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English Department Chair's Research Creates Major Change

February 2017


Tarshia Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Spelman English department, recently joined scholars from across the country at the annual Modern Language Association convention to discuss new trends to keep the English major relevant in the age of innovation and technology.

Their preliminary findings recently were reported in the online publication Inside Higher Ed. With colleges facing declining enrollment in the humanities, Dr. Stanley and other members of a MLA ad hoc committee shared initial findings from their inquiry into changes English departments are making or considering for undergraduate majors.

The findings showed the addition of writing-related classes, increased attention to career planning and fewer required Shakespeare classes. At the convention, Dr. Stanley shared the curricular changes made by Spelman’s English professors, prompted by a student survey.

As a result, she explained, Spelman’s revised major now includes areas of “deep study.” Students can choose between textual studies (literature, film and visual culture and cultural studies) or writing. In a sophomore workshop developed by Dr. Stanley, students use technology to turn their resumes and community service essays into recorded speeches that they present to a panel of faculty serving as judges. The emphasis on technology, research and career planning underscore that the definition of careers is wide – and includes preparing Spelman students for graduate school, Dr. Stanley noted. 

Read the Inside Higher Ed article.

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