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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:


  • Victorian Vision: Art and Literature in the 19th Century
  • 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
  • Art and Literature of Augustan Rome


  • 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
  • The Empire Writes Back: Literature from the (Post)Colonial-World
  • Trauma and Literature
  • Early Modern Media

Coming Fall 2021

Satire from a Modest Proposal to The Daily Show - Asst. Professor Jane Wessel

Combine one part biting wit with two parts humor, a pinch of snark, and an agenda. What do you get? Satire. Living, as we are, in a media landscape saturated by satire (from Last Week Tonight to internet memes and headlines from The Onion circulating on social media), many students are able to recognize something as being satire without being able to articulate exactly what the genre is or how it works. Satire is the art of making an idea, a person, or all mankind ridiculous through laughter and derision. What has made the genre so popular and effective throughout ages and across cultures is its ability to make us laugh, while also deepening our understanding of the world. In this course, we will situate contemporary satire within a historical arc, tracing the form from its classical roots, continuing through the 18th century with Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries, and devoting the last segment of the course to satire today. We will study theories of satire, testing out these theories on our literary works, in order to become more critical readers of satiric texts published across a range of media. We will analyze satiric techniques; study satire alongside related genres, including adaptation and parody; and consider its political uses and dangers, particularly in moments of heightened political tension. 

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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