An English major's program is formulated individually by the student with the help of a faculty advisor. English literature majors take a minimum of 10 upper-division literature courses. EN 300, "English Literary History," is required of all English majors. Students are encouraged to take this class during the sophomore year, or the first semester of the junior year at the latest, because it provides a solid foundation for subsequent upper-division courses.
Courses at the 300-level offer opportunities for extensive study of individual writers, genres, literary periods, and special topics: Medieval Passion, Milton, Shakespeare's Rivals, Victorian Poetry, The Book in America, James Baldwin, Dead Women Walking, Shades of Black: Film Noir and Post-War America, and many more. Students must take five courses dealing with literature written before 1800 (EN 300-359) and five courses dealing primarily with literature written since 1800 (EN 340-399). All English majors are required to take two seminars, which are intensive studies in a literary figure, genre, theory, or movement.
For more information on the courses that meet these requirements, see the upper-division course descriptions.
The department invites as many as 15 of its most accomplished seniors to participate in an Honors seminar. This seminar, the topic of which is announced before registration for each fall semester, provides an intense and rewarding educational experience. Those who complete the Honors seminar may elect to write an Honors thesis under the direction of a faculty advisor. Normally the thesis does not count toward the English major (the credit is elective), but the preparation and successful defense result in an honors designation for the student's English major. It is excellent preparation for graduate or professional school.