English Department Adds New Minor
Students interested in the fields of journalism, editing, and publishing now have a formal academic path to follow—a six-course minor that also requires attendance at six literary events and completion of an internship.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in a program of this sort,” says Elizabeth O’Connor, assistant professor of English who has taught Introduction to Journalism for the past four years. “The political climate in this country has led to an increased interest in journalism, and with the advent of the Internet and the barriers to publishing being lifted, students are empowered to tell stories that haven’t been told.”
In her Intro to Journalism class, students learn how to write a lede, conduct an interview, cover events and topical issues, as well as write compelling profiles. Visiting assistant professor Sufiya Abdur-Rahman offers classes in criticism and advanced reporting and writing. And in the Rose O’Neill Literary House, students can take nonfiction workshops or learn how to screen poetry submissions in Literary Editing and Publishing—a course that’s been offered for several years. There are also opportunities for students to write, edit, and publish the student newspaper and yearbook, or work as social media and marketing interns for the Lit House and the Literary House Press, which publishes Cherry Tree, a national literary journal.
“What we’re doing with JEP is calling attention to a lot of the classes that we offer for students interested in careers in journalism or publishing, and then building on that,” says O’Connor. “The close reading, the critical analysis, and the ability to build and sustain an argument are skills that are applicable across all environments, and transferable to other professions and academic disciplines. We don’t feel they are antithetical to the liberal arts at all.”
There is also a focus on experiential learning. As internship coordinator for the Department of English for the past four years, O’Connor has seen the number of student internships spike; she now shepherds as many as 20 internship projects a year. More often than not, those internships lead to job offers. Recent English majors are working at the Carroll County Times, the Newark Post, and Newsweek, for instance. This summer, students interned at various organizations, including Apollo Theater, Carnegie Museum of Art, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Kent County News, Rowland & Littlefield Publishers, and the Washington Blade.
To help kick off the new program, the English Department is hosting a Journalism Alumni Symposium on Friday, Nov. 2, from 4-6 p.m. in the Lit House. It will feature journalists Ben Boehl, who is running as a delegate for Maryland’s 8th district and was formerly a news reporter for the Dundalk Eagle, Seth Engel ’93 of C-SPAN, and Kay Wicker ’14 of ThinkProgress.
Students interested in this minor should contact Prof. O’Connor at email@example.com.