THE ENGLISH MAJOR
Revised April 2013
Members of the department
The English major requires twelve semester courses. The following distribution requirements aim to provide majors with a broad understanding of literatures in English and of the key questions and intellectual strategies that shape the discipline of literary study -- and with the opportunity to work independently at an advanced level.
- 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.
In 2013-14, the courses which satisfy the categories of requirement #3 will be as follows:
Courses before 1800: 200 (if not counted toward requirement #1), 210, 211, 238, 250 (if not counted toward requirement #2), 257 (if not counted toward requirement #2), 259, 260 (if not counted toward requirement #2), 306, and 362
Courses before 1900: all course listed above and also 207, 231 (if not counted toward requirement #1), 233, 243, 255, 256 (if not counted toward requirement #3), 263 and 283
Courses after 1900: 201, 205, 212, 227, 228, 235, 236, 241, 247, 282/AAS 245, 300, 333 (Ursula Le Guin), 333 (Willa Cather), 334, 382, AAS 202, CLT 205, CLT 266, CLT 300, FLS 234, and FLS 241
Courses with an explicit focus on ethnic American or ethnic British literature, or colonial or postcolonial literature in English, or gender and sexuality, or literary theory: 227,241, 282/AAS 245, 309, 310, 334, AAS 202, CLT 205, and CLT 266
Up to two courses in film, a foreign or comparative literature, or dramatic literature offered through the theatre department may count toward the major. Up to three advanced writing courses may count toward the major. Only one colloquium (120) or one FYS may count toward the major. English 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 survey sequence: ENG 200, 201; ENG 202, 203; or ENG 231, 233. We also recommend that our majors take at least one course concentrating on literature written in English form cultures beyond the British/American mainstream, e.g., African, Caribbean or Asian postcolonial or minority writing (such as African American, Asian American or Black British).
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 English teaching would be well advised to take both the English literature (200, 201) and American literature (231, 233) surveys.
Majors in the classes of 2013 and 2014 have the option of pursuing the following major requirements.
- Two of our four gateway courses—ENG 199 (methods), 200 (British survey I), 201 (British survey II) or 231 (American survey I)—ideally to be taken by the end of the sophomore year;
- Two courses concentrating on literature written before 1832;
- Semester courses on two of three early canonical authors; Chaucer (250), Shakespeare (256 or 257) and Milton (260);
- Culminating Experience: two seminars in literature (300-level), at least one to be taken in the senior year. A senior who has undertaken an honors thesis, year-long 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.