Academic Program

Seminar meeting

This department offers courses in English literature, American literature, Native American literature, African and Caribbean literatures, Asian and Asian American literatures, gay and lesbian literatures, drama, film, some foreign literatures in translation, creative writing, critical theory, and journalism.

The departmental curriculum includes the intensive study of works of major writers, major periods of literary history, and the development of literary types; it also provides experience in several critical approaches to literature and dramatic art and explores certain theoretical considerations implicit in literary study, such as the problematics of canon formation and the impact of gender on the creation and reception of literary works.

Students who plan to do graduate work, follow a course of professional training, or seek teacher certification in English should see a member of the department for early help in planning their programs, as should students who plan to include work in English literature in a special or cross-disciplinary major, or in a program with a concentration.


The English Department offers two different types of introductory courses. The first are First Year Seminars for incoming freshmen only. All First Year Seminars in English will count as Humanities W courses.

We also offer Core Courses (CC), which are especially recommended for first- and second-year students, though they are open to all. Core Courses are designed to pay special attention to one or more of the following: close reading, historical context, secondary (ie. theoretical or critical) reading, or genre. There are no prerequisites for these courses other than a W course from any department on campus. Students are welcome to take more than one Core Course.

Requirements for admission to the English major

  1. First Year Seminar in literature from English OR a W [Writing] course taken from any department at Swarthmore followed by any upper-level course (except 070A-070K). A "Core Course" is especially recommended for a student's first or second English Literature course.
  2. followed by one other English upper-level course (except 070A-070K)

Prerequisites for admission to an upper-division course  (non-majors or prospective majors)

Freshmen and Sophomores: W from any department. If you have taken an English FYS there is no additional requirement.

Juniors and Seniors: no prerequisites. We recommend but do not require that students take a Core Course before taking upper-division courses. It is assumed that under the new college requirements all Juniors and Seniors will have taken at least one W course somewhere on campus.

Note: First Year Seminars, English 008 and 009 A-Z, and English 070A- Z courses may not be counted as part of the pre- or post-1830 requirement.

Interdisciplinary Programs

Students planning interdisciplinary work that includes an English Literature seminar should know that the minimum requirement for consideration or admission to any seminar is two courses in English Literature. The English Department offers several courses cross-listed with other programs or departments.