The English Program
English faculty strive to inspire in students a love for literature and for writing, to help students develop analytical and critical skills, and to guide students in improving their writing.
The program offers courses appropriate to students at all levels. Except for English 295, courses on the 200-level are designed for students from all disciplines. Courses on the 300-level may also appeal to a diverse audience but require a more sophisticated study of texts and more advanced writing. Courses on the 400-level offer a seminar experience in which students study a topic or theme in depth, frequently take charge of class discussions, and produce a major paper or project. To facilitate discussion and individual attention, the department limits enrollment in many classes to 15 to 25 students.
Students who pursue a major in English become familiar with the language, with literary theory, and with a variety of literatures in the language, including works outside the recognized canons. They practice literary and linguistic analysis, and they develop as writers of different modes and genres.
Many juniors and seniors enroll in internships to test classroom knowledge in the outside world and to explore career interests. Juniors and seniors with appropriate academic standing may also elect to pursue individual studies. An increasing number of students choose to study abroad.
Requirements for the English Major
The major requires thirty-six credits in English, Linguistics, and Communication courses as follows: LING 101; ENGL 295; five upper-level literature courses; one 300-level linguistics course; one 300-level writing course; one 400-level seminar; and six additional credits from the following: ENGL 200, any of the department’s 300- and 400-level courses, department-sponsored internships, and individual studies.
Creative Writing Concentration
The Creative Writing Concentration offers students the opportunity to focus on the craft and art of writing, editing, and analyzing their own original work, the work of established writers, and peer writers.
The concentration requires thirty-six credits in English, Linguistics, and Communication courses as follows: LING 101; ENGL 295; five creative writing courses (including 302A, 314, and a 400-level creative writing seminar); one 300-level linguistics course; three upper-level literature courses; and three additional credits from the following: ENGL 200, any of the department’s 300- and 400-level courses, department-sponsored internships, and individual studies.
English Course Offerings
English course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of ENGL in the course listings.
101 – Writing Workshop (3)
Instruction and practice in the fundamental techniques of expository and argumentative writing: organization, development, coherence, research methods, mechanics. Frequent workshop approach, with group and tutorial work.
200 – Newsgathering (3)
An introduction to the techniques of newsgathering, including practice in interviewing, reporting, and writing various kinds of news stories.
202—Writing Seminar (3)
Allows students to hone their writing skills while focusing on writing in a particular context. Topics vary by section; consult schedule of courses for specific topics.
205 – The Art of Literature (3)
An introductory course emphasizing the development of the genres of poetry, prose fiction, non-fiction, and drama. Using a historical perspective, students study the role of the reader, the surrounding culture, and the language of the text. The course offers students the tools of critical analysis and encourages the pleasures of close reading and the exchange of ideas.
206 – Global Issues in Literature (3)
An introductory course exploring multiple perspectives on a selected global theme or issue as expressed in literature. Attending to the pleasures of literature, the role of the reader, the language of the text, and the social context of literature, the course includes both historical and contemporary texts in traditional and non-traditional forms. It explores the contact zone between Anglo-European perspectives and disparate world cultures outside Western Europe and North America.
207 – Literature in Performance (3)
A performance course designed to enhance the performer’s appreciation and understanding of the great literature of the world – poetry, prose, and drama – by translating the printed page into the spoken word. Experience presenting material to both adults and children.
243 – Women in Literature (3)
Study of literature by or about women.
245 – Introduction to Film Studies (3)
Equips students to analyze and understand the art of film. Emphasizes narrative film within the Anglophone tradition.
251 – Issues in Literature (3)
Significant literary figures, movements, and topics. Specific topics vary.
295 –Methods of Advanced Literary Studies (3)
This course introduces students to literary theory and its applications, offers a framework for understanding the historical evolution of literary studies, and introduces students to a range of approaches to the study of texts. The course includes practice in writing commentary on literature. This course is required for English majors and appropriate for other students strongly interested in the analysis of literature.
300 – Principles of News Writing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 200 or permission of instructor. Practice in writing, reporting, and editing various kinds of news stories for print and online publication.
301 – Principles of Magazine Writing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 200 or permission of the instructor. Practice in writing, reporting, editing, and laying out various kinds of magazine articles, with emphasis on feature writing.
302 – Introduction to Creative Writing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 295 or permission of the instructor. Introduction to writing fiction and poetry. Primary emphasis on developing students’ abilities to write creatively, with periodic attention to examples from established writers.
304 – Creative Writing: Poetry (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 302 or permission of the instructor. An intermediate workshop focused on poetic techniques and writing poetry.
305 – Creative Writing: Fiction (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 302 or permission of the instructor. An intermediate workshop focused on narrative techniques and writing short fiction.
306 – Topics in Writing (3)
Practice in writing in certain styles and forms. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics and prerequisites.
307 – The Writing Process (3)
Study and practice of writing as a several-stage process, development of an understanding of what is good writing, development of the ability to criticize constructively one’s own writing and the writing of others.
309 – Chaucer and His Age (3)
The study of popular literature in England during the middle ages, with emphasis on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Anglo-Saxon heroic narrative, Piers Plowman, and the orginals of medieval drama.
310 – The Courtly Tradition in Medieval Literature (3)
Development of courtly literature in medieval England, including Chaucer’s Troilus and Creseyde, works of the Gawain poet, love lyrics, and native Arthurian material.
312 – Creative Writing: Non-Fiction (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 302 or permission of the instructor. Primary emphasis on developing students’ abilities to write nonfiction creatively, with periodic attention to examples from established writers.
313 – Special Topics in Creative Writing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 302 or permission of instructor. Practice in creative writing in various styles, genres, and forms. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
314—The Literary Journal: Professional Practice in Publishing and Editing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 302 or permission of the instructor. A study of the contemporary national literary journal. Students also design and produce an online journal.
317 – Sixteenth-Century British Literature (3)
Studies in non-dramatic literature of the English Renaissance circa 1485-1600. Substantial discussion of cultural contexts. Authors covered will range from Skelton through Spenser, with particular attention to The Faerie Queene.
319 – Shakespeare: The Early Plays (3)
Shakespeare’s early development, focusing on the comedies and history plays.
320 – Shakespeare: The Later Plays (3)
Shakespeare’s later development, focusing on the tragedies, problem plays, and final romances.
322 – Seventeenth-Century British Literature (3)
Studies in the non-dramatic literature of the English Renaissance circa 1600-1667. Substantial discussion of cultural contexts. Authors covered will range from Donne through Marvell.
325 – Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature (3)
British literature from 1660-1740. Poetry, plays, and novels by Dryden, Behn, Swift, Pope, Defoe, Fielding, or others. Emphasis on satire and the birth of the novel.
326 – Late Eighteenth-Century British Literature (3)
Novels, poetry, plays, and nonfiction by such writers as Johnson, Burney, Equiano, Sheridan, Austen, and Blake. Emphasis on cultural controversies and literary experimentation.
327—Jane Austen (3)
A study of the six great novels. May also include attention to the shorter works, Austen’s predecessors, successors, and/or film adaptations.
328 – New World Writing in the Colonial Period (3)
This course examines writings from North America, South America, and the Caribbean during the period of exploration, settlement, and conquest. Selections range from 15th-century European travel accounts to 19th-century declarations of national independence. Topics include cultural traditions before European contact, paradigms of New World encounters, race and transculturation, Amerindian and African slavery, and revolutions across the hemisphere.
329 – Literature and Nation-Building in the Americas (3)
This course examines writings from North America, South America, and the Caribbean in relation to the establishment of independent nation-states starting in the late eighteenth century. Topics include the emergence of national literary traditions, Native Americans and the frontier, race and miscegenation, the experience of industrialization, democracy and dictatorship, New World plantation cultures, and the rise of border literature after the U.S.-Mexican War.
330 – Hemispheric Fiction of the Global Age (3)
This course examines the wide cultural impact of modernity and postmodernity on the literatures of North America, South America, and the Carribbean. Topics include the construction of American usable pasts, the impact of immigration into the Americans, environmentalism and multinational capitalism among other issues.
335 – British Romantic Literature (3)
Late 18th- and early 19th-century British literature. Emphasis on topical focus points such as the French Revolution and abolition. Writers include Keats, More, Robinson, P. B. Shelley, Wollstonecraft, and W. Wordsworth.
336 – British Victorian Literature (3)
British literature from 1830-1914. Emphasis on topical focus points such as The Woman Question and imperialism. Writers include E. B. Browning, R. Browning, Dickens, C. Rossetti, Tennyson, and Wilde.
338 – British Victorian Novel (3)
This reading-intensive course will cover writers such as the Brontes, Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy. It also may include significant precursors (such as Austen) and/or successors (such as Ford).
340 – Modern British Fiction (3)
Studies in the forms, themes and politics of British fiction, with special emphasis on the genre of the novel, between approximately 1900 and 1945.
342 – Contemporary British Fiction (3)
Studies in the forms, themes and politics of British fiction, with special emphasis on the genre of the novel, from approximately 1945 to the present.
345 – Film, Text, and Culture (3)
Advanced study in narrative and non-narrative films, focusing on the analysis of films as texts and in relation to other texts (literary, visual, musical, etc.). Consideration of film texts as they originate in, and express, human society.
352 – African American Literature Pre-1900 (3)
A chronological exploration of poetry, short stories, plays, slave narratives, autobiographies, and other forms of non-fiction written by people of African descent in the United States pre-1900. In addition to its primary focus on literature, the course also explores the interconnections between early African American literature and history, politics, gender, class, race, psychology, and economics.
353 – Asian American Literature (3)
The study of texts produced by Asian American authors of diverse national or ethnic backgrounds. Introduces Asian American literary criticism and theory.
354 – African American Literature Post-1900 (3)
A chronological exploration of poetry, autobiographies, non-fiction, short stories, novels, plays, and neo-slave narratives written by people of African descent in the U.S. post 1900. In addition to its primary focus on literature, the course also explores the interconnections between African American literature and history, politics, psychology, popular culture, and economics.
355 – American Romanticism (3)
Expressions of and challenges to 19th-century American romantic ideology in prose and poetry. May include such writers as Emerson, Fuller, Hawthorne, Alcott, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson.
356 – American Realism (3)
Exploration of literary realism in American fiction of the 19th- and early 20th-centuries. Includes writers across a spectrum of race, gender, class, and geographical focus, such as Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, Charles Chesnutt, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Stephen Crane.
357 – Southern Literature (3)
A representative survey of the literature of the U.S. South from the early 19th century until the present.
358 – Modern American Fiction (3)
Studies in the forms, themes and politics of American fiction, with special emphasis on the genre of the novel, between approximately 1900 and 1945.
359 – Transmedia Fiction (3)
Surveys transmedia fiction: narratives conveyed simultaneously through distinct but complementary media, including film, video games, comics, or music. Students examine major and emerging texts in this genre and engage with current creative practice in the field by producing their own transmedia work.
360 – The Literature of Resistance (3)
Studies in modern literature dealing with current international socio-political conflicts in such regions as Ireland, the Middle East, and South Africa.
361 – Caribbean Literature (3)
Studies in themes, movements, significant literary figures and problems in 20th-century Caribbean literature.
362 – Women of Color (3)
Studies in themes, movements, significant literary figures and problems in literature concerning 20th-century women of color.
363 – Nobel Laureates of the Non-West (3)
Studies in themes, movements, significant literary figures and problems in the works of the Nobel Laureates from the Non-West.
364 – Contemporary Asian Novel (3)
Studies in themes, movements, significant literary figures and problems in 20th-century fiction of Asia.
365 – Modern Drama (3)
Studies in the development of modern dramatic literature and its aesthetic, political, and performative contexts. The course examines the work of individual dramatists, directors, theorists, and theater scholars.
366 – Modern Poetry (3)
Transatlantic study of the themes, techniques, and forms of modern poets from approximately 1880-1945.
368 – African Literature (3)
Major themes, movements, significant literary figures and problems in 20th-century African literature.
369 – Women and Modernism (3)
A study of women’s literature in the period called Modernism (roughly 1890-1945), positioned in its sociohistorical context. We will also consider gendered theories of the traditional Modernist aesthetic and the usefulness of codified definitions of Modernism in reading women’s writing.
371 – Contemporary Poetry (3)
Studies in poetic themes, techniques, forms, and theories or movements since 1945, including discussion of social and historical contexts.
372 – Contemporary Drama and Performance Studies (3)
Studies in the forms, themes and politics of contemporary dramatic literature from roughly 1960 to the present, with special emphasis on its relation to competing notions of performance and theatre.
375, 376 – Special Studies (3,3)
Studies in significant literary figures, movements, and topics. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
378 — Science Fiction (3)
A study of the development of science fiction as literature in a social and historical context, with an emphasis on contemporary works. Students will explore the genre through the major themes and motifs, and as a phenomenon of popular culture.
379 — Fantasy (3)
A study of the development of fantasy as literature in a historical and sociocultural context, with an emphasis on contemporary works. Students will explore the genre through major themes and motifs, and as a phenomenon of popular culture.
380 – Practicum in Journalism (1)
Students will review, study, and practice principles of sound journalism in reporting, editing, opinion-writing, and layout and design for the University of Mary Washington’s student newspaper, The Bullet. May be repeated for a total of eight credits; four may be counted in the English major.
381 – British Literature to 1800 (3)
Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the department chair. Survey of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to roughly 1800, not including Romanticism.
382 – British Literature from 1800 to the Present (3)
Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the department chair. Survey of British literature from Romanticism to the present.
385 – Contemporary American Fiction (3)
Studies in the forms, themes and politics of American fiction, with special emphasis on the genre of the novel, from approximately 1945 to the present.
386 – The Graphic Novel (3)
A study of the graphic novel form, including the analysis of graphic novel texts, the integration of related critical theory, and experimentation with producing graphic narrative. Specific topics and themes may include formal approaches to the medium, as well as issues of race, class, and gender as represented in graphic novels.
399 – Community Service Learning (1)
Prerequisite: 12 hours in any English, Linguistics, or Communication course work. Community service learning at approved sites. May be repeated up to three times for credit in the major. Fulfills Experiential Learning requirement.
400 – Grellet and Dorothy Simpson Summer Institute in Medieval Studies (6)
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. An intensive summer institute in a seminar format, this course provides the opportunity for independent undergraduate research on a variety of topics appropriate to medieval studies. Intensive discussion sessions directed by a variety of scholars from inside and outside the University faculty will guide students, ensuring the timeliness and currency of their research.
406 – Advanced Studies in Composition: History and Theory
Prerequisites: ENGL 295 and ENGL 307. A survey of the historical roots of the field of composition from its classical roots to the present day, and an examination of contemporary theories and how they are put into practice.
411 – Studies in Drama (3)
Major problems, themes, movements, or figures in drama. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
413 – Studies in Poetry (3)
Major problems, themes, movements, or figures in poetry. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
415 – Studies in the Novel (3)
Major problems, themes, movements, or figures in the novel. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
445 – Studies in English Literature to 1600 (3)
Significant figures, movements, themes, or problems in English literature to 1600. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
447 – Studies in English Literature, 1600–1800 (3)
Significant figures, movements, themes, or problems in English literature, 1600–1800. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
449 – Studies in English Literature, 1800–Present (3)
Significant figures, movements, themes, or problems in English literature, 1800 to the present. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
450 – Seminar in Chinua Achebe (3)
Movements, problems, and themes in the works of the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.
451 – Seminar in New Media (3)
Significant figures, genres, movements and texts in contemporary and emerging new media. Consult the Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
452 – Seminar in South African Literature (3)
Studies in significant figures, movements, problems, and themes in 20th-century literature of South Africa.
455 – Studies in American Literature to 1900 (3)
Significant figures, movements, themes, or problems in American literature through the 19th century. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
457 – Studies in American Literature, 1900–Present (3)
Significant figures, movements, themes, or problems in American literature of the 20th century. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
458 – Seminar in American Long Poems (3)
Study of long poems by primarily modern and contemporary American writers and of their complex relationship to epic, lyric, novel, and drama. Includes among its theoretical approaches an overview of genre theory.
460 – Seminar in Critical Theory (3)
Prerequisites: ENGL 295 or permission of the instructor. Significant figures, movements, themes, and methodologies in critical theory. Consult Schedule of Courses for specific topics.
461 – J.R.R. Tolkien (3)
Prerequisites: ENGL 295 or permission of the instructor. Study of the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien, focuses on his major works from The Hobbit to The Salmarillion.
468 – Seminar in Feminist Literary Theories and Criticism (3)
Exploration of the history and evolution of feminist literary theory, the range of feminist approaches to studying literature, and selections of significant applications in published criticism. Reading assignments include selections from theory, criticism, and fiction.
470 – Seminar in Creative Writing (3)
Prerequisites: ENGL 304 or permission of instructor for ENGL 470A (Poetry); ENGL 305 or permission of instructor for ENGL 470B (Fiction); ENGL 312 or permission of instructor for ENGL 470C (Nonfiction); ENGL 304, 305, or 312 or permission of instructor for ENGL 470D (Multi-genre). Advanced workshop in creative writing.
472 – Seminar in Praxis: Poetics by Practice (3)
In this seminar, students analyze English meters and forms by the practice of writing in assigned forms. Students also write research papers exploring in depth a modern or contemporary poet’s formal choices.
474 – Seminar in John Milton (3)
A study of the writing of John Milton, from his earliest works to Paradise Lost.
478 – Seminar in Oscar Wilde (3)
Study of the majority of Wilde’s works across the many genres in which he wrote, including his famous plays.
480 – The Peer Tutoring of Writing (1)
Prerequisites: One writing course or Writing Intensive course beyond ENGL 101, and permission of the instructor. The review and study of principles of effective writing, study of writing formats and expectations for various disciplines, and training in tutoring fellow students. May be repeated for a total of four credits.
491, 492 – Individual Study (3, 3)
Individual study under the direction of a member of the staff. By permission of the department. Only three credits of individual study may be counted toward the English major.
499 – Internship (1–6)
Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the department. Up to three credits may be counted toward the English major.