Option Representative: Dehn Gilmore

The option in English provides students with a broad and intensive education in the rich traditions of literature in English from the Middle Ages to the present day, with a particular emphasis on British and American writing. The English faculty expects undergraduate option students to become familiar with a range of literary forms, genres, and styles of expression; to understand how authors and texts can be shaped by historical contexts; to appreciate differences in literary expression across time periods and national traditions; to develop critical reading skills through analysis and interpretation of literary texts; and to become effective writers in matters of style, organization, and interpretive argument.

During the senior year, and typically in the first two terms, English option students enroll in En 99 ab (Senior Tutorial for English Majors) with a faculty member chosen by mutual agreement. The Senior Tutorial introduces students to advanced methods in literary research and analysis and provides an important means for assessing the progress of English option students in the rigorous study of literary texts and contexts. Students research, write, and revise a 25-30 page paper on a topic in British or American literature; En 99 is primarily a research term, and En 99 b is primarily a writing term. Both terms involve regular tutorial consultation with the faculty instructor. English option students should begin considering a senior thesis topic in the third term of their junior year in consultation with the option representative or option adviser.

In addition to the Senior Tutorial, the English option requires nine courses, which must include at least one course in each of the following areas: British literature, American literature, and literature before 1850. All English option students are assigned an adviser who will help select courses best suited to their needs and interests, including where appropriate a limited number of courses in related fields such as history, film, and literature other than British and American. Students should consult their option adviser in advance of registration for each term. All courses counted toward the option must be taken for grades except for a freshman humanities course in English when taken in the first two quarters of the freshman year.

Most students pursue English as a second option. The emphasis on writing and on critical reading helps students develop communication skills that can enhance their careers as scientists, engineers, and medical professionals. The English option also provides excellent preparation for those seeking careers in law, business, and administration, and in any field that involves extensive communication.

The English minor is designed for students who want to pursue concentrated study in English and/or American literature without the extensive coursework and the senior thesis required by the English option.

NOTE: The official source on requirements for graduation is the Caltech catalog from the year in which a student began studies at Caltech. Please see the catalog online, from this and previous years, for more information regarding the applicable option and minor requirements. Click here for additional information regarding the English option.