From poetry to fiction, 19th century to the 1990s, our department offers a variety of courses designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of literary traditions and cultural contexts.

The following are descriptions of the literature and writing concentrations. For a comprehensive list of classes, browse the English department course catalog.

Literature Courses

Introduction to Literary Study

This course introduces English majors to the fundamentals of literary study. Students will attain a familiarity with a broad range of critical vocabulary, techniques, and approaches. Specifically, students will learn to critically analyze literary works in terms of formal features, by focusing on the skills of close reading. Offered at least once per semester, students take this course once, early in the major.

Period Courses

These foundational courses introduce students to significant works of literature in three major periods of time, ranging from the Medieval to the contemporary. Specific topics change often, and have recently included Shakespeare, British Romanticism, the Harlem Renaissance and American Autobiographies. Each period course is generally offered every semester; students take one course in each period.

Critical Analysis

This course builds on the analytical and critical skills developed in Introduction to Literary Study, through examination of the major methodologies of twentieth century literary theories. Offered every fall, it is suggested that students take this class during junior year.

Literature Electives

A varying series of topics examined by means of critical theory and research methods. These courses focus on particular subjects or issues in literature. Recent topics include: “21st Century American Literature,” “Love,” and “Poetry & Poverty.” Offered at least once per semester, students take any five of these courses.

Writing Courses

Introduction to Writing courses

Offered in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and oral history, these introductory courses build a foundation for English majors in the writing track. Focusing on the elements and techniques of each genre, these classes combine creative writing exercises with published examples so that students appreciate the richness of a particular genre as well as the recognize its possibilities. Students take any two of these courses.

Workshop courses

Offered in fiction, poetry and nonfiction, these advanced courses allow students to create, critique and polish stories, poems and essays in a supportive, encouraging environment. Students take any two of these courses.

Special Topics in Writing courses

Offered in fiction, poetry and nonfiction -- and often, a combination of genres -- these courses focus on particular subjects or issues in creative writing. Recent topics have included writing about politics, points of view in fiction and nonfiction and retellings. Offered at least once per semester, students take any two of these courses.

Service Learning Courses

ENGL 364 - Intro to Writing Oral History

In this service-learning course, students will discuss and grapple with the issues and responsibilities of collecting and creating oral histories, nonfiction narratives and profiles. Proceeding from the premise that ordinary people have within them extraordinary stories, students will study the craft of the interview and the oral history, and discuss inherent issues of documentation, exploitation, confidentiality, authorship and more. In class, students will read published examples of oral histories, practice interview techniques and discuss supplementary research methods as they collect, transcribe, edit and revise “untold stories” in a variety of forms. This class is also a designated Service Learning (SL) class. Each student will dedicate a minimum of 25 hours during the semester to service.