College Bulletin - Course Catalog 
    Apr 24, 2018  
College Bulletin - Course Catalog

English Literature



PETER J. SCHMIDT, Professor and Chair
VALERIE SMITH, Professor and President of Swarthmore College
RACHEL BUURMA, Associate Professor
ANTHONY FOY, Associate Professor
JILL GLADSTEIN, Associate Professor and Director of Writing Associates Program2
BAKIRATHI MANI, Associate Professor3 
ERIC SONG, Associate Professor
LARA COHEN, Associate Professor3
SANGINA PATNAIK, Assistant Professor
ERIC M. GLOVER, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor
DON JAMES MCLAUGHLIN, Visiting Assistant Professor
NATALIE MERA FORD, Visiting Assistant Professor, Multilingual Writing Specialist, Writing Associates Program
ALBA NEWMANN HOLMES, Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Writing Program
GREGORY FROST, Visiting Instructor (part time)
DALE MEZZACAPPA, Visiting Instructor (part time)5
RACHEL PASTAN, Visiting Instructor (part time)5
CATHERINE ROEDER, Administrative Assistant

2Absent on leave, spring 2018.

3 Absent on leave, 2017-2018.
Fall 2017.

This department offers courses in English literature, American literature, Native American literature, Anglophone literature, Asian and Asian American literatures, gay and lesbian literatures, drama, film, creative writing, critical theory, and journalism. The departmental curriculum includes the intensive study of works of major writers, major periods of literary history, and the development of literary types; it also provides experience in a variety of critical approaches to literature and dramatic art and explores certain theoretical considerations implicit in literary study, such as the problematics of canon formation and the impact of gender on the creation and reception of literary works.

Students who plan to do graduate work, to follow a course of professional training, or to seek teacher certification in English should see a member of the department for early help in planning their programs, as should students who plan to include work in English literature in a special or cross-disciplinary major, or in a program with a concentration.

For the most current course offerings and prerequisite information, please consult the website.

Requirements and Recommendations

Course Major

The work of a major consists of a minimum of nine units of credit in the department, including

  • English 096 Methods
  • English 099 Senior Majors' Colloquium
  • at least one unit in each of the following historical periods:
    • Medieval and Renaissance literature (Med/Ren)
    • 18th and 19th century literature (18th/19th c.) 
    • 20th and 21st century literature (20th/21st c.)

First Year Seminars (English 008 and 009A through Z), Writing ('W') courses, and Creative Writing courses count toward the major but not toward the historical requirements.

We also request that all Course and Honors majors identify a "concentration" of at least three English literature credits within the major, based on their own interests and goals. This concentration is to be defined by the student, but we encourage you to discuss choosing the courses for your concentration with a member of the department. Sample concentration topics: one of our three historical periods; American or African-American or Asian-American literature; theory; digital humanities; creative writing; a particular genre, such as fiction or poetry. Many other good possibilities exist. Students will define their potential concentration within the major as part of their sophomore plan, but this plan may be modified as needed junior or senior year.

AP credit only in Language/Literature, with a score of a four or a five, counts toward a major or minor in English Literature, but they do not satisfy historical requirements. AP credit in Language/Composition does NOT count towards a major or minor in English Literature. Journalism classes and English 1F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count as part of the unit requirements.

Course Minor

The work of a minor consists of a minimum of five units of literature credit in the department including at least one unit in two of the following historical periods: Medieval/Renaissance;18th/19th century; 20th/21st century. First Year Seminars (English 008 and 009A through Z) and Creative Writing courses count toward the minor but not toward the historical requirements. AP credit counts toward the minor but does not satisfy historical requirements. Journalism classes and Engl 1F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count as part of the unit requirements.

Honors Major

Majors in English who seek a degree with Honors will, in the spring of their sophomore year, propose for external examination a program consisting of four fields: three in English and one in a minor. All three preparations will normally be done through seminars (if approved by the Department, one preparation may be a thesis or creative writing project). The program must include seminars from at least two of the following historical periods:

  • Medieval and Renaissance literature (Med/Ren)
  • 18th and 19th century literature (18th/19th c.) 
  • 20th and 21st century literature (20th/21st c.)

Honors majors, as part of their overall work in the department, must meet the general major requirement of 9 credits in English Literature, including at least one unit of credit in each of the three historical periods above. First Year Seminars (English 008 and 009A through Z) and Creative Writing courses count toward the major but not toward the historical requirements. AP credit counts toward the major but does not satisfy historical requirements. Journalism classes and Engl 1F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count as part of the unit requirements.

Students interested in pursuing honors within a faculty-approved interdisciplinary major, program, or concentration that draws on advanced English courses or seminars should see the chair for early help in planning their programs.

Honors Minor

Minors must do a single, two-credit preparation in the department, normally by means of a seminar (or under special circumstances, a creative writing project); the thesis option is only available to majors. Minors are required to do a total of at least five units of work in English (including their Honors preparation), with at least one unit each in two of the following: Medieval/Renaissance; 18th/19th century; 20th/21st century. First Year Seminars (English 008 and 009A through Z) and Creative Writing courses count toward the minor but not toward the historical requirements. AP credit counts toward the minor but do not satisfy historical requirements.

Journalism classes and English 1F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count as part of the unit requirements.

English Literature Courses

20th and 21st Century Courses

Creative Writing Workshops

Regular creative writing workshops are limited to 12 and require the submission of writing samples in order for students to apply for them. Workshops marked with a # combine a balance of substantial literary analysis of models along with creative writing exercises geared to the models; these workshops are limited to 15 and, do not require the submission of manuscripts. Students may normally take only one workshop at a time. ENGL 070A and 070B may normally be taken only once. Creative writing courses do not count as pre- or post-1830 classes.

Honors Seminars

Honors seminars are open to juniors and seniors only and require approval of the department chair. Priority is given to honors majors and minors.

Double Majors

Students may, with the department's permission, pursue a double major either as part of the Course or Honors Program. Double majors must fulfill all the major requirements in both departments.

For a double major in honors, one of the majors is used as the honors major and the other is often used as the honors minor. See the department chair for further details.

Special Major

Designed by the student in consultation with faculty advisers. If English is the central department, students must fulfill most of the regular requirements and have a minimum of 5 English Department credits as part of the special major.  Students must take at least one course each in two of the three historical periods listed above. Students must consult with the various departments or programs involved in the special major and have all approve the plan of study. Only one integrative comprehensive exercise is required. Students may also do a special honors major with four related preparations in different departments.

Major with a Creative Writing Emphasis

Students who want to major in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing-whether course or honors majors-must complete three units of creative writing in addition to the usual departmental historical requirements. The creative writing credits will normally consist of either three workshops (ENGL 070A, B, C, D, E, G, H, or J) OR two workshops and ENGL 070K, the Directed Creative Writing Project.

Students may count towards the program no more than one workshop offered by departments other than English literature. Admission into the program will depend upon the quality of the student's written work and the availability of faculty to supervise the work. Students who are interested in the program are urged to talk both with the department chair and with one of the department faculty who regularly teach the workshops.

For creative writing projects in the Honors Program, the 2-credit field will normally be defined as a 1-credit workshop (ENGL 070A, 070B, 070C, or 070H) paired with a 1-credit Directed Creative Writing Project (ENGL 070K). The approximate range of pages to be sent forward to the examiners will be 20 to 30 pages of poetry or 30 to 50 pages of fiction. There will be no written examination for the creative writing project; the student's portfolio will be sent directly to the examiner, who will then give the student an oral examination during honors week. For purposes of the transcript, the creative writing project will be assigned a grade corresponding to the degree of honors awarded it by the external examiner. Students are advised that such independent writing projects must normally be substantially completed by the end of the fall semester of the senior year as the spring semester is usually the time when the senior honors study essay must be written.

Note: Creative writing and journalism classes do not count toward the departmental historical requirements. ENGL 070A, 070B, 070C, 070H, and 070K are CR/NC courses (not graded).

For a more detailed description of the English Literature Creative Writing program and its history, see the English Department website or handouts available in the department office.

Thesis/Culminating Exercise

Course Majors

English 099, Senior Course Majors Colloquium, is open only to senior English literature course majors and required for them to take. It offers a structured and supportive environment for students writing their senior essays. The course will feature a mix of literature, criticism, theory, and methodology, plus guest visits by other members of the English Literature Department and possibly others, with the opportunity for students to discuss central issues in the field of literary and cultural history in preparation for their research and writing.

Under some circumstances a course major may elect to write a thesis. See the description under ENGL 098.

Honors Majors

Honors majors will prepare a senior honors essay and take an Honors exam for each of their three English honors preparations.

Students who wish either to write a thesis or pursue a creative writing project under faculty supervision as part of the Honors Program must submit proposals to the department; the number of these ventures the department can sponsor each year is limited. Students who propose creative writing projects will normally be expected to have completed at least one writing workshop as part of, or as a prelude to, the project; the field presented for examination will thus normally consist of a 1-credit workshop plus a 1-credit directed creative writing project. For further information, including deadlines for directed creative writing proposals, see rubric under ENGL 070K.

Application Process Notes for the Major or the Minor

Applications for the major in English literature are considered in the spring of the sophomore year. Each student will, under the guidance of a faculty adviser, present a reasoned plan of study for the last two years. This plan will be submitted to the department and will be the basis of the departmental discussion of the student's application for a major. The plan will include a list of proposed courses and seminars that will satisfy the requirements for either the Course or Honors Program and a rationale for the program of study.

Such applications are normally considered at a meeting of all department members. Each student is discussed individually. The department has never established a minimum grade point average, nor are certain courses weighted in this discussion more heavily than others. A record of less than satisfactory work in English would certainly give us pause, however, unless it were attributable to circumstances other than academic ability. Students who want to include the English major as part of a double major must have a record of strong work in both majors as well as in other courses.

Students are eligible for seminars in the department regardless of their choice of honors or course majors. Admission to seminars will be based on a student's prior academic work, her/his ability to interact well in a small class situation, and the shape of the larger course of study articulated in the Sophomore Plan. For oversubscribed seminars, priority will normally be given to honors majors and minors.

The minimum requirement for consideration for the major, minor, or admission to any seminar is the completion of at least two graded courses in English, not counting creative writing workshops. Applications for the major will be deferred until two graded literature courses are completed.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Credit

A maximum of 2 credits may be awarded for combined AP and IB work.

AP Credit

AP Credit: students will receive credit for AP scores of 4 or 5 in English Lit/Comp which will count both toward graduation and toward the major requirements. AP credit is given for scores of 4 or 5 in English Lang/Comp but count only toward graduation and not toward the major requirements. If students take both exams and receive scores of 4 or 5 they will receive one credit for each exam.

IB Credit

IB Credit: a maximum of one AP Literature credit is given for a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level English examination in the International Baccalaureate program. This credit will count both toward graduation and toward the major requirements.

Off-Campus Study and Transfer Credit

Students wishing to study away from Swarthmore should consult with the department chair far enough in advance of such study to effect proper planning of a major or minor. In determining which courses of study will meet department criteria for requirements or credit toward a major or minor, the department will rely both on its experience in evaluating the work of students returning from these programs and on careful examination of course descriptions, syllabi, and schedules. Course credits for literature in English should be approved before you leave, but no course credits are finally awarded until you consult with the department upon your return to Swarthmore. To find out who the course credits consultant is for English, contact the department chair.

Teacher Certification

English majors may complete the requirements for English certification through a program approved by the State of Pennsylvania. For further information about the relevant set of English and Educational Studies requirements, please refer to the Educational Studies section of the Bulletin.

Life After Swarthmore

Students graduating with a major in English literature often go on to pursue graduate or professional studies or take up a wide variety of positions in the working world where strong reading, writing, and interpretive skills are at a premium-in the public or private sector, in government or in non-government organizations. Many study law, medicine, or journalism. We number among our graduates poets and novelists, social workers and scholars, news writers, broadcast journalists and editors, grant-writers, doctors, and directors.