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.
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
- Bachelor of Philosophy - 45 units
The bachelor of philosophy (BPhil) is conferred by the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. To earn the BPhil degree, students must complete a total of 45 units (courses), including a writing requirement, two years of study in a foreign language (or demonstration of equivalent foreign language proficiency), distribution requirements, a major and electives. Foreign language proficiency may be demonstrated by completion of a second-year language sequence with a grade of C or better at an accredited college or university. Minors are optional.
- Bachelor of General Studies – 45 units
The bachelor of science in general studies (BSGS) is conferred by the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. For the BSGS degree, students must complete 45 units, including a writing requirement, distribution requirements, a major and electives. Minors are optional.
- English - 2 units
• ENGLISH 111 or ENGLISH 205
• ENGLISH 113
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- Humanities – 4 units
4 courses from the following areas: art history, classics, comparative literary studies, English literature, foreign languages (up to two units), history, music history, philosophy, religion, and some courses in African American studies, foreign languages with literature, gender studies, performance studies, radio/television/film, Slavic languages and literature and theatre.
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- Social Sciences – 4 units
4 courses from the following areas: anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science, sociology, and some courses in African American studies, gender studies, psychology and statistics.
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- Science – 4 units
4 courses from the following areas: astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, engineering, geography, information systems, mathematics, physics and some courses in anthropology, psychology, radio/television/film and statistics.
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- Modern Foreign Language (BPhil degree only) – 6 units
6 courses from the following areas: French, Spanish, Chinese
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English Major Requirements
- Either of the following 2-quarter course sequences
English Literary Traditions
A chronological survey of British literature in its cultural contexts from the medieval era to the 20th century.
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American Literary Traditions
A chronological survey of American literature in its cultural contexts from the Puritan era to the present.
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Introductory Seminar in Reading and Interpretation
Close reading of literary works in the light of various perspectives in literary study. Topics have included the Gothic novel, crime in American narratives, more.
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- 3 300-level courses in English literature before 1830
- 3 300-level courses in English, American or postcolonial literature after 1830
- 3 additional 300-level courses in any period of English, American or postcolonial literature
- at least 1 300-level course must be in literary theory, and 1 in American literature
- Note for English literature majors: completing ENGLISH 210 or 270 sequence and ENGLISH 298 exempts majors from ENGLISH 113 requirement