Eleven courses, of which the following are required: 101, 220, six literature courses at the 300-level (two must be pre-1800 and two post-1800), 403 and 404. In addition, one elective to be selected from 101, any 200-level or 300-level. Only one Craft course (337 or 338) may count toward the six 300-level literature courses. At least two 300-level courses must be taken at Dickinson. Majors must also complete ENGL 300, a P/F non credit research course, taken in conjunction with the first 300-level literature course (except ENGL 337 or 338).

Students may declare an English major in the semester in which they are enrolled in 220. When they declare, students and their faculty advisors will jointly design a schedule of advanced courses which, taking into account student interests, offers some breadth in approach and subject matter while enabling an examination of a particular area in some depth.

Transfer students and others who need a special schedule for completing the major must have their programs approved by the chairperson.


Six courses, including the two introductory courses (101, 220) and a minimum of three courses at the advanced literature level (320-399), at least one of which must involve works written before 1800.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The English Major requires eleven courses, but we find that the more successful students may take more than he required courses in the major. We encourage study abroad. Our program in Norwich, England, at the University of East Anglia, is convenient and enriching for our students; the credits transfer back to Dickinson easily. We also have a selective program at Mansfield College, Oxford for students with a 3.7 GPA or above. Successful admission to this program requires that a student show depth in the major by second semester of the sophomore year; please consult Dickinson's  Mansfield Oxford information on the Center for Global Studies and Engagement website. Many of our students also study in Cameroon, India, and other Asian and African countries; this study requires careful planning to ensure successful completion of the major.

The guidelines are written for the entering student who knows he or she wants to major in English. Rather than specify the courses that you “must” have in a given semester, the following is general advice regarding courses that we suggest you take during each year. You should think of these guidelines as giving you a fast track into the major – this provides maximum flexibility in your junior and senior year.

First Year
English 220 (or 101 and 220.)  220 is the gateway course to the major, so should be taken in the first year. 
Foreign language
First Year Seminar
Two courses at the 300 level (two of the 300s must be pre-1800, and two, post-1800)

Sophomore Year
Four courses at the 300 level
Continue with foreign language and other requirements. Focus upon courses relevant to the English major, such as English and American history, American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Art and Art History, Religion,  Philosophy, Music and Music History, Theater, Film, Sociology, Psychology, and Classical literature.

Junior Year
Four Courses at the 300 Level
If you study abroad, consider taking courses in literature and fields of strength to the host institution, including Film and new media, and global and post-colonial studies.

Senior Year
English 403 (fall--first semester of required senior seminar) 
English 404 (spring--second semester of required seminar) 
Two 300-level English courses
Finish all other requirements: (core courses, electives, language as needed)

For information regarding the suggested guidelines, please feel free to contact an English department faculty member.

Senior Thesis

The senior experience in the English department is a yearlong course, English 403-404. During the spring term, seniors will workshop their senior thesis in three parts. The process brings all participants together as writers and peer editors to produce a thesis between 35 and 50 pages. When you have chosen your topic, focus upon courses to support and deepen your inquiry.

Independent study and independent research

The English Department offers independent study and research in literature and in expository and creative writing for content not covered in regular courses. A list of professors and their special interests is available in the English office, 4th floor, East College 400. As a general rule, no more than two independent studies or independent research courses may be counted toward the major; exceptions must be approved by the department chairperson. Students must secure a professor with whom to study and submit proposals (covering topic, methodology, preparation, relevance to educational goals, bibliography or primary and secondary sources, director, and course requirements) normally in the semester before the study is to be undertaken. See the academic department coordinator for English for the necessary forms.


A select number of 404 theses may be recommended for departmental honors by the faculty members who are instructing sections of 403/404. Each candidate must produce a manuscript of truly extraordinary merit (breadth, depth, and sophistication), beyond the normal standards of the grade of "A." A project recommended for honors shall have come about as a result of one's independent research culminating during the workshop semester (404), and shall be awarded only by a vote of the English Department upon the recommendation of a faculty committee appointed by the Chair.


Students who are interested should gain experience by writing for The Dickinsonian or The Dickinson Review, the college's literary journal. English majors have done internships with state and local government agencies, newspapers, public relations firms, and the media.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Majors and prospective majors should investigate opportunities early in their sophomore year. The Dickinson Program in Norwich, England, and other overseas programs can be integrated into an English major's curricular requirements. The department chairperson should be contacted for details.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Belles Lettres Society
Founded in 1786, the Belles Lettres Society is one of the oldest active literary societies in the country. In addition to sponsoring a variety of events for Dickinson writers and readers, Belles Lettres publishes The Dickinson Review, a national literary magazine.

Majors have sought out occasions to publish their writing, including in the Dickinsonian, the Square, the Dickinson Magazine, and the Carlisle Sentinel.



Introductory Courses
These courses are designed to introduce students to serious literary study from a variety of perspectives, both intrinsic and extrinsic. They consist of entry-level courses in the major, the first of which is also offered for students who do not intend to major in English.

101 Texts and Contexts
Close reading (formal analysis) of texts interpreted in the contexts (e.g., cultural, historical, biographical, economic, political) that shape and are shaped by them. Topics may include the African novel, early American literature, Caribbean literature, Shakespeare on film, the romance, the quest, images of women, 19th century literature, contemporary American fiction, and American Indian literature.

220 Introduction to Literary Studies
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice.
This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

Rhetoric, Language, and Writing Courses
These courses, open to majors and non-majors alike, explore the nature of language and the rhetorical practices of expository and/or creative writing. These courses do not fulfill the DIV I. b. distribution requirement.

212 Writing: Special Topics
A course in analytical thinking and writing which develops expository skills through the exploration of such topics as literature, popular culture, sport in American life, and journalism. Seminars, workshops, group tutorials, or individual instruction.

213 Hist & Struct of English Lang
The origin and growth of British and American English, along with a survey of grammatical notions and methodologies from the traditional to the transformational. NOTE: The topic in the fall semester is "The Structure of English Grammar." The topic in the spring semester is "The History of the English Language."

214 Working with Writers: Theory and Practice
Designed primarily for students who serve as tutors in the Norman M. Eberly Writing Center as well as for future teachers, this course examines how people learn to write from both a theoretical and a hands-on perspective.
Prerequisite: permission of the Director of the Writing Program. This course is cross-listed as WRPG 214.

215 Memoir or Creative Non-Fiction
A workshop on the writing of memoir and personal essay.
Offered every two years.

216 Screenwriting
A writing workshop in a genre other than fiction, poetry, or memoir. May include screenwriting, playwriting, or other genres.
Offered every year.

218 Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction
An introductory creative writing workshop in poetry and fiction.This course is cross-listed as CRWR 218.

219 Topics in Creative Writing
May include memoir, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, biography, novel writing, graphic novel, playwriting, “genre” fiction (e.g., detective, sci-fi), subgenres of poetry (e.g., visual poetry), subgenres of fiction (e.g., Magical Realism), and other forms of non-analytical writing not routinely offered.This course is cross-listed as CRWR 219.

312 Advanced Expository Writing
Recommended for students with demonstrated competence in writing skills, this course pays special attention to sophisticated critical analysis, development of ideas, and style.
Prerequisite: permission of the instructor on the basis of a writing sample.

313 Linguistics, the Scientific Study of Natural Human Language
This course is concerned with the nature of language and communication, how it is structured and how it functions. In the first part of the course, we will deal with the structural components of language, of its sounds and words and syntax; in the second section we will discuss the properties of linguistic meaning and the ways speakers and groups of speakers differ from each other in the forms they use. Finally, we will examine how languages change over time and how languages are related.
Prerequisite: 220, or the appropriate intermediate language course or permission of the instructor.

316 Advanced Creative Writing: Special Topics
Creative writing at the advanced level in genres other than poetry and fiction.
Prerequisite: introductory course in appropriate genre. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 316.

317 Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction
Writing and discussion of fiction.
Prerequisite: 218 or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 317.

319 Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry
Writing and discussion of poetry.
Prerequisite: 218 or permission of the instructor. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 319.

417 Senior Creative Writing Workshop in Fiction
Capstone workshop for students minoring in creative writing with an emphasis in fiction.
Prerequisites: 101, 317. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 417.

418 Mixed Genre Workshop
Capstone workshop for students minoring with an emphasis in poetry or fiction. Students will work in one genre of their choice. In exceptional cases, a student may work in both genres with permission of the instructor.
Prerequisites: 101 and (317 or 319). This course is cross-listed as CRWR 418.

419 Senior Creative Writing Workshop in Poetry
Capstone workshop for students minoring in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry.
Prerequisites: 101, 319. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 419.

300 Literary Studies Research Lab
This P/F non-credit research course introduces students to research methodology for advanced literary studies. ENGL 300 is a co-requisite with a student's first 300-level literature course (except ENGL 337-338).

Advanced Courses in Literature, Theory, and Film
These courses deepen the discussions of the essential questions that one asks of literary texts, their authors, and their readers. As organized below, 300-level courses may emphasize one or more particular critical perspectives or reading methods, strengthening students' sense of themselves as readers. Courses at this level will ask students to evaluate and to make arguments based upon literary evidence and secondary sources while mastering various research techniques. NOTE: for all 300-level American literature courses, prerequisites are 220 or AMST 202 (American Studies majors only) or permission of the instructor.

Studies in Literature and Theory (320-329) Courses that highlight one or two critical perspectives in considering a body of literature or explore one or more literary theories.

320 History of Literary Theory
A historical survey of Western conceptions of the use and meaning of literature, from Aristotle to the present.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor. Does not fulfill the Division I. b distribution requirement.

327 Feminist Theory
Explores the connections between gender and literary expression by considering a variety of feminist theories (e.g., literary, cultural, psychoanalytic, deconstructionist) and primary texts.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor. Does not fulfill the DIV I. b. distribution requirement.

329 Special Topics in Literature and Theory
May include Shakespeare and psychology, word and image, the dark side of human nature, new historicism and the romantics, or Marxist approaches to the detective novel.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

Studies in Form and Genre (330-339) Courses that focus upon the formal properties of various works, or study genres as they develop within or across historical periods and/or cultures.

334 The Lyric
The lyric poem as English and American poets developed it from the 17th through the 20th century.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

335 Film Studies
Study of classic and other films grouped in a variety of ways. Topics may include Shakespeare and the cinema, world film, and the European cinema.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

337 The Craft of Fiction
This course will closely examine the tools, materials, and specific techniques used to create successful short stories and discuss The Masters as craftsmen (and craftswomen) in their trade. We'll begin with Chekhov and end with contemporaries such as Tobias Wolfe and Lorrie Moore. On the way we'll discuss the likes of Joyce, Fitzgerald, O'Connor, Cheever, and Carver.
Prerequisite: 101. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 337.

338 The Craft of Poetry
Looking mainly at modern and contemporary poetry, we will examine poems from the point of view of the apprentice poet, trying to figure out how the masters did it, and what, specifically, makes a poem succeed. To do so, we'll think about poems in the context in which they were written and the possibilities the poet could have chosen (but did not). There will be a research paper. Among the likely poets: W. H. Auden, Henri Cole, Alan Dugan, Robert Frost, Louise Glück, Robert Hayden, Seamus Heaney, Maxine Kumin, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, W. B. Yeats.
Prerequisite: 101. This course is cross-listed as CRWR 338.

339 Special Topics in Form & Genre
May include Renaissance tragedy, the romance, development of the novel, 17th-18th century satire and its classical models, or autobiography and memoir.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

Studies in Literature and Culture (340-349) Courses that emphasize the interplay of texts and their cultural or multicultural contexts.

345 Women Writers
Explores the connections between gender and literary expression by examining the social, cultural, and literary patterns linking the lives of women writers with their works.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

349 Special Topics in Literature and Culture
May include new literatures in English, African writing, twice-told tales, the emergence of the novel, Irish literature, and popular literature.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

Studies in Literature and History (350-389) Courses that focus upon the intersections and mutual influences of history and literature.

A. Studies in Literature written before 1800 (350-359) Courses, variously configured, involving works written by a number of authors within or across a number of literary periods up to 1800.

350 Studies in Medieval Literature
Explores texts written from the 9th to the 15th century in England and on the continent. Topics may include the medieval romance, 14th century literature, and the literature of courtly love.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

352 Studies in Renaissance Literature
Examines texts written in England from the late 15th to the late 17th century. Topics may include Renaissance drama, the Elizabethan sonnet, and 17th century poetry.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

354 Studies in Restoration and 18th Century Literature
Study of texts written in England from the late 17th to the end of the 18th century. Topics may include the poetry, drama, or prose fiction of the period.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

358 Studies in Early American Literature
Concentrates on texts produced before 1830 in America. Topics may include witchcraft at Salem, early American poetry, fiction in early America, and the origins of the American literary tradition.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

359 Special Topics in Literature before 1800
Focuses on texts and historical contexts that span the periods noted above. Topics may include medieval and Renaissance drama, images of women in medieval and Renaissance literature, Shakespeare's Chaucer, or culture and anarchy in the 18th century.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

B. Studies in 19th and 20th Century Literature (360-379) Courses, variously configured, which involve, for the most part, works written from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century in Britain (including its empire) and the United States.

360 Studies in 19th Century British Literature
Examines works written by a number of authors in the Romantic and Victorian eras. Topics may include Romantic and Victorian poetry and the 19th century novel.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

364 Studies in Modern Fiction and Poetry
Examines works by a number of authors in the modernist tradition. Topics may include the modern novel or modern Anglo-American poetry.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

366 Studies in Drama
Examines the dramatic literature of the Western world from the formative period of the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, with emphasis on performance values and close reading of scripts. Topics may include modern drama and American drama.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

370 Studies in American Literature
Explores texts written in America after 1830, for the most part. Topics may include the American renaissance, American autobiography, and American poetry.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

374 Studies in the American Novel
Examines novels by a number of authors in the context of American Culture.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

375 Studies in African-American Literature
Courses examine the range of texts which compose the African-American literary canon. Topics address the authors' adoptions of various genres (poetry, slave narrative, short story, novel, and drama) to address such themes as slavery, racial uplift, Black subjectivity, history, class and community.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

379 Special Topics in 19th and 20th Century Literature
May include romantic postmodernism, the Irish renaissance, post-colonial literature, the Edwardians, and political literature between the world wars.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

C. Studies in Contemporary Literature (380-389) Courses, variously configured, involving works written by a number of authors from the mid-20th century to the present.

381 Contemp Literatures in English
Study of writing in English by authors from South Asia, Africa, the West Indies and other regions where English is now written and spoken.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

383 Contemporary American Literature
Study of poetry, novels, short stories, and (fictive elements in) autobiographies by contemporary Americans, with special attention to interconnections between literature and the era.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

387 Contemporary Drama
Drama in the contemporary Western world with emphasis upon performance values and close reading of scripts. Plays by O'Neill, Sartre, Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter, Williams, Miller, Mamet, Stoppard, Fugard, and others.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

389 Special Topics in Contemporary Literature
May include contemporary American poetry, post-modern British and American fiction, Anglo-Irish poetry, and contemporary women writers.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

Authorial Studies (390-399)
Courses devoted to the literary corpus of one or two authors, with special emphasis on the interaction between the authors' lives and their art, and on the question of their canonical status.

390 Chaucer
The poet and his century, with emphasis on The Canterbury Tales.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

392 Shakespeare
A selection of plays and poems, seen from various critical perspectives, which emphasizes the development and distinctiveness of the author.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.

394 Milton
Detailed study of the poetry and prose with emphasis on the development of Milton as a poet.
Prerequisite: 220 or the permission of the instructor.

396 Toni Morrison
This seminar explores the imaginative (novels, short stories) and critical works of Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. The course also traces Toni Morrison's development as a literary and cultural critic.
Prerequisite: 220 or the permission of the instructor.

399 Topics in Authorial Studies
May include Donne and Herbert, Pope, Austen in her time; Wordsworth, Willa Cather, Woolf, Hemingway and Faulkner.
Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

The Senior Experience
This final two-semester sequence of courses in the major seeks to draw upon the student's critical and creative independence by offering seminars and workshops whose topics are shaped partly by student interest.

403 Senior Literature Seminar
Demonstration, under close supervision, of a command of the critical reading and writing expected of a student major in English. Various topics and approaches. Students who fail ENGL 300 CALM Lab will be prohibited from registering for 403 without permission of the department chair. Students enrolled in ENGL 300 CALM Lab during the 403 who fail to complete ENGL 300 will also fail ENGL 403.
Prerequisite: Open to senior English majors who have passed ENGL 300.

404 Senior Thesis Workshop
A workshop requiring students to share discoveries and problems as they produce a lengthy manuscript based on a topic of their own choosing, subject to the approval of the instructor.
Prerequisites: 300 and 403.