English majors at Lehigh love to read, sometimes bringing this love with them from high school, sometimes developing it in first-year English classes. If on a spring afternoon you visited the terrace of Drown Hall, our home on Lehigh's South Mountain, you would be likely to find students scattered in chairs reading, hunched at tables editing one a.other's papers, or gathered to continue a debate begun in class. Most of these students have spent a good part of their time at Lehigh reading literature that has deepened their imaginations and their ability to experience and think differently about their own lives.
Our majors say that one thing they love about English at Lehigh is the size of our classes. These vary from small seminars with twelve students to larger courses with (at most) forty students, mixing lecture with discussion. We're a small enough department that our faculty come to know English majors well, yet large enough that we offer a wide variety of courses. Our classes range from traditional literature and film courses-Shakespeare, Romantic poetry, American realism, Hitchcock-to courses in literary theory, women writers, postcolonial literature, and "literature and science." A recent course on "The Medieval and the Monstrous" was taught by specialists in medieval studies and in film; another investigated the Victorian crime novel from Dickens to Conan Doyle.
All of our classes help students learn to read closely, to make arguments and support them effectively, and to engage with others' ideas. And, because these skills are best fostered through writing, all of our courses ask students to write frequently, in different forms, with varying audiences in mind. Whether our students go to law school or work for Random House, they all need to know how to write clearly, analyze information, and convince others of their points of view.
We boast that our students are the most creative at Lehigh: they not only fill our writing workshops but also read and perform their work at the bi-weekly Drown Writers Series. They publish their poetry and fiction in Amaranth, Lehigh's literary magazine; they write scholarly articles for The Lehigh Review, and they gather at the Humanities Center, a forum for student and faculty discussion. Our students double major (in fields such as Economics, Psychology, and Biological Sciences), write for Lehigh's newspaper, serve as sorority or fraternity presidents, and volunteer in the local communities. When they leave us, some enroll in graduate and professional school; others (with the help of Lehigh's Career Services) work for the World Health Organization, for Rodale Publishing, for internet startup firms, and for established Wall Street firms. No matter what career they choose, they find themselves enriched by the literature and film they have explored.