English Studies is one of the most diverse and widely applicable fields available to students. According to a comprehensive survey of employers conducted by The Association of Colleges and Universities, the top two areas in which potential employers want to see more emphasis are in “Written and oral communication” and in “Critical thinking and analytic reasoning.” No discipline focuses more on these skills than English Studies.
English Studies is a large field made of several sub-disciplines, all which are introduced to English majors at Lourdes University:
- Literary Studies places emphasis on aesthetic appreciation, interpretive skills and cultural diversity. In studying literature, we learn how people from different cultures and time periods have thought about the most fundamental concerns of human existence, including religion, beauty, power, and identity.
- Rhetoric and Composition promotes written and oral communication skills, information literacy and analytic reasoning. By studying the rhetorical tradition from Ancient Greek oration to social media culture, rhetoricians are concerned with how knowledge is made in art, politics, and science through argumentation. And in Composition, we learn how different media and rhetorical genres shape the arguments we make every day.
- Linguistics employs analytic reasoning, cultural understanding, and critical observation skills. Linguists study language in terms of phonology (sounds), grammar, and semantics (meaning-making). Linguists also look at how languages evolve over time and how language structures our interactions with each other.
- Critical Theory is widely used in all of the other sub-disciplines of English Studies. Critical theory looks at culture from of a wide range of fields, including Philosophy, History, Geography, and the Social Sciences. Critical theorists are particularly interested in the cultural values and power structures that reveal themselves through language, entertainment, art and institutions.