Department of English

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In the Department of English, we teach students how to think critically and creatively, and we conduct research to advance knowledge about culture, language, and the written word. Our graduate and undergraduate curricula emphasize deep research skills and unbounded creativity, preparing students for successful careers in academia, business, law, and other professions, as well as nonprofit work, teaching, writing, publishing, and the arts. Courses refine students’ oral and written communication skills, teaching them to be precise, clear, and inventive stylists.

The study of literature and language is at the core of each undergraduate major, providing a common, foundational knowledge about the cultural contexts in which texts and linguistic artifacts are produced, interpreted, and circulated. Individual undergraduate majors (Englishcreative writing, and professional and technical writing) provide specialized approaches to textual and linguistic critique and invention. Students graduate with enhanced capacities to understand both their cultures and the experiences of others, through varied experiences of collaboration and textual border-crossing that are inherent in our curriculum.

Classes in the English department are small. Students spend quality time with our award-winning faculty and have opportunities for individual and team-based research experiences. The department supports a number of internships. We invite visiting writers and scholars to speak every semester, and each spring students share their work at an undergraduate research conference and a student-run literary festival. Our undergraduate students publish in various Virginia Tech magazines, and graduate creative writing students serve as editors for two national journals.

Graduate programs in the Department of English include a general MA in English, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing


from piracy to poetry
Barbary pirates confront a French ship, in a work that Aert Anthoniszoon painted around 1615.

From Piracy to Poetry

Buccaneers in search of Spanish doubloons had home lives, too. That’s the conclusion of a Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences alumna who spent years studying the private lives of pirates.

Daphne Palmer Geanacopoulos (English ’79) became interested in pirates while researching an article for The New York Times. After transcribing more than 250 documents and identifying 80 pirates who were married, she wrote a book, The Pirate Next Door: The Untold Story of Eighteenth Century Pirates’ Wives, Families and Communities.View More English Stories.

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