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English Department
Photograph taken by Roger Miller

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
  • Frankenstein and the Monstrous Birth of Postmodernity

Coming Fall 2017

HE503 Victorian Vision: Art and Literature in the 19th Century - Professor Michelle Allen-Emerson

This course will explore the art and aesthetic debates central to nineteenth-century British literature and culture. How do the literature and visual arts of the period influence and engage with one another? How do new technologies (photography, advances in printing) affect the perception and definition of art? What is the relation between art and social action? We will consider these and other questions as we read the art criticism of John Ruskin, Walter Pater, and Oscar Wilde; look at examples of Victorian painting, photography, and decorative arts; and consider the literary and visual intersections created by Charles Dickens and George Cruikshank, Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, and Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters—just to name a few. Since many students may be unpracticed in studying visual representation, one of the course objectives will be to develop the skills needed to understand and interpret visual images, both as aesthetic objects and social artifacts. 

Coming Spring 2018

HE504 The Empire Writes Back: Literature from the (Post)Colonial World - Asst. Professor Naida Garcia-Crespo

This course will provide an introductory exploration of global colonial and postcolonial experiences and their literary representations. Although we will discuss key texts and ideas of postcolonial theory, the course’s primary focus is how literature can help us navigate the complexities of the colonial nation-building process. The course will have a particular emphasis on how postcolonial texts construct personal and national identities in relation to such categories as race, class, gender, and sexuality.

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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