The Academic Program
The English major requires at least 10 semester courses.
The requirements for a major in English 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.
I Major in English with a Literature Emphasis
- 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 300-level seminar in literature and one of the following: 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.
- At least four additional courses, one of which may be in creative writing.
II Major in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis
- Two gateway courses: English 199 (Methods of Literary Study) and English 200 (The English Literary Tradition I).
- At least one course wholly devoted to works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Milton.
- At least one course at the 200-level or above with a focus on the global/racial as a central category of analysis.
- At least three writing workshops, two of which must be at the 200 or 300 level.
- At least one additional course in literature.
- As capstone experiences, one 300-level seminar in literature and one of the following: a 4-credit special studies, a second seminar, a year-long Kahn Institute project, a relevant concentration capstone, or a thesis in creative writing, to be completed in the senior year, and
- Completion of ENG 395 (Creative Writing Capstone) , submission of a portfolio of polished work (2-3 pieces or about 25 pages of fiction or nonfiction prose or 10-12 poems), and participation in public reading by creative writing seniors. (Seniors writing a thesis in creative writing are exempt from this requirement.)
Note: Students in the classes of 2019 and 2020 may complete the creative writing emphasis by taking three writing workshops, at least two at the advanced level, and by fulfilling the capstone requirement with a literature seminar plus a third advanced workshop (or any of the alternatives listed in the major requirements) and may choose not to take ENG 395. Beginning with the class of 2021, only the requirements above will be in effect.
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
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 222, 229, 230, 236, 239, 241, 246, 248, 249, 267, 277, 278, 282, 309, 312, 319, 334, 387,391, AFR 209, 360, AMS 230, CLT 205, 266, 268.
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 for the literature emphasis, we encourage all majors with interests in creative writing to choose additional courses in this area. Only one elective first-level course (e.g., ENG 120, ENG 135) or one FYS taught by a member of the English Department may count towards 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. Those considering an MFA program in creative writing would be well advised to take literature courses in their chosen form or forms and to consult with their advisers about building a portfolio of selected writings.
The minor in English consists of six courses to be distributed as follows: two gateway courses (ENG 199, 200); three additional English courses (no more than two of which can be writing workshops) chosen in consultation with the minor adviser; one seminar. Only one elective first-level course (e.g., ENG 120, ENG 135) or one FYS taught by a member of the English Department may count toward the minor. No course counting toward the minor may be taken for an S/U grade.
Applicants to honors 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. See our section on honors for more information.