ENGL201 Gateway: Ways of Reading

The Ways of Reading seminar is the mandatory gateway course necessary for declaring the English major. Students must have completed or be enrolled in 201 at the time of major declaration in the second semester of their sophomore year. Students must earn a B- or higher for admission into the major. All sections of ENGL 201 enroll a maximum of 15 students with most seats reserved for sophomores.

This course is taught differently by members of the English faculty, with each seminar having its own title and focus. Recent Ways of Reading seminars include “Texts and Territories,” “Influence, Imitation, Invention,” “Forms of Difference,” ‘Unreliability,” and “The Pleasures of the Text.”

In all iterations of ENGL201, students will study particular literary and cultural methods for reading literary texts and other aesthetic forms. Examples of methods that students might encounter in the seminar include aesthetic theories, cultural studies, deconstruction, ethnic studies, feminisms, formalisms, historicisms, Marxism, material cultures, new queer cinema, performance studies, postcolonial critique, psychoanalysis, queer of color critique, sound studies, poetics, etc.

Course Objectives and Expectations

  • Develop strategies for analyzing and interpreting poetry, drama, and prose narratives such as novels and stories.
  • Familiarize yourself with some of the protocols of the literary-critical essay, examine the idea of literature as a social institution, and explore ways of connecting textual details to the world beyond the text.
  • Write a substantial number of graded essays during the semester.
  • Some sections may work with archival materials available in Wesleyan's rare book collection.

Guidelines for taking ENGL201 in preparation for the English major:

  • Must be taken in the first or sophomore year.  Exceptions are made for junior transfer students majoring in English.
  • Must receive a final grade of B- or better in the course. 
  • Students who take ENGL 201 in the second semester of the sophomore year will be accepted to the English major provisionally, pending final grade in the course.
  • Students who have not taken or are not currently enrolled in 201 but still wish to declare as English majors will have a "Pending" status until successful completion of a 201 class the following semester.
  • Students may enroll in only one class of ENGL 201 per semester.  Although students may take different 201 classes, only one ENGL201 class may count toward graduation and toward fulfillment of the English major.
  • Although most ENGL201 courses do not fulfill a core requirement, an individual course may do so with advisor approval if its content and reading materials are appropriate.