In the collegiate curriculum (in the Academical Department), there were no courses in writing, rhetoric or literature in the Freshman and Sophomore years (although there were regular exercises in oratory and prose composition). Until late in the decade, Juniors took one course in rhetoric (using Hepburn’s Rhetoric or Bain’s Rhetoric) and one course in logic (using Bowen’s A Treatise on Logic, or, The Laws of Pure Thought), and Seniors took two courses in English literature, using Shaw’s Manual of English Literature. By 1879, Juniors took the courses (one each) in rhetoric, logic, and English literature, and Seniors did no work that would draw upon the resources in English (unless they were represented by courses in Philosophy and Moral Science, but these were most likely taught by President Woods).
In the "preparatory" curriculum, students studied Reading, Orthography, English Grammar and Composition. There were a number of changes to the curriculum beginning in 1879 and these introduced: Swinton's Composition; Swinton's English Language Lessons; "Critical Study" using Tancock's Grammar and Reader; Whitney’s Essentials of Grammar; Hudson's Classical English Reader; and courses in "Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship" and “Reading with Subject Analysis.”