NATHALIE ANDERSON, Professor2
ELIZABETH BOLTON, Professor and Chair
NORA JOHNSON, Professor
PETER J. SCHMIDT, Professor
VALERIE SMITH, Professor and President of Swarthmore College
CRAIG WILLIAMSON, Professor
RACHEL BUURMA, Associate Professor
LARA COHEN, Associate Professor
ANTHONY FOY, Associate Professor
JILL GLADSTEIN, Associate Professor and Director of Writing Associates Program
BAKIRATHI MANI, Associate Professor
ERIC SONG, Associate Professor
SANGINA PATNAIK, Assistant Professor3
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
JAZMÍN DELGADO FLORES, Visiting Instructor (part time)
GREGORY FROST, Visiting Instructor (part time)
DALE MEZZACAPPA, Visiting Instructor (part time)5
RACHEL PASTAN, Visiting Instructor (part time)6
CATHERINE ROEDER, Administrative Assistant
2Absent on leave, spring 2019.
3 Absent on leave, 2018-2019.
5 Fall 2018.
Studying English Literature at Swarthmore means exploring writing and cultural production from all over the world. Our faculty members are experts in topics ranging from Shakespearean drama to African American autobiography, from Caribbean print culture to Asian American fiction. Students learn to read closely and speak confidently; they sharpen their abilities to analyze and to persuade through their writing.
Small classes and dedicated teachers mean that majoring in English offers students access to a supportive, exciting intellectual community. We aim to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for a life of critical thinking, informed citizenship, meaningful work, sustenance in the face of adversity, and delight in the world.
Our department offers a wide variety of courses, class formats, and ways of doing cultural and literary studies, with class sizes from under 10 to over 40. We teach all genres of literature and a variety of interpretive approaches; students can work with rare physical objects in libraries and learn how analyze texts with computational techniques. We're interested in the history of texts and other cultural media - their production, circulation, and influence. Students can collaborate with professors on research, or with faculty guidance may design and complete their own research projects. We offer many creative writing workshops, including opportunities for sustained creative projects. The department is at the core of a dynamic campus-wide interdisciplinary culture of reading, writing, and lively discussion of texts old and new. In all our teaching and mentorship, we nurture imaginative reading, the asking of deep questions, insightful analysis, and compelling communication skills.
For the most current course offerings and information about English Literature, please consult our website.
Applying for the Major or the Minor
Each student will, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, 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.
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 English Literature and Composition, with a score of a four or a five, counts toward a major or minor in English Literature, but it does not satisfy historical requirements. AP credit in English Language and 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.
As a culmination of their course major, all seniors take English 099, Senior Course Majors Colloquium. 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 special circumstances a course major may elect to write a longer research thesis. See the description under ENGL 098.
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 in English Literature and Composition, with a score of a four or a five, counts toward a major or minor in English Literature, but it does not satisfy historical requirements. AP credit in English Language and Composition does NOT count towards a major or minor in English Literature. Journalism classes and ENGL 001F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count as part of the unit requirements.
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, though 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 only in English Literature and Composition, with a score of a four or a five, counts toward a major in English Literature, but it does not satisfy historical requirements. AP credit in English Language and Composition does NOT count towards a major in English Literature. Journalism classes and ENGL 001F, G, etc. or C (Writing Pedagogy) DO NOT count toward a major in English Literature. .
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.
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.
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.
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 only in English Literature and Composition, with a score of a four or a five, counts toward minor in English Literature, but it does not satisfy historical requirements. AP credit in English Language and Composition does NOT count towards a minor in English Literature
Honors Examinations and Senior Honors Study (SHS)
English Honors preparations consisting of seminars or course combinations will be assessed by a 3-hour written examination set by an external examiner. Written examinations will be followed by oral examinations of 30-45 minutes. Honors preparations fulfilled through seminars or courses also require an SHS submission to be reviewed by the Honors examiner.
A 2-credit thesis or a creative writing portfolio will be examined in a 45-60 minute oral examination. A thesis or creative writing project does not require an additional SHS submission or a written exam.
For the SHS requirement, Honors Majors and Minors will revise one paper per seminar for their portfolio and submit that portfolio to their external examiners. In the case of course combinations used as Honors preparations, students can either present two shorter revised essays (one from each class) or synthesize materials from earlier essays to create a new essay bridging the two classes. In either case, SHS submissions will be approximately 4,000 words.
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.
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 two workshops (ENGL 070A, B, C, D, E, F, or G) and ENGL 070K, the Directed Creative Writing Project.
Note: Creative writing and journalism classes do not count toward the departmental historical requirements. ENGL 070A, 070B, 070C, 070D, 070F, 070H, and 070K are CR/NC courses (not graded).
Students may count towards the program no more than one workshop offered by a department 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.
Students in the Honors Program may present work in creative writing as a preparation for either a Major or a Minor in English Literature. Normally the two-credit preparation is defined as a one-credit workshop (most typically 070A, 070B, 070C, or 070H) paired with a one-credit Directed Creative Writing Project (070K), but it is also possible in unusual circumstances for a student to develop a portfolio through writing done entirely within workshops. Since we approved creative writing as a field for Honors, several students each year have pursued this opportunity.
Student writers may also pursue a Directed Creative Writing Project (070K), completing a portfolio of independent work under the guidance of a faculty member. Some students have used the Directed Creative Writing Project as an opportunity to extend and polish a project begun in workshops - a novel, a linked collection of short stories, a sequence of poems responding to photographs, for example - while others have worked intensively and rigorously to master the sonnet form, or explored through their own work the implications of a theoretical premise-the blurred distinction between dramatic monologue and poetic confession, for example. Because our writing faculty is small, the Department sponsors only a limited number of writing projects each year. Students interested in pursuing independent work in creative writing normally declare their intention in the sophomore plan, and submit a prospectus to the Department in the semester before they hope to begin their project, after consulting with the chair of the Department and with members of the writing faculty.
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.
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.
Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Credit
A maximum of 2 credits may be awarded for combined AP and IB work.
Students matriculating in 2019 who receive a 5 on the AP test for English Literature and Composition or a Higher IB 6 or 7 will be eligible for one Swarthmore credit, awarded after completion of one course in the English Department. This AP/IB credit can be used toward the English major but it does not fulfill any of the required courses of the major.
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.
Life After Swarthmore
After graduation, our majors find jobs in the ever-expanding range of industries that prize reading, writing, interpretive skills, teamwork, and creative thinking. We count among our English alums poets and novelists, social workers and scholars, news writers, teachers, broadcast journalists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, financial analysts, grant writers, publishers and editors, natural or social science writers, doctors, and lawyers. About a third of our graduates head to premiere graduate schools, including Harvard, Oxford, Berkeley, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and NYU.
Swarthmore English literature majors are represented in any field in which analysis, communication, and empathy are integral. Grounded in the mission of Swarthmore, our students leave as well-rounded citizens of the world.
English Literature Courses
First-Year Seminars and Writing Courses
First Year Seminars are limited to 12 first-year students only. No student may take more than one. Writing courses are limited to 15, but are open to all students. All count as Writing courses.
Medieval and Renaissance Courses
18th and 19th Century Courses
20th and 21st Century Courses
Creative Writing Workshops
The department offers two types of creative writing courses.
One course style focuses entirely on creative work: Poetry Workshop (070A), Fiction Workshop (070B), Advanced Poetry Workshop (070C), and Advanced Fiction Workshop (070H). These workshops are limitied to 12 participants, graded CR/NC.
Other creative writing courses incorporate substantial reading and essay-writing, for example, Grendel's Workshop (070D), Fantastic Genres (70F), and The Poetry Project (070J). These courses are limited to 15 participants and do not require students to apply for course admission. Some of these courses are graded and some are CR/NC; refer to the department web site for the latest information.
Independent Study, Method, and Culminating Exercises
Honors seminars are open to juniors and seniors only and require approval of the department chair. Priority is given to honors majors and minors.
Medieval and Renaissance Honors Seminars
18th and 19th Honors Seminars
20th and 21st Honors Seminars
Honors Thesis and Independent Study
Academic Writing Courses
These courses are writing-intensive courses that count toward graduation credit but not toward the English major. They may not be substituted for a prerequisite course in English.