Academic Programs

Academic Units: Department of English

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Mission Statement
The Department of English offers to all students, wherever their professional and vocational interests lie, skills in critical thinking, analysis and writing along with an appreciation of the great literary heritage of Western civilization, with particular emphasis upon British and American literature. The program also promotes global awareness and the appreciation of cultural diversity through numerous opportunities for world or multicultural studies. Our goal is that, through the humanistic study of a variety of literature, students will obtain a better understanding of themselves, their culture and other cultures with which they must invariably come into contact. A senior requirement ensures that each major will have a final capstone experience through courses designed to integrate earlier training and focus it toward postgraduate needs and opportunities.
  Goals
To build upon the skills introduced in the General Education program, the Department of English strives to:
  • Provide students advanced instruction in writing styles ranging from expository and creative writing to literary criticism.
  • Help students master advanced skills in analytical and critical thinking.
  • Develop skills in research and information access.
Back to top of page Career Opportunities
Careers that involve critical thinking, document analysis or oral and written communication
  • Consulting
  • Editing
  • Graduate school in English, creative writing and composition
  • Law school
  • Public relations
  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Teaching
Back to top of page Co-curricular Activities and Organizations
  • Sigma Tau Delta (the National English Honor Society)
  • gardy loo! (a literary magazine)
  • Sister Speak (JMU’s feminist journal)
Back to top of page Degree and Major Requirements
Students majoring in English earn the B.A. degree unless they are completing an English major with an interdisciplinary focus or an additional major in a degree program other than the B.A. The minimum requirement for a major in English is 33 credit hours of courses in the major.
  Bachelor of Arts in English
The minimum requirement for a major in English with an interdisciplinary focus is 36 credit hours of course work; 24 of these hours must be in English courses, with 15 hours on the 300 level or above. Twelve hours from another discipline or disciplines must be chosen in conference with the student’s adviser and approved by the department head. For more information about the interdisciplinary focus, contact a departmental adviser.

The department recommends that students choose a variety of courses covering contemporary and early literature, as well as period, genre and linguistics courses. In addition to core courses, English majors must take nine credit hours of English electives on or above the 300 level. Courses taken to fulfill General Education requirements may also fulfill requirements in the English major; however, credits for such courses will not count toward the 33 credit total for credits in the major. Students may complete credit requirements by taking additional electives.

Degree Requirements
Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education1
41
Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required)2
0-14
Philosophy course (in addition to General Education courses)
3
University electives
29-43
Major requirements (listed below)
33

120
1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary. 2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Language’s placement test.
Major Requirements
All students must include in their program the following core courses:
Core Courses
Credit Hours
3 courses from among GENG 235-GENG 260, one of which must be either GENG 235 or GENG 2471
9
ENG 299. Writing About Literature2
3
Choose one course from each of the four categories listed below:
Genre and Theory
3
ENG 302. Special Topics in Literature and Language (when content is appropriate)
ENG 305. Mythology
ENG 306. The Bible as Literature
ENG 311. Medieval Literature and Culture
ENG 312. Special Topics in Medieval Literature
ENG 314. 17th-Century British Prose
ENG 315. 17th-Century British Poetry
ENG 316. Renaissance and 17th-Century British Drama
ENG 322. Restoration and 18th-Century British Drama
ENG 323. 18th-Century British Novel
ENG 325. Romantic Poetry
ENG 327. The Gothic: Change and Continuity
ENG 330. The 19th-Century English Novel
ENG 331. Modern Poetry
ENG 332. Contemporary Poetry
ENG 333. Modern Drama
ENG 334. Contemporary Drama
ENG 340. Modern British Novel
ENG 341. Contemporary British Novel
ENG 352. The American Novel to 1914
ENG 356. Modern American Novel
ENG 357. Contemporary American Fiction
ENG 358. Oral Literature
ENG 361. African American Fiction Writers
ENG 362. African American Poets
ENG 367. Women’s Poetry
ENG 368. Women’s Fiction
ENG 370. Exploring Gay and Lesbian Literature
ENG 383. Major Film Genres
ENG 425. Survey of Literary Criticism to 1950
ENG 426. Contemporary Practices in Literary Criticism
ENG 467. Feminist Literary Theory
Author(s)
3
All majors should take in their senior year a 400-level major author course as a capstone course
ENG 410. Major British or American Authors
ENG 451. Chaucer
ENG 456. Shakespeare’s Comedies and Tragic Histories
ENG 457. Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Comic Histories
ENG 458. Shakespeare on the Page and Stage in London
ENG 461. Milton
Alternative Canons
3
GENG 239. Studies in World Literature
GENG 260. Survey of African-American Literature
ENG 302. Special Topics in Literature and Language (when content is appropriate)
ENG 358. Oral Literature
ENG 361. African American Fiction Writers
ENG 362. African American Poets
ENG 367. Women’s Poetry
ENG 368. Women’s Fiction
ENG 370. Exploring Gay and Lesbian Literature
ENG 412. Special Topic Seminar (when content is appropriate)
ENG 430. Studies in Comparative Literature
ENG 431. Studies in Caribbean Literature
ENG 431. Studies in Caribbean Literature
ENG 432. Studies in African Literature
ENG 433. Studies in Arabic Literature
ENG/FR 435. Studies in French Literature
ENG/GER 436. Studies in German Literature
ENG/ITAL 437. Studies in Italian Literature
ENG/RUS 438. Studies in Russian Literature
ENG 466. Studies in Women’s Literature
Period
3
ENG 302. Special Topics in Literature and Language (when content is appropriate)
ENG 311. Medieval Literature and Culture
ENG 312. Special Topics in Medieval Literature
ENG 313. Poetry and Prose of the British Renaissance
ENG 314. 17th-Century British Prose
ENG 315. 17th-Century British Poetry
ENG 316. Renaissance and 17th-Century British Drama
ENG 321. Restoration and 18th Century British Prose and Poetry
ENG 322. Restoration and 18th-Century British Drama
ENG 323. 18th-Century British Novel
ENG 325. Romantic Poetry
ENG 330. The 19th-Century English Novel
ENG 331. Modern Poetry
ENG 333. Modern Drama
ENG 340. Modern British Novel
ENG 342. Early American Literature
ENG 343. Writers of the American Renaissance
ENG 344. American Realism and Naturalism
ENG 352. The American Novel to 1914
ENG 355. Southern Literature
ENG 356. Modern American Novel
ENG 361. African American Fiction Writers
ENG 362. African American Poets
ENG 403. Studies in Old English
ENG 412. Special Topic Seminar (when content is appropriate)
ENG 355. Southern Literature
1 In addition to General Education requirements.
2 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
Although a course may be listed under multiple categories, it may be credited to only one category. In addition to the core courses, students must take at least nine credit hours of electives on or above the 300 level.
Minimum English Electives
Credit Hours
Courses on or above 300 level
9

33
  Recommended Schedule for Majors
Prior to declaring a major in English, students should consult with an assigned English adviser to plan a course of study tailored to their interests and goals. Students should contact the department office (Keezell 215) to request an adviser. The following chart shows a typical four year program.
First Year
Credit Hours
Foreign language courses
6-8
General Education courses
23

29-31
Second Year
Credit Hours
2 of 3 required courses from among GENG 235-GENG 260
6
ENG 299. Writing About Literature
3
General Education courses
15
Foreign language courses
6

30
Third Year
Credit Hours
Remaining requirement from General Education
3
English requirements/electives
12
Other electives
15

30
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
English requirements/electives
12-15
Other electives
15-18

30
Back to top of page Concentrations
Majors may use their electives to concentrate in British, American, or world literature or creative writing.
  British or American Literatures
In consultation with their advisers, students may choose nine credit hours of courses beyond the core offerings that lead to a coherent view of the scope and development of British or American literature.
  World Literature
In consultation with their advisers, students may choose nine credit hours of courses beyond the core offerings that acquaint them with the scope of world literature. Students should include any three of the following courses.
  • ENG 305. Mythology
  • ENG 306. The Bible as Literature
  • ENG 430. Studies in Comparative Literature
  • ENG 431. Studies in Caribbean Literature
  • ENG 432. Studies in African Literature
  • ENG 433. Studies in Arabic Literature
  • ENG/FR 435. Studies in French Literature
  • ENG/GER 436. Studies in German Literature
  • ENG/ITAL 437. Studies in Italian Literature
  • ENG/RUS 438. Studies in Russian Literature
  • ENG 302, ENG 365 and ENG 412 may also satisfy these requirements when the content of the courses is appropriate.
  Creative Writing
Students with a strong interest in developing various writing skills should include in their program nine credit hours of electives from the following courses:
  • ENG/THEA 347. Playwriting
  • ENG 392. Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry
  • ENG 393. Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction
  • ENG 483. Narrative Theory
  • ENG 484. Poetic Craft and Creativity
  • ENG 493. Creative Non-Fiction
  • ENG 494. Advanced Poetry Writing
  • ENG 495. Advanced Fiction Writing
Back to top of page Teaching Licensure
In addition to the general education requirements and the minor in education, English majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must take the core courses listed above, complete the Master of Arts in Teaching Degree and include among their electives the following:
  • ENG 396. Advanced Composition
  • Choose one of the following:
    • ENG 421. Traditional English Grammar
    • ENG 422. Modern English Grammar
  • Choose one of the following:
    • ENG 456. Shakespeare’s Comedies and Tragic Histories
    • ENG 457. Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Comic Histories
    • ENG 458. Shakespeare on the Page and Stage in London
  • At least one course at any level in American literature
  • At least one course at any level in British literature
  • At least one course at any level in world literature
For a full description of the program in secondary education, refer to the College of Education.
Back to top of page Minor Requirements
The minimum requirement for a minor in English is 18 credit hours. At least nine hours must be taken in courses at the 300 level or above. A General Education required course cannot double count as a minor requirement. A minor in English does not meet requirements for the Secondary Teaching License.
  American Studies Minor
American Studies is an interdisciplinary program of study that promotes an enhanced understanding of the whole of American civilization, past and present through examination of the diverse aspects of our culture and changing patterns of ideas and values. Courses come from the departments within the College of Arts and Letters and students will take courses from within three groupings: Multicultural Studies, Ideas and the Arts, and History and Politics. For more information on the minor in American Studies, refer to the section on “Interdisciplinary Programs.”
  Creative Writing Minor
The interdisciplinary minor in creative writing is designed to give students an opportunity to develop their writing talents across a number of literary forms and communication contexts. For more detailed information on the minor in creative writing, refer to the section on “Interdisciplinary Programs.”
  Film Studies Minor
The interdisciplinary minor in film studies is designed for students who wish to extend their critical understanding of visual communication and narrative form by studying how movies tell stories, convey information and influence audiences. For more detailed information on the minor in film studies, refer to the section on “Interdisciplinary Programs.”