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Welcome to the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania

Greetings from Fisher-Bennett Hall!

As former chair of the Penn English Department, I am leading a team of faculty who are eager to reach out to our esteemed alumni.  Our goal is to build stronger connections between you and current students.

Today’s undergraduates are sometimes told that Humanities majors focused on literature, art, music, philosophy, religion, and history are impractical, even unwise. But we know, as you do, that liberal arts graduates of all ages are out in the world leading successful careers and meaningful lives. We also know, as you do, that most English major alumni – at Penn and elsewhere – look back on their studies as a vital, enriching, and indeed practical basis for their work. They value the intellectual foundations an English major provides, along with the lifelong commitment to complex ideas, to creativity, to a wide understanding of history, humanity, citizenship, and society. We need those stories to reach our students.

This is where you come in. Alumni are our best representatives of how a promising future can be built on the depth and breadth of an English degree from Penn. Are you willing to serve as a resource and role model for the next generation of Penn English students?

The first step in the process is to create a new and robust listing of Penn English alumni reflecting the full array of career paths taken by our graduates.  We call this list our Alumni Mentors database.

Starting in the summer of 2023, we will be using the Mentors database for two purposes: 1) to show current Penn students the incredible array of career pathways taken by English majors and minors over the last fifty years; 2) to provide our students with professional advisors who can offer informal career advice within their chosen field.

Many of you have generously served as alumni mentors in the past, but we need to renew and update your details in our list.  Please consider joining the database now, or updating your entry.  Just email us at and provide us with the following information:

1) First and Last Name, and Year of Graduation
2) Current Professional Field(s)   
3) Job Title, Company/Organization Name, Job Description
4) Optional:  Brief reflections on the value of your English studies at Penn to your later life and career
5) Optional:  Would you consider sharing your story for our “Alumni Profiles” on the English Department website or speaking at a future event dedicated to “Career Paths for English Majors”?
6) Optional:  Do you work in an organization or business that could, in some future year, host a summer internship for a talented Penn English major?    

Thank you for your participation!  We look forward to hearing from you.  And we will soon be sharing more information about the life and community of Penn English students, faculty, and alumni on this site.

Jed Esty
Vartan Gregorian Professor of English