Academics: Majors and Programs

English Department


Communicating the ‘Write’ Message

By equipping students with an extensive knowledge of the English language and vital critical thinking skills, the English major provides a platform for success in more than just literature.  “We are increasingly innovative,” says Tarshia L. Stanley, Ph.D., department chair. “We want to figure out who our students are, what they need, and how they are going to be able to compete in the 21st century.” Spelman College English majors can expect to have a vast knowledge of literature including African-American literature, British literature and American literature. The curriculum covers periods, cultures and ideologies. In addition to required courses, students take electives and can choose from three minors in the department – two writing minors (a creative writing minor track and business and professional writing track); and a film and visual culture minor. The minors are open to non-English majors as well.

Shaping Outlooks and Ideologies

English Dept “The Spelman English department prepared me for life as a 2010 - 2011 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Turkey, a graduate student at Emerson College for journalism, and to critically assess the world around me,” said Rachel Marie Smith, C’2010.  

She credits the English department for providing her with the foundation needed to pursue her goals and for shaping her outlook and ideologies. “The ‘Images of Women in the Media’ course that I took with Dr. Stanley completely changed how I view the media,” said Smith.  “It changed my view as a journalist and what I would like to portray on the news.”

The English department boasts a large, accomplished faculty with a variety of research interests including internationally recognized Langston Hughes scholar Donna Akiba Harper, Ph.D., endowed Fuller E. Callaway Professor.

English alumnae often further their education by pursing graduate degrees like law and enrolling in Ph.D. programs; while many launch careers in the publishing industry, public relations, human resources, secondary school teaching, and the media industry.

Choose What You Want to Do

“The English major can take students into almost any field,” said Dr. Stanley. “Our students are prepared to communicate, to do research and to think analytically.  When they leave with a degree in English, they won’t know all the answers, however, they will know how to find the answers.  What a student gets from our English curriculum allows her to parlay those skills into a variety of jobs.

English Majors on the Rise

  • Traci Blackwell Blazes a Trail of Success in Television

    Spelman Alumna Traci Blackwell
    As senior vice president of Current Programs at The CW Network, Traci Lynn Blackwell, C'90, oversees the day-to-day production of some of television’s most talked-about shows.


  • Donna Harper Celebrates Langston Hughes' Literary Legacy

    Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway professor of English at Spelman and a founding member of the Langston Hughes Society, recently joined other Langston Hughes scholars from around the country for panel discussions in Lawrence, Kansas, Hughes’ boyhood home.


  • Spelman Lecturer Publishes Ninth Novel

    Calaya Reid
    May marks a milestone for Spelman College lecturer and novelist Calaya Michelle Reid, Ph.D. Reid, who joined the faculty in the Department of English in 2012, will publish her ninth full-length novel (she’s also published two novellas), "Under the Bali Moon", with noted romance publisher Harlequin Books.


  • Class of 2012 Valedictorian Re-Discovers Her Purpose and Passion

    Deaweh Benson
    With roots in Liberia and the first in her family to be born in America, Deaweh Benson was Spelman College's class of 2012 valedictorian. A psychology major, English minor, with a 3.99 GPA, Benson left an indelible mark on campus as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee with a dedication to both academics and campus leadership. Today, her professional and global experiences have taught her invaluable lessons that her Spelman sisters can use to help them change the world.


  • Five Questions with Author Piper Huguley-Riggins

    Piper Huguley-Riggins
    Faculty member and author, Piper Huguley-Riggins answers five questions about her new book, "The Preacher's Promise".


  • D'Shonda Brown, C'2017, Shares Love of Global Travel

    Dshonda Brown
    English major D'Shonda Brown, C'2017, is taking advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime. This semester, the New York native is working as a Reach the World correspondent while studying abroad at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.


  • English Professor Tarshia Stanley Selected for Georgia Higher Ed Fellowship

    Tarshia Stanley
    Tarshia Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of English, was recently selected as a 2015-2016 Governor’s Teaching Fellow. As one of 12 faculty members from institutions of higher education across Georgia, Dr. Stanley was chosen following a highly competitive application and selection process.


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Sophomore Speech Winners
Winners of the Spring 2016 Sophomore Speech Contest