Important: The department revised its requirements in 2005. The new requirements apply to all majors who have declared since May 1, 2005, AND also to those who have chosen to switch into the new major. Below you will find a summary of the major, a detailed explanation of the requirements, an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the major, a preliminary checklist you can use as you work your way through the major, and some “sample” majors. Majors who declared before May 1, 2005, and have not chosen to switch into the new major will find a list of the old requirements at the end of this section.
Summary of the Major:
Forty semester hours (ten courses) in English, including English 205 and sixteen hours (four courses) at the 300 or 400 level in an area of concentration developed by the student with guidance from a faculty advisor. Students must also fulfill the following distribution requirements:
1. One course in British literature before 1660
2. One course in British literature after 1660
3. One course in American Literature
4. One course having a theoretical or interdisciplinary emphasis
Courses taken as part of the area of concentration and courses taken as electives can be used to fulfill the distribution requirements. At least two of the courses used to fulfill the distribution requirements must be 300- or 400- level courses.
Important: The following courses do not count towards the major: 101, 181, and 496R. All courses counting towards the major must be taken for a letter grade. No more than eight hours of creative writing may count towards the major.
The Requirements in Detail
1. English 205: English 205 introduces students to the close reading of literary texts through reading a wide variety of poems and learning to write about them with literary skill. The department strongly encourages majors to take 205 when they begin the major. Several sections are offered every semester. Majors who are unable to schedule a section should see the Director of Undergraduate Studies for possible placement. Students who take this course as a freshman seminar have fulfilled the requirement.
2. The “Area of Concentration”: The concentration involves four courses at a 300- or 400-level that focus on a particular area of study within English-language literatures. The concentration is to be conceived broadly—you cannot concentrate, for example, in works by a single author—and it must correspond to courses and approaches offered by the department. So, for example, your concentration cannot be fulfilled by arranging to take independent studies.
The area of concentration offers a way to focus your studies in English without becoming overly specialized, and it should arise out of your own interests. You can decide what you wish to have as your concentration as long as you can realistically expect to find four courses that match it and get approval from your advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
How to organize a concentration:
I. Concentrations may be based in traditional historical and geographical fields such as “Medieval and Renaissance Literature” or “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Literature” or “African-American Literature."
II. Concentrations may be based in large-scale genres such as “novels” or “poetry."
III. Concentrations may also be based in thematic or theoretical categories such as “literature in interdisciplinary contexts” or “gender and sexuality.”
Students may also combine these approaches and develop a more focused concentration such as “British Poetry” or “Novels of the Americas .” (Particular examples of how a program might work may be found in the FAQs section below; you may also wish to look at some sample majors.)
On first declaring a major, students are required to meet with an advisor and discuss potential areas of concentration. You have the option of changing your mind as you take more courses. In some instances, a course originally taken for the area of concentration will become one of the five elective English courses as you shift to a different concentration. However, majors must make a final commitment to a concentration that has been approved by her or his advisor during the second semester of their junior year at the latest (before registration begins for senior classes). The Director of Undergraduate Studies also reviews these final choices. Students who declare the English major only at the end of Junior year or during Senior year must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine how to proceed with the major. The “area of concentration” does not appear on your transcript.
3. Five Electives: Students complete their major by taking five additional courses in the English department. Remember that 101, 181, 190, 289R, and 496R do not count towards the major.
4. Distribution Requirements: Reviewing your electives and your courses for the concentration—that is, all the English courses you have taken except for 205you must have covered the department’s distribution requirement (reviewed below). The distribution requirement ensures at least some exposure to a range of literatures in English and to ideas about how the discipline understands itself and its role in the world. Please note that no course can count towards more than one distribution requirement and that at least two of these courses must be at the 300 or 400 level. All 200 level courses count toward the successful completion of the major. If you are uncertain about whether a course can count towards a requirement, we offer some further guidelines in the following paragraphs. You can also contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The requirement for a course in British Literature before 1660 includes any course, including special topics, that focuses primarily on literature of the British Isles produced before 1660.
The requirement for a course in British Literature after 1660 includes any course, including special topics, that focuses primarily on literature of the British Isles or any non-American English language literature produced after 1660. So, for example, a course in Irish twentieth-century poetry or a course on postcolonial literature can count for this requirement.
The requirement for a course in American Literature includes any course, including special topics, that focuses primarily on literature of the Americas .
The requirement for a course having a theoretical or interdisciplinary dimension includes any course that focuses primarily on broader conceptual problems that shape our understanding of literaturethat is, “literary theory”or that focuses on relating the study of literature to other disciplines. These courses must be offered by the English department though they may be cross-listed with another department. However, please be aware that not all cross-listed courses count towards this requirement.
Since such courses may be harder for students to identify than courses fulfilling the other distribution requirements, a list of courses that can always count towards this requirement is offered here:
English 345: Postcolonial Literature
English 360: The English Language
English 361: American English
English 368: Literature and Cultural Studies
English 384R: Criticism
English 386: Literature and Science
English 387R: Literature and Religion
English 483R: Seminar in Theory and Criticism
Any 300 or 400 level English course that is cross-listed with IDS (Interdisciplinary Studies)
Additionally, several special topics courses (offered as English 389R or as English 489R) that have been offered recently and may be offered again in the future can count to fulfill this requirement. Please note that this does not apply to all 389R or 489R classes, but only to those classes having the following topics:
Introduction to Literary Theory
Introduction to Freud/Psychoanalysis
Literature and Psychology
Literature and Justice
However, if you are taking a course in the English department that is not listed here and that focuses on theory or that is interdisciplinary in approach, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, as you may be able to get permission to have that course count towards the requirement.
Additional information about distribution requirements:
English 317 (Milton) can count either towards the requirement for a course in British Literature before 1660 or for a course in British literature after 1660. English 345 (Postcolonial Literature) can count either towards the requirement for a course in British Literature after 1660 or for a course having a theoretical or interdisciplinary dimenstion. However, as noted above, no course can be used to count towards more than one distribution requirement.
5. Meeting with advisors: We encourage students to meet with their advisors at least once a semester, but please note that you are required to meet with your advisor when you first declare a major and again second semester junior year before preregistration when you finalize your area of concentration. Students who do not do so may find themselves locked out of online preregistration for courses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How do I know if my area of concentration is acceptable?
You should meet with your advisor to consult on your area of concentration. If your advisor approves, then you are on track.
2. What if I cannot find courses to take in my concentration? What if I am counting on a course to complete the concentration and that course gets canceled?
Generally, your concentration should be broad enough that finding four courses to take will not be difficult. “Victorian novel,” for example, is too narrow but “history of the novel” gives you many options. If you do decide to develop a slightly more specialized concentration that depends on certain courses being offered a particular semester, then you should have a back-up plan just in case a course falls through. For example, you might have a concentration in the twentieth-century novel, but, if necessary, broaden it to include twentieth-century poetry as well.
3. Am I allowed to change my area of concentration? What happens if I do?
You may change your concentration at any time before the second semester of your junior year when you submit a form finalizing your area of concentration. If you do change, then courses you planned on counting towards the original concentration can be used to fulfill other requirements within the major.
4. What if I want to do an honors thesis in a field outside my area of concentration?
You do not have to write an honors thesis in your area of concentration. However, many honors students may find that they want to do so, as they will have that much more background for their chosen topic.
5. Am I allowed to take more than four courses in my area of concentration?
The department encourages students to develop breadth as well as depth in their study of English. However, as long as you are able to fulfill all of your major requirements, including the distribution requirements, you may take more than four courses in your area of concentration.
6. Am I allowed to take courses in departments other than English as part of my concentration?
For a course to count towards the major, it must be offered in the English Department or cross-listed with the English Department. However, the department strongly encourages students to take courses in other departments that relate to their area of concentration. For example, a student with a concentration in African-American literature may well wish to take courses offered in other departments on African-American history or music.
7. How do I know who my advisor is? What if my advisor is on leave and I need an advisor’s signature?
When you first declare a major, the office staff will tell you who your advisor is. You can also request to have a particular professor as an advisor and the professor’s office hours. If you lose track of any of this information you should always feel free to call the department office and find out what you need to know.
If your advisor is on leave, you should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in his or her office.
8. How do courses taken abroad count towards the major?
Each semester you are abroad, you may take up to two courses that count towards the major. However, you may need to make up credit hours for courses taken abroad that do not count for four full credit hours. Additionally, at least two of the courses you take for your area of concentration must be taken at Emory University .
9. May I count an independent study towards my area of concentration?
Your area of concentration should be completed through courses offered by the department. Under extraordinary circumstances, you may get permission from the Director of Undergraduate Studies to count an independent study towards the area of concentration.
10. What should I do when a course requires special permission to register?
A few courses with limited enrollments, including all Creative Writing courses, require written permission for entry. If you wish to enroll in one of these courses, you should follow the instructions outlined in the course atlas. If no special instructions are given, you should see the professor during the preregistration period.
11. How do I find out my final grade for a course?
The posting of final grades is not an official college or departmental procedure. The department faculty has voted not to post grades or release grades via telephone or mail. Students receive their final grade report through the Registrar.
12. Can I double major in English and English/Creative Writing?
Click here to download a checklist to which you can refer as you work your way through the major. You may wish to print it out as a separate document, so that you can refer to it in hard copy:
To give you an idea of what an English program might look like, here are some hypothetical examples of a completed major. Keep in mind that different courses are offered different semesters, so you cannot just “map” your own major onto one of these examples. (In fact, it is an important aspect of the major that you develop your program in an individual way and take advantage of course offerings that may emphasize certain themes or ideas that are not shown by a course number and title. Sometimes these may fall into groupingssuch as “gender and sexuality” or “Literature and the Natural World”that will also make successful concentrations.)
I. Hypothetical example of a student who declares a major at the end of freshman year, and eventually (by the end of junior year), decides on a concentration in “Medieval and Renaissance” literature:
First semester sophomore year: the introductory poetry course and the first half of the British literature survey, 205 and 255
Second semester sophomore year: a course in Shakespeare and the second half of the British Literature survey, 311 and 256
First semester junior year: one course in Medieval/Renaissance drama other than Shakespeare and an interdisciplinary course, 310 and 386
Second semester junior year: two courses in Medieval or Renaissance literature, 304 and 317
First semester senior year: a senior seminar and a course in British Romanticism, 481 and 330
In addition to 205, the student covers the area of concentration in medieval and renaissance literature by taking 311, 310, 304, and 317. The electives are 255, 256, 330, 481, and 386. Reviewing these courses, the distribution requirement has also been easily fulfilled: 311 (among others) for a course in British Literature before 1660; 330 (or 256) for a course in British literature after 1660; 250 for a course in American literature; and 386 for a course having a theoretical or interdisciplinary dimension.
II. Hypothetical example of a student who declares a major junior year, having taken no prior English classes, and decides that his concentration will be “history of the novel”:
First semester junior year: the introductory poetry course and one upper-level course on the Victorian novel, 205 and 336.
Second semester junior year: a survey course, a course in Renaissance poetry, and a course on the early English novel, 251, 315, and 325.
First semester senior year: another survey course, a course in the nineteenth-century American novel, and a course in modern drama, 255, 354, and 365.
Second semester senior year: a senior seminar on the novel and an interdisciplinary course, 482 and 368.
In addition to 205 , the student covers the area of concentration in the history of the novel by taking 336, 325, 354, and 482. The electives are 251, 315, 255, 365, and 368. Reviewing these courses, the distribution requirement has also been fulfilled: 315 (or 255) for a course in British literature before 1660; 325 (or 336) for a course in British literature after 1660; 352 (or 251) for a course in American literature; and 368 (Literature and Cultural Studies) for a course having a theoretical or interdisciplinary dimension.
Below are the English Major requirements for students who declared before May 1, 2005, and have NOT switched into the new major.
A total of 10 courses (40 semester hours) in English, distributed as follows:
* English 205
* 7 advanced-level courses (300- or 400- level), distributed as follows:
- 2 courses in British literature before 1660 (one may be English 255)
- 2 courses in British literature after 1660 (one may be English 256)
- 2 courses in American literature (one may be English 250 or 251)
- any 300- or 400-level English course
* Two additional courses. These may be chosen from any courses offered by the department, with the exceptions listed below.
Note: English 101, 181, and 496 (Internship) do not count toward the major.
No more than 8 hours of creative writing may count toward the major.
Advisers should check the content of English 348 and special topics courses to determine where they can reasonably count.
All courses that count toward the major must be taken for a letter grade.