English Major

2022 - 2023 Catalog

English major leading to BA degree

A major in English leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree requires 11 three or four credit courses. The credits must include the following. Students who complete categories 1 and 2 have completed the prerequisites for 300-level English courses.

  1. One English course numbered between 201 and 295
  2. A second English course numbered between 222 and 299
  3. Literatures before 1700: at least two courses chosen from ENGL 312, 313, 316, 319, 320, 321 (FILM 321), 326, 330, 386, 392, and when the topic is appropriate 403
  4. Literatures from 1700-1900: at least one course chosen from ENGL 335, 345, 349, 356, 367, 393, and when the topic is appropriate 403
  5. Literatures after 1900: at least one course chosen from ENGL 353, 354, 359, 361, 363, 364, 365, 366, 369, 370, 373, 375, 382, 394, and when the topic is appropriate 403
  6. "Counter traditions": at least one course chosen from ENGL 356, 359, 361, 366, 382, 395, and when the topic is appropriate 403
  7. One additional course at the 200 or 300 level
  8. Three additional courses at the 300-level or above. One of these courses (from #7 or #8) can, with English department approval in advance, come from departments and programs other than English, but only one term of ENGL 493 may count toward this requirement, as one of the 11 courses required for the major.
  9. Completion of the capstone writing requirement with either ENGL 413 (3) or 493 (3-3)

The English faculty urges majors to craft their courses of study to include lyric poetry, narrative, nonfiction prose, and drama.

  1. One English course numbered between 201 and 295
  2. A second English course numbered between 222 and 299
  3. Literatures before 1700
  4. At least two courses chosen from:

    • ENGL 312 - Gender, Love, and Marriage in the Middle Ages
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A study of the complex nexus of gender, love, and marriage in medieval legal, theological, political, and cultural discourses. Reading an eclectic range of texts--such as romance, hagiography, fabliau, (auto)biography, conduct literature, and drama--we consider questions of desire, masculinity, femininity, and agency, as well as the production and maintenance of gender roles and of emotional bonds within medieval conjugality. Authors include Chaucer, Chretien de Troyes, Heldris of Cornwall, Andreas Capellanus, Margery Kempe, and Christine de Pisan. Readings in Middle English or in translation.


    • ENGL 313 - Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This course considers the primary work on which Chaucer's reputation rests: The Canterbury Tales . We pay sustained attention to Chaucer's Middle English at the beginning of the semester to ease the reading process. Then we travel alongside the Canterbury pilgrims as they tell their tales under the guise of a friendly competition. The Canterbury Tales is frequently read as a commentary on the social divisions in late medieval England, such as the traditional estates, religious professionals and laity, and gender hierarchies. But despite the Tales' professed inclusiveness of the whole of English society, Chaucer nonetheless focuses inordinately on those individuals from the emerging middle classes. Our aim is to approach the Tales from the practices of historicization and theorization; that is, we both examine Chaucer's cultural and historical contexts and consider issues of religion, gender, sexuality, marriage, conduct, class, chivalry, courtly love, community, geography, history, power, spirituality, secularism, traditional authority, and individual experience. Of particular importance are questions of voicing and writing, authorship and readership. Lastly, we think through Chaucer's famous Retraction at the end" of The Canterbury Tales , as well as Donald R. Howard's trenchant observation that the Tale is "unfinished but complete." What does it mean for the father of literary "Englishness" to end his life's work on the poetic principle of unfulfilled closure and on the image of a society on the move?"


    • ENGL 316 - The Tudors
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Famous for his mistresses and marriages, his fickle treatment of courtiers, and his vaunting ambition, Henry VIII did more to change English society and religion than any other king. No one understood Henry's power more carefully than his daughter Elizabeth, who oversaw England's first spy network and jealously guarded her throne from rebel contenders. This course studies the writers who worked for the legendary Tudors, focusing on the love poetry of courtiers, trials, and persecution of religious dissidents, plays, and accounts of exploration to the new world. We trace how the ambitions of the monarch, along with religious revolution and colonial expansion, figure in the work of writers like Wyatt, Surrey, and Anne Askew; Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Southwell; and Thomas More and Walter Ralegh.


    • ENGL 319 - Shakespeare and Company
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Focusing on the repertory and working conditions of the two play companies with which he was centrally involved, this course examines plays by Shakespeare and several of his contemporary collaborators and colleagues (Jonson, Middleton, Fletcher). Attentive to stage history and the evolution of dramatic texts within print culture, students consider the degree to which Shakespeare was both a representative and an exceptional player in Renaissance London's show business.


    • ENGL 320 - Shakespearean Genres
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      In a given term, this course focuses on one or two of the major genres explored by Shakespeare (e.g., histories, tragedies, comedies, tragicomedies/romances, lyric and narrative poetry), in light of Renaissance literary conventions and recent theoretical approaches. Students consider the ways in which Shakespeare's generic experiments are variably inflected by gender, by political considerations, by habitat, and by history.


    • ENGL 321 - Celluloid Shakespeare

      (FILM 321)

      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits4

      Same as FILM 321. The films adapted from or inspired by William Shakespeare's plays are a genre unto themselves. We study a selection of films, not focused on their faithfulness to the original playscript but on the creative choices and meanings of the distinct medium of film. We see how the modern era has transmuted the plays through the lens of contemporary sensibility, politics, and culture and through the new visual mode of film storytelling. We hear reports from students about additional films to expand the repertoire of films we study and enjoy.


    • ENGL 326 - 17th-Century Poetry
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Readings of lyric and epic poetry spanning the long 16th century, and tracing the development of republican and cavalier literary modes. Genres include the metaphysical poetry of Donne, Herbert, Katherine Philips, and Henry Vaughan; erotic verse by Mary Wroth, Herrick, Thomas Carew, Marvell, Aphra Behn, and the Earl of Rochester; elegy by Jonson and Bradstreet; and epic by Milton.


    • ENGL 330 - Milton
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This course surveys one of the most talented and probing authors of the English language -- a man whose reading knowledge and poetic output has never been matched, and whose work has influenced a host of writers after him, including Alexander Pope, William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Mary Shelley. In this course, we read selections from Milton's literary corpus, drawing from such diverse genres as lyric, drama, epic and prose polemic. As part of their study of epic form, students create a digital humanities project rendering Paradise Los t in gaming context. Quests, heroes, ethical choices and exploration of new worlds in Paradise Lost are rendered as a game. Students read Milton in the context of literary criticism and place him within his historical milieu, not the least of which includes England's dizzying series of political metamorphoses from Monarchy to Commonwealth, Commonwealth to Protectorate, and Protectorate back to Monarchy.


    • ENGL 386 - Supervised Study in Great Britain
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits4
      Prerequisiteinstructor consent

      An advanced seminar in British literature carried on in Great Britain, with emphasis on independent research and intensive exposure to British culture. Changing topics, rotated yearly from instructor to instructor, and limited in scope to permit study in depth.


    • ENGL 392 - Topics in Literature in English before 1700
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3-4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A seminar course on literature written in English before 1700 with special emphasis on research and discussion. Student suggestions for topics are welcome


    • and when the topic is appropriate:

       

      • ENGL 403 - Directed Individual Study
        Credits3
        Prerequisiteinstructor consent

        A course designed for special students who wish to continue a line of study begun in an earlier advanced course. Their applications approved by the department and accepted by their proposed directors, the students may embark upon directed independent study which must culminate in acceptable papers.


  5. Literatures from 1700-1900
  6. At least one course chosen from:

    • ENGL 335 - 18th-Century Novels
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A study of prose fiction up to about 1800, focusing on the 18th-century literary and social developments that have been called the rise of the novel. Authors likely include Behn, Haywood, Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney, and/or Austen.


    • ENGL 345 - Studies in the 19th-Century British Novel
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Novels and topics vary from year to year depending upon the interests of the instructor and of the students (who are encouraged to express their views early in the preceding semester). Authors range from Austen and Scott through such high Victorians as Dickens, Gaskell, Eliot, and Trollope to late figures such as Hardy, Bennett, and James. Possible topics include the multiplot novel, women novelists, industrial and country house novels, mysteries and gothics, and the bildungsroman .


    • ENGL 349 - Middlemarch and Devoted Readers
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This seminar begins with and centers upon George Eliot's Middlemarch , a novel often regarded as one of the greatest and most ambitious produced in the era of the novel's securest cultural dominance and famously described by Virginia Woolf as one of the few English novels written for grown-up people. It then problematizes this encounter by setting it in light of Rebecca's Mead's critically-acclaimed My Life in Middlemarch , a memoir of her devoted lifelong reading and reading of it, not just for pleasure but for its profound wisdom and insight. The question of such intense admiration verging on fandom is one that has received increasing scholarly attention, particularly in relation to the so-called Janeite phenomenon, that is, the love of Jane Austen fans for her novels, but extends to numerous other novelists, poets, playwrights, fun-makers, and their fans. Students supplement this focus of the course by researching and presenting their own exemplary case studies of such readerly devotion, obsession, or fandom.


    • ENGL 356 - Whitman vs Dickinson
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      In this seminar, students read two wild and wildly different U.S. poets alongside queer theory about temporality. Since we are discussing queerness in the past, present, and future, we will also consider 2lst-century reception of 19th-century literature and history, and students will participate in a Nineteenth-Century Poetry Slam.


    • ENGL 367 - 19th-Century American Novel
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A reading of major American novelists, focusing especially on Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne. We also consider the relationship between the novel and punishment, especially in the works of Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Lippard, and William Wells Brown. Additionally, we read fictions during the second half of the century by Twain, Chopin, and Chesnutt.


    • ENGL 393 - Topics in Literature in English from 1700-1900
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3-4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A seminar course on literature written in English from 1700 to 1900 with special emphasis on research and discussion. Student suggestions for topics are welcome.


    • and when the topic is appropriate:

       

      • ENGL 403 - Directed Individual Study
        Credits3
        Prerequisiteinstructor consent

        A course designed for special students who wish to continue a line of study begun in an earlier advanced course. Their applications approved by the department and accepted by their proposed directors, the students may embark upon directed independent study which must culminate in acceptable papers.


  7. Literatures after 1900
  8. At least one course chosen from:

    • ENGL 353 - 20th-Century British and Irish Poetry
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Selected readings in British poetry from the turn of the century to the present, including the English tradition, international modernism, Irish, and other Commonwealth poetry. We will examine how many poets handle inherited forms, negotiate the world wars, and express identity amid changing definitions of gender and nation.


    • ENGL 354 - Contemporary British and American Drama
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This course examines both the masterpieces and undiscovered gems of English language theater from Samuel Beckett to the present. The course investigates contemporary movements away from naturalism and realism towards the fantastical, surreal, and spectacular. Student presentations, film screenings, and brief performance exercises supplement literary analysis of the plays, though no prior drama experience is presumed.


    • ENGL 359 - Literature by Women of Color
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This course focuses on the intersection of race and gender as they meet in the lives and identities of contemporary women of color via literature: African-Americans, Native Americans, Chicanas, Asian-Americans, and mixed bloods, or 'mestizas.' Our readings, discussions and writings focus on the work that coming to voice does for women of color, and for our larger society and world. Students read a variety of poetry, fiction, and autobiography in order to explore some of the issues most important to and about women of color: identity, histories, diversity, resistance and celebration. Literary analyses-i.e., close readings, explications and interpretations-are key strategies for understanding these readings.


    • ENGL 361 - Native American Literatures
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A study of American Indian literature, primarily from the 20th century but including some historical and prehistorical foundations (oral storytelling, early orations and essays). Texts and topics may vary, but this course poses questions about nation, identity, indigenous sovereignty, mythology and history, and the powers of story as both resistance and regeneration. Readings in poetry, fiction, memoir, and nonfiction prose. Authors may include Alexie, Harjo, Hogan, Erdrich, Silko, Chrystos, Ortiz, LeAnne Howe and Paula Gunn Allen.


    • ENGL 363 - American Poetry from 1900 to 1945
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A consideration of American poetry from the first half of the 20th century, including modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, and popular poetry. Students will investigate the interplay of tradition and experiment in a period defined by expatriatism, female suffrage, and the growing power of urban culture.


    • ENGL 364 - American Poetry at Mid-Century
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Readings from the middle generation of 20th century U.S. poets with attention to the Beats, the New York School, Black Arts, and many other movements. Writers may include Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Robert Hayden, and others.


    • ENGL 365 - Studies in Contemporary Poetry
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      Focused study of poetry in English from 1980 to the present. Topics vary but can include the role of place in contemporary writing or 21st-century poetry and performance. Depending on interest and department needs, readings may involve mainly U.S. authors or English-language poetry from other regions such as Ireland or the Pacific.


    • ENGL 366 - African-American Literature
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A focused engagement with the African-American literary tradition, from its beginnings in the late 18th century through its powerful assertions in the 21st. The focus of each term's offering may vary; different versions of the course might emphasize a genre, author, or period such as poetry, Ralph Ellison, or the Harlem Renaissance.


    • ENGL 369 - Late 20th-Century North American Fiction
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      An exploration of fiction since World War II. Authors may include Wright, O'Connor, Highsmith, Nabokov, Capote, Pynchon, Silko, Atwood, and Morrison.


    • ENGL 370 - Contemporary North American Fiction
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A study of 21st-century novels and short stories by North American authors. The course examines the recent movement of literary fiction into traditional pulp genres. Authors may include: Chabon, Atwood, Allende, Alexie, Butler, McCarthy, Diaz, Whitehead, Link, Fowler, and Grossman.


    • ENGL 373 - Hitchcock
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      An intensive survey of the films of Alfred Hitchcock: this course covers all of his major and many of his less well-known films. It supplements that central work by introducing students to several approaches to film analysis that are particularly appropriate for studying Hitchcock. These include biographical, auteur, and genre-based interpretation, psychological analyses, and dominant form theory through the study of novel-to-film adaptations.


    • ENGL 375 - Literary Theory
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A survey of major schools of literary theory including New Criticism, Formalism, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Cultural Studies, New Historicism, Postcolonial and Native Studies, Feminisms, Queer Studies, Ecocriticism, and New Media. In addition to close reading, we examine alternative methods such as surface reading, flat reading, paranoid reading, and reparative reading. The final paper is tailored to individual student's interests. According to student interests, we also discuss preparations for graduate programs and explore the genres of thesis and grant proposals.


    • ENGL 382 - Hotel Orient
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This seminar charts the historical encounters between East and West through the very spaces that facilitate cross-cultural transactions from the medieval to the postmodern. If modern hotel consciousness is marked by transience, ennui, eroticism, and isolation, we ask whether or not the same characteristics held true in premodern hotel practices, and if the space of the Orient makes a difference in hotel writing. Semantically, Orient means not only the geographic east. As a verb, to orient means to position and ascertain one's bearings. In this sense, to write about lodging in the East is to sort out one's cultural and geopolitical orientation.


    • ENGL 394 - Topics in Literature in English since 1900
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3-4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A seminar course on literature written in English since 1900 with special emphasis on research and discussion. Student suggestions for topics are welcome.


    • and when the topic is appropriate:

       

      • ENGL 403 - Directed Individual Study
        Credits3
        Prerequisiteinstructor consent

        A course designed for special students who wish to continue a line of study begun in an earlier advanced course. Their applications approved by the department and accepted by their proposed directors, the students may embark upon directed independent study which must culminate in acceptable papers.


  9. "Counter traditions"
  10. At least one course chosen from:

    • ENGL 356 - Whitman vs Dickinson
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      In this seminar, students read two wild and wildly different U.S. poets alongside queer theory about temporality. Since we are discussing queerness in the past, present, and future, we will also consider 2lst-century reception of 19th-century literature and history, and students will participate in a Nineteenth-Century Poetry Slam.


    • ENGL 359 - Literature by Women of Color
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This course focuses on the intersection of race and gender as they meet in the lives and identities of contemporary women of color via literature: African-Americans, Native Americans, Chicanas, Asian-Americans, and mixed bloods, or 'mestizas.' Our readings, discussions and writings focus on the work that coming to voice does for women of color, and for our larger society and world. Students read a variety of poetry, fiction, and autobiography in order to explore some of the issues most important to and about women of color: identity, histories, diversity, resistance and celebration. Literary analyses-i.e., close readings, explications and interpretations-are key strategies for understanding these readings.


    • ENGL 361 - Native American Literatures
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A study of American Indian literature, primarily from the 20th century but including some historical and prehistorical foundations (oral storytelling, early orations and essays). Texts and topics may vary, but this course poses questions about nation, identity, indigenous sovereignty, mythology and history, and the powers of story as both resistance and regeneration. Readings in poetry, fiction, memoir, and nonfiction prose. Authors may include Alexie, Harjo, Hogan, Erdrich, Silko, Chrystos, Ortiz, LeAnne Howe and Paula Gunn Allen.


    • ENGL 366 - African-American Literature
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A focused engagement with the African-American literary tradition, from its beginnings in the late 18th century through its powerful assertions in the 21st. The focus of each term's offering may vary; different versions of the course might emphasize a genre, author, or period such as poetry, Ralph Ellison, or the Harlem Renaissance.


    • ENGL 382 - Hotel Orient
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      This seminar charts the historical encounters between East and West through the very spaces that facilitate cross-cultural transactions from the medieval to the postmodern. If modern hotel consciousness is marked by transience, ennui, eroticism, and isolation, we ask whether or not the same characteristics held true in premodern hotel practices, and if the space of the Orient makes a difference in hotel writing. Semantically, Orient means not only the geographic east. As a verb, to orient means to position and ascertain one's bearings. In this sense, to write about lodging in the East is to sort out one's cultural and geopolitical orientation.


    • ENGL 395 - Topics in Literature in English in Counter Traditions
      FDRHL Literature Distribution
      Credits3-4
      Prerequisitean English course numbered between 201 and 295 and another English course numbered between 222 and 299

      A seminar course on literature written in English in an area of counter traditions" with special emphasis on research and discussion. Student suggestions for topics are welcome.


    • and, when the topic is appropriate
      • ENGL 403 - Directed Individual Study
        Credits3
        Prerequisiteinstructor consent

        A course designed for special students who wish to continue a line of study begun in an earlier advanced course. Their applications approved by the department and accepted by their proposed directors, the students may embark upon directed independent study which must culminate in acceptable papers.


  11. One additional courses numbered at the 200 or 300 level
  12. Three additional courses at the 300-level or above.
  13. One of these four courses can, with English department approval in advance, come from departments and programs other than English, but only one term of ENGL 493 may count toward this requirement, as one of the 11 courses required for the major.

  14. Completion of the capstone writing requirement with either
    • ENGL 413 - Senior Research and Writing

      (3)

      Credits3
      Prerequisiteinstructor consent

      A collaborative group research and writing project for senior majors, conducted in supervising faculty members' areas of expertise, with directed independent study culminating in a substantial final project. Possible topics include ecocriticism, literature and psychology, material conditions of authorship, and documentary poetics.


    • or

    • ENGL 493 - Honors Thesis

      (3-3)

      Credits3
      Prerequisiteinstructor consent

      A summary of prerequisites and requirements may be obtained at the English Department website (english.wlu.edu ).