English Majors at Williams are urged to select a balance of intermediate and advanced courses, and to choose classes from the American, British and Anglophone traditions. Because the major requirements specify historical and methodological categories instead of specific courses, students can construct their major largely around their own interests.
Our majors are also urged to take courses in related Departments and Programs. American Studies, Africana Studies, Comparative Literature, Environmental Studies, Latino/a Studies, the Language Departments, Theater and Women’s and Gender Studies all frequently offer courses cross-listed with English. Courses in music, art, philosophy, history and religion can also be an important part of a course of study in literature in English.
Introductory and 100-level Courses
At the introductory level, the department offers a range of writing-intensive 100-level courses which focus on interpretive skills as well as skills in writing and argumentation. The department also offers English 150, Expository Writing, a course focusing on analytic writing skills. All 100-level courses are designed primarily for first-year students, although they are open to interested sophomores, juniors, and seniors. A 100-level course is required for admission to most upper-level English courses, except in the case of students who have placed out of the introductory courses by receiving a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in English Literature or of 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate.
Most 200-level courses are designed primarily for qualified first-year students, sophomores, and junior and senior non-majors, but they are open to junior and senior majors and count as major courses. Several 200-level courses have no prerequisites; see individual descriptions for details. 200-level Gateway courses are designed for first- and second-year students who are considering becoming English Majors, or who are interested in pursuing upper-level course work in the department. All Gateway courses are writing-intensive. First-year students who have placed out of the 100-level courses are encouraged to take a Gateway course as their introduction to the department.
The majority of English Department courses are designed primarily for students who have some experience with textual analysis, and are open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. First-year students who wish to enroll in a 300-level course are advised to consult the instructor.
400-level courses are intensive, discussion-oriented classes that place a premium on independent, student-initiated work. Limited to 15 students, 400-level courses are open to students who have completed at least one 300-level English course; they should be attractive to any student interested in a course that emphasizes intensive discussion and independent work. Majors considering Honors work and who wish to prepare for it are urged to take a 400-level course before senior year.