Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We're talking curricular stuff in lit again, and I'm trying to think about how we can organize our lit major.

At this point, we're organized in terms of time/geography, mostly, with a nod to some other areas. So, for example, we require students to take an early Brit, late Brit, early Am, late Am, Am ethnic, World, and Women's lit. We allow students to double count a women's lit course. (So, for example, a course on American Indian Women writers could count for women's lit and Am ethnic lit. Or it could count for an earlier OR later Am lit and women's lit. But it can't count for both Am and Am ethnic lit for one student.) (These are in addition to some core courses in theory, linguistics, and text studies.)

There are difficulties, and some folks think we need to change.

I'm looking for other ways to think about organizing an English lit major. The core has to be something that the department as a whole agrees with, but we can rethink our lit part. And I need your help. Can you point me to interesting ways to organize an English lit major, please?

ps. We have other English majors, and they organize their stuff as they think best. We work with a common core for our students, and students can take courses in other areas somewhat.

Here are a couple I've looked at:




(I've just glanced around, and these are some that seem not to be basically time/geography based.)


  1. Check out Dickinson:

  2. Wow, I'm getting to this really late.

    We redesigned our major a couple of years ago. We kept the period/area requirements and a couple of others (intro to the major, capstone, Shakespeare & linguistics), but we added a skills sequence and renumbered all our courses while also cleaning old ones out of the catalogue and adding new ones.

    100-level courses are comp only.

    200-level courses are surveys, and majors may take no more than two for credit.

    Our intro to lit analysis course is now a gateway course (previously it could be taken at any time), but it's at the 300-level to make sure transfer students can get upper-division credit.

    300-349 courses focus on close-reading skills (students must take 2).

    350-399 courses examine literary texts in some kind of context--historical, theoretical, scholarly-critical, etc. (students must take 2).

    400-level courses are seminars, and should involve a longer research project (students must take 1).

    And then there's a senior capstone, with a major research project.

    It's a little bit complicated when it comes to advisement, and we haven't been able to hold as rigidly to the system of pre-reqs that we intended, but I think it's been quite successful.