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The English Department offers literature courses in all periods, genres, and major authors, as well as seminars in particular topics and in broad literary and historical issues. The major in English builds upon the close reading and detailed analysis of literary texts; the investigation of the central political, cultural, and ideological issues occasioned by those texts, particularly issues of race, gender, and class; and the consideration of various critical approaches, methods of inquiry, and strategies of interpretation. There is a creative writing program in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. The department also offers special-topic courses and supervises about 50 independent study projects and 15 honors theses each year. English is one of the most useful majors for those who want to attend professional schools of law, medicine, and business, as well as for those seeking jobs in commerce, industry, and government. Some majors become teachers; some become writers; some go into journalism, library science, or publishing. Students interested in teaching, private and public, are urged to read the “Education” section of the catalogue and to contact a member of the Education Program.

The department also encourages interdepartmental and interdisciplinary studies and supports the programs in American Studies; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Theater and Dance.


Requirements for the Major in Literature Written in English

English 172, 271; four 200- or 300-level courses; two 400-level studies in special subjects; two additional courses, which may be chosen from advanced courses in English or American literature, creative writing, or literature in other languages or in translation; one additional 300- or 400-level English course; one senior seminar (English 493). At least three of these courses must be courses in which the major focus is upon literature written in English before 1800 and at least three upon literature written in English after 1800. All choices of advanced courses should be planned carefully with the major advisor, who must approve them.

Courses that do not count toward the major are: English 214, 278, 279, and 474. The only 100-level English course that counts toward the major is English 172. Two of the cross-listed theater and dance courses may count toward the English major.

The point scale for retention of the major applies to all English courses that may be used to fulfill major requirements. No requirement for the major may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

Honors in English

Students who meet the prerequisite, define a project, and secure the support of a tutor may elect to take English 483, 484, the Honors Thesis, and, upon successful completion, graduate “With Honors in English.”

Students planning to continue the study of English in graduate school should confer with their advisors to be sure that they have planned a substantial and adequate curriculum. They should be proficient in at least one foreign language. Most universities require two languages, and some require a classical language as well. Work in classical or foreign literature, history, philosophy, art, music, and some of the social sciences reinforces preparation in the major and enhances one’s chances for success in graduate study.

Requirements for the Concentration in Creative Writing

In addition to the requirements for the English major: four writing workshops at the 200-level or above. These courses include 278, 279, 378, 379, 380, 382, 385, 478, and 480. Students may count Beginning Playwriting (Theater and Dance 141) as one of their creative writing courses.

Students are encouraged to take at least one class in a genre other than their sequence genre. Students should note that creative nonfiction classes are not offered as frequently as fiction and poetry classes.




Colby College reserves the right in its sole judgement to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, academic schedule, fees, deposits, or any other matters in this catalogue.