Majors in English must take at least 12 courses (36 hours). Of these, students must take 8 courses (24 hours) at 300-level or higher. Double majors will take 10 courses (30 hours). Of these, double majors must take 6 courses (18 hours) at 300-level or higher. (AP credit does not count towards the major.)
The following coursework comprises the core of the English major or double major.
1. Training the Imagination
ENGL 200, Gateways to Literary Study, emphasizes close reading and critical writing about literature. Students engage basic questions: What is literature? How does it work? Can we distinguish literary language from everyday language? What are the most recognizable genres of literature? What does it mean to engage with literature critically? (English 200 is to be taken in the freshman or sophomore year.)
2. Theoretical Concepts and Methods
ENGL 300, Practices of Literary Study, explores the relation of literary and other cultural texts to key concepts in literary and cultural theory. In their reading and writing, students engage a variety of theoretical problems and modes of reading, among them close textual analysis, critical attention to representation of the (racial, gendered, sexual, class) subject, and what it means to read a text’s relation to philosophical traditions, power relations, history, and empire. (English 300 is to be taken after English 200, ideally in the Spring of freshman year or in the sophomore year.
3. Historical Foundations
Three classes at the 300-level or above in periods before 1900, two of which must be in periods before 1800, and only one of which can be a course in Shakespeare.
The pre-1900 and pre-1800 course requirements train students to understand past traditions and their influence on the present. Topical courses as well as surveys in British and American literature track continuities and discontinuities in literary history while engaging students in questions about history as a narrative and cultural archive. (Historical Foundations classes can be taken at any time in the major.)
4. Diverse Traditions
One class at the 200-level or above in fields related to critical race, post-colonial, & gender studies.
While the historical courses introduce students to the long traditions of British and American Literature, field courses in critical race, gender, and post-colonial studies intercept and broaden understanding of these traditions using the divergent strands of minority, transnational, and global literatures. In these courses, students examine how cultural productions of various kinds disclose these traditions as sites of struggle, imitation, and critique. (Diverse Traditions classes can be taken at any time in the major.)
5. Fundamentals of Research
One 400-level capstone course to be taken in the junior or senior year (not to be a creative writing class)
The content of the major capstone courses varies according to instructor and semester, but all capstone courses build toward a longer seminar paper (15-20 pp.) that trains students to do independent research. Capstone papers often include a combination of close literary analysis with a critical approach informed by reading in secondary literary, criticism/theory, and/or primary research in literary and/or historical contexts. (The Fundamentals of Research course should be taken in the junior or the senior year.)
6. Additional elective classes to fulfill credit hour requirements.
Note that some classes cannot be retaken for credit.
For questions regarding the major in English and undergraduate courses in English, please contact the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.