Jul 19, 2024  
Course Catalog 2020-2021 
Course Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Gillian Johns, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies; Chair
Laura Baudot, Associate Professor of English; Director, Gertrude B. Lemle Teaching Center; Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences
Jennifer Bryan, Professor of English
Jan Cooper, John Charles Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition and English
William Patrick Day, Professor of English and Cinema Studies; Director, Cinema Studies
DeSales Harrison, Associate Professor of English; Director, Creative Writing
Wendy Beth Hyman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
T. Scott McMillin, Professor of English
Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Donald R. Longman Professor of English and Cinema Studies
Jeffrey Pence, Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies
Geoff Pingree, Professor of Cinema Studies and English
Danielle Skeehan, Associate Professor of English
Harrod Suarez, Associate Professor of English and Comparative American Studies
Natasha Tessone, Associate Professor of English
Carol Tufts, Associate Professor of English and Theater
David L. Walker, Professor of English and Creative Writing
Sandra Abelson Zagarell, Emerita Donald R. Longman Professor of English

Visit the department webpage for up-to-date information on department faculty, visiting lecturers and special events.


English, or the practice of literary study, is integral to the work of the Humanities. Interpretation is integral to the work we do in English. For students who enroll in courses in the English department, the “literary” remains a crucial, but not the only, operative category of thought or object of study. Students will come to understand that literary study is more than textual analysis, but also a way of viewing the world, a set of transferable skills and practices, a capacity for creativity, and a heightened awareness of how all kinds of formal and cultural practices make their meanings. Reading texts is the center of what we do. But collectively, we attend not only to poetics, but also the poetics of culture.  Classes are organized, in other words, by animating questions that turn to a wide array of literary and non-literary objects to answer. Student inquiry revolves around making meaning, nourishing better thinking, and cultivating effective communication, and assisting students in the making of meaningful lives.

See information about Research, Internships, Study Away and Experiential Learning (RISE).

Advanced Placement

Students who earn a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Examination in English Literature/Composition will receive credit for one full course. For course credit toward graduation granted for IB scores of 5, 6, and 7, see the Admissions section of the catalog on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. Courses awarded for Advanced Placement or IB scores do not count towards the English major.

Explore Winter Term projects and opportunities. 

Majors and Minors

Types of Courses: Overview

Interpretation, the making of meaning through textual study, involves a mix of modes:

  • Examination: careful attention to the details of a text and its general nature
  • Explication: connecting details & contexts to create plausible meanings for a text 
  • Extrapolation: connecting the meanings of a text to broader questions
  • Reflection: self-evaluation of one’s process of making meaning; further thought on the meanings being made

These modes do not necessarily occur sequentially; each interacts with the other, multiplying the possibilities for meaningful encounters with texts. The course offerings of the Department of English represent the numerous ways in which these modes of interpretation can be practiced, with each level of the curriculum emphasizing a particular mode but also its connection to interpretation as a whole.

The English Department welcomes students who are not majors into its advanced courses.  The expectations of skills in interpretation and written expression increase at each level, and students should balance their interest in a topic with their sense of readiness for a course’s demands.

100-Level Courses
  • Emphasize Examination; introduce students to different types of texts and interpretive practices.
First-Year Seminars

Although these small Writing Intensive seminars do not count as part of the English major, they are nonetheless highly recommended.

Courses Primarily for Non-Majors

The English Department offers several 100-level courses intended to serve a general audience interested in learning about literature from topical approaches.  Such courses do not normally qualify as Writing Intensive classes.  One 100-level course may be counted toward the major.

200-Level Courses
  • Emphasize Explication; identification of significant textual elements, explanation of what they mean in different contexts, connection of text and contexts to create meaning.
  • Most English courses above the 100 level are Writing Intensive or Writing Advanced courses.
300-Level Courses
  • Emphasize Extrapolation; drawing larger ideas, questions, and themes from a text; implications of a text’s meanings in other contexts; application of interpretation to other issues.
  • These courses are smaller in size to facilitate more intensive work than the 200-level courses.
400-Level Courses
  • Emphasize Reflection on the interpretive process, connecting different modes of interpretation, further application of interpretation.
  • English majors are required to successfully complete a 400-level course to fulfill the major. The three options for fulfilling the 400-level course requirement are: a Senior Tutorial, a Senior Seminar, or admission to the Honors Program (see below for Honors). Application for a 400-level course will be required of rising seniors in the second semester of the junior year.
  • Senior Tutorials allow students to pursue an individual project in a small group supervised by a faculty member whose areas of expertise may shape the projects directed. Tutorials are available only to senior English majors.
  • Senior Seminars offer students an opportunity to focus on a common set of critical issues and works, and to conduct significant research leading to a substantial final project. If spaces remain in Senior Seminars after all senior English majors have been accommodated, they will be available, by application, to other qualified students.


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