English Department
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The Honors Major

Students who have excelled in the major may choose to pursue an honors degree, which features two focused seminar courses in advanced topics. The first seminar, HE503, pursues an interdisciplinary approach to a topic in literature and the arts; the second, HE504, offers specialized study of a particular literary figure, period, or problem. Recent examples include:


  • Contemporary Asian-American Literature
  • World War I in British Art and Literature
  • Building Modernity: Architecture and World Literature
  • Slavery and American Culture


  • Moby Dick: Ahab, The Whale, Violence
  • Robert Frost: "The Great Misgiver"
  • Reading Too Much Into Renaissance Texts

HE504 - Coming Spring 2016

Whitman's Many Leaves of Grass - Professor Temple Cone

“I am large, I contain multitudes,” wrote Walt Whitman, and this course takes him at his word.  We will study the first (1855) and the ‘Death-Bed’ (1892) editions of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, as well as the many changes Whitman made to the book through the five intervening editions.  By tracing the composition and revision of Leaves of Grass, we witness the creation of a radically original American poetic style and Whitman’s treatment of such themes as the American genius, the morality and healthfulness of sexuality, mysticism, democracy and its moral implications, the upheaval of the Civil War, grief and mourning, the American genius, the nature of the self, and the nature of Nature.  We will discuss the impact of changes Whitman made to several major poems and to the organization of Leaves of Grass, and will also read select works by such authors as de Tocqueville, Emerson, Lincoln, Melville, and Dickinson, among others, to get a fuller sense of Whitman’s milieu.

Including the two 500-level seminars (and their required supplements, HE521 and HE522), Honors students take eleven courses in the major, including HE442, Literary Theory and Criticism.

The distribution requirements for the Honors Major in English differ slightly from those for the major in English. Students interested in the Honors major should consult the requirements listed below and plan their course of study accordingly.

Required Courses for the Honors Major in English (HEGH):

  • HE242 Methods of Literary Analysis
  • HE333 Shakespeare
  • pre-1800 period course
  • pre-1900 period course
  • HE442 Literature Theory and Criticism
  • HE503 Seminar in Arts and Literature and HE521 Honors Supplement I
  • HE504 Seminar in Advanced Topic and HE522 Honors Supplement II

Honors majors must also take four electives in English that meet the following distribution requirements:

  • 300-level genre or period or HE340, 353, 355
  • 300-400 level elective
  • 300-400 level elective
  • 300-400 level elective

The English Course Offerings page provides a full list of the courses available in the major.

ACDEANINST 5420.4D lists current Academy rules and requirements for honors majors.

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