Immerse yourself in a rich, deep, and rigorous Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature with active discussion and debate, cultural awareness, and the ability to focus an argument on textual evidence

Students are introduced to the major in Literary Studies, sharpen their analytical skills in Literary Criticism, and complete a scholarly Senior Literature Capstone project mentored by two members of the English Literature faculty. They also choose courses from the whole history of English and American literature, in all genres, along with selected courses in Irish, Canadian, Russian, and World literature.

Learn About Our Major in English Literature

Student Experience

English majors are actively engaged on campus and beyond. A student editorial staff edits and publishes Catfish Creek: A National Undergraduate Literary Journal. Our students present their scholarly and creative writing on campus at the college’s annual Legacy Symposium, and, along with students from other colleges, at the annual Streamlines Undergraduate Language & Literature Conference. Many of our students also publish their writing in The Limestone Review, the college’s annual journal of scholarship and creative writing.

Several courses get students involved in the community in a variety of ways, such as teaching Shakespeare at after-school community centers, or partnering with the Dubuque Historical Society in Victorian Studies. Experience-oriented May term courses provide special opportunities for students to enliven their literary interests. Our students present their scholarly research on campus at the college’s annual Legacy Symposium, and, along with students from other colleges, at the annual Streamlines Undergraduate Language & Literature Conference. Our students also publish their scholarship in The Limestone Review, the college’s annual journal of scholarship and creative writing.

Many Loras English and Creative Writing students also land internships at local newspapers and publishing houses, including McGraw-Hill and Kendall Hunt. Many study abroad in Ireland for a semester in connection with the Irish Studies program, or write for and edit The Lorian (the Loras College newspaper). And many participate in the Loras Players theater troupe, including their annual performance of student-written one-act plays.

Learn More

Every student will have an opportunity to have their work published in The Limestone Review. The top submissions are granted a $100 Alpha Award, and entered in the Delta Epsilon Sigma national undergraduate writing competition.


English is a valuable and marketable major. Students learn to write and speak well, to think critically, to collaborate with others and to understand diversity. These skills are important in any career, and Loras English graduates work in a wide range of fields.

Career preparation flexibility is also enhanced by the ability to combine English with other majors and minors in a four-year program. Loras English graduates’ accomplishments include the following:

  • Nationally acclaimed, Tony-Award winning playwright
  • Correspondent for Los Angeles Times; head of National Public Radio News; Dean of Columbia Journalism
  • School Founder and executive director of Posada Community Center, Pueblo, Colorado
  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, John Carroll University
  • Nationally acclaimed, Shelley Memorial Award-winning poet
  • Vice President for Advancement, Lewis University
  • Principal, Johnsburg High School, Johnsburg, Illinois
  • Head of Legal Services, Dubuque, IA
  • Science Editor for msnbc.com
  • Earthforce, a nonprofit devoted to environmental education
  • Professor of English, Marietta College
  • Public Relations and Social Media Manager, Loras College
  • Content Producer at NogginLabs; Founder and Fiction Editor of Knee-Jerk literary magazine
  • Production Director and Managing Editor with Guerrero Howe Custom Media; Contributing Writer for
  • Paste Magazine and Alarm Press
  • National Fulbright Scholar; International Student and Scholar Advisor, UW-Platteville
  • Developmental Editor, McGraw-Hill

Other common careers: Law, business, advertising, teaching, academia, publishing, journalism, magazine writing and editing, public relations, library science, technical writing, and many more.


May-Term offers unique opportunities to focus exclusively on a single course for a three-week term. May courses are particularly experiential, taking students out into the community or engaging them in other hands-on activities. Some May Term courses travel internationally or domestically, and some stay right here in Dubuque, IA.

Sample English May Term courses include:

  • Writing the Midwestern Landscape: Students combine digital photography with nature writing in Midwestern winter landscapes. The instructor leads students on snowshoeing hikes at Mines of Spain and Swiss Valley nature reserves as part of the writing process. Students’ photo-essay projects have included environmental issues related to the Mississippi River, historical studies of Native Americans and miners in the area, and more.
  • Poetry in Performance: An in-depth study of lyric poetry for students who want to approach the subject in an experiential way. Students develop their understanding and appreciation for poetry by doing close readings of poems, writing creative and critical essays based on these close readings, and making poetry physically part of themselves through memorization and performance. They learn to read aloud and recite poems in a way that develops their expressiveness and other public speaking skills. Topics include the application of fundamental topics in poetics, including imagery, trope, lineation, syntax, tone, sound, prosody, and the concepts of speaker and addressee.
  • Native Voices, Native Lives: This experiential learning course engages students in reading, writing and reflecting upon a variety of Native American voices and experiences (Cherokee, Navajo, Lakota, Dakota, Ojibwe, Pah-Ute, Spokane, Ho-Chunk, etc.). Students immerse themselves in the novels, short stories, myths, poetry, and oral histories of Native American people, in order to expand and deepen their understanding of cultural voice. Students spend the second week learning directly from native people as the class travels to experience tribal history and culture first hand. Students’ final projects integrate the texts and experiences of the course into a researched and reflective product. Daily discussions, journaling, and mini-service projects in the community are part of the overall on-site learning experience.
  • Witchcraft in Early Modern British Literature: This course immerses students in the literary and cultural depiction of witchcraft and those accused of it in early modern Britain. Students read and discuss primary texts (ranging from Shakespeare plays to early modern tracts on witchcraft) and secondary texts (historical research). The course’s experiential component is a witch trial reacting game.
  • Ireland in Film: This course surveys a wide-range of Irish-themed films in order to develop a deeper understanding of modern Irish cultural identity. Major thematic areas explored in the course include representations of the Irish West, the political struggle for independence, the role of Catholicism in Irish society, and the status of minority groups such as the Irish travelers and the urban working class in Ireland. Students debate the selections for, and plan, an Irish film festival.
  • Bleak House in Context: An in-depth study of a major British novel and author: Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. Students read the novel in context: in the installment form (available in the Special Collections of the Loras College library), alongside other Victorian publications and cultural artifacts, and through “contact” with the Victorians via role play. The course simulates the Victorian methodology of reading narratives in serial format. Students generate a class e-periodical which involves assuming the “roles” or voices of particular Victorian figures as found through their wider reading in the Special Collections resources of All the Year Round and Household Words (both journals edited by Dickens), the Newgate Journal and other Victorian texts. They also present their research, role play, and reading experiences in the display cases outside the Special Collections room.


Loras College English majors continued their long history of success in the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Undergraduate Writing Competition.  Loras writers have won or received Honorable Mention for 27 straight years.


Loras College students Anna Speltz (’15) (Minneota, Minnesota), Nora Zerante (’15) (Chicago Heights, Illinois), Holly Klein (’15) (Dubuque, Iowa), Megan Redmond (’15) (Bernard, Iowa) and Molly Cain (’14) were the only undergraduate team accepted to present at the 2015 Annual Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) conference Phoenix, Arizona in February 2018.

The students presented “ Rooted in Collaboration: Engaging Middle School Students through Poetry,” a collaborative poetry unit that they planned and taught at Washington Middle School in Dubuque, Iowa in the fall of 2013 as a part of their English Methods course, taught by Hilarie Welsh, Ph.D., assistant professor of education.

“The conference was an incredible opportunity to be inspired by some of the most accomplished thinkers and leaders in the education field,” said Speltz. “I came away from the conference with new ideas to apply to my current student teaching experience and better understanding of some of the discussions that are currently relevant in the education field. Presenting in and attending other sessions at the conference helped me to see myself as a contributor in those discussions.”

The team’s presentation shared how they used a required pre-service teachers’ course to collaboratively create and present a six-lesson poetry unit to a middle school honors class, showing the advantages of student-centered strategies and social justice themes, as well as the motivation created through the use of classroom texts and theories. An important component of the presentation was the students’ desire to encourage questions and discussion about the strengths, limitations and potential implications of their collaborative project.

“Dr. Welsh encouraged us to submit a proposal to the conference. Without her support and encouragement, we never would have even considered the opportunity,” explained Speltz.

The Association of Teacher Educators was founded in 1920 and is an individual membership organization devoted solely to the improvement of teacher education both for school-based and post-secondary teacher educators. ATE members represent over 700 colleges and universities, over 500 major school systems, and the majority of state departments of education. The ATE office is located in the Washington DC area where it represents its members’ interests before governmental agencies and education organizations. In addition, ATE has representatives on the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Student Learning Outcomes


Student Learning Outcomes – English: Literature
1. Demonstrate critical reading skills required to articulate a persuasive and insightful close reading, and a persuasive and insightful formal or structural analysis of a literary text (Goal #1 common to all Literature/Writing majors).
2. Demonstrate the rhetorical skills required to make a persuasive and insightful written argument using evidence from a literary text. (Goal #2 common to all Literature/Writing majors).
3. Integrate source material from literary research accurately, smoothly, and usefully into an argument, citing sources according to prevailing conventions.
4. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the elements of literature, including plot, structure, character, setting, ideas, point of view, imagery, metaphor, symbolism, allegory, and prosody.
5. Articulate how a work of literature may be understood in its social context, including such contexts as biography, psychology, gender, ethnicity, race, class, religion, nationality, or sexuality, as well as political, social, religious, intellectual or cultural history.
6. Articulate how a work of literature may be understood in the context of literary history (including such concepts as the Renaissance, Romanticism, or Modernism), as well as the context of the history of aesthetic movements (including such concepts as classicism, romanticism, realism, naturalism, or surrealism), and the context of literary traditions (including such concepts as genre, sub-genre, myth, archetype, or mode).
7. Orally articulate their composition and revision processes, and explain how the study of literature and individual authors provides them with models and an understanding of literary conventions and traditions which informs their own writing.


View Highlighted Courses

The Fractured Fairy Tale
This course is a hybrid of multiple genres (history, folklore, sociology, literature, and creative writing) which will explore the moral and sociological themes present in familiar canonical fairy tales such as “Snow White,” “Beauty And The Beast,” “Cinderella,” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” some of which linger to this day. These, however, will be coupled with more contemporary retellings that challenge some of the moral and gender-based prescriptions of the original stories. Lastly, as an additional way of understanding these texts, we will be choosing an original fairy tale and writing a revisionist response ourselves.

The Revisionist Superhero
In this course students will first learn the boundaries and cultural expectations of elements of the traditional super-hero narrative; then, the course will engage some of the major texts that challenge those expectations, as well as the deep and rich body of associated criticism that places those texts in an aesthetic and cultural context. The texts used in this course have been selected specifically because they are widely-viewed as stories that transcend their genre, and thus are recognized as a fine art form in and of themselves. Students will examine the evolution of the super-hero genre that began with the inception of “superhero revisionism” in the early 1980s, particularly in terms of the way these former four-color characters have been transformed in terms of character, visual styling, and most importantly, the stories told about them.

Literary London and Beyond
In the course, we will examine literary genres of theater, poetry and fiction through the lens of art, museums and historical landmarks. We will also compare literature with companion arts—namely visual art and architecture—to see how the arts inform each other. Our study will draw from authors such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, William Blake, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and JK Rowling. Literature explores places both real and imagined. Our visit to London and surrounding sites will allow us to understand how stories relate to place, and how place can inspire, reflect, and influence literature.

Medieval & Renaissance British Literature
A study of British literature from Beowulf to Spenser, in modern translation from Irish, Welsh, Latin, French, and Old and Middle English, as well as some in the original Middle English and much in early modern English. Representative authors: Bede, the Beowulf-poet, Marie de France, Langland, Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, Malory, Julian of Norwich, More, Skelton, Wyatt, Surrey, Raleigh, Campion, Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare.

Fantastic Fiction
A creative writing workshop in which students will study, write, revise and critique genre fiction and/or literary fiction informed by genre tropes. Specifically, the course will focus on science fiction, fantasy, and horror, or work that combines elements of literary fiction with these genres. Students will write three original works which will be submitted to, and critiqued by, the class, in addition to reading a variety of genre fiction with the purpose of learning the conventions of each genre and critiquing one another’s work in formal assignments presented to the class. Lastly, students will learn the protocols of submitting genre work to reputable markets.

View All English Courses

Major & Minor Requirements

Students will complete the following requirements in order to achieve a major in English Literature or a minor in English. 

Degree Requirements

Career Opportunities

“What can you do with a English Literature degree?”

As an English Literature major, you will be prepared for a variety of interesting careers.

  • Academia
  • Law
  • Publishing
  • Editing
  • Teaching
  • Journalism
  • Research
  • Advertising
  • Consulting
  • Public Relations
  • Library Science

Supporting Your Investment

Loras takes great pride in supporting your investment – both through providing an exceptional learning experience and in sharing the cost of your degree. 100% of Loras students receive financial aid. We have scholarships, grants and special awards for all students based on their achievements and financial need.

English Department Newsletter

The Loras College English Newsletter is intended to connect alumni of Loras College’s Language and Literature division with their peers, faculty and students. The newsletter provides updates and information on alums, current student achievements and experiences, faculty recognition, program developments and recent news.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take me to earn my Loras degree?

Most students earn their undergraduate degree in four years or less. If you have questions about transferring any previously earned credits or degrees, please see our Transfer Student Information.

How much is tuition?

At Loras College, financial access to education is one of our defining values. We are committed to helping all of our students make their degree affordable. We partner with every student and family to understand their unique financial needs ensuring 100% of Loras students receive financial aid. Scholarships, grants and special awards are offered to all students based on their achievements and financial need. Loras is consistently ranked as one of the best universities for return on investment.  View our Tuition and Fees page.

How do I apply for schlarships and financial aid?

Submit your federal FAFSA, apply to Loras College and review our financial aid resources for detailed information, scholarship opportunities and much more.

Meet Our Professors

Kate McCarthy-Gilmore, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Spanish
Chair, Division of Language & Literature
563.588.7808 | Kate.McCarthy-Gilmore@loras.edu
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Naomi Clark, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Director of Writing Center
563.588.7402 | Naomi.Clark@loras.edu
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William Jablonsky, M.F.A.
Associate Professor of English
563.588.7499 | William.Jablonsky@loras.edu
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William (Will) Kanyusik, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
First Year Director
563.588.7727 | William.Kanyusik@loras.edu
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Kevin Koch, Ph.D.
Professor of English
563.588.7536 | Kevin.Koch@loras.edu
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James (Jim) Pollock, Ph.D.
Professor of English
563.588.7225 | James.Pollock@loras.edu
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Susan Stone, Ph.D.
Professor of English
563.588.7185 | Susan.Stone@loras.edu
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Erin VanLaningham, Ph.D.
Professor of English
563.588.7200 | Erin.VanLaningham@loras.edu
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