Major requirements

Major Plan

Major Plan. Shortly after declaring the major, all English majors must complete a short written plan for how they intend to complete the major. In this plan, students should actively consider how they can most fruitfully explore the broad range of genres, historical periods, and national and cultural traditions that literature in English encompasses, and how they wish to focus upon a particular intellectual interest within English. Students are encouraged to begin discussing the Major Plan with a faculty member as soon as they become interested in the major; junior majors must meet with faculty advisors to revisit Major Plans as they register for courses.


In addition to the Major Plan, each major must consist of at least nine courses, including the following:

  1. Any 100-level English class. Students exempted by the department from 100-level courses will substitute an elective course.
  2. At least one 200-level Gateway course (grouped at the end of the 200-level course descriptions). Gateway courses are designed for first- and second-year students contemplating the major or intending to pursue more advanced work in the department; these courses focus on analytical writing skills while introducing students to critical methods and historical approaches that will prove fruitful as they pursue the major. (Note: a Gateway course can fulfill a Literary Histories or Criticism requirement as well as a Gateway requirement.)
  3. At least one Criticism course (identified in parentheses at the end of the course description). A course fulfilling the criticism requirement entails a sustained and explicit reflection on problems of critical method, whether by engaging a range of critical approaches and their implications or by exploring a particular method, theorist, or critic in
    depth. Please note that when a Criticism course is also listed as satisfying the Literary Histories requirement, the course may be used to satisfy either requirement, but not both.
  4. At least three courses at the 300-level or above.
  5. At least three courses designated as Literary Histories. Literary Histories courses concern the emergence or development of a specific literary tradition or problem and/or its transformation across multiple historical periods. Literary Histories are identified by LH-A, LH-B, or LH-C in parentheses at the end of the course description.LH-A: courses dealing primarily with literature written before 1800.
    LH-B: courses dealing primarily with literature written before 1900 but not included in LH-A (courses on literature from 1800-1900 and some surveys).
    LH-C: courses dealing primarily with literature written after 1900.Of the three Literary History courses required for the major, at least two must focus on literature before 1900 (LH-A or LH-B), with at least one of these focusing primarily on literature before 1800 (LH-A).

Listed here are all of the acceptable combinations of the Literary History requirements:

3 LH-A courses
1 LH-A and 2 LH-B
1 LH-A, 1 LH-B, and 1 LH-C
2 LH-A and 1 LH-C
or, 2 LH A and 1 LH B

If you are confused about the Literary History requirements in the new major, please do not hesitate to contact the chair of the department, Gage McWeeny, [email protected].

Courses Outside the Department

The department will give one elective course credit toward the major for a course taken in literature of a foreign language, whether the course is taught in the original language or in translation. Such a course may not be used to satisfy the department’s Literary Histories, criticism, or Gateway requirements.

Declaring the English Major

In order to declare the major as a rising junior, you must meet with an English Department Advisor during one of the scheduled office hours during pre-registration week. Before you meet with your advisor, please have a look at the requirements above and bring along the following forms: