English Website


Chair, Professor CHRISTOPHER L. PYE

Professors: I. BELL, R. BELL, BUNDTZEN, FIX, S. GRAVER, KNOPP, LIMON**, PYE, RAAB***, REICHERT, J. SHEPARD, D. L. SMITH, SOKOLSKY, SWANN***, TIFFT. Margaret Bundy Scott Visiting Professor: BALFOUR§§. Visiting Professor: L. GRAVER. Associate Professors: CASE, KLEINER, ROSENHEIM. Assistant Professors: CARTER-SANBORN, FARRED, KENT**. Visiting Assistant Professors: DE GOOYER, SANBORN. Senior Lecturer: GLÜCK*. Lecturers: CLEGHORN, MURPHY. Part-time Lecturer: K. SHEPARD§. Visiting Part-time Lecturer: WEAVER.


The course offerings in English enable students, whether majors or non-majors, to explore English and American literature in a variety of ways and to satisfy their interests in particular authors and literary periods, in the major types of literature-poetry, drama, and fiction-and in creative writing. At the introductory level, the department offers a range of writing-intensive 100-level courses which focus on interpretive skills-techniques of reading-as well as skills in writing and argumentation, and English 150 (formerly 103), Expository Writing, a course focusing on rudimentary writing skills. All 100-level courses are designed primarily for first-year students, although they are open to interested sophomores, juniors, and seniors. A 100-level course other than 150 is required for admission to most upper-level English courses, except in the case of students who have placed out of the introductory courses by receiving a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in English Literature.

Most 200-level English courses are designed primarily for qualified first-year students, sophomores, and junior and senior non-majors, but they are open to junior and senior majors and count as major courses. 200-level "Gateway" courses are designed for first- and second-year students contemplating the major or intending to pursue more advanced work in the department; these courses focus on analytical writing skills while introducing students to critical and historical approaches that will prove fruitful as they pursue the major. 300-level English courses are intended mainly for juniors and seniors, but they are open to qualified sophomores and, in a few cases, to particularly qualified first-year students. 300-level courses are generally open to non-majors, although in the case of 300-level Major Seminars space for non-majors is limited, with preference to junior and senior non-majors for whom the seminar fulfills a requirement of a College program or department (see information below under "Major Seminars"). The only courses offered by the English Department at the 400 level are 497 and 498, independent study for senior majors pursuing departmental honors.


The English Department does not assign majors to specific departmental advisors, since we feel that doing so would prove unnecessarily constraining. Instead, we encourage students, both majors and non-majors, to seek advice from departmental faculty with whom they are studying or have studied. Majors who would like to have a regular departmental advisor to help plan a particular program of study from among the diverse offerings of the department are encouraged to ask a faculty member they know to serve in that capacity. Such arrangements can also be set up with the help of the department chair. Majors considering graduate work should consult with the department's Graduate Advisor about appropriate course choices.

Non-majors who wish to discuss English Department offerings are invited to see any faculty member or the department chair.


The English major is designed to encourage familiarity with a broad range of literature from the Middle Ages to the present day, to afford acquaintance with representative contexts in which one can appreciate literary works, and to foster an understanding of the nature of literary study. Each student can fashion his or her own sequence of study within a basic pattern that insures coherence and variety. This pattern comprises at least nine courses.

Majors are urged to select a balance of intermediate and advanced courses and, in addition to courses on British literature, to elect one or more courses dealing with literature by American writers, both white and nonwhite. They are also urged to elect collateral courses in subjects such as art, music, history, literary studies, philosophy, religion, theatre, and foreign languages with a view to supporting and broadening their studies in literature. In particular, the study of classical and modern languages, as well as of foreign literatures in translation, is strongly recommended.


The nine courses required for the major must include the following:

1) Any 100-level English class except English 150 (formerly 103). Students exempted by the department from 100-level courses will substitute an elective course.

2) At least three courses dealing primarily with literature written before 1800 (identified in parentheses at end of course description). May be taken as a Major Seminar.

3) At least one course dealing primarily with literature written between 1800 and 1900 (identified in parentheses at end of course description). May be taken as a Major Seminar.

4) At least one "criticism" course (identified in parentheses at end of course description). A course fulfilling the "criticism" requirement entails a sustained and explicit reflection on problems of critical method, whether by engaging a range of critical approaches and their implications or by exploring a particular method, theorist or critic in depth. May be taken as a Major Seminar. Please note that when a criticism course also deals with literature written before 1800, or between 1800 and 1900, the course may be used to satisfy either the criticism requirement or the chronological requirement, but not both.

5) At least one Major Seminar. The Seminars provide students who have pursued diverse areas of study the common experience of focusing on a basic literary problem. Many Seminars also satisfy the pre-1800, the 1800-1900, or the criticism requirement. Normally to be taken during junior year.


The English Department offers three different routes toward honors: a creative writing thesis, a critical thesis, and a critical specialization. The requirements of each are described below. Candidates for the program should normally have at least a 3.5 average in courses taken in English, but admission will not depend solely on course grades. Formal application to pursue honors must be made to the director of honors by April of the junior year. For the Class of 2000, the Director of Honors is Professor Ilona Bell.

All routes require honors students to take a minimum of TEN regular-semester courses (rather than the nine otherwise required for the major), and to devote their senior year winter study course to their honors projects. More specifically:

Students doing a creative writing thesis must, by graduation, take at least nine regular-semester courses, and, in addition, take English 497 (Honors Independent Study, fall) and English 031 (Honors Thesis, winter study) during senior year.

Students writing a critical thesis must, by graduation, take at least eight regular-semester courses, and, in addition, take English 497 and English 498 (Honors Independent Study, fall and spring) and English 031 (Senior Thesis, winter study) during senior year.

Students pursuing a critical specialization must, by graduation, take at least eight regular-semester courses, and in addition, take English 497 and English 498 (Honors Independent Study, fall and spring) and English 030 (Honors Colloquium: Specialization Route, winter study) during senior year.

A student who is highly-qualified to pursue honors, but who, for compelling reasons, is unable to pursue a year-long project, may petition the department for permission to pursue a critical thesis or critical specialization over one semester and the winter study term. Since the norm for these projects is a full year, such permission will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. If granted, the standards for admission and for evaluating the final project would be identical to those that apply to year-long honors projects.

All students who wish to apply to the honors program are required to consult with a prospective faculty advisor, as well as with the director of honors, before April of the junior year. In early-April, candidates submit a 1-page preliminary proposal that provides as specific a description as possible of the proposed project. The director of honors reviews proposals with the faculty advisor, and then makes a recommendation to the whole department. Students whose proposals are accepted receive provisional admission to the program at this time. Students not admitted to the honors program are advised, when appropriate, about other possible ways of pursuing their interests (e.g., independent studies, regular departmental courses).

Admitted students must consult with their advisors before the end of the spring semester of junior year to discuss reading or work pertinent to writing the formal honors prospectus. This prospectus, due one week before the first day of classes in the fall semester of senior year, is a decisive factor in final admission to the program. Two copies of the formal prospectus must be submitted-one to the director of honors, and the other to the student's advisor. After reviewing the prospectuses and consulting with advisors, the department's honors committee determines final admission to the program. Applicants are notified during the first week of the fall term.

While grades for the fall and winter study terms are deferred until both the honors project and review process are completed, students must do the equivalent of at least B+ work to continue in the program. Should the student's work in the fall semester not meet this minimal standard, the course will convert to a standard independent study (English 397), and the student will register for a regular winter study project. A student engaged in a year-long project must likewise perform satisfactorily in winter study (English 030 or 031) to enroll in English 498 in the spring semester. When such is not the case, the winter study course will be converted to an independent study or "99."

Students are required to submit to their advisor, on the due dates specified below, three final copies of their written work. While letter grades for honors courses are assigned by the faculty advisor, the recommendation about honors is made by two other faculty members, who serve as readers of the student's work. These readers, after consulting with the faculty advisor, report their recommendation to the whole department, which awards either Highest Honors, Honors, or no honors. Honors of any kind are contingent upon satisfactory completion of courses in the major during the spring semester of the senior year. Highest honors are normally awarded only to students whose performance in both the honors program and regular courses in the major has been exceptional. All students who are awarded honors participate in a series of informal presentations at the end of the spring term in senior year.

Creative Writing Thesis

The creative writing thesis involves the completion of a significant body of fiction or poetry during the fall semester and winter study of the senior year. (With permission of the honors committee, the thesis may be undertaken during the winter study period and the spring semester of the senior year.) Since a student will most likely include in the thesis-writing done in earlier semesters, a creative writing thesis usually involves only the fall semester and the winter study period, rather than the full year allotted to complete the critical essay.

Requirements for admission include outstanding work in an introductory and an advanced workshop, a recommendation from one of the creative writing teachers (who will then act as thesis advisor), a brief preliminary proposal, and the approval of the departmental honors committee. The formal prospectus consists of a 1-page description of the project, including its relation to work completed and in-progress. Students must also submit a writing sample. A creative writing thesis begun in the fall is due on the last day of winter study. The methods of evaluation are identical to those for critical projects (but their page limits do not apply).

Critical Thesis

The critical thesis involves writing a substantial scholarly and/or critical essay during both semesters as well as the winter study period of the senior year. The formal prospectus, a 2- to 3-page description of the thesis project, should present a coherent proposal indicating the range of the thesis, the questions to be investigated, the methods to be used, and the arguments likely to be considered, along with a brief bibliography.

Significant progress on the thesis, including a substantial amount of writing (to be determined by student and advisor), is required by the end of the fall semester. A first draft of the thesis must be completed by the end of the winter study period. The spring semester is to be devoted to revising and refining the work and to shaping its several chapters into a unified argument. Ideally, the length of the honors essay will be between 40 and 50 pages (a page being approximately 250 words). The thesis may not be longer than 75 pages. The finished thesis is due on the second Friday following spring break.

Critical Specialization

The critical specialization route is intended to provide students with an opportunity for making a series of forays into an area of interest that is both broad in scope and related to work undertaken in at least two courses. At least one of these courses must be in the English Department, and both need to have been taken by the end of fall term in senior year. The critical specialization must be united by a common area of interest, such as a given literary form or historical period, a topic that cuts across several periods, an issue in literary theory, a topic that connects literary and cultural issues, a comparative literature or interdisciplinary topic. Students are encouraged to propose specialization topics of their own devising. The following examples are meant only to suggest the kinds of topics appropriate to a critical specialization: lyric traditions, postmodern narrative, magic realism, Dante and modern literature, Freud and literature, the poet as citizen, new historicist approaches to literature, feminist film criticism.

In addition to reading primary works, the student is expected to read secondary sources, which describe or define issues critical to the area of specialization. The formal prospectus, a 2- to 3-page description of the project, should specify the area and range of the study, the issues likely to be explored, and the methods to be used for their investigation. This prospectus should also describe the relation between previous course work and the proposed specialization, and include a brief bibliography of secondary works. The pursuit of the specialization route requires the following: (1) writing a set of three essays, each about ten pages long (a page being approximately 250 words), which together advance a flexibly-related set of arguments. The first two essays are due by the end of the fall semester, and the third by the end of winter study; (2) developing an extended annotated bibliography (about four to five pages long) of selected secondary sources, explaining their importance to the area of specialization (due mid-February); (3) meeting with the three faculty evaluators (one of whom is the advisor) during the last two weeks in February to discuss the trio of essays and the annotated bibliography; (4) writing a fourth essay of ten to twelve pages, the purpose of which is to consider matters that arose during the faculty-student discussion and to reflect on the evolution and outcome of the intellectual journey undertaken by the student. This final essay is due on the second Friday after spring break.

The same three faculty members are involved throughout the assessment process, and the standards and methods of evaluation are the same as for other kinds of honors projects, with the following exception: For the specialization route, the evaluation will also include the student's performance in the discussion with the three faculty readers, and that discussion will include not only the student's writing but also secondary sources.

100-LEVEL COURSES (except English 150)

Through small class discussions (limited in size to 19 students per section) and frequent writing assignments, 100-level English courses ask students to develop their skills as readers and as analytical writers. Each course assigns 15-20 pages of writing in various forms. These courses are prerequisites for taking all other English courses except English 150, 202, 204, and 219. Students who receive a 5 on the AP English Literature exam may take upper-level courses without first taking a 100-level.


200-level "Gateway" courses are designed for first- and second-year students contemplating the major or intending to pursue more advanced work in the department; these courses focus on analytical writing skills while introducing students to critical and historical approaches that will prove fruitful as they pursue the major.

NOTE: 300-level courses are open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They are normally not open to first-year students, although in exceptional cases first-year students may enroll in a 300-level course with consent of the instructor.


All English majors must take at least one Major Seminar, normally during junior year; when space permits, majors are encouraged to take more than one seminar. English majors have priority in registering for Major Seminars. Enrollment in Major Seminars is limited to 15.

When space permits, non-majors are welcome to request admission to a Major Seminar; they should consult with the English Department chair during April preregistration. Spaces are limited, and preference will be given to non-majors for whom a seminar would fulfill a requirement of a College program or department (e.g., African-American Studies, American Studies, Literary Studies, Theatre, and Women's and Gender Studies).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since the size of each seminar is limited, majors, when registering, must indicate three choices in order of preference. Majors who do not register with the English Department during the regular spring registration period must communicate their preferences to the department chair; those who communicate their preferences significantly later than the April preregistration period are likely to find their range of choices limited. Non-majors who wish to enroll in a Seminar must contact the department chair; while they need only indicate one choice, they should explain their qualifications to enter the Seminar and how the Seminar fits into their academic programs. Please note, in all cases, that registering for the Major Seminar only with the Registrar-without communicating with the chair of the English Department-will not of itself secure majors or non-majors places in the Seminars they have chosen.


Students interested in taking a creative writing course should preregister and be sure to attend the first class meeting. Class size is limited; final selections will be made by the instructor shortly after the first class meeting. Preregistration does not guarantee a place in the class. Students with questions should consult the appropriate instructor.