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Department of English
Karp 115
807 Union Street
Schenectady, NY 12308
(518) 388-6231
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Literature class with English Professor Andrew BurkettLiterature class with English professor Andrew Burkett


Great literature engages the mind and the heart in search of answers to some of life's toughest questions. Who am I, and what has shaped me? What gives life meaning? What is love? Justice? Evil? Literature confronts and expresses the most fundamental quandary of all: what it means to be human.

Julia Friedman '12

"I'm working on my master's in journalism, with a concentration in magazine writing, at NYU. A short story I wrote for Professor Selley's fiction workshop was recently published in a literary quarterly. I have all of my English professors at Union to thank for my easy transition to graduate school."

Julia Friedman '12

As an English major at Union, you will study how great authors, from Keats to Maxine Hong Kingston, have wrestled with such questions. You will tackle a broad range of topics, including historical, cultural, gender and author studies.

Explore diverse cultures in "Discourses on the Vietnam War," "Jewish Women Writers," "Asian American Literature and Film" or "Irish Literature and Film." Delve into the relationship between culture and literature in a seminar on the Beatles. Or make your own claims about what it means to be human through creative writing workshops in a range of genres, including fiction, non-fiction prose and poetry.

Through intensive reading, writing, research projects, oral presentations and discussions with your peers and professors, you will sharpen your analytical eye, hone your persuasive and writing skills, and develop your critical thinking skills.

English majors regularly present at Union's Steinmetz Research Symposium each spring. Topics have included "The Scottish Curse," "Melville, Romanticism and the Scientific Imagination," "Poetry's Broadening Sexual Definitions” and "Challenging the Glorification of Humanity in Human and Monster Literature."

Our program is also rich in study abroad opportunities and visiting writers. Literary figures such as Maya AngelouAndrea Barrett '72, Andre Dubus III and Richard Russo have visited campus to talk with students and give readings.

English majors contribute to the campus literary magazine, the Idol, and student newspaper, Concordiensis, as well as poetry and fiction readings. They edit and frequently publish in The Minerva Review, an undergraduate scholarly journal.

Our graduates work in advertising, business, communications, journalism, publishing, radio and television. They also pursue degrees in education and business and go on to law and medical schools. Whatever their profession, they reap the rewards of their commitment to critical analysis, clear thought and speech, and precise, graceful writing.