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English | Courses | Faculty

170 Bartlett Hall

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Jenny Adams
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Office: 252 Bartlett
Phone: (413) 545-0388

Chair of Department: Professor Joseph Bartolomeo. Associate Chair: Professor Randall Knoper; Director of Undergraduate Studies: Associate Professor Jenny Adams. Professors Bromell, Clingman, Doyle, Espada, Farrell, Freeman, Gallo, Gizzi, Holland, Kinney, Lowance, Murray, Tate, Welburn, Wier, Young; Associate Professors Bachelder, Black, Fleming, Harris, Knoper, LeCourt, O’Brien, Spencer, Toomey; Assistant Professors Degenhardt, Fernando, Furlan, Hoang, Jennison, Mordecai, Nadkarni, Phan, Rosenberg, Russworm, Solberg, Zucker; Lecturers Greve, Hennessey.

The Field

Perhaps the greatest value in the study of English language literature and its cultures is that it provides powerful visions of what it is like to live in the world, visions which foster an individual’s personal growth and participation in society. Literary study teaches empathy with others and a critical judgment that recognizes ideology and rejects slogans. Reading and writing, both at increasingly sophisticated levels of complexity, are the two different but intricately intertwined approaches by which students of literature and culture pursue their work.

As a department of writing and literature, English offers an excellent humanistic education, a solid foundation both for students who intend to go directly into a career upon graduation and for those who will go on to graduate or professional schools.

The Major

Any student can enroll in the English major but students must complete the following sequence to proceed in the major: first, ENGLWRIT 112 College Writing with a grade of C or better, and second, ENGLISH 200 Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Majors with a grade of B- or better. Exceptions are students who have tested out of College Writing and Talent Advancement Program students who take College Writing and ENGLISH 200 simultaneously.

The English major requires eleven courses, most of which include heavy reading loads and call for skilled writing of multiple essays. Note: 100-level courses and ENGLISH 254 do not count toward the major. A typical schedule for the first semester of the English major includes ENGLISH 200 Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Majors and ENGLISH 221 Shakespeare or ENGLISH 270 American Identities.

British Literature (3 courses)
221 or 222 Shakespeare
One course in British literature before 1700, with some coverage of medieval: 201, 311, 416, or other appropriate course, subject to prior departmental approval.
One course in British literature 1700-1900: 202, 348, 349, 358 or 469, or other appropriate course subject to prior departmental approval.

American Literature (2 courses)
270 American Identities
One additional course (200-level or above)

Writing and Criticism (1 course)
300 Advanced Seminar or 419 Games Thinkers Play. (Topics for these courses change from semester to semester; students should contact the department.)

Departmental Electives (4 or 5 courses)
Additional courses to bring the total number of courses to ten. These may be chosen from courses numbered 300 or higher, or from 203, 279, or other 200-level courses with prior departmental approval.

Restrictions on acceptance of transfer credit:
The department normally accepts a maximum of three courses from other institutions, including other members of the Five College system, for the fulfillment of major requirements.

Options within the English Major
There is no requirement that students choose a particular focus for their upper-level courses, but they may choose to concentrate on one area of literature. In American literature, for example, specialized courses and work on individual authors (Melville, Dickinson, etc.) are offered. In British literature, a solid curriculum of courses is offered in the literary periods (e.g., the Romantic period, the Middle Ages, the time of Shakespeare), individual authors (e.g., Chaucer, Dickens, Woolf), and genres (e.g., lyric poetry, the epic, the novel, satire, comedy).

The department also offers four areas of focus that confer Letters of Specialization: American Studies, Creative Writing, Nonfiction Writing, and Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC). American Studies offers a concentration that enables students to shape an interdisciplinary course of study in American culture, combining courses in literature with courses from other disciplines, such as history, art or Afro-American studies. Creative Writing involves a series of courses, mostly in the form of workshops, that develop students’ craft in the writing of poetry, fiction or drama. Nonfiction Writing prepares students for careers in free-lance writing or publishing; it also prepares majors for graduate programs in publishing, nonfiction writing, or rhetoric and composition. PWTC provides training in professional research and editing, grant writing, software and hardware documentation, report writing, and business communications.

Majors interested in Letters of Specialization should contact the department for more information.

English majors are urged to consider the possibility of study abroad by taking advantage of the department’s summer program in Oxford or a semester or year-long program at universities in Great Britain, Ireland, and other countries.

Honors in English
The departmental honors track serves the interests of students with the most intense passion for writing and criticism, providing both enriched courses and independent work on a senior thesis under the guidance of a faculty committee. To join the program, students must have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.200, and should arrange to meet with the English department honors coordinator as soon as possible after becoming an English major to discuss course scheduling and writing interests. An appointment may be made in the Undergraduate Office, 252 Bartlett, (413) 545-0388, ideally at the end of the sophomore year or early in the junior year, and subsequent meetings should be arranged as the thesis year approaches. Enrolled students must complete six honors courses with a grade of B or better, two of which must be English department courses, and two of which are the Independent Studies supporting the thesis work. All honors students are required to complete either a research-based, critical thesis or a creative writing project.

Career Opportunities

The English major affords students the ability to write well, to think analytically and critically, and to solve problems quickly, all of which are required and sought after in today’s job market. Knowing this, college graduates with a degree in English can enter into a wide variety of career fields: business, education, technical writing, public affairs, writing and editing, publishing or politics. Students may continue their education in Ph.D. and graduate programs in creative writing, poetry, languages, education or law. With this flexibility of career fields also comes a broad range of potential employers; English majors can work for public and private schools, colleges, universities, libraries, nonprofit organizations, television stations, newspapers, government agencies, publishing companies, magazines, broadcasting companies, law firms, and trade, professional, and consumer publications. The department actively encourages majors to meet with Career Center counselors and to pursue internship opportunities.

The Minor

Students wishing to minor in English must complete six courses, including ENGLISH 200 Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Majors ; and one course each in British literature and American literature. Students must also take three upper-level departmental electives, as described under major requirements.

Of these six courses for the minor, no more than two may be writing courses and no more than two transfer courses. Courses with a grade below C will not be accepted toward the minor.

English | Courses | Faculty