The major in English is designed to provide an understanding of the complexity and versatility of our language and literature and to cultivate skill in critical and creative thinking, writing, and research. The study of language and literature is practical because it engages us in the kind of critical-thinking and problem-solving analysis important in a variety of fields, from medicine to law, philosophy to commerce, diplomacy to applied technology, as well as to success in the creative arts. The courses fulfilling this requirement teach how to read situations, interpret details, evaluate competing points of view, and form insightful questions—in other words, to develop supple and lively habits of mind. People who understand language and literature comfortably acquire a generous skepticism which enables them to move beyond established solutions and predictable outcomes in all domains of human endeavor. Readings are selected for literature and language courses because they broaden our perspective on the world, human values, personal and community life, and require us to come to terms with uncertainties, value judgments, and emotions. Prospective English majors apply to the department chairperson before beginning their junior year. Because of the variety of course offerings and the flexibility of the English curriculum, it is especially important that majors work out, with the help of a faculty advisor, a program of study suitable to their future plans.