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The Concentrations

In the spring of the sophomore year, students choose a concentration to focus their coursework in the major.  Each concentration offers a four-course pathway through the major, from introductory to intermediate and advanced courses, and provides students with both breadth and depth of knowledge in a field. Students are free to change their concentration at any time.

American Literature

This concentration focuses on the history of the literature written in colonial America and the United States and is particularly concerned with the relation between literary expression and nationality. Like other subfields of English, the study of American literature at Wesleyan makes use of textual analysis and the study of literary forms, but it places special emphasis on the connections among literature and cultural and political history. Among other subjects, our courses focus on the role of literature in the formation and critique of American nationality and on its participation in transnational contexts that may challenge national identity. In addition, the concentration stresses the value of seeing distinct works, authors, or movements in the larger context of the history of literary expression in the U.S. The concentration requires four courses, including either English 203 or English 204 and at least one 300-level course. Normally, students will take 203 or 204 in the frosh, sophomore or junior year. At least one of the four courses must focus on literature written before the Civil War, and at least one must focus on the significance of race and ethnicity.

British Literature

The British Literature concentration examines British literature and culture from its beginnings to the present day.  Many of the courses in the concentration deal with specific historical periods and themes; others focus on individual writers or genres, topics in cultural studies, methods, and literary and cultural theories germane to the study of British literature. Students are required to take at least two 200-level courses and at least one 300-level course. The fourth course can be either a 200 or 300 level course. Students are encouraged to take, ordinarily in the freshman, sophomore, or junior year, one of the introductory courses in British literature: ENGL 206, Late Renaissance to Enlightenment; ENGL 208, Enlightenment to Modernism; ENGL 238, Renaissance Literature, or ENGL293 Intro to Medieval Literature.

This concentration is organized around courses devoted to studying the representation of race and ethnicity.  It encompasses courses in national literatures (American, British), literary traditions within nations (African American, U.S. Ethnic), and transnational and postcolonial literatures.  In addition, some courses within the concentration are devoted to particular genres, focused on specific historical periods, and concerned with literary and cultural theories. The concentration requires students to take at least two 200-level courses, which might include a survey such as ENGL 240. Introduction to African American Literature; ENGL230, Intro to Asian American Literature; ENGL 319, Crossing the Color Line: Racial passing in American Literature; ENGL 275, Postcolonial Literature; and ENGL 279, Introduction to Latina/o Literature and Culture, as well as one 300-level course, which might be a junior or senior seminar or a special topics course, or a theory course. The fourth course can be either a 200 or 300 level course.

Race & Ethnicity

This concentration is organized around courses devoted to studying the representation of racial and ethnic difference in literature and popular culture.  The Race and Ethnicity Concentration is topical and also encompasses courses that cover national literatures (American, British), literary traditions within nations (African American, Asian American, Latina/o, U.S. Ethnic), and transnational and postcolonial literatures.  In addition, some courses within the concentration are devoted to particular genres, focused on specific historical periods, and concerned with literary and cultural theories.  The concentration requires students to take at least two 200-level courses, which might include a survey such as ENGL 240, Introduction to African American Literature; ENGL 230, Intro to Asian American Literature; ENGL 319, Crossing the Color Line: Racial Passing in American Literature; ENGL 275, Postcolonial Literature; and ENGL 279, Introduction to Latina/o Literature and Culture, as well as one 300-level course, which might be a junior or senior seminar or a special topics course such as ENGL 331, Topics in African American Literature: Charles Chesnutt and Pauline Hopkins, or a theory course. The fourth course can be either a 200 or 300 level course.

Theory and Literary Forms

Students choosing the TLF concentration must further define the concentration for themselves. Most majors choosing this concentration organize their course of study by focusing on literary theory or on a particular literary form such as poetry or the novel, examined through theoretical, critical, and creative writing courses. Not all courses listed as fulfilling TLF will be appropriate for every concentrator. Those courses include those that take literary theory as their subject matter, treating theory as a central topic within literary studies, as well as those that examine a particular literary form, usually poetry, drama, nonfiction, or fiction. Additionally, most creative writing courses fall under this heading. Students are expected to take at least two 200-level courses and at least one 300-level course. The fourth course can be either a 200 or 300-level course.

Creative Writing

The Creative Writing Concentration is a competitive program within the English major that is geared toward students who wish to pursue an intensive specialization in creative writing in the context of advanced literary study. The Creative Writing Concentration supports a rigorous study of contemporary writing practices and their roots, influences, and precursors. Students learn that writing is a practice that involves an ongoing negotiation of the tensions between creativity and discipline, experimentation and structure, critical analysis and textual production. In addition to meeting the core requirements for the English major, students must complete four courses within the concentration:

  1. Techniques course or an Intermediate Workshop
  2. Intermediate or Advanced Workshop
  3. Intermediate or Advanced Workshop
  4. Special Topics course or other genre-focused course

 

Other Creative Writng Information:

  • An Advanced or Intermediate Workshop may be repeated for credit.
  • Beginning with the class of 2016, students may count no more than any three Advanced or Intermediate Workshops toward completion of the English major.
  • The Intermediate and Advanced Workshops and some Special Topics courses are enrolled by permission of instructor (POI) through an application process explained on the course pages in WesMaps.
  • A grade of B+ or higher in an Intermediate or Advanced Workshop must be attained to fulfill the concentration.
  • Acceptance to POI courses and therefore the concentration is not guaranteed.
  • Enrollment in more than one Intermediate or Advanced Workshop offered in the same term is not allowed. Students may apply to more than one in a term, but will only be accepted into one if qualified.
  • One creative writing workshop taken for credit at an institution other than Wesleyan may, with approval of the adviser, be counted toward completion of the Creative Writing concentration.
  • As completion of the concentration is not guaranteed, students should keep alternative concentrations in mind. Nearly all Creative Writing courses also contribute to theTheory and Literary Forms concentration, but students are free to pursue any of the other concentrations.