English Department

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
  • The Heroic Age of Beowulf


  • Moby Dick: Ahab, The Whale, Violence
  • Robert Frost: "The Great Misgiver"
  • Reading Too Much Into Renaissance Texts
  • Whitman's Many Leaves of Grass

Coming Spring 2017

HE504 Frankenstein and the Monstrous Birth of Postmodernity - Assistant Professor Noah Comet

This proposed course would commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the composition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein during the storied “haunted summer” in Switzerland.  Holed up with her husband Percy, Lord Byron and a few others, M. Shelley dashed together the beginnings of this novel on a dare to write the scariest story she could.  Of course the novel came to be so much more than that: as this class would seek to acknowledge, it evolved into one of the great anticipatory texts of postmodernism, exploring, as it does, deformations of gender, sublime alienation, fragmented subjectivity, the hopes and discontents of science, and skewed temporalities.  A careful, slow reading of the novel will prove rewarding as we follow these themes into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in various media, including not only Anglophone literature, but film, music, and the visual arts.  The problematic textual history of Frankenstein—its manuscript variants between 1816 and its 1818 publication, and its subsequent 1831 revision—sews yet another limb onto the body of work we are examining, troubling the very notion of authorship.

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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