English instruction at Villanova is about celebrating the word. We are passionate about the written word and sharing our love of literature with our students. Our students are exposed to major works of literature, both classic and contemporary, encompassing various literary genres, including the short story, novel, autobiography, expository essay, poetry, rhetoric, and drama. The first two years of English instruction focus on an exploration of genres, while the latter two years focus on literature through historical survey. Students learn to analyze and critique works of literature, as well as identify relevant structural features, such as characterization, time and sequence, theme, literary and rhetorical elements, and voice. We strive to inculcate a sense of Western cultural literacy while stressing the application of literature and literacy to the human experience.
We educate our students to be clear and effective communicators of the English language both as speakers and as writers. All freshmen are enrolled in two English courses, one a speech and writing course, the other literature-based. Students at all grade levels understand and use words effectively by applying etymological and morphological knowledge to new words. While students extend their writing skills, we seek to guide them in the discovery of their own voices. We assist them in focusing on the development and support of a strong, cohesive thesis. Students are instructed in English language conventions in terms of grammar, spelling, and mechanics, and they learn to utilize research methods and documentation according to the guidelines of the Modern Language Association. We aim to graduate students who are critical thinkers and who are also lifelong readers, users, and lovers of the written word.