THE ENGLISH MAJOR
Revised April 2015
Members of the department
The English major requires ten semester courses. The following requirements aim to provide majors with a broad understanding of literatures in English, acquaint them with the key questions and intellectual strategies that shape the discipline of literary study, and offer them the opportunity to work independently at an advanced level.
- Majors take two gateway courses: English 199 (Methods of Literary Study) provides foundational methodological training in interpretation; English 200 (The English Literary Tradition I) offers an historical survey of English literature from its origins through the 18th century.
- Because their writing has been so crucial to the history of literary study and so generative for later writers,we require at least one course wholly devoted to works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Milton.
- Because the spread of the British Empire has made English a global language with a rich array of divergent postcolonial literary traditions, and because multiple racial formations in North America have generated different ethnic American and diasporic literatures, we require at least one course at the 200-level (or above) with a focus on the global/racial as a central category of analysis.
- To encourage our students to move toward independence and sophistication as they pursue their studies, we require, as capstone experiences, one seminar in literature and either a four-credit special studies course, a second seminar, an honors thesis, a long-term Kahn Institute project, or a relevant four-credit Concentration capstone course.
We also ask students to develop a deliberative plan for their major in consultation with their advisers, to be revised and updated every semester. Students may if they wish design a special focus within the major by choosing three courses related by genre (such as poetry, fiction, drama), historical period, methodological approach, or any other category of interest.
Note on major requirements:
Because they entered under an earlier set of requirements, students in the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018 may also fulfill requirement #1 with ENG 201 or 231, and they may also fulfill requirement #3 with a course that focuses explicitly on gender and sexuality or literary theory. Students in these three classes may complete the major in 10 courses; they may fulfill requirements 2 and 4 as specified above. Beginning with the class of 2019, only the requirements above will be in effect.
Courses that fulfill requirement #2 above include but are not limited to ENG 250, 256, 257, 260; courses that fulfill requirement #3 include but are not limited to ENG 230, 236, 239, 241, 246, 248, 249, 267, 278, 282, 309, 319, 334, 387, AAS 209, 360, CLT 205, 266.
One course in film, a foreign or comparative literature, or dramatic literature offered through the theatre department may count toward the major; courses in any of these categories that are cross-listed in English do not count against this limit. While only one course in creative writing may count toward the ten required courses, we encourage majors with interests in creative writing to choose additional courses in this area. Only one colloquium (ENG 120) or one FYS may count toward the major. ENG 118 does not count. No course counting toward the major may be taken for an S/U grade. We strongly recommend that all students take at least one historical sequence: ENG 200, 201; ENG 202, 203; or ENG 231, 233, 235.
Students interested in graduate school in English literature would be well advised to take a course in literary theory and should be aware that most doctoral programs in English require a reading knowledge of two foreign languages. Students interested in high school teaching would be well advised to take both the English (200, 201) and the American (231, 233) literature surveys and a course in literature in English outside Britain and America.
Majors in the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 have the option of pursuing the following major requirements.
- Majors must choose at least two of our four gateway courses. English 199 (Methods of Literary Study) provides foundational training in interpretation; English 200 (The English Literary Tradition I), English 201 (The English Literary Tradition II) and English 231 (American Literature before 1865) all offer broad historical explorations of two of the national literatures central to the discipline.
- Because their writing has been so crucial to the history of literary study and so generative for later writers, we require courses in two of three early canonical writers: Chaucer (250), Shakespeare (256 or 257), or Milton (260).
- Because sophisticated literary study requires both the mastery of a rich array of expressive traditions and strategies and sustained exploration of the relation between texts and their historical and cultural contexts, majors must take one course concentrating on literature written before 1800, one course concentrating on literature written before 1900, and two courses concentrating on literature written after 1900.
- In order to have a focused encounter with some of the intellectual movements that have transformed literary study in recent decades, majors must choose at least one course with an explicit focus on ethnic American literature, or postcolonial literature in English, or gender and sexuality, or literary theory. (The same course may be used to fulfill requirements #3 and 4).
- We expect our students to move toward independence and sophistication as they pursue their studies; we thus require, as a culminating experience, two seminars in literature, at least one to be taken in the senior year. A senior who has undertaken an honors thesis, yearlong Kahn Institute project, or research-based 4-credit Special Studies may substitute her project for the second seminar.
THE ENGLISH MINOR
The minor in English consists of six courses to be distributed as follows: at least two of our four gateway courses (ENG 199, 200, 201, 231); three additional English courses chosen in consultation with the minor adviser; one seminar. Only one elective course may be at the 100 level (ENG 120 or a FYS in literature). No course counting toward the minor may be taken for an S/U grade.
Applicants to honors (which is done in addition to the requirements of the major) must have an average of B+ or above in the courses they count toward the major, and an average of B or above in all other courses. During the senior year they will present a thesis, of which the first complete formal draft will be due on the first day of the second semester. After the readers of the thesis have provided students with their evaluations of this draft, the student will have time to revise her work in response to their suggestions. The final complete version of the thesis will be due after spring vacation, to be followed during April by the student's oral presentation and discussion of her work. Students in honors will normally be given priority in seminars.
In exceptional circumstances, the department will permit a student to submit a work of fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction for honors.