Introductory Level Courses: What's Right for You

The English Department offers a variety of introductory courses, all of which may be taken by freshman.  Students considering majoring in English might begin with English 203 or English 204 (British Literature I; British Literature II), both of which are required for the major.  Either of these two courses can be taken first.  Students considering an English minor might begin with 203 or 204, or English 205 (An Introduction to Shakespeare; 205 is not offered Fall 2014); one of these three courses is required for the minor.  All three of these courses fulfill GER 5, and they can be taken by anyone, prospective major/minor or not, interested in the literature taught in these classes.

Potential majors and minors are also advised to enroll in English 301 (Interpreting Literature).  Despite the 300-level number, the course is entry-level; in it students develop the skills necessary for college-level literary analysis. Also, English 310 (Literature and the Bible; not offered 2014-15) is appropriate for students at all levels of study, including freshmen.

Other 200-level introductory English courses fulfill GER 5 and may be taken by students who are or are not considering an English major:  English 207 (American Literature:  Themes and Issues); and English 210 (Topics in Literature).  Prospective majors, however, should note that only 9 credits hours at the 200-level may be counted toward the 36 hours they need for majoring in English.  Therefore, if a student has AP, IB, or transfer credit for a 200-level course, 207 and 210 cannot be counted toward the major.

Courses at the 200-level are ordinarily available only to sophomores and freshmen, so students, including pre-med students needing to take English classes for their curriculum, should plan on taking these courses before their junior year.  Transfer students with junior-year status intending to major in English who need 203 and 204 for the major should email the instructor of the relevant section of these courses to request an override.

Entry-Level Courses offered Fall 2014:

ENGL 203 - British Literature I

A survey of British literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, required for the English major. The course covers narrative, dramatic, and lyric poetry, including works by Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton.


ENGL 204 - British Literature II

A survey of British literature from 1675-1900, required for the English major. The course includes Augustan satire, Romantic and Victorian poetry, and the Victorian novel.

ENGL 207 - American Lit: Themes & Issues

An introduction to American literature through an analysis of major continuing themes, such as the meaning of freedom; literature and the environment; urban-rural dichotomies.

ENGL 210-01 Monsters, Giants, Fairies

In this course, we will study the way in which various medieval epics and romances describe "the Other"—as monsters, fairies and giants—and consider how these texts create imaginative landscapes of other (and under-) worlds. We will begin by reading a translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf and consider the role that monsters play in this work; we will then examine its transformation in Robert Zemeckis's recent film adaptation. Moving into the Middle English period, we will consider the way in which fairies, monsters, and giants figure in the Old French and Middle English romances Lanval, Sir Launfal, Sir Orfeo, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure. We will conclude by considering Christian and Old Norse views of God and the gods, the Underworld and the Other World, by reading Dante's Inferno and A.S. Byatt's modern version of the Norse myths in Ragnarok: The End of the Gods.


ENGL 210-02 Jazz & American Literature

This introductory course explores the impact of jazz (and by implication, the blues) on American literature and the literary tradition by considering the general structure of the blues and jazz as well as major themes, and how they have been assimilated in the form and content of selected in poetry, prose texts, and films. We will consider certain selected themes central to the jazz aesthetic that translate well to literature: freedom/oppression; improvisation; and identity, within their historical and cultural frames.


ENGL 210-04 Utopia in America

An interdisciplinary, historical survey of experiments with and quests for the ideal society, from New England Puritan settlements and alternative religious and secular communities to nineteenth-century reform and religious movements, speculative fiction, urban planning, and countercultural communes.


ENGL 301 - Interpreting Literature (two sections)

In this course students develop the skills necessary for college-level literary analysis. Students will practice close reading and critical writing informed by various interpretive models. Course readings will include four to six primary literary texts selected from different historical periods, genres, traditions, and perspectives.


Section 1:  The theme of this section will be "Follow the Money." We will investigate representations of buying, selling, lending, and trading in such works as Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, an 18th-century British poem, a 19th-century American “business novel,” and contemporary fiction and film.


Section 2:  In this section our theme will be "Metamorphoses"; we will study texts that translate and transform episodes in Ovid's famous poem on change, including Medieval and Renaissance lyric poetry, Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, Shaw's Pygmalion, and the Broadway musical My Fair Lady.