The undergraduate program introduces students to the full breadth of imaginative literature written in the English language from the eighth century to its more recent dispersal around the globe. Whether engaged with literary giants such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickinson, Keats, Woolf or in exploration of less famous authors, students in the English program have a rare opportunity to combine aesthetic pleasure, intellectual stimulation, and ethical deliberation in their plan of study. In their first two terms concentrators take three common ground courses that integrate genre and modes, historical periods, and geographic dispersal in a way that lends coherence to an otherwise vast field. Because of their relatively small size, these courses offer students the mentoring they need to cultivate a vocabulary and a set of analytical tools essential for discussing literature and writing critical essays. Moving out from this foundation in the discipline, students explore English literature and language through electives, guided in their choices by a designated faculty adviser.
The program offers a wide array of creative writing classes in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, and playwriting. Although students are admitted by application only, the classes are open to all undergraduates, including non-concentrators.
Concentrators who pursue an honors degree have the opportunity to write a senior thesis, which may take the form of an investigation of a critical topic or (by application) a creative-writing project. All theses are directed by a professor in the English faculty. Honors seniors who choose not to write a thesis have the option of taking two undergraduate seminars in place of the senior tutorial.
For a practical explanation of our requirements (what and how many courses you must take, for example), see our Guide for Concentrators.