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English Major

The English Major

The undergraduate major in English offers study in literature, writing, linguistics, and rhetoric as these represent and constitute the experiences and cultures of people of England and the United States, as well as the Anglophone world more generally conceived. Although courses and specializations within the major may vary widely, they all focus in common on the processes of creating, interpreting, analyzing, and producing texts in English. The curriculum’s goals are to enable students to do the following:

See the current Undergraduate Catalog for complete information about major program requirements.


Learning Goals and Objectives for the English Major

Three sets of learning goals and objectives shape the English major curriculum:

Development of abilities and strategies for analytical reading and critical thinking across a broad range of texts

Students completing the major should be able to recognize the generic conventions, rhetorical strategies, and linguistic features of different kinds of texts. They should be able interpret and take pleasure in these features, including ethical or discursive ambiguity, specialized vocabulary, and rhetorical constructions. Majors should also be able to locate texts in relation to ideological context, interpretive community, and representations of group or individual identity.

Development of confidence, clarity, and distinctive voice in written and oral expression

Students completing the major should be able to relate generic conventions and rhetorical strategies to different writing contexts and to use them in writing; construct arguments about texts and ideas, including comparative, critical, and persuasive arguments; and take an active role in dialogue and formation of intellectual community.

Development of historical understanding of English, American, and other Anglophone literary and expository traditions and their antecedents

Students completing the major should be able to identify larger historical and cultural contexts in which individual texts or groups of texts may be situated, and they should be able to narrate the relationship of texts or groups of texts to each other and to important historical and cultural developments.