As an English major, you are required to take two foundation courses. The first is English 150 (formerly 202), a seminar focusing on close reading of poems and prose fiction.

The second, English 250 (formerly 220), introduces majors to both practical and theoretical issues arising from the study of literature. While continuing to develop your close-reading skills, you’ll consider how texts relate to other kinds of representation (movies, music, television) and the cultures that produce them.

View the college catalog for complete course listings and requirements for the major and minor in English.

Choosing other English courses

Besides the two foundation courses, no specific courses are required to complete the major. The department sees, however, that its students need to be aware of a wide range of approaches and topics within the field, and to that end requires majors to take at least five upper-level courses, including one in each of three broad historical periods, and one from each of three major geographical areas (Britain, the U. S., the world).

In the capstone course for the major, the senior seminar, students use the analytical and research skills they’ve developed as English majors to write a long essay. Several senior seminars are offered every year, fitting into the historical and geographical requirements in various ways.

A sampling of our courses

    • Writing the Short Story
    • Icelandic Sagas
    • Love and Sex in the Middle Ages
    • Humans and Other Animals in 19th-Century American Literature
    • Bob Dylan
    • Race, Nation, and Empire in 18th-Century Britain
    • Literature of Passing
    • Vladimir Nabokov
    • Thrills, Chills, and Tears: Black Genre Fiction
    • Happy Endings: Shakespeare's  Comedies
    • African Novels
    • Jane Austen
    • Race and Documentary Film
    • Shakespeare and Performance 


Optional Concentrations: Creative Writing or Race and Ethnicity

Almost all English courses are designated writing-intensive.

In addition, the department offers a Concentration in Creative Writing. Students opting for this concentration take all courses required for the major, as well as courses in writing fiction or poetry taught by the department’s two writers-in-residence. Writing courses include: Seminar in Fiction; Writing of Poetry, Intermediate and Advanced; and Seminar in the Teaching of Writing.

The recently established option, the Concentration in Race and Ethnicity, addresses English-language literature in the context of social and political developments over, approximately, the last three hundred years. Courses include: Literature and Race Criticism, The Literature of Passing, Jews and Moors in Renaissance Drama, West African Literature and Film, and America in Contemporary Black African Literature.