Major Requirements

The Literature Major in English

Your love of reading and the infinite worlds that books contain might be the door to a future full of possibilities. English Literature majors work closely with faculty to develop versatile skills in critical thought and problem solving by exploring the literary past and present— from Harry Potter to Hamlet and from Sherlock Holmes to Katniss Everdeen. Prepare yourself for an increasingly globalized world of professional employment and cultural interaction through an immense variety of course offerings, which can also be complemented by electives in English composition, creative writing, and film. Choose from among five subject areas, or “concentrations,” and take charge of your preparation for post-graduate career paths while immersing yourself in and analyzing many of the greatest works ever written. The skills you master as an English Literature major will go with you to classrooms, boardrooms, or operating rooms.

Read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the major. 

The Literature major offers five concentrations, along with a sixth option for a self-designed track, with a total of 12 courses (36 credits). The concentrations and their designated courses are listed below.


Note: These are the regular, designated courses for each concentration. We’ll update this list often and will add new courses in the coming years, too. Some titles have been changed; if you think you have already taken a course in a concentration under its old title, consult the course listing (ENGLIT xxxx) to verify that it’s the same one.

Required Courses:

ENGLIT 0506: Literary Field Studies

ENGLIT 1900: Project Seminar in Research Methods

ENGLIT 1910: Senior Seminar

Historical Period courses:

Choose any two period courses from your concentration.


Choose any seven elective courses; at least four of them should come from your chosen area of concentration. Students can apply for approval from the Literature Director to count an elective not previously listed in a given area of concentration.

  • All electives must be 0500-level or above, and at least three of them must be at the 1000-level. Download an easy-to-use chart of courses and the requirements they satisfy.
  • Students may take up to two courses from the other programs in English (Writing, Film, Composition) designated within their area of concentration. Approved courses are listed below; students can apply for special approval from the Literature Director to count others.
  • At least one course should fulfill the breadth of study requirement (marked with *). Depending on the syllabus and instructor, one of your required courses or a Special Topics course may fulfill this requirement—simply ask your advisor.

Note: Courses such as ENGLIT 1901: Independent Study, ENGLIT 1904: Undergraduate TA, and ENGLIT 1907: Literature Internship may count toward any concentration, depending on the nature of the student’s work. Please consult the advising office for proper credit.

Africana Studies–English Literature Joint Major

The joint major offers an especially coherent experience in interdisciplinary learning by bringing together Africana studies and English literature in two interrelated ways. Students get a rich and rigorous exposure to African and African Diaspora literature written in English through literature produced in the United States, Africa, Canada, Great Britain, and the Caribbean. Additionally, students examine some of the significant relationships between African and African Diaspora works and a range of English language literary traditions.

The major is designed to expose students to important questions and traditions in literary interpretation and to offer them political, social, and cultural contexts for the literature they will be reading. Like most liberal arts majors, it helps students learn to think analytically and to make and assess arguments, skills that are important in many jobs and courses of graduate study. To find out more about completing the Africana Studies-English Joint Major, contact the English Advisors and visit the Africana Studies Web site.