The English Major
The English Department offers a home for a great variety of scholarly and creative interests, and our majors are a crucial part of our departmental life. Students in our courses explore literary works—poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction—from all the traditions of British and American literature. They may also devote themselves to the study of works in film and other media, develop their talents as creative writers and in theater, or pursue studies in journalism, rhetoric, and debate. Our classes encourage exploratory thinking and critical conversation, always aiming to increase the students' knowledge, their skills in reading and critical analysis, and their strengths as writers. For a report on the lives and careers of former English majors, and how these were shaped by their work in the major, click here.
Students wishing to major in English should get in touch with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, to start the process of declaration, or talk with any faculty member they have worked with. As a reflection of the range of work we sponsor, there are four distinct tracks in the major from which students may choose: English Literature; Creative Writing; Theater; and Language, Media, and Communication. The general requirements for these tracks are spelled out below, but students should always consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies about their options for fulfilling the requirements, which are often wider than can be indicated here.
A minimum of ten courses is required. At least seven of the ten must be English courses at the 200 or 300 level.
1. Concentrators must take two of the following courses, ideally by the end of the sophomore year:
2. Concentrators may take one additional course at the 100 level, either a third survey course from the list above (ENG 112, 113, 114, 115) or one of the following "approaches to literary study" courses:
3. Of the seven or eight courses at the 200 or 300 level:
Research seminars will be capped at 18, and will be run as discussion or seminar-style courses. They must involve a research project and lead to the production of a substantial body of written work. Open to junior and senior English majors; others may enroll in the course with permission of the instructor.
For further information, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The Department of English offers a Concentration in Creative Writing for students who want to explore the art of writing and refine their skills in critical reading. Students work intensively on their own imaginative writing (fiction, poetry, and play writing) in conjunction with the study of literature. Students wishing to pursue a Concentration in English: Creative Writing must apply to the Creative Writing Advisor in the department and receive written approval.
A minimum of ten courses is required.
1. Concentrators must take at least four courses in creative writing, as follows:
a. Two courses (8 credits) at the 100 level from among the following:
b. One of the following courses:
c. One of the following:
2. Concentrators must take two of the following courses:
3. Concentrators must take four additional English courses at the 200 or 300 level, two of which must be in British or American literature before 1800 and two in British or American literature after 1800. Click here for details about pre- and post-1800 courses.
Students accepted into the Honors Program in English may write original fiction (a collection of stories or a novella), poetry, or a play to fulfill the requirements for the honors essay. Students choosing this option must have the approval of the Creative Writing Advisor in the English Department.
The English Major track in Language, Media, and Communication allows students to build their major around the English Department's multi-faceted offerings in areas such as rhetoric, media studies, film, language studies, nonfiction writing and journalism, and public speaking, as well as courses on related topics offered by other departments, including African-American Studies, Women's Studies, Linguistics, Political Science, Anthropology, and Art History. This track may be of special interest to students who are contemplating careers in such areas as law, nonfiction writing, publishing, print journalism, or electronic journalism, though its emphasis is critical, theoretical, and historical as much as practical.
Note: The wide range of possibilities in LMC, and the continual addition of new or changed courses in English, mean that students can fulfill their requirements in very individual ways. The rules below offer basic guidelines, but prospective majors should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, with whom they can shape their course of study. The successful completion of this track depends on active planning with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to create the most helpful combination of courses in the major, while choosing related courses that could be in a minor, a cluster, or another major.
A minimum of ten courses is required, at least seven of which must be at the 200 or 300 level.
1. The core of the major consists of six courses chosen, in large part, from the following list. Up to three of these six courses can be chosen from approved courses taught in other departments—some of the possibilities for this are listed below, and others may be used with the approval of the major advisor. Please note that no more than three 100-level courses can be counted toward the major, and no more than two of these 100-level courses can come from any one of the three sub-categories below. The list below is not comprehensive, and students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies at registration time for complete and updated information about applicable courses.
I. Journalism and Nonfiction Writing:
II. Media and Cultural Studies:
III. Rhetoric and Language:
Some sample courses from other departments that can be approved to count toward LMC requirements (again, please check with the Director of Undergraduate Studies about these and other possibilities, which are approved on a case-by-case basis):
Concentrators may also substitute an additional section of ENG 380 for one of the above required courses, if it takes up a relevant subject, for instance, ENG 380: Assimilating Literary Language.
2. Concentrators must take either an approved ENG 394, Internship in English; ENG 391, Independent Study; or ENG 380, Advanced Seminar (from a list provided each semester by the English Department). ENG 396, Honors Seminar, counts as an Advanced Seminar (for students in the English Honors Program).
3. Concentrators must take two literature courses, at least one of which must be at the 200 or 300 level.
4. Concentrators must take one additional 200- or 300-level English course, from items 1, 2, or 3 above.
A note on internships:
The English Department itself has sponsored internships with Open Letter Press, the Blake Archive, Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, METS, the Chaucer Bibliographies, the UR Press, the Public Relations Office, and Rare Books. Internships within the Rochester community include working with local newspapers and television/radio stations, advertising agencies, BOA editions, and Writers and Books. Students wishing to discuss internships applicable to the LMC major should contract the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Further information about the internship program can also be found by clicking here. Please note that all internships must be approved in advance, during the semester prior to the one in which you plan to do the internship.
The English Department (in conjunction with the UR International Theatre Program) offers a major intended for students who want to invest a significant part of their undergraduate careers in theater and theater-related courses, and to furnish such students with credentials reflecting their work in theater.
A minimum of twelve courses (amounting to at least 48 credit hours) in English and theater courses is required.
1. Concentrators must take two of the following surveys:
2. Of the remaining courses in literature and theater, sixteen hours of credit must be in theater production (either onstage or backstage). Each student must work on at least four productions, serving in stage management or as an assistant director for at least one, choosing from the following (spring semester course numbers in parentheses):
3. Theater concentrators will also be required to take eight hours of credit in theater method and/or performance courses, choosing from the following (spring semester course numbers in parentheses):
Finally, Theater concentrators must take sixteen hours of credit in literary study courses in British or American literature, two of which must be in literature before 1800, and two courses in dramatic literature.
Additionally, students taking an Internship in Theater (ENG 398), undertaking an Independent Study (ENG 391) whose subject is theater or dramatic research, or enrolled in a standard Advanced Seminar (ENG 380) or Honors Seminar (ENG 396) with a dramatic literature/theatrical focus might also have those classes count towards the theater concentration. Similarly, Study Abroad options in London and Bath (if allied to dramatic or theatrical work) might count towards this concentration. Other courses in the English Department relating to drama and/or theater may, from time to time, be valid additions to this list. See the Director of Undergraduate Studies for details.
In cases where some courses are unavailable, students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for possible substitutions.
Joint Majoring and Minoring in English
Under certain circumstances, it is possible for students who are majoring in one of the English tracks to complete an English minor in another area. Here are the rules governing this process:
1. No English major in any track can minor in English literature.
2. Majors in the English literature major track may minor in Journalism, Creative Writing, or Theater.
3. Majors in the Creative Writing major track may minor in Journalism or Theater.
4. Majors in the Language, Media, and Communication track may minor in Creative Writing or Theater.
5. Majors in the Theater track may minor in Creative Writing or Journalism.
The English Honors Program
The English Department Honors Program gives our majors scope, during their senior year, for especially intense and independent work in English literature and language. The program begins in the fall semester with an Honors Seminar, limited to about fifteen students; all honors students are required to enroll in this seminar. In the spring semester, each student completes an honors thesis, a text written on a topic of their own choosing. The thesis is ordinarily an extended scholarly or critical essay, but majors in creative writing can submit extended work in prose or poetry as their thesis. While the fall seminar is intended to prepare and focus students for the in-depth work of writing an honors thesis, the possible topics for theses need in no way be bound to the seminar topic.
Application forms are available in the English Department office, Morey 404. You may also download the application here or complete the application online. Completed applications must be returned to the English Department no later than Friday, March 9. If you have any questions whatsoever about the seminar, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
English majors do many things after graduation. Some of our majors have gone on to do graduate work in literature or creative writing, or in other fields in the humanities and the social or natural sciences; others have made careers for themselves in teaching, journalism, and publishing. And yet others have pursued advanced degrees and made a career in medicine, law, and business. In all cases, the capacities that students have developed in English classes—a love of words, an appreciation of creative expression in different media, a sense of history, an ability to write and read critically, suppleness of imagination, an understanding of how stories and metaphors work and why beauty moves us—provide crucial tools for work and life.