English Department
Midshipmen reading books
English Classroom
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Major Course of Study

The majors program in English offers study of the most significant and influential writings of civilization from ancient times to the present as well as the opportunity for independent study and for creative writing projects. A bachelor of science degree is awarded.

Ten required courses

HE242 Methods of Literary Analysis
HE333 Shakespeare
One 300-level period course, Pre-1800 (HE313, HE314, HE315)
One 300-level period course, Pre-1900 (HE313, HE314, HE315, HE317, HE319, HE326)
One 400-level capstone seminar
Five additional English elective courses


Methods of Literary Analysis

This course is designed to introduce new majors to tools of professional literary analysis through a set of focused readings. The course has three goals. First, students will acquire and display a mastery of the critical vocabulary used by literary critics in textual readings. Second, they will develop the skills necessary to conduct in-depth research projects in literary studies. Third, they will gain exposure to a variety of representative extra-textual (philosophical, socio-economic, historical) approaches to the analysis of literature. Students will write a series of short essays, and the course will culminate with a long research essay. Recent courses have revolved around Moby Dick, Robert Frost, and Walt Whitman.


The literary content of these courses is eclectic. They offer surveys of literature from different cultures, historical periods, and genres. They also offer substantial practice in writing.

HE217 Early Western Literature (Fall and Spring)
HE222 The Bible and Literature (Spring)
HE250 Literature of the Sea (Spring)
HE260 Literature of War (Spring)


The HE301-307 series goes more deeply into each of the basic literary genres. The HE313-330 series approaches literature in its historical and cultural context. HE333 is required for all English majors. The HE343-344 series offers extensive practice in a variety of writing forms. HE340 and HE353-360 are surveys of literary traditions.

HE301 Patterns in Drama (Fall and Spring)
HE302 Forms of Poetry (Fall and Spring)
HE306 Types of Fiction (Fall and Spring)
HE307 Topics in Film and Literature (Spring)

HE313 Chaucer and His Age (Spring) - Pre-1800/1900
HE314 The Renaissance Mind (Fall) - Pre-1800/1900
HE315 Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature (Fall) - Pre-1800/1900
HE317 The Romantic Period (Spring) - Pre-1900
HE318 Modern British Literature (Spring)
HE319 Victorian Literature (Fall) - Pre-1900
HE320 Contemporary British Literature (Fall)
HE326 Early American Literature, 1607-1860 (Fall) - Pre-1900
HE328 American Literature from the Civil War to WWI, 1860-1914 (Spring)
HE329 Modern American Literature, 1914-1945 (Fall)
HE330 Contemporary American Literature, 1945-Present (Spring)

HE333 Shakespeare (Fall and Spring) - Required
HE343 Creative Writing (Fall and Spring)
HE344 Professional Communication (Fall and Spring)

HE340 African-American Literature (Fall)
HE353 Topics in Continental Literature (Fall)
HE355 Topics in Multi-Ethnic Literature (Spring)
HE360 Special Topics in Literature (Fall and Spring)

Special Topics - Fall 2016


Contemporary African Literature - CDR Handley

This course will introduce Midshipmen to writers from different regions of Africa.  We will examine the cultural, historical, and aesthetic representation of Africa in literature. Through novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and film, we will explore such topics as the transatlantic slave trade, colonial encounter, the negotiation of African identities, and gender issues. Another goal of this course will be to examine historical and contemporary cross-cultural interactions within the African diaspora and the importance of Africa in African Diasporic studies.  Selections will include some of those suggested by USNA faculty in the History, Political Science, and Language and Cultures departments who are affiliated with Africa forum within the Center for Regional Studies (CRS). In addition, CRS will invite speakers to USNA who can speak to some of the themes discussed in the course.

HE442 Literary Theory and Criticism

A survey of key problems, figures, and texts in the history of literary and cultural thought. Required of all honors English majors (Spring)

400-level Capstones

The HE400 series allows students to pursue an intensive study of a restricted literary subject with English department faculty members specializing in that area. Emphasis in each course will be upon extensive and intensive reading in a limited body of material, techniques of research, and development of independent critical judgment. As capstones for the English major, each of these courses has a significant writing component.

HE461 Studies in a Literary Period
HE462 Studies in a Literary Problem
HE463 Studies in a Literary Figure
HE467 Studies in a Literary Genre

Capstones - Fall 2016


Graham Greene - Professor Mike Parker

This course will explore the novels and short stories of Graham Greene within the context of Anglo-American fiction.  We will examine how Greene’s carefully crafted prose and ironic stance chart new ways of seeing in the twentieth century; we will also ask how they lend themselves to the screen.  Greene was the most cinematic of novelists, and he himself played a major role in writing screenplays and adapting his work for the medium.  The various strains of Greene’s experience—his fascination with the Third World; his complex Catholicism; and his abiding interest in the cat-and-mouse game of espionage—provide him with tools for coping with the conundrums of the modern and post-modern world.


Representations of Race/Ethnicity in American Film - Assistant Professor García-Crespo

The course is a survey of the depiction of ethnicity and/or race in American film, from the opening of the 20th century to the present. The aim of the class is to develop analytical skills for interpreting American-made cultural representations of ethnicity by focusing on the significance of crucial moments in U.S. history, on critical discussions of the meaning of images, and on how ideologically inflected texts affect the construction of personal and communal identities. In addition, students will learn how to talk about cinema in an academic setting through discussions of film form (mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, etc.) and generic conventions (melodrama, musical, western, etc.).The course will concentrate on the politics of representation and the process of negotiating the cultural construction of America and its “others.”


These courses are designed as advanced seminars for students in the English Honors program.

HE503 Seminar in Arts and Literature and HE521 Honors Supplement I
HE504 Seminar in an Advanced Topic and HE522 Honors Supplement II


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