Directions for Sophomores Planning an English Major 31
English Department Administration 32
Contact/Visit Us: 32
English Department 32
Wellesley College 32
106 Central Street 32
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 32
Office: Founders Hall 103 32
Common Room: Founders Hall 106 32
Phone: 781/283-2590 32
Editor, Emerson Selected Journals 1841-1877 and Ralph Waldo Emerson Selected Journals, 1820-184, a two-volume edition of Emerson's journals, for the Library of America (2010) 38
November 1, 2015
Welcome to the English Department! English, as a discipline, stresses the intensive study of writers and their works in literary, cultural, and historical contexts. It is keyed to the appreciation and analysis of literary language, through which writers compose and organize their poems, stories, novels, plays, and essays. We offer a wide range of courses: introductory courses in literary skills; more advanced courses in influential writers, historical periods, and themes in English, American, and world literatures in English; and numerous courses in creative writing, including screenwriting and creative nonfiction.
Our course offerings strike a balance between great authors of past centuries and emerging fields of study. We teach courses on writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, Jane Austen, and James Joyce, and on Asian American literature, writers from the Indian subcontinent, and film. We stress analysis and argument in paper-writing, critical thinking, and literary research, and we foster and develop a deep, complex, passionate response to literature.
This booklet is designed to help you with the selection of courses in the English department and, if you choose, with the construction of a major or minor in English. To that end, it contains longer and more informative descriptions of each course than will fit into the Wellesley College Bulletin. It also contains a detailed list of “Major and Minor Requirements,” a page of “Directions for Sophomores Planning an English Major,” a schedule of course times, and brief statements in which each member of the faculty describes his or her special area of teaching and research.
Please don’t hesitate to call on the Chair (Kate Brogan) or on any member of the department for further discussion of these matters or to ask any other questions you may have about the department or the major.
A few more, introductory facts about the structure of the English curriculum:
1) At the 100 level, we offer a variety of courses that serve as a gateway to the study of literature and writing.
103: Reading/Writing Short Fiction, 112: Introduction to Shakespeare, 113: Studies in Fiction, 114: Topics in American Literature, and 115: Great Works of Poetry are open to all students. These courses are designed especially for non-majors, though prospective majors are also welcome to take them. They offer an introduction to the college-level discussion of important literary works and topics.
120: Critical Interpretation is a multi–section course, with a maximum of twenty students per section. It too is open to all students, but is required of all English majors. Its chief goal is to teach students the skills, and the pleasures, of critical reading and writing, through the close and leisurely study of poems, drama, and fiction, and frequent written assignments.
150: First-Year Seminar in English is a limited-enrollment, changing topic course for first-year students that links the close reading of literature with developments in intellectual history.
2) Our 200–level courses represent a collective survey of English, American, and world literature in English history from the Middle Ages through the late 20th century (and early 21st), each covering a part of that vast territory.
Most of these courses are open to all students, without prerequisite. Many courses at the 200-level are perfectly appropriate ways to begin the college level study of literature. In order to make a more educated guess about whether a particular course is right for you, you should talk to the instructor. 223 (Elizabethan Shakespeare) and 224 (Jacobean Shakespeare) are a little different. They are especially important to the English major, since each student majoring in English must take a 200– or 300–level course in Shakespeare; students taking 223 or 224 must previously have taken 120 (Critical Interpretation).
3) Our 300–level courses are diverse, and change topics every year. This booklet is especially important as a guide to them. They include courses on particular topics in the major periods of English literature, but also courses on themes and topics that link together works from more than one period and more than one place. We offer, for example, 364 (Race and Ethnicity in Literature), 383 (Women in Literature, Culture, and Society), 385 (Advanced Studies in a Genre), and 387 (Authors--a course focusing on the work of one or two authors only). English 382 (Literary Theory) belongs to neither group; it is an introduction to literary theory, remaining pretty much the same from year to year, and is especially recommended to students thinking of going to graduate school.
Last but not least, we offer a number of creative writing courses. At the 200 level, we offer courses in poetry, fiction, screenwriting, and creative non-fiction (English 206/Writing 225). At the 300 level we offer advanced courses in poetry and fiction.
We invite you to voice your concerns and suggestions about the department’s curriculum, and any other issues important to you, by speaking directly to professors, by e–mail, or by posting on the department’s Google group, English Dept. Announcements. We hope you'll come to the department’s lectures, events, and parties, and to our ongoing colloquium series, at which faculty present recent research or lead discussions of important issues in literature and film.