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Gain a new perspective on your favorite authors and discover new ones with a major in literature.

In the literature major, you and your fellow students will explore literary works and their contexts, led by expert faculty who are innovative and committed teachers. Reading texts deeply, with an eye to the social and historical context in which they are created, will enhance your critical thinking and prepare you to untangle complex problems in any field you pursue after college. The poetry, fiction, essays, films, and plays we study offer rich sources of meaning that help us better understand the human condition as we work through them in class.

What You Will Learn

By the time you complete this degree, you will know how to:

  • study literature, using the methods and tools of literary analysis
  • write clearly and think analytically
  • untangle complex problems across many disciplines
  • collaborate and share ideas with peers

What Can You Do with an English Major?

We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer: A lot. You will learn skills that transfer across hundreds of possible careers and industries—some of which may not even exist yet. Our graduates go on to work in marketing, publishing, non-profit fundraising, speechwriting, as well as in countless other fulfilling occupations.

Explore Careers

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What It’s Like to Study Literature

You’ll increase your powers of reading comprehension, analysis, interpretation, research, synthesis, and writing.

Many of the classes you’ll take emphasize the historical and political significance of literature and the ways it has grappled with pressing social and moral problems. This will help you envision a role for yourself as an effective agent in a participatory democracy.

Our courses offer:

  • opportunities to participate in immersive learning projects
  • senior seminars on special topics that range from food and non-human subjects to “American Bestsellers”
  • advanced literature classes focusing on literature and gender, African-American Literature, American Ethnic Literature, Queer Literature, and Queer Theory

See "Major Requirements" below for some of the specific courses you'll take.

You’ll create knowledge in close collaboration with your classmates and faculty members who are respected, published scholars. Your professors bring to the classroom their excitement for researching and interpreting the cultural force of literature.

Professor Deborah Mix, for instance, is the author of A Vocabulary of Thinking, a book that identifies a contemporary literary tradition of women writers deeply inspired by Gertrude Stein. She has taught a number of courses that examine literary value and literary traditions, including recent courses on best-sellers and winners of book prizes.

Professor Adam Beach has published in prestigious journals on literary representations of slavery. He has taught several courses on literature and slavery, including the Digital Literature Review, an immersive-learning course in which students published an undergraduate critical journal on the topic.

Professor Emily Rutter applied her scholarly interest in social justice and literature in her recent special topics course, “Storytelling and Social Justice.” Learn more about how your literature major can help you change the world.

Read profiles of our faculty:

You’ll turn your analytical and writing skills toward the kind of activities you’ll pursue in the workplace after graduation.

Just a couple of the ways we do this include:

Promoting Change

English faculty and students are express their dedication to social and educational justice in many different ways—and you can help. You can work on a young-adult literature magazine that addresses diversity—or the lack thereof. You can learn to teach English to speakers of other languages. You can mentor young writers.

Major Requirements

Our program is designed to develop the advanced literacy and analytical skill that come from deep, contextualized reading in literature.

To earn a bachelor’s degree in literature, you must complete the University Core Curriculum and 36 credits of literature-focused coursework and electives.

Four semesters (or equivalent) of a modern or classical language at the college level are required.

Total Credits

120

Classes

A few of the classes you will take may include:

  • English 230 Reading and Writing About Literature
  • English 347 Twentieth-century American Literature
  • English 491 Literature of African American Traditions
  • Immersive courses such as the Digital Literature Review
  • Senior seminars on topics such as Literature and Everyday Life

For a complete list of requirements and course descriptions, consult our Course Catalog.

View Catalog

Paying for Your Education

Department Scholarships

In addition to the dozens of scholarships the university offers its students, our department gives awards to acknowledge the excellence and achievements of our own majors and minors. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

Are you interested in pursuing this major? The first step is to review Ball State’s admissions criteria and apply as an undergraduate student.

Want to Learn More?

One of the best ways to understand why Ball State stands out is to come see it for yourself. You can schedule a visit through our Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Make sure to tell them you’re interested in our program. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.