Program of Study


Courses include theme- and period-based literature courses as well as genre studies courses in areas ranging from science fiction to the short story and everything in between. See our detailed quarterly course descriptions.

A Rigorous Program

Our major requirements bring rigor to the Creative Writing concentration and flexibility to the Literature concentration, built on a common core of literary history and disciplinary study.

Self-directed and In-depth

Literature majors can align their advanced literary studies with their own interests and future plans. Creative writers can expect in-depth study of their chosen genre.

Interested in English?

If you’re thinking about majoring in English but aren’t sure where to start, we suggest you first try one of our Exploratory Curriculum literature courses. These are great intros to literary study at a college level and also fulfill a “Humanities” requirement, in case you decide English isn’t for you:

  • ENG 1110 Literature and Faith
  • ENG 2221 Good Poems
  • ENG 2223 Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • ENG 2234 Literature by Women
  • ENG 2248 International Fiction
  • ENG 3334 US Multi-Ethnic Literature

And if you’re interested in Creative Writing, try ENG 2215 Imaginative Writing.

Core Courses

Once you decide that an English major is right for you, we suggest you turn to our 2000-level “core courses” next. These classes are designed to give you the foundational knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed in advanced studies. ENG 2225 Literary Interpretation will introduce you to the three main genres (poetry, fiction, drama), to literary criticism, and to writing about literature. The year-long literature survey sequence, ENG 2251, 2252, and 2253, forms the backbone of English degrees in universities all over the world.

And while that survey sequence can seem like “boot camp for English majors,” it also prepares you to be fit and ready for everything that comes later, providing a good overview of English literature throughout history. You'll study a vast array of the canonical works, authors, and major literary periods in English – everything from Beowulf to Emily Dickinson – while learning to read, think, interpret, and write like a scholar.

Mix It Up

We also suggest that you mix in some other period, genre, or thematic courses that interest you – preferably at the 3000-level – as you work through the major core, saving 4000-level courses for when you are a seasoned English major well into your junior or senior years. (Course numbers, by the way, roughly reflect the college year they are designed for: 2000 = sophomore, 4000 = senior, for example. This isn’t a rigid restriction, of course, but it might be a useful “rule of thumb” to know about.)

If you’re interested in Creative Writing, you’ll need to start taking those Literature core courses, too, but you may want to follow ENG 2215 Imaginative Writing with some of the Creative Writing core and genre courses in the area you're specializing in (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction).

Don’t Forget

Your faculty advisor is always there to help you plan courses and make decisions about which program is best for you. We want to help you succeed in the program, as well as to help you find your life calling after college.

Writing on the window of an English classroom

How to Read a Poem

English Professor Susan Van Zanten gives you a quick guide on how to get the most out of reading poetry.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice