Bachelor of Arts in English

Prepare for a wide range of professional opportunities in fields such as law, journalism, banking, publishing and editing, advertising, medicine, management, public relations, insurance, teaching, grant and proposal writing, nonprofit work, and academic administration with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bellarmine.

Bellarmine English graduates have gone on to success as writers and editors; in foreign relations and non-profits; in business and government; in arts and humanities; in law and medicine; and teaching in high schools and universities. They have also pursued graduate study in such areas as library science, institutional technology, technical and scientific writing, and most all humanities disciplines.

Why earn your English degree at Bellarmine?

Our small classes (10-20 students) allow professors to become acquainted with our students beyond the words on their papers and exams. Whether it’s meeting new majors at our “get-to-know-you” luncheon, celebrating imminent graduation with our seniors at our annual reception, or simply sharing coffee with students in the student center, our English professors thrive on one-on-one conversation and learning with students. The English faculty know you by name and are committed to seeing you develop your talents to the fullest, always honing your skills in reading, writing, and thinking as you become the best person possible. Expect to be challenged by us. We will call you to greatness—as thinkers, as writers, and as human beings.

Program Highlights

English is a wide-ranging field of study. Historically, it gives attention to the great variety of texts that human culture has produced over centuries. Conceptually, it aims at developing deep abilities in reading and writing. Bellarmine’s English Department reflects this in the variety of courses offered and in the sequential way in which we ask our majors to approach their study. That study begins with ENGL 201, The World of Texts, which introduces the student to the basic principles underlying the discipline. The 300- and 400-level courses presume the solid grounding in literary history and critical reading skills that our 200-level courses are designed to provide. In the student’s senior year, the major provides a distinct “capstone” experience through ENGL 450, the Integrative Seminar. In working through the variety of courses, students in English may expect to find themselves engaged in the reading of novels, short stories, poems, creative nonfiction, films and graphic novels, among other texts.

The program emphasizes writing as a fundamental means of learning and expression; close and creative reading of a culturally diverse range of texts; and critical thinking grounded in writing and reading.

In addition to the English major, we offer an English minor and host the Film Studies minor.

Film Studies Minor
Bellarmine’s Film Studies minor is designed to deepen students’ perception and discernment when it comes to visual storytelling and media literacy. Movies and television shows are some of the most important and powerful cultural forms of the last century. Film Studies courses will guide students away from the habits of mere consumption toward an attentive and analytic appreciation for the complex content and structure of filmmaking. The Film Studies minor situates films within an interdisciplinary context that will increase student’s ability to think critically and communicate clearly about the relationship between images, ideas, narrative, and sound. Courses also count towards the English major.

The English Department works with a variety of other Bellarmine programs such as business, philosophy, history, communication, and pre-law to personalize the educational experience of each student.

Learning Outcomes

  1. English majors will demonstrate familiarity with major texts and traditions of language and literature written in English.
  2. English majors will be able to relate texts to the social, cultural, theoretical, and historical contexts in which they were produced.
  3. English majors will apply a variety of literary theories and methodologies to a range of texts—literary, cultural, visual, film, and/or digital.
  4. English majors will produce effective texts for diverse purposes, genres, and audiences.
  5. English majors will analyze questions of justice, value, and meaning inherent to literary and cultural texts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What courses are required to complete the program?
ENGL 201, 207, 208, 209, 210, 299, 412, 450 and fifteen hours selected from 300- and 400-level English courses. Six of those 300- and 400-level hours may be taken from these upper level Film courses: FILM 370, FILM 371, FILM 470. English majors must also complete six credits of a foreign language or satisfy the Bellarmine College of Arts and Sciences Bachelor of Arts foreign language proficiency requirement.
Within the fifteen hours of 300- and 400- level English courses, students must fulfill the following:

  • at least one upper-level course from American literature offerings;
  • at least one upper-level course from British literature offerings;
  • at least one 400-level course (which might coincide with #1 or #2) in addition to 412 and 450. An internship will NOT suffice for the 400-level course.

What employment opportunities are available with an English degree?
Graduates will find themselves qualified to work in such fields as law, journalism, banking, publishing and editing, advertising, medicine, management, public relations, teaching, grant and proposal writing, and academic administration. They will also be prepared for graduate study in such areas as literature, creative writing, library science, institutional technology, technical and scientific writing, and many other humanities disciplines. Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad in order to help complement their major, especially if they plan to attend graduate school. Our graduates have earned MAs, MFAs and Ph.D.s at top universities here and abroad.

Do you provide job or internship placement?
Yes. Bellarmine guarantees every student the opportunity to have an internship, develop a career plan and build a professional network. Many English majors intern for local publishing companies and law firms. Others have interned at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Music Theatre of Louisville and Walden Theatre.

Is financial aid available?
Yes. Please go to Bellarmine’s financial aid website for detailed information on financial aid packages. Additionally, students can work with our Faculty Development Center to apply for grants and awards outside of the Bellarmine offerings.

How many hours can I expect to spend studying outside of class time?
Students have their own learning styles so this can vary greatly. As a rule of thumb, expect to spend an average of two hours studying for every hour you spend in class.

Alumna Story

“Find a mentor, someone you can go to for extra help and guidance. Take advantage of office hours. That’s one thing I’ll never regret doing. My creative writing style didn’t always translate well into essay format, and I met with a professor multiple times over the course of my junior year to address this issue. She put me through some very uncomfortable work, but it paid off. I wouldn’t be as effective at my current career if I hadn’t put the work in on my writing skills.”

Christine O’Hara ’04
English major/Theatre minor
Speech-Language Pathologist

Career Prospects

A major in English can lead to a wide range of professional opportunities. So that students may better understand these opportunities, the department provides a class called Introduction to the Profession of English.

Graduates will find themselves qualified to work in such fields as law, journalism, banking, publishing and editing, advertising, medicine, management, public relations, teaching, grant and proposal writing, and academic administration. They will also be prepared for graduate study in such areas as literature, creative writing, library science, institutional technology, technical and scientific writing, and many other humanities disciplines. Recent majors have gone on to graduate programs at Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, Vermont College, University of Chicago, and others. Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad in order to help complement their major, especially if they plan to attend graduate school.

On-Campus Experiences

Students who major in English have authentic opportunities to share their literary works with the larger Bellarmine community. English majors are encouraged to strengthen their writing skills by submitting to The Ariel, The Concord and The Lance, student-run publications that feature literary forms of expression, as well as other art forms.

Students who major in English at Bellarmine University will be invited to speaking engagements and events such as the Guarnaschelli Lecture Series, which features well-renowned speakers to campus. Recent speakers include Roger Rosenblatt and Dava Sobel. Past lecturers include William Styron, George McGovern, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Ken Burns, Seamus Heaney, Wendell Berry, Billy Collins, Isabel Allende, Salman Rushdie, Andrea Mitchell, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Seymour Hersh.

Bellarmine’s Theatre Program celebrates the creativity of the human spirit. Students are encouraged to cultivate critical thinking skills and develop their individual artistic passion through immersion in literature, new world views, cultural diversity, exposure to a wide variety of performance practices and their own practical creative exploration.

Our students have been very successful in the Metroversity Writing Competitions, which are publicized each spring.

English students are encouraged to apply for the English-Speaking Union Scholarship in support of summer study in Great Britain.

English majors entering their junior or senior year may also apply for the annual Elizabeth Norton Hagan Scholarship, which provides a financial aid award for that academic year.

Faculty Profiles

Here is a quick snapshot of a few of our faculty members. Read profiles of all of our distinguished faculty.

Conor Picken

Dr. Conor Picken
Conor Picken is an Assistant Professor of English and the Faculty Director of the Compassio Learning Community. His teaching and research encompass 20th- and 21st-century American Literature, southern literature, modernism, and social change. Dr. Picken teaches courses on William Faulkner, southern literature on the margins, social inequality and The Wire, and the gateway criticism/theory course for English majors. He is currently co-editing a collection on alcohol and drinking in southern literature and culture.

Having attended a liberal arts college as an undergraduate, Dr. Picken believes strongly in the value that a Bellarmine University education provides for all of its students. His favorite part of being an English professor is mentoring students in and out of the classroom.

Annette Powell

Dr. Annette Powell
A second-generation immigrant, born in St. Thomas and raised in New York City, Annette Harris Powell received her B.A. from Amherst College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Louisville. A core conceptual theme in all of her work is the rhetoric of place and how it shapes memory in public spaces. Her current research examines the representation of culture through language, images, and structures, expressly the role of statuaries, monuments, and memorials in shaping our collective consciousness and cultural meaning, as well as influencing contemporary discourses. Dr. Powell is on the editorial board of Composition Studies and was a member of the Scholars Advisory Committee for the Frazier History Museum’s exhibit, Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2013). Her on-going project focuses on identity, memory, and place in the preservation of indigenous Sea Islands culture. Her writing studies research interests include access, literacy, and place-related issues; specifically, how place shapes civic engagement both inside and outside of the classroom.

Dr. Powell teaches classes in writing and visual culture, public rhetoric, and Post-colonial literature, as well as introductory courses in literature. Past courses include cultural rhetorics and writing, writing as social action, and teaching writing. Although her courses are different in purpose and scale, students in her classes should expect to write to learn, to compose their ideas, and to communicate them through traditional forms as well as new media platforms of their choosing. She serves as Director of the First Year Writing Experience.

Kathryn West

Dr. Kathryn West
Dr. Kathryn West is a Professor of English. She majored in English as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University; she also earned a Graduate Certificate from the Women’s Studies Program at Duke. Her research interests span American Literature from 1865 to the present, with a particular emphasis on Contemporary and Multicultural Writing; Women’s Literature; and Contemporary International Writing (particularly from Latin America and India). In addition, she confesses to a fascination with the American Modernists and (some—but not all—of the) British Modernists; the former probably goes back to an eighth-grade research paper on Faulkner.

In 1996 she published Women Writers in the United States: A Timeline of Literary, Cultural, and Social History (Oxford University Press). She co-authored a second book in 2010, Contemporary American Literature, 1970 to the Present, as part of the Research Guides to American Literature series (Bruccoli-Clark-Layman); it was named one of the Best Reference Works of 2010 by Library Journal. She has published articles on Pam Houston, Toni Morrison, and Mystery and Detective Fiction, and has delivered papers at over 30 conferences. She is currently working on a book-length project on Ojibwe writer and recent National Book Award winner Louise Erdrich. Edited and written with frequent collaborator Linda Trinh Moser, American Multicultural Identity was published in 2014 by Salem Press in their Critical Insights series. It includes her article on the role of double-consciousness in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. A second Critical Insights volume is appearing in 2016, featuring essays on Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior.

During her time at Bellarmine, Dr. West has taught both the early and the late survey of American Literature, Composition, and upper level courses in Contemporary American Fiction; American Modernism; Multicultural American Lit; Toni Morrison and Friends; the Native American Renaissance: Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie; Women’s Literature; Contemporary International Fiction; Twentieth-Century American Novel; IDC courses on Native American Cultures and Global Storytelling: Narrative and Identity; and the Integrative Seminar, our capstone course for English majors, among others.

When not teaching, writing, or doing administrative work, she can be found with her son Adam West, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Elsie, and/or her parakeet Fleur. You might also try the garden or a local bookstore.


Bellarmine University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctorate degrees.

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Contact Information

Jennifer Barker, Ph.D., Chair

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