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“The best way to learn the art of writing poetry is to read as much of it as possible.”  ~ Ted Kooser

What’s a typical week in the life of a Washington College English major? On Monday, your seminar might analyze and discuss work by a famous novelist. On Tuesday, you’ll immerse yourself in the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, in preparation for a field trip to New York City. On Wednesday, you’ll participate in primary source research of a map of Shakespeare’s London. On Thursday, you’ll talk about the writing life with a visiting author then attend a public reading at the Rose O’Neill Literary House. On Friday, you’ll go to a student-led workshop or a literary-themed party, held by members of the Writers’ Union. And over the weekend, you’ll brainstorm ideas for your senior thesis project. 

At Washington College, small class sizes allow English majors to work closely with award-winning English faculty. The Creative Writing minor, open to students of all majors, offers intensive workshops focusing on the craft of writing across several genres. 

The English department oversees the Sophie Kerr Prize: the largest undergraduate writing prize in the nation ($63,711 in 2018). All students benefit from the Sophie Kerr Fund, which helps to fund scholarships and visits by literary luminaries such as Mark Doty, Justin Torres, and Alice McDermottThe Rose O’Neill Literary House provides free programming, paid internships, and classes in literary editing and publishing. Students can join the staff of Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College, study the art of letterpress printing, or attend book launches of new publications from the Literary House Press.

Our students go on to prestigious internships, top-tier graduate schools, and careers in writing, editing, teaching, law, advertising, and marketing. At Washington College, students learn how to think, write, and communicate effectively, becoming creators of artful language and makers of knowledge.

Recent Stories

  • The cover of Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story“In addition to being an illustrator, she was a stage designer, poet, publisher, storyteller, folklorist, and suffragette.”

    Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story
    is a new illustrated biography detailing the life of the creator of the famous Rider-Waite tarot deck. The book was written and compiled by Stuart R. Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Melinda Boyd Parsons, and Washington College’s very own Dr. Elizabeth Foley O’Connor.
  • “Ashbery endures, I think, because he constantly reminds us of the pleasure and the necessity of analysis: when I say that Ashbery taught me how to read, what I mean is that he showed me how powerful unabashed intellection—the reading of the world—could be in (excuse me) ‘creative writing.’”

    Professor Kimberly Quiogue Andrews’ article in the Los Angeles Review of Books details her first experience with reading John Ashbery, and discusses why the poet’s work endures.
  • Craig Steven Wilder will speak at the College on Sept. 28.

    Historian and author Craig Steven Wilder will speak on race, slavery, and the American university on September 28.


The gift Sophie Kerr bequeathed the College over 40 years ago the gift enables us to bring to campus a succession of the nation’s top writers, editors and scholars and to award the nation’s largest undergraduate literary prize.

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