The Major Course of Study

The English Department offers courses that foster critical thinking about the relationships among literature, culture, and history. Students of English become adept critics of a range of genres, including poetry, novels, essays, and more. They develop knowledge of the history of literary culture and about the evolving genres, forms, and ideologies of literary expression. They study the relation of literary texts to their historical contexts, and they learn to read both literary and non-literary texts critically. While developing their knowledge, students of English hone their skills as critical writers and explore their potential as creative voices.

COURSES FOR NON-MAJORS: The department offers several FYS courses especially designed for first-year students. Non-major students may also be admitted to many other department courses; please check individual listings for details.

ADMISSION TO THE MAJOR: Potential majors must take ENGL201: Ways of Reading in their first or second year. Students who have taken the course and received a grade of B- or better will be admitted as majors during the spring term of their sophomore year. Students who take the course during that term will be admitted provisionally, pending receipt of a grade of B- or better. In exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the department chair, students who have not taken ENGL201 by the end of the sophomore year may be admitted to the major contingent on completion of ENGL201 in the junior year.

Major Requirement Information

The English major at Wesleyan consists of requirements and electives totaling 10 distinct, full-credit courses, or the equivalent of partial-credit courses. Students choose one of two pathways to complete the major, Literature or Creative Writing. Major fulfillment consists of the gateway course (ENGL201: Ways of Reading), core requirements, Literature or Creative Writing pathway requirements, and electives.

 All major courses must be sponsored or co-sponsored by English, with the exception of one “related course.” A related course 200-level or above that bears on the study of literature but is not sponsored or co-sponsored by English may count as an elective with the approval of the English advisor. One English-sponsored or co-sponsored FYS may also count as an English major elective.

Remaining credits must be at the 200-level or higher, with at least one 300-level course required for the Literature pathway and three 300-level Creative Writing courses required for the Creative Writing pathway. All but three of the 10 total credits must be taken at Wesleyan.

Appropriate credits transferred from other institutions may count toward the 10-credit requirement in consultation with the department’s Transfer of Credit coordinator. Students who believe that courses they have taken or will take at other universities should fulfill core course requirements may "petition" the Department for an exception. Requests to petition should be submitted to the chair.

Core Requirements: In addition to the gateway course, ENGL201: Ways of Readingeight additional core requirements must be fulfilled to complete the major. These courses must be taken within the English department. An individual course may fulfill up to two core requirements. Thus, core requirements may be completed with as few as four or as many as eight courses.

  • Literary History: 3 courses (Literary History 1: to 1660, Literary History 2: 1660-1870, Literary    History 3: 1870-present) 
  • Literary Geography: 3 courses (World Literature, British Literature, American Literature) 
  • Theory: 1 course 
  • Creative Writing: 1 course

Paths Through the Major (10 total credits required):

  • Literature: ENGL201, Core Requirements (see above), plus electives, with at least one 300-level course.
  • Creative Writing: ENGL201, Core Requirements (see above), electives, plus four creative writing courses that meet the following criteria:
    1.) One Creative Writing course at any level. (Completion of the Creative Writing core requirement noted above fulfills this requirement.)
    2.) Two 300-level Creative Writing courses (Workshops and Special Topics) with minimum grade of B+.
    3.) One Upper-Level Creative Writing Workshop with minimum grade of B+.
  • As noted above, for both the Literature and Creative Writing pathways, a “related course” at the 200-level or above that bears on the study of literature but is not sponsored or co-sponsored by English may count as an elective with the approval of the English advisor. For example, this course may be in literature in translation or in another language. An English-sponsored or co-sponsored FYS may also count as an elective. Remaining electives must be numbered above 201.

 Other English Major Information

Creative Writing

  • Some Creative Writing Workshops and Special Topics courses are enrolled by permission of instructor (POI) through an application process explained on the course pages in WesMaps. Please be aware of POI processes and deadlines.
  • Acceptance to POI courses and therefore completion of the Creative Writing pathway is not guaranteed. 
  • Students may count no more than any three Advanced or Intermediate Workshops toward completion of the English major.
  • An Advanced or Intermediate Workshop may be repeated for credit.
  • Students may apply for more than one POI course in a term. However, if accepted into more than one creative writing class, it is highly recommended that students take only one per semester due to the amount of writing intensive work involved in each course.  

General Information 

  • ENGL 491 and 492: Ford Seminars and Teaching Apprentice Tutorials: When they designate Ford Seminars for writing tutors, these courses may be counted for the major only if the actual tutoring is associated with an upper-level English course that the tutor has not taken. When they designate Teaching Apprentice tutorials associated with a course in English, they may be counted whether or not the teaching apprentice has taken the course. Teaching Apprentice Tutorials will fulfill the major requirements met by the course in which the student is serving as TA, unless that course was previously taken.
  • Student forum classes do not count toward the major.
  • Honors thesis credits do not count toward the 10-credit minimum required for the major.
  • Individual and group tutorials may not be used to fulfill core requirements. Individual tutorial projects usually taken in the Senior year do not count for Honors. They may count toward a pathway requirement (not a core requirement) with advisor approval.
  • AP Credit. Students who scored 4 or 5 on the AP in English Literature or English Composition or both, or 5, 6, or 7 on the English A1 or AS IB exam, will automatically receive a total of one credit. The same credit is awarded for taking one exam as for taking more than one. This credit counts toward graduation but not toward General Education expectations or the English major.  
  • Oversubscription: University rules state that no more than 16 credits in any one subject (i.e. course code) may count toward the 32 credits required for graduation. Cross-listed courses count toward the oversubscription limit regardless of which department listing a student chooses at the time of registration. Students who wish to take more than the maximum allowed number of English credits (16.00) must be aware that these courses cannot count toward the 32 credits required for the B.A. The maximum of 16 credits for purposes of oversubscription can be comprised of department credits and, with departmental approval, prematriculant, study abroad, and/or transfer credits.
  • Capstone Experience: English majors may undertake capstone experiences in several ways. Students who are eligible and qualify to be candidates for honors may enroll in a two-semester honors tutorial that culminates in the submission of an honors thesis. More information about the Department’s Honors Program is available here. Students may also propose a one-or two-semester senior essay project. In addition, the Literature Pathway requires one 300-level course, and the Creative Writing Pathway requires three 300-level seminars. These may be taken before senior year.

Study Abroad: For information about study abroad click here.

Prizes: For information about English writing prizes and fellowships click here.

Transfer Credit: For information about  credit transfer click here.