Through a wide range of courses, students develop the ability to read closely and to engage in skilled textual analysis. They gain a sense of diverse literary histories and an understanding of literary genres. Deepening their engagement with literature, they formulate and test questions about texts and compare them critically. Students learn to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of critical sources, methods, and interpretations and to negotiate among them. Discussions and course work require students to develop their own ideas about texts and to present those ideas in an articulate, responsive, and insightful manner, in both speech and writing. The English major prepares students for careers such as teaching, publishing, and writing, for graduate study in literature, and for graduate programs leading to the study or practice of medicine or law.

Departmental offerings are intended to be taken in sequence. Courses at the 100 level are open to all students. Courses at the 200 level are more difficult in both the amount of material covered and the level of inquiry; they also address questions of theory and methodology in more self-conscious ways. Most 200-level courses have prerequisites. Seminars at the 300 level are generally for juniors and seniors who have completed several English courses (the latter requirement may be waived at the discretion of the instructor for certain interdisciplinary majors). More information on the English department is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Majors must complete eleven courses of which a minimum of seven must be taken from Bates faculty in the English department.

Requirements for the classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017:
The eleven courses must include:

1) One or two courses at the 100 level. The following first-year seminars may count toward the major as the equivalent of 100-level courses:
FYS 334. Film Art.
FYS 341. King Arthur: Myth and Legend.
FYS 420. Reading the Lord of the Rings.

2) Nine or ten courses at the 200 level or above. Upper-level courses must include:

a) three courses on literature before 1800, marked (Pre-1800.)
b) one course emphasizing critical thinking, marked (Critical Thinking.)
c) two junior-senior seminars
d) a senior thesis (ENG 457), which may be undertaken independently or as part of a junior-senior seminar (457 with a thesis written through 395A, for example). Although writing a thesis through a seminar may fulfill both a seminar requirement and the thesis requirement, it counts as a single course credit.

No English Short Term courses may be counted toward the major.

Students may count one course in creative writing toward the major.

Students may count any two literature courses outside the department toward the English major, including a) foreign-literature courses (with a primary focus on literature rather than on language instruction). Foreign-literature courses include those focusing on Greek and Latin literature; the English department strongly recommends that majors take a course in Homer, Virgil, Ovid, or classical mythology. These courses are listed under the Program in Classical and Medieval Studies. b) literature courses offered by the Department of Theater and Dance (with a primary emphasis on literature not production).

Students may receive no more than two credits for junior-semester-abroad courses, and, normally, no more than two credits for junior-year-abroad courses. Under special circumstances, and upon written petition to the English department, junior-year-abroad students may receive credit for three courses.

One course credit is granted for Advanced Placement scores of four or five, but these credits count only toward overall graduation requirements, not toward the eleven-course major requirement.

Requirements for the Class of 2018 and beyond:.
1) The eleven courses required for the major include one or two courses at the 100-level and nine or ten courses at the 200-level or above. Of the eleven courses:
a) three must be on literature before 1800 (one must be medieval; only one may be on Shakespeare)
b) three must be on literature after 1800
c) two must examine race, ethnicity, or diasporic literature
d) two must be junior-senior seminars
e) one must be the thesis (or two, in the case of an honors thesis or some creative writing theses) but my count toward them one creative writing course as well as the related literature courses and thesis.
f) one is the required methods course.

2) Course on critical methods and modes of inquiry, a prerequisite for the senior thesis. Students are strongly advised to take the critical methods course in their sophomore year. Students are also strongly encouraged to take a critical theory course before the senior year.

3) Development of a portfolio. During the Short Term of their sophomore year, declared English majors begin to assemble a portfolio of their most significant (that is, ambitious, accomplished, representative) written work for courses in the major. The portfolio includes critical essays written for 100-, 200-, or 300-level courses, and if relevant to the individual major's plans, also creative work in fiction or poetry. During the winter or Short Term of the majors junior year, the departmental and/or potential thesis advisors meet to review the portfolio as an aid to the department of the student's thesis plans.

Creative Writing. English majors may elect a program in creative writing. This program is intended to complement and enhance the English major and to add structure and a sense of purpose to those students already committed to creative writing. Students who wish to write a creative thesis must undertake this program.

Requirements for the focus on creative writing include:

1) Two introductory courses in the writing of prose (291), poetry (292), or drama (THEA 240).

2) One advanced course in the writing of prose or poetry (391 or 392).

3) Three related courses in the English department or in the literature of a foreign language.

4) A one- or two-semester thesis (nonhonors) in which the student writes and revises a portfolio of creative work.

Students who elect the creative writing concentration must fulfill all English major requirements but may count toward them one creative writing course as well as the related literature courses and thesis.

Honors. With departmental approval, students may write a two-semester honors thesis in the senior year. Majors who wish to present themselves as potential honors candidates are encouraged to register for at least one junior-senior seminar in their junior year. Majors who elect to participate in a junior-year-abroad program and who also want to present themselves as honors candidates must submit evidence of broadly comparable course work or independent study pursued elsewhere; such persons are encouraged to consult with the department before their departure or early in their year abroad. At the end of their junior year, prospective honors candidates must submit a two-page proposal and a one-page bibliography; those wishing to write a two-semester creative thesis must submit a one-page description of a project and a substantial writing sample. Both are due at the department chair's office on the first Friday of the Short Term.

Graduate Study. Students planning to do graduate work should seek advice early concerning their undergraduate program, the range of graduate school experience, and vocational options. Graduate programs frequently require reading proficiency in up to two foreign languages, so it is strongly recommended that prospective graduate students achieve at least a two-year proficiency in a classical (Latin, Greek) or modern language.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses counting toward the major.