Southwestern Adventist University’s Department of English now offers a writing emphasis as an option for the English major. English majors now can choose to focus on either literature or writing and the emphasis offers several new courses designed to enrich the current program.
English majors choosing the writing emphasis will take three courses designed to strengthen writing skills, in addition to the regular courses in literature and language. Students may choose three courses from the following group: Narrative Writing, Essay and Opinion Writing, Poetry Writing, Drama Writing, and a Senior Project.
“The new emphasis promises to enhance our English major,” says Dr. Renard Doneskey, English department chair. “Many English majors come into the program with a love of writing. Up until now, these students have had to follow a literature track to complete an English major, but the new emphasis gives flexibility for those students who particularly want to focus on the writing aspect of the discipline.”
Cassandra Borntrager, sophomore English major, says, “When the writing emphasis program was introduced, my interest was piqued and after reviewing the courses available, I knew instantly it was perfect for furthering my knowledge. The writing emphasis program has helped me better understand and put to use the knowledge I received.”
The writing emphasis is noteworthy in that the newly added courses focus on creative writing and therefore offer entirely new content not previously offered at Southwestern Adventist University.
“In designing the emphasis, we didn’t just add units that students could already take from another discipline,” Doneskey says. “We wanted entirely new content. Other Adventist universities tend to create a writing emphasis by having students take units from another department. Instead, we modeled our emphasis after writing programs such as the one at the University of Iowa, one of the best writing programs in the world.”
The new writing emphasis has already attracted several students and interest in it is growing. “I love being able to focus on my writing,” said Tiffany Collier, a sophomore English major who is currently pursuing the writing emphasis. “Literature is great, but my real passion is creating the stories that people read. Being in this program has already taught me so much, and I feel like my writing skills have already improved dramatically.”
Two of the new courses have already been taught. Poetry Writing, taught last fall by Dr. Karl Wilcox, challenged the students not only to express themselves, but to write in a variety of styles while studying classic examples of those forms.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Collier. “The atmosphere of the class was easygoing and yet academic. What I loved most, however, was that Dr. Wilcox pushed me to get out of my comfort zone to try styles of poetry I had never tried before.”
Narrative Writing was taught this spring by Dr. Glen Robinson, communication professor and an experienced editor and author. The course focuses on writing short stories and novels. Robinson’s recent works include If Tomorrow Comes, The Kiss of Night and Tom Horn.
The new writing emphasis promises to be a great asset to the English department, as well as to the University as a whole. By providing this option to aspiring writers, Southwestern Adventist University’s English department is able to offer inspiration and guidance to students not only for their future careers but also for their futures as witnesses for Christ.