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The English Major

(34 semester hours)

Senior Exercise
ENGL 451 (1) - Senior Exercise Preparation
ENGL 452 (3) - Senior Seminar
The senior exercise involves successfully completing four credits in the senior year. In the fall course (ENGL 451), each student will begin preliminary work on her senior thesis which she will complete in the spring as part of her senior seminar. Students may fulfill the senior exercise requirement by completing an honors thesis in English.

Choose at least 3 of the following courses
Pre-1900 Literature

ENGL 235 (3) - Shakespeare
ENGL 239 (3) - Old English Language and Literature
ENGL 315 (3) - Swords and Shield-Maidens: Gender Politics in Medieval Heroic Epic
ENGL 319 (3) - Chaucer
ENGL 322 (3) - Romance and Renewal: Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama
ENGL 324 (3) - Revenge and Ravishment: Shakespeare and Jacobean Drama
ENGL 329 (3) - American Romanticism
ENGL 331(3) - The 19th-Century American Novel
ENGL 340 (3) - The Sacred and the Profane in the English Renaissance
ENGL 344 (3) - Women in the Renaissance
ENGL 367 (3) - Visionary Rebels: Romantic Artists
ENGL 386 (3) - Fatal Attractions: Death and Sex in the 19th-Century Novel

Choose at least 2 of the following courses
Post-1900 Literature

ENGL 221 (3) - Loveliness Extreme: Women Poets as Visionary Inheritors
ENGL 256 (3) - New Writing from Ireland and Scotland
ENGL 258 (3) - Native American Literature
ENGL 282 (3) - Modern American Authors
ENGL 330 (3) - African-American Literature
ENGL 332 (3) - Modern and Contemporary Women Writers
ENGL 382 (3) - Contemporary International Fiction
ENGL 393 (3) - Modern Poetry
ENGL 394 (3) -Contemporary Poetry
ENGL 397 (3) -Becoming Modern

Choose at least four additional courses at the 200- or 300-level in literature in the English department, with the following exceptions. Students may count up to three courses toward the major selected from the following options:

- one or two 200- or 300-level creative writing courses
- one or two 200- or 300-level theatre courses with a V.2 designation
- one 300-level literature course from outside the department in a foreign language
- one 100-level literature course in the English department if the course is taken in the student’s first or second year.

Note: Any course used to satisfy the student’s FYW general education requirement cannot also be used toward the above major requirement.

Note: Majors must take at least six 300-level literature courses in the English department.

Working closely with her advisor, each student should seek to construct a plan for the major that includes the following approaches to literary study:

  1. Historical — These courses will highlight the construction of literary traditions in different periods.
  2. Critical and/or theoretical — These courses will foreground the study and use of a variety of models of literary interpretation.
  3. Transnational — These courses will involve a significant focus on the study of literary texts and traditions from other countries in relation to those of England and the United States.
  4. Formal — These courses will foreground the study of different genres and their conventions.
  5. Social — These courses will foreground the study of literature’s relationship to identity categories such as those based on class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

Majors are encouraged to take multiple courses in each category. Some courses may be featured under more than one category.

A student may choose courses for her major that allow her to study an area of interest in greater depth; this may be particularly helpful as students prepare for the senior exercise. (For example, a major may focus on a particular historical period, a particular genre, the literature of a particular social group, or even a more narrowly defined area of interest.) A student may instead choose to craft a major that emphasizes breadth, pursuing courses in a wider range of topics. We encourage students to take courses in creative writing as well as courses in other departments that complement their course of study and their areas of interest in English.

Majors who want to study abroad often spend their junior year at the University of London or the University of St. Andrews, and/or a summer at Oxford University through the Virginia Program at Oxford. A student considering study abroad should consult with her advisor for recommended preparatory courses.

A student considering graduate school in English should confer with the chair of the department to be sure that she has planned an appropriate curriculum. Since most graduate schools require two modern languages and some require a classical language as well, the student should have a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language by the time of her graduation from Sweet Briar.

A minimum of six elective courses (18 semester hours) in English must be taken at Sweet Briar College. In addition, all four credits of the senior exercise must be completed at Sweet Briar, for a total of 22 semester hours. With the exception of ENGL 451, no course used to fulfill major requirements may be taken on a P/CR/NC grading option.