From the Chair


We know you must have a lot on your minds right now as you think about your course of study at VCU. When you consider what is most important to your life as a college student, what is it that comes to mind? Is it a smaller class size that allows for individual attention and feedback from your professor? Perhaps gaining insight to shifts in human culture and art over time? Or maybe it’s a plethora of experiential learning opportunities and classes that prepare you for the professional job market. If any of these things appeal to you, have you thought about pursuing an English major? We’re about a lot more than reading books (as great as that is)! We’re also about helping you gain skills and experiences that employers seek.

A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers lists written communication skills the single most desirable attribute any employer seeks. Similarly, Google’s Project Oxygen revealed demonstrates the seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills cultivated by humanities degrees including communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others, particularly those with different values and points of view, and being able to make connections across complex ideas. 

We offer a wide array of courses including the traditional subjects (Shakespeare, for example), but we also move into the newest areas for study and also offer classes focused on Multiethnic Literature, Queer Literature, Women Writers, African American literature, and Prison Literature. You can also take courses on Fiction into Film, Fan Fiction, Popular Culture, or Digital Rhetoric, and so much more. Our coursework is designed to allow you to take a deep dive into a wide array of diverse texts and develop your communication skills. 

We also offer minors in creative writing and in professional writing and editing with a wide variety of writing courses that give you the opportunity to hone your skills. Whether you want to concentrate on reading, writing, or creative work (or some combination of the three), we have courses to meet your needs and interests. You can also get academic credit for internships—whether working on Blackbird our own on-line literary journal or pursing other internship opportunities in social media or any other aspect of communication. 

Recently, we did a flash survey of our majors to see the top three words they used to describe our major. Creative, diverse, and thought-provoking were the words our current students used most frequently. If that sounds like the kind of academic community you’re looking for, give us a try. We pride ourselves on our dedicated faculty, our supportive and nurturing culture, and our commitment to our students.

Follow us on social media to see what we’re about, or contact me or if you have any questions as you think about your decision. 

Stay safe and I hope we have the opportunity to welcome you as a student in our Department of English!


Catherine Ingrassia
Chair and Professor

Twitter:@VCUEnglish  •  Instagram:@englishvcu  •  Facebook:@VCUEnglish