Program Overview:

Undergraduate English Major

English and American literature majors explore literature's relationship to its intellectual and artistic traditions, as well as to history, philosophy, culture and related fields. Most of all, they seek to understand the most fundamental human tool, language, over time and in varied contexts, through literature. The major provides diverse perspectives and the opportunity to study poetry, prose, drama, novels and nonfiction forms, building on centuries of literary history from Chaucer and Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson and Ernest Hemingway, all the way to recent literature by writers such as Toni Morrison and Joan Didion. The curriculum is taught by Northwestern University faculty.

The study of literature hones the ability to use language as a tool for analysis and communication, develops empathy and insight into the human mind, and sharpens research skills, critical thinking and clear, effective writing. Students in the major develop capabilities that will carry them into practically any career or further course of study. English majors move on to study in professional school—law, business, medicine, education, public policy—and graduate studies in liberal arts and sciences, or build on their rigorous training in thinking and writing for work in areas as diverse as communications and media, technology, marketing and sales, finance and education.

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Recognize, analyze and interpret closely and critically the use of language across a range of literary texts
  • Demonstrate knowledge of major works, movements and genres of English and American literature in their cultural, historical and intellectual contexts, as well as theories of literary criticism
  • Write clear and compelling arguments with textual substantiation and intellectual integrity
  • Conduct scholarly research and to use and cite sources responsibly
  • Produce and communicate knowledge in interactive settings
  • Understand literary activity as a means of thinking about and connecting to the world and the complexity of human experience


Distribution Requirements

English Major Requirements