Through the critical reading of a diversity of texts—ancient to contemporary—from the United States, Britain, and around the world, English majors further their understanding and appreciation of the literary craft and cultural significance of works of fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction, and they learn to incorporate their own interpretations and creativity into writing analytically about the works they have studied.
With these skills students are prepared for in-depth examination of texts, exploration of the cultural and societal ramifications of literature, and investigation of the artistic features of various genres. Students may choose from a variety of topics—ranging from surveys of an entire culture's writings to focused readings of particular authors.
As seniors, under faculty guidance, English majors undertake an extensive research project on a literary topic. Students present summaries of their theses at an English Department reading which takes place toward the end of each semester.
In addition to satisfying the core requirements of the English major, students who pursue a concentration in American Studies will explore the many voices that make up American literatures. Courses taken outside the English department will augment the study of how American history and the arts mutually influence literary creation.
In addition to the in-depth study of literary texts experienced by all English majors, students who pursue a concentration in Comparative Literature will explore the inter-textual methods of meaning-making. This interdisciplinary and global approach relates literary texts to the visual worlds of paintings, photographs, film, and dance. Topics will include the shifting constructions of identity, theories of difference, and the various states of language.
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The minor in English, with its emphasis on careful analysis and clear writing, is a valuable complement to majors in any discipline; it prepares students for further study and for employment in fields such as politics, education, environmental studies, marketing, editing, public relations, and law.