Studying English prepares students for graduate study, teaching and a wide range of professions such as law, journalism, publishing, government and business.

Whatever career a student enters, they find employers value the written and verbal communication skills and education in the humanities that an English major receives.

At Illinois Wesleyan, we offer two sequences for majors: a Literature sequence and a Writing sequence that includes journalism and/or creative writing.

In both sequences, our students are encouraged to be creative and learn how to take analytical positions and back them up. They become keen analyzers of literary texts, which are as complicated as life; they learn to write and construct compelling arguments.

New technologies have created new career opportunities for writing. Writing remains an essential tool for our graduates, but often in ways they wouldn't have expected, or might not have even existed 10 years ago. Because we give them a strong foundation and a broader picture, they gain the flexibility to thrive through these inevitable changes.

Get Published

Every writer desires an audience, and at IWU students have many outlets to write and to publish, including the campus newspaper The Argus, the literary journal Tributaries, the stand-up poetry group Lyrical Graffiti, the undergraduate magazine The Delta and the online community for writers Pseudonym Required. Coursework also creates publishing opportunities: for example, students enrolled in "Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting" published an in-depth report on coal ash contamination in Illinois. 

Because we're a small school, students have many opportunities to be involved – in writing, editing and producing publications – without too much competition. 

Tributaries Spring Deadline:

Tributaries, IWU's creative arts journal, is now accepting submissions for the spring issue! This is a great way to share your creativity with the campus community. The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm on February 14th
You may submit up to five pieces of poetry, prose/fiction, art, and/or photography. 
- Fiction pieces must not exceed ten pages double spaced.
- We no longer accept pieces that are formatted into multiple columns, so please format your work accordingly.
- Don't forget to title your work.

Send your submissions to with "Submission" in the subject line. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Contests announced for IWU student poets and writers 

Illinois Wesleyan University students are invited to enter annual competitions for the Academy of American Poets University & College Prize, the Illinois Wesleyan University Department of English Prize for Short Fiction, and the Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize. The prizes, administered by the English department, are open to all currently enrolled students, including non-English majors and minors.

Founded in 1955, the Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize program has launched the careers of many promising poets, including Sylvia Plath, Tess Gallagher, Mark Strand, and Joy Harjo. The winner from Illinois Wesleyan University receives $100 and a certificate, and is announced in the Academy of American Poets' publications and news releases, with a chance for publication in a future anthology.

To enter the Academy of American Poets' Prize, students should submit 4-6 poems, single-spaced, with the total length not to exceed 12 pages.

The Illinois Wesleyan University Department of English Prize for Short Fiction (formerly the Clockwatch Review Prize for Short Fiction and the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction) began in 1997 as a way to promote and encourage aspiring fiction writers at IWU. The winner receives $100.

To enter the IWU Department of English Prize for Short Fiction, students should submit up to 18 double-spaced pages of fiction—either a single short story or a segment from a novel that can stand alone. Any style is acceptable—even genre, if it breaks the mold—but judges will be looking for literary quality, energy, innovation, interesting plots, memorable characters, dialogue that rings true, fresh language, and a sure voice.

The Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize was established in 2013 by Prof. Alison Sainsbury to honor her aunt, Kay Nelson, a prolific writer of short and often humorous essays whose work is a testament to the personal essay’s most essential truth: individual voice and idiosyncratic vision enliven even the most quotidian of experiences.

To enter the Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize, students should submit one essay, double-spaced, of no more than 5,000 words (shorter essays are more than acceptable!). Traditional as well as more experimental forms of the essay are welcomed.  The winner receives $100.

Students may submit only one entry to each competition (but may submit to multiple competitions).

Members of the English department faculty will serve as preliminary judges, with five manuscripts for each competition passed on to a final off-campus judge who’s an accomplished, published writer.

All entries should be submitted to Kathie Bradley, English Department Office Coordinator, in the English Department's main office (on the first floor of the English House) by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 29, 2016.

For additional information, contact Professor Alison Sainsbury at or 309-556-3165.

Faculty Attention

Whether it’s helping students find the right graduate school, internship or study abroad program, guiding them on a research honors project or just offering a sounding board to discuss concerns, our faculty spend time with students and develop authentic mentoring relationships.

Our faculty include playwrights, film critics, songwriters, award-winning authors and literary scholars. Whatever your interest, there’s a good chance it will be shared by someone on the English department faculty.  

Korey_WilliamsKorey Williams '12

Korey Williams has a podcast of one of his poems on Fogged Clarity.  You can hear it here: 

Korey Williams, There Let the Way Appear

Korey Williams poem, "There Let the Way Appear", is featured in the Winter 2016 edition of Fogged Clarity. FOGGEDCLARITY.COM 

Chris Seps How to be a good baby  Chris Seps '07

Chris Seps has a new book, How To Be A Good Good Baby: Tips From the Dog. 
For more information about How To Be A Good Baby: Tips From The Dog, along with additional tips, please visit or email