English Literature

The English department faculty invites students who love stories, words, and writing. The literature major provides a substantial background in the history of British, American, and world literature, literary theory, and cultural studies. It can easily be combined with other majors and minors, and is compatible with off-campus and study abroad programs. This major provides excellent preparation for graduate study in literary or cultural studies.

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Major requirements

ENG 375 - Early British Literature
(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) A journey through ten centuries of British literature, from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, culminating in the great Christian epic, Milton's Paradise Lost. Prerequisite: ENG250LC.
ENG 450SR - Aesthetic Experience and the Christian Faith
Students in this Senior Seminar will consider the role of the arts in their lives, both as they have studied the arts at Northwestern, and as the arts will find a place in their lives going forward. As works of art develop in the artist's concentrated attention, the state we call "inspiration," so the experience of the work of art is an experience of concentrated attention to the thing itself, losing oneself in the work. While interpretation of the work in the broadest sense (both recognizing its structure and identifying its essential themes) can help to enrich the experience, the experience itself is the point. For aesthetic experience responds to the call of beauty, and in it we enter the presence of God. Prerequisites: Literature major or permission of instructor. (4 credits)
ENG 480 - Special Topics in Literature and Culture
In this seminar we analyze interpretive problems in literature and their relation to cultural theories and conditions. Particular attention is given to questions germane to Christian experience and thought. (4 credits, non-yearly, consult department)
Choose one course: 4
ENG 225 - Literature of the Developing World
To paraphrase Salman Rushdie, the Empire has written back. The last half of the 20th century has produced a number of literary texts written in English by authors from the recently independent nations of the Old British Empire. These texts have proved so rich in both literary value and cultural context that their authors, Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Chinua Achebe, and Rushdie himself, have won the most prestigious literary prizes available. We will be reading and appreciating these books, both as ripping good yarns, and as significant cultural documents that teach us much of how members of other societies think, feel, and act. Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
ENG 238 - Literature and Film
The course introduces students to the art of adaptation of texts. Although we are frequently viewers of film, we are not always good readers and interpreters of visual texts. Students in this class will read original literary texts and then view the film adaptations of those texts. Through class discussion and writing about adaptations, students will learn how to read a film intelligently and understand the place of film as a literary form. Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 2-4
ENG 290WI - The Art of the Essay
(2 credits)(Writing intensive) A study of some of the best contemporary American non-fiction writing on such subjects as politics, the arts, religion, natural science and medicine. Students write on similar topics and develop their own style by emulating such models. Prerequisites: sophomore class standing or permission of instructor.
ENG 292WI - Introduction to Narrative and Verse
Students will be introduced to the foundations of reading and writing narrative and verse (fiction and poetry) and will, through an exploration of a wide range of styles, come to understand both the historical aspects of each genre (i.e. how the art's been practiced and done before) and how those genres are currently practiced (i.e. what's poetry and fiction look like today?). Students will learn to read work closely and actively, as writers, and will learn how to be in communication (both written and oral) with text. (4 credits) (Writing intensive)
Choose one course: 4
ENG 280 - Shakespeare
William Shakespeare never attended college, yet he saw the world sharply in his mind's eye. He wrote piercingly about kings and college students, warriors and witches, goblins and gravediggers, his 1,000 characters have never been off the stage in 400 years. In this course we read eight plays which fathom the range of human experience and take the English language to the height of expressive beauty. Prerequisite: ENG250LC (4 credits, alternate years)
ENG 345 - Linguistic Perspectives on English
In this course, we learn the rudiments of language study, trace the history of English, and gain a rigorous appreciation for the power of words. We follow the English language from its origin in a warlike Germanic tribe to its present state as the dominant medium of international communication. We learn the historical reasons for our irregular spelling and enormous lexicon. We sample varieties of English across America and throughout the world. Along the way, we learn to read basic Old and Middle English, challenge common assumptions about the nature of language, and confront the devastation of the world's linguistic ecology. (4 credits; alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4
ENG 346 - American Literature I
A study of prose and poetry in the United States from America's beginnings through the end of the Civil War. The course will focus on the works of Colonial and Romantic writers and the literatures of Native and African Americans. Special attention will be given to defining the qualities and concerns that make this literature distinctively "American." Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
ENG 347 - American Literature II
A study of prose and poetry in the United States from the Civil War until the present. The course will study works by realists (including regionalists) and modernists, as well as contemporary writers. Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4
ENG 378 - English Nineteenth-Century Literature
The industrial revolution resulted in an urbanized, more literate population. Writers of the time sought to reach a popular audience in a way unparalleled in English literary history. We shall read Austen, Wordsworth, Dickens, Eliot and their contemporaries, examining what they thought of and had to say to the common people of their day. Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
ENG 379 - English Twentieth-Century Literature
England was largely depopulated of young men and nearly reduced to rubble by two world wars. The nation that arose, stripped of its empire, has continued to be a literary center. We shall read Shaw, Yeats, Eliot, Heaney and others, examining how they have analyzed and expressed the modern human condition. Prerequisite: ENG250LC. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4
ENG 385 - Literature of Place
Some writers are especially interested in the ways people transform places and the ways places influence people. The elements of a place--the mountain ranges, shopping malls, grasslands, forests, migratory patterns of animals, rush of automobiles, or the portals of cyber-places-- shape the imagination. This course examines significant literary works, especially non-fiction, that explore the relationship between persons and places. In particular, we will examine the tension between the writer's need to construct definitions of "home places" and how the places themselves respond to human "home making." Prerequisite: ENG250LC (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
ENG 386 - The Other America
America is home to a variety of peoples and literatures; this course focuses on the development of literatures produced by those outside the Anglo-European tradition whose experiences tell a different story about America. The goal of the course is to enrich students' views of the content of American Literature and to familiarize them with a culture or cultures with which they may not be conversant. The course may be taught as African American, Native American, Asian American, or Hispanic American literature. Alternatively, the instructor may choose to focus on literatures in contact and conflict with one another, for example, the turbulent confluence of Native American, Anglo, and Hispanic Literatures of Nueva España. Note: See the instructor for the specific offering before enrolling. This course may be taken more than once, provided a different literature is studied. Prerequisite: ENG250LC (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)

Total credits required: 34-36

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