Welcome to the UCA Department of English! As the newest member of the department’s permanent faculty, I recently found myself in much the position you likely occupy now: wondering about the goings-on within this department and considering whether to join it. I am so pleased I decided to come on board and encourage you to do the same.

Contact me at thawkins@uca.edu or (501) 852-0281, or stop by my office in Irby Hall 317, to discuss declaring an English major or minor, or applying to our English MA program. — Dr. Ty Hawkins, Chair

The UCA English Department boasts a faculty of excellent scholars. Those scholars translate their intellectual achievements into first-rate courses in support of our recently revised undergraduate major and minor programs, as well as our MA in English. These courses are characterized not only by their rigorous instruction in critical reading and writing, but also by their dynamic, polyvocal nature. Students are the central pole around which all UCA English courses orbit; student voices are welcomed and developed inside and outside the classroom, and on the page. One can read more about our classrooms, and especially about how our faculty members select texts and topics to share with students, here.

Perhaps that all sounds intriguing to you, and yet you nevertheless find yourself worrying about whether an undergraduate or graduate degree in English is practical. After all, many of today’s job markets are globally competitive. We can assure you that the study of English today remains eminently practical. The truth of today’s job markets is that they change so quickly that a savvy approach to an undergraduate education or an MA degree cannot solely consider the salary one earns in his or her first, second, or even third job.

That’s short-term thinking about a long-term investment. Instead, a savvy approach to one’s degree must foreground of the habits of mind and character that that study will inculcate. In this, English plays second fiddle to no other discipline. Studying English will make you a stronger reader, writer, and oral communicator; you will become more comfortable exploring diverse cultures and traditions, and challenging diverse ideas and ideologies. Furthermore, you will learn how to disagree without being disagreeable—a skillset in dramatically short supply today.

Most importantly, through the study of English, you will develop greater self-knowledge and self-confidence. By learning to read the stories of others carefully and generously, and by learning how those stories are crafted, you learn to read and write your own story. It is in this way that English becomes an especially practical pathway to a career and life about which you can be proud.

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