Courses in the English Department have two goals: to teach students to express themselves clearly in writing and speaking, and to help them understand and interpret the great literature of the English-speaking world. The curriculum is broad and diverse.
- Writing courses include expository writing, critical analysis, and creative writing in several genres.
- Courses in literature span the centuries, from Old English poetry and Medieval drama to contemporary film and postmodern literary theory. They encompass a wide range of works and authors from both Western and non-Western traditions.
The Department of English regularly hosts lectures and readings by nationally-known poets, novelists, and nonfiction writers, many of whom also meet with students for meals or coffee and visit writing classes. The "Reading Series" includes:
- Poetry and Prose Readings by Authors of National Stature. Visitors have included nonfiction writer Geraldine Brooks, novelist Vikram Chandra, short story writer Peter Ho Davies, memoirist J.D. Dolan, freelance writer Kim Wiley, poet Stephen Dobyns, and former poet laureate of the U.S. Rita Dove.
- The Croll Lecture, an annual lecture in honor of Morris Croll, an English major and graduate of Gettysburg College. The lecturer is normally of a national stature in her or his field, and is chosen on the basis of professional prominence, a personal history of mentorship, and accessibility to students.