Option Representative: Kevin Gilmartin
Instruction in British and American literature ranges from freshman courses on major authors to a senior tutorial for English majors. The freshman humanities courses introduce students to significant genres, different periods, and basic techniques of literary interpretation. For example, a student might read a play by Shakespeare, selections from Donne or Marvell, and novels by Fielding and Woolf, while learning principles of close reading and contextual analysis. The companion course on major American authors might study, among other works, a novel by Hawthorne, poems by Dickinson, and a play by Williams. As in all freshman humanities courses, students also work throughout to develop basic writing skills and to learn how to build coherent and persuasive arguments.
The English group also offers a wide range of courses in British and American literature, from Chaucer to post-World War II American fiction and film. Although some courses are devoted to traditional periods — the English Renaissance, the British romantics, and 18th-century America — most courses focus on authors, genres, and themes. Prose fiction, the students' favorite genre, is studied most extensively: a three-term survey of the British novel from its origins to the present; Austen, the Brontës, and Woolf; Gothic fiction; 19th-century American women's novels; Twain and his contemporaries; James and Wharton; American novels, 1917-40; and modern European fiction. Thematic courses study 20th-century narratives of American assimilation and European colonial encounters from Columbus to the present. We also offer one-term courses on Chaucer, Milton, and Melville, a three-term survey of European drama from the Middle Ages to Beckett, and a two-term course on Shakespeare; recently students have been involved in the production of one of the plays under study.
Majors who wish to study subjects not offered in regular courses can work independently with a faculty member. The few students who major in English are usually double majors and very talented. Recent graduates have done exceptionally well with SURF projects, and some have had the rare opportunity to undertake research at the Huntington Library. English majors work out their programs of study with a faculty adviser and are only required to take one specific course (Shakespeare). As seniors they must write a substantial research paper under faculty supervision.
English Option and Minor
Undergraduates wishing to specialize in English may take either a major or a minor in this area.
Students majoring in English can take a broad range of courses in English and American literature. During the senior year, English majors will enroll in En 99 ab with a faculty member chosen by mutual agreement. En 99 a is devoted to research and En 99 b to writing a substantial research paper. All courses to be counted toward the option in English must be taken for grades except for Hum/En 5 or Hum/En 6 when taken in the first two quarters of the freshman year. All students are assigned an adviser who will help them select the courses best suited to their needs, including courses in fields such as history that may be relevant for work in the English option. Students will be expected to consult their adviser before registering for each quarterï¿½s work. It is recommended that English majors take at least one English or related course per term. Those who are preparing for graduate work in English should take more than the minimum requirements listed below, and should be prepared to take courses in several periods of English and American literature.
The English minor is designed for students who want to pursue concentrated study in English and / or American literature, without the extensive course work and the senior thesis required by the English option.
English minors must take 72 units of English courses. These units may include one freshman humanities course; they may also include one directed reading course (En 98). Students wishing to do a minor in English must declare a minor with the English option representative. Students completing the English minor requirements will have the phrase ï¿½minor in Englishï¿½ added to their transcripts.