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Normally located within a broader English major, Composition specifically focuses on the construction of thoughts and ideas into written words. Composition is the way we write: the rules of grammar that we follow and the styles we use to express our thoughts effectively.

How do you construct an effective essay or story? What are some of the different tools you can employ in writing? What exactly is a dangling participle, and why are you not supposed to end your sentences with a preposition? These, of course, are just some of the principal questions you will encounter as you learn how to become an effective and thoughtful writer, able to express your deepest thoughts and ideas in language so finely honed that you’ll awe your old high school English teachers.

One of the best ways to learn how to write is by reading, and, like any English concentration, you will do plenty of that here. All of the classics, both old and contemporary, await you in the English Composition major, from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway to T.S. Eliot. You will find in the books you read not only great works of Composition, but also some of the most significant artistic expressions dealing with everything from death, to war, to history.


  • 19th Century English Novel

  • 20th Century U.S. Fiction

  • British Literature: Medieval through 1800

  • Colonial and U.S. Literature

  • Critical Writing

  • Introduction to Chaucer

  • Introduction to Poetry

  • Romantic Poetry and Poetics

  • Shakespeare

  • Studies in Critical Theory

  • U.S. Literature, 1830-1865


There are enough great books out there to make for a lifetime’s worth of reading, so why not begin early and build upon the English classes you have already taken? In addition, writing is something you can always do, from your own creative short stories to writing for your high school newspaper. The opportunity to develop your compositional skills are widely available.