular issues that are important to you. This pathway prepares you for a career in many different domains, including journalism, publishing, private industry, the non-profit sector, government, and law.