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Honors Majors and Minors

Note: For important information about which courses do or do not count toward the historical or general requirements for the major or minor (which Honors students also need to complete), refer to Important things to know regarding credits toward an English Literature major or minor

Honors Major

English Literature majors who seek a degree with Honors will, in the spring of their sophomore year, propose for external examination a program consisting of four preparations: three in English and one in a minor. Honors majors must complete all general requirements for the English course major, a total of 9 credits in English Literature, with the exception of ENGL 099, the Senior Course Majors’ Colloquium.

Students interested in pursuing honors within a faculty-approved interdisciplinary major, program, or concentration that draws on advanced English courses or seminars should consult with the department chair for early help in planning their program.

The three Honors preparations in the English Literature major (constituting six credit units) must include preparations from at least two of the following historical periods:

  • Medieval and Renaissance literature (Med/Ren)
  • 18th and 19th century literature (18th/19th c.)
  • 20th and 21st century literature (20th/21st c.)

The three preparations will normally be done through seminars, though if approved by the Department, one preparation may be a thesis or creative writing project. Students who wish either to write a thesis or pursue a creative writing project under faculty supervision as part of the Honors Program must submit proposals to the department; the number of these ventures the department can sponsor each year is limited. Students who propose creative writing projects will normally be expected to have completed at least one writing workshop as part of, or as a prelude to, the project; the Honors preparation presented for examination will thus normally consist of a 1- credit workshop plus a 1-credit directed creative writing project. For further information, consult with the department chair or the Director of the Program in Creative Writing, Professor Chinelo Okparanta.

As for course majors, Honors majors are expected to identify a concentration of at least three English literature credits within the major based on their own interests and goals. Students define this concentration, but are encouraged to discuss their course choices with a member of the department. Sample concentration topics: one of the three historical periods; American, African-American, or Asian-American literature; theory; digital humanities; creative writing; or a particular genre, such as fiction or poetry. Students define their potential concentration within the major as part of their sophomore plan, but may modify their plan as needed during junior or senior year.

Honors Minor 

Students seeking an English Literature Honors minor must do a single, two-credit preparation in the department, normally by means of a seminar (or under special circumstances, a creative writing project); the thesis option is available only to majors.

Honors minors must complete all general requirements for the English course minor, a total of 5 credits in English Literature.

Honors Examinations and Senior Honors Study (SHS)

English Honors preparations consisting of seminars or course combinations will be assessed by a 3‑hour written examination set by an external examiner. Written examinations will be followed by oral examinations of 30-45 minutes. Honors preparations fulfilled through seminars or courses also require an SHS submission to be reviewed by the Honors examiner.

A 2-credit thesis or a creative writing portfolio will be examined in a 45-60 minute oral examination.  A thesis or creative writing project does not require an additional SHS submission or a written exam. 

For the SHS requirement, Honors Majors and Minors will revise one paper per seminar for their portfolio and submit that portfolio to their external examiners. In the case of course combinations used as Honors preparations, students can either present two shorter revised essays (one from each class) or synthesize materials from earlier essays to create a new essay bridging the two classes. In either case, SHS submissions can be a maximum of 4,000 words.

Important things to know regarding credits toward an English Literature major or minor
  • First Year Seminars (English 008 and 009A – 009Z) and Creative Writing courses count toward the major or minor but do not fulfill historical requirements.
  • Creative Writing workshops are graded CR/NC; many students take a number of creative writing workshops toward the major.
  • Academic Writing courses (ENGL 1F, G, etc. or C, Writing Pedagogy) and Journalism classes do not count toward the major or minor.
  • If awarded, AP/IB credit can be used toward the major or minor, but it does not satisfy a historical requirement.