The study of English is one of the most wholly useful and enjoyable programs a student can pursue in higher education. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in English Literary Studies will have armed themselves with the skills and knowledge to analyze and appreciate recent and historical literature from a variety of international perspectives. Through their reading, they will begin to develop a deeper, more conscious understanding of culture as it is represented and magnified by works of literature. Students will also develop their communication skills as they learn to express themselves clearly and coherently in both writing and discussion. The English Literary Studies Major focuses on developing a core set of competencies while giving students a choice of literature courses in four key modes of literary inquiry.
Apart from the inherent rewards of studying literature and language, a degree in English Literary Studies offers intensive training in skills essential in the modern job market, training that is rarely offered by other fields of study. Students of literature develop an ability to think clearly, to analyze complex problems, to sift the essential from the non-important, to focus on details without losing sight of the whole picture, to perform research, to evaluate evidence, to find new and creative ways to address old problems, and to express the results of their analysis in effective language — these are skills vital to genuine achievement in nearly every profession. People who graduate with an English degree usually go on to careers in law, public relations, advertising, publishing, and business management. A degree in English Literary Studies also prepares students for graduate study in literature and the humanities.
The English Literary Studies major is organized according to four disciplinary modes of inquiry:
History and Culture (9 credits):
Courses in the “history/culture” mode begin from the concept that all texts are situated in social, historical, philosophical, and political contexts. As such, these courses will treat the literary text not only as an aesthetic object, but also as an artifact of the culture from which it was created. Students will be asked to consider, and to write about, the ways that art and its surrounding historical and cultural elements interact with one another.
Figure Author (6 credits):
Courses in the “figure author” mode provide in-depth study of a single author or multiple authors. The course may examine the influence of biography on the author’s work, the author as an emblem or anomaly of a particular historical period, or the author’s relationship to some aspect of the literary tradition.
Thematics/Theory (6 credits):
Courses in the “thematics/theory” mode have two configurations. A “thematics” course approaches literature through a unifying theme, issue, description, or problem relevant to the current study of literature. A “theory” course also may include the above and offer a sustained approach to literary texts from a critical perspective or perspectives (new historicist, structuralist, feminist, psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, etc.) or take “theory” or a selection of theories as its object of study.
Genre (6 credits):
Courses in the “genre” mode identify texts as a “kind” or “type” of writing —epics, lyric poetry, novels, autobiography, letters, and drama. But more than just aesthetic categories chosen by authors, genre also determines the types of reading strategies that we need as readers to interpret those works. Courses in this category will focus students’ studies on achieving a deeper understanding of either a single genre or a group of genres, and then will ask them to use that knowledge as a tool for interpreting texts. They may also ask students to consider the uses of particular genres as markers of particular moments in literary and socio-cultural history.
Requirements for Graduation:
To be eligible for graduation, students majoring in English Literary Studies must complete a minimum of 124 credits, achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0, satisfy the College’s residency requirement, and complete the General Education Requirements of the College. Courses used to complete General Education Requirements may not be taken on a pass/fail basis. In addition, English Literary Studies majors must complete two semesters of one foreign language.