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English Department
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English Major

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, HE326)
  • One 300-level period course, Pre-1900 (HE313, HE314, HE315, HE317, HE319, HE328)
  • 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 Toni Morrison, John Keats and Virginia Woolf. 

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 Ancient and Medieval Literature 
  • HE222 The Bible and Literature 
  • HE224 Literature and Science
  • HE250 Literature of the Sea 
  • HE260 Literature of War 


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 the Medieval World (Fall) - Pre-1800/1900
  • HE314 The Renaissance Mind (Spring) - Pre-1800/1900
  • HE315 Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature (Fall) - Pre-1800/1900
  • HE317 The Romantic Period (Fall) - Pre-1900
  • HE318 Modern British Literature (Spring)
  • HE319 Victorian Literature (Spring) - Pre-1900
  • HE320 Contemporary British Literature (Fall)
  • HE326 Early American Literature, 1607-1860 (Fall) - Pre-1800
  • HE328 American Literature from the Civil War to WWI, Pre-1900 (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)
  • HE360 Special Topics in Literature (Fall and Spring)
  • HE371 Topics in African American Studies
  • HE372 Topics in Asian American Studies
  • HE373 Topics in Latinx Studies
  • HE374 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • HE375 Topics in Native American Studies

400-level Capstones

Cs 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

HE496 Independent Study 

Each semester, the English department's Independent Research Study panel reviews and approves select Midshipmen to pursue special courses of study with the sponsorship of a professor.  Over the course of the semester, midshipmen meet with the professor outside of his or her normal course of teaching to explore and address research topics in line with the proposals reviewed by the panel.  Midshipmen present and defend the culminating efforts of the studies in the Spring alongside capstones across the Brigade as well as to the faculty of the English department at the end of the semester.  Topics pursued in the past have included multimedia ethnography studies within the Brigade, combat trauma narratives, and the translation and examination of Middle and Old English texts, to name but a few. 

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