Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
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


  • 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 2018

HE503: Slavery in American Culture - Professor Mark McWilliams

From the first literature by African Americans to epic treatment by some of America's greatest writers, from work songs and field hollers to gospel and the blues, from minstrelsy to recent films, slavery has haunted the imagination of the United States.  In this course we will examine how writers, musicians, artists, and thinkers have explored this central tragedy of American history.

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.

Coming Spring 2019

HE504: Trauma and Literature CDR Michael Flynn

This course will explore trauma and literature in broad terms, but with a focus on construction of narrative as therapy for trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, as well as literary representations of PTSD. Robert Graves, Tim O’Brien and Virginia Woolf (that in writing To the Lighthouse she supposed she did for herself “what psycho-analysts do for their patients”) have all written that the act of writing works of imaginative literature served as a therapy for their own trauma symptoms.

Homer, Boccaccio, Vonnegut, Hemingway and Juan Gabriel Vásquez have all created literary works in which, within the narrative discourse, their characters’ narrative reconstruction of their own stories served as psychological therapy for their PTSD symptoms.

Psychiatrist Jonathan Shay refers to the process of “communalization of trauma,” by which a victim of PTSD reasserts authority of his own fragmented and disjointed traumatic memories by constructing them into a coherent narrative in the telling of that narrative to a sympathetic listener. I will show this process at work in the fictional texts I have chosen for the course.


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.

go to Top