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Goals and Objectives:

Three primary educational goals underlie the English major. Students in both the Literature and Writing tracks will receive instruction in, and be able to demonstrate their grasp of:

  1. critical practices, or the ability carefully to read, analyze, interpret, and write about texts from a wide range of genres, historical eras, theoretical paradigms, and cultural contexts;
  2. disciplinary knowledge, conceived as the intellectual richness, evolution, and diversity of literatures in English from different periods, technologies, and geographical areas;
  3. writing skills, or the ability to write with clarity, grace, economy of expression, and persuasiveness.

Achieving Major Goals and Objectives:

Each element of the two curricula–literature and writing–contributes, either wholly or in conjunction with other elements, to the achievement of these goals. Each curriculum as a whole is evenly divided between all four years of a student’s career, and is designed to furnish students with increasingly complex and sophisticated intellectual challenges that build on previously acquired knowledge and skills. All courses will enhance our students’ critical reading, writing, analysis, and interpretive abilities.

At the introductory level, literature majors gain familiarity with major authors and literary movements by choosing among 2720 and 2730 (British Literature I & II) and 2820 and 2830 (American Literature I & II). Writing majors acquire the foundation for critical and writing practices in 2121 (Introduction to Writing Studies) or 2122 (Introduction to Creative Writing), courses which teach the skills, craft, process, and discourse necessary to write in a variety of genres. Literature majors expand their composing repertoires by taking one of these courses as writing elective.

Advanced disciplinary study begins for literature majors with a slate of required courses at the 3000- and 4000-level. The required 3000-level diversity elective introduces students to different cultures and literary traditions, ancient and contemporary, through the study of world literatures or multi-ethnic literatures. The 4000-level English traditions requirement ensures students’ exposure to authors considered central to English literary traditions such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Milton. The curriculum requires that students take 8 credit hours in classes categorized as “Approaches to Literature” or “Artifacts in English” (3500-3899, 4500-4899). “Approaches” courses emphasize critical theories and reading strategies, while “Artifacts” courses study texts in regards to their socio-cultural and historical positions. Students also can choose one upper-division elective (3100-3999, 4200-4899) in consultation with their advisors.

For writing majors, upper-division requirements highlight the connections between reading and writing as well as the number and breadth of writing assignments, requiring students to constantly produce and revise material and to continually rethink their approaches to creating texts. Ensuring our students are conversant with critical theory and proficient with composing processes, writing majors take a course in writing/language theory, either 3110 (Writing Theory) or 3115 (Style). Writing majors take two courses in literature at the 3000- and 4000-levels in order to strengthen students’ knowledge of literary traditions, forms, and genres – knowledge that should inform their own writing skills. One course emphasizes an overview of a literature, an early literary tradition, or literature in socio-cultural and historical context (“Literary Backgrounds”) and the other course modern and contemporary literatures and trends (“Literature Post-1800”). The curriculum requires students to take courses in imaginative writing (fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, digital storytelling – 3111-3113 and 4110-4113) and/or rhetoric and literacy (3114, 4114) in order to broaden students’ engagement with different genres and writing situations. 4140 Community Writing dovetails with the university’s emphasis on experiential learning, and in this course, students study how writing is used within specific communities and engage in service learning activities.

Both majors share the 4000-level authors requirement, which explores the concept of authorship and focuses students’ analytical skills through the close study of individualized authors. In addition, the one-credit senior portfolio experience (4998) is designed to help students compile a portfolio of work in the major, create a résumé, organize online profiles, and prepare graduate school or job applications.