Charting Your Courses
The Department of English offers a variety of courses in British, American and postcolonial literature; a few courses that include foreign language works in translation; and courses in writing and in film. All of these courses encourage careful reading, informed interpretation and effective writing.
First-year students may begin with one of six courses. Two of them are open to all entering students: ENG 118 Colloquia in Writing and ENG 120 Colloquia in Literature. Each course fulfills the college's writing requirement. ENG 118 develops skills in writing clear, expository prose and in arguing logically and convincingly. It is particularly recommended for students who have not had much practice writing analytic prose or who are uncertain of their writing skills. It serves students planning to major in many fields and does not count toward the English major. Special sections of ENG 118 are offered for bilingual and non-native speakers of English.
ENG 120 provides practice in the critical analysis of literary texts, with emphasis on writing interpretive essays. Each colloquium deals with a different theme or literary genre; for example, the student can choose among such courses as Fiction, Modern Drama, Shakespeare and Film, Mysteries and Investigations and five or six other topics. One colloquium may be counted toward the English major. For most students, a section of ENG 120 will be the best place to begin.
Four other courses are open in the fall to first-year students who have a score of 710 or more on the Critical Reading section of the SAT or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam: ENG 199, 200, 202 and 231. Three of these courses— 199, 200, and 231— serve as gateway courses for the English major, as does our spring offering, ENG 201.
ENG 199 Introduction to Literary Study offers intensive practice in techniques of literary analysis and in strategies of literary interpretation. It gives students a "tool kit" of critical terms and methodologies. By experimenting with a variety of texts, from medieval poems to Hitchcock's Vertigo, students in the course become more perceptive readers and convincing writers. They also gain skills in using secondary materials, such as critical essays and historical sources. This course will fulfill the college's writing requirement, but that should not be the primary reason for taking it. The course is offered in each semester. Some entering students may choose to take both ENG 199 and ENG 200 or 202 in their first semester. Others may take ENG 199 in the spring, after ENG 120 in the fall.
ENG 200 The English Literary Tradition provides a historical survey of the development of English literature from its beginnings in the oral poetry of Germanic tribes to its explosion in the 20th century as a vast international heritage of many genres, cultures and peoples. It also allows students to discover authors, periods or genres that they can explore further in other, more advanced English courses. ENG 200 moves from Beowulf to the 18th century. It is continued in the spring with ENG 201, which starts with the Romantic poets and runs forward into the 20th century. We recommend, but do not require, that these courses be taken in sequence. ENG 201 is taught as a writing–intensive course.
ENG 202 Western Classics in Translation: From Homer to Dante provides intensive study of some of the major texts of Western culture, from the Iliad to the Divine Comedy. It is continued in the spring with ENG 203, which moves from the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages to War and Peace. These are interdepartmental courses, taught by members of the English department and professors from other literature departments; 202 is required for the major in comparative literature. Both this sequence and ENG 200/201 offer an opportunity to read and discuss important texts. They should be of interest to students planning to major in quite different fields, as well as to prospective English majors. Since these courses do not overlap at all, some students choose to take both in successive years.
ENG 231 American Literature Before 1865 is a historical survey that focuses on the role of literature in the new nation, as it sought to establish a culture of its own. It is the first part of our American literature sequence.
*ENG 200 and 231 are taught as lectures; other entry-level courses run as small discussion sections. Advanced writing courses are closed to first-year students, but those interested in creative writing should consider ENG 120 Reading and Writing Short Poems or ENG 120 Reading and Writing Short Stories.