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Q&A - English Courses & Classes

Is there any open courseware available for online English courses?

Taking advantage of free English classes online through open courseware can be a useful way to build knowledge while you pursue a degree. The following is a sampling of some of the best online English classes that you can access:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers “Writing About Literature” as an online English class. This class examines 3 published works and delves deeply into the authors’ creative processes.

MIT also offers “Reading Fiction” among its top online English courses. Focusing on prose narrative, the class carefully analyzes classic fiction by authors such as Jane Austen, Herman Melville and Virginia Woolf.

“Reinventing the Fairy Tale”, hosted by University of Notre Dame, scrutinizes 4 fairy tales and their interpretations in media such as novels, film and music. This online English class maps story elements and interprets morals in each story.

Yale University offers a “Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner” English class online. Major works by these authors are dissected by narrative technique and the social implications addressed in each novel.

A practical approach is taken by Utah State University in its “Technology for Professional Writers”. This class goes beyond writing and researching by illustrating the technological tools that today’s writers need.

What blogs or other online resources might be useful in my English courses?

Writer Unboxed, a blog maintained by 2 practicing authors and featuring many bestselling authors as contributors, offers a wealth of information for aspiring writers. Book analyses, interviews with authors and industry leaders and tips on real-world issues in publishing are discussed. Students in an English course online or in a traditional environment can whet their appetite for the literary life by reading about the vast array of topics pertaining to the craft of writing.

English majors interested in creative writing may find Creativity Portal an invaluable resource. The award-winning website features writing prompts, book reviews and articles by creativity coaches and industry professionals. Topics include professional writing, poetry, collaborative writing, fiction, blogging and journal writing. Reader submissions are encouraged, and a free biweekly newsletter is available. Creativity Portal was named a “great resource” by English Journal.

Many schools host blogs that are written by students in the English department, and students in accredited English courses online may be able to participate. Stanford University’s Cellar Door is a good example, providing readers with a glimpse into the everyday life of an English major. Cellar Door holds fiction contests, reviews fellowships and recommends helpful reading for English students. A sampling of posts includes an interview with the director of a campus play, inside information from Stanford University’s English department and suggestions of funny websites for a giggle.

What magazines or journals can I read while I study in my offline or online English classes?

The Modern Language Association publishes American Literature on a quarterly basis. Each issue features essays on current and past works by American authors, book reviews and current news on prizes, conferences and publishing opportunities. Any student, whether in an English online course or campus-based class, stands to gain knowledge through these scholarly analyses. A significant student discount is offered.

Contemporary Literature is another professional journal that English majors should read. This journal covers a broad spectrum of genres including graphic narrative, creative nonfiction, the novel and poetry. Known for its discovery of new writers and critical analyses, this quarterly publication offers a broad look at literature today.

Another monthly publication, Poets & Writers Magazine, is useful for students in English online classes or traditional programs. This magazine prints tips for getting published and profiles published authors. Poets & Writers is also known for its directory of awards, grants and publishing competitions, which can help you publish your work and build your portfolio.