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Department

Learning outcomes

The courses offered by the English faculty serve a twofold purpose: to teach students to formulate and articulate their thoughts clearly and effectively in both our spoken and written language, and to help students develop a critical understanding of work by writers of American, British, and world literature.

After our foundational courses, the surveys of British and American literature and our "gateway" course, English majors encounter works of literature in five distinct ways:

  • Breadth. We offer courses that emphasize a breadth of literary study. Courses such as Satire and 20th Century British and American Poetry emphasize thematic, generic, or stylistic unity among otherwise disparate works of literature.

  • Depth. Other courses emphasize a depth of study, usually by focusing on individual authors, such as Shakespeare or Hemingway, but also with courses focusing on a collection of authors within a single literary movement, such as Romantic Prose and Poetry and Literature of the American Renaissance.

  • Difference. Recognizing that the study of literature allows one to view the world from various perspectives, we offer courses that emphasize the literature of different times, places, or cultures. These courses range from the prose, poetry, and drama of the Middle Ages to American Indian literature since the 1960s.

  • Contemporary. We study contemporary literature because, like T. S. Eliot, we believe that just as current works are a response to those written in the past, our response to older works is altered by what is being written now. Courses such as Contemporary International Fiction serve this function well.

  • Theory. Students in English courses soon learn that it matters not only what we read but how we read. We offer courses such as Performance Theory and Postmodernism to help students better understand their own habits as readers and to broaden their critical arsenal. Students are introduced to thinkers who have historically shaped our modes of interpretation, from Aristotle to Stanley Fish.

With our Senior Capstone, English majors draw together all they've learned—represented in a single paper.

Upon completion of the English major, students will be able to

  • analyze a literary text for form, structure, and genre,
  • form a thesis and support it with a coherent and unified essay structure,
  • formulate a sound argument based on textual and contextual evidence,
  • apply and integrate scholarly material,
  • produce prose with a clear, confident voice.