English

Overview

Courses in the English department engage students in the close critical study of English-language literature in an international and interdisciplinary context, encompassing works from British, American, and other Anglophone literary traditions. In keeping with Occidental’s mission values of equity and excellence, students in English courses read the work of both long-studied writers and of those previously excluded from traditional literary history. Majors will 1) become proficient in close reading and focused discussion of individual literary works, 2) learn to situate those works in their generative historical, geographic and social contexts, and 3) become skilled in interpreting them through a range of theories and methods that characterize the evolving discipline of literary studies. Non-majors will develop their capacity to engage in close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Most courses in the department are seminars or combinations of lecture and discussion. This pedagogical orientation underscores the department’s strong emphasis on faculty-student interaction and the collaborative production of knowledge. Introductory survey courses (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289) expose students to the breadth and diversity of Anglophone literary history. Upper division courses (ENGL 300 level classes) develop sophisticated skills in literary analysis, interpretive writing, and oral presentation. Methodological and research-oriented seminars in the sophomore, junior and senior years (ENGL 290, ENGL 390 and ENGL 490) direct students in the practice of original independent analysis that places primary textual interpretation in dialogue with secondary critical research.

Major Requirements

A major requires a minimum of eleven courses (44 units).

COURSEWORK

Historical Surveys

ENGL 287English Literature 1077-1660

4 units

ENGL 288English Literature 1660-Present

4 units

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Students may substitute one of the corresponding first-year survey courses (ENGL 187, ENGL 188, ENGL 189) for its 200 level counterpart (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289), but may not receive major credit for both (e.g. ENGL 187 and ENGL 287).

Seminars

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4 units

ENGL 390Junior Seminar in English

4 units

ENGL 490Senior Seminar: Comprehensive Project

4 units

Group I: Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 210 – 229

Or

ENGL 310 – 329

Group II: 18th and 19th Century Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 230 – 249

Or

ENGL 330 – 349

Group III: 20th and 21st Century Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 250 – 269

Or

ENGL 350 – 369

Group IV: Emergent Literature

Students must select one course that focuses on literature previously excluded from the canon:

ENGL 142Joyful Noise! On Black Literature and Musicality

4 units

ENGL 241The "Deviant"

4 units

ENGL 274Women Writers

4 units

ENGL 341Race, Law, and Literature

4 units

ENGL 345American Literature Before 1900

4 units

ENGL 34719th Century Novel and Bollywood Cinema

4 units

NOTE: "Emergent Literature" courses will typically fall under the Group II or III categories. However, they cannot count for both a period requirement (such as Group II or III) and the Emergent Literature requirement.

Electives

ENGL One additional ENGL course

*A maximum of two courses taken at the 200-level can be applied to the Group 1-4 requirement.

Students considering graduate work in literature are strongly encouraged to take additional English courses beyond the minimum of eleven in order to broaden and deepen their knowledge of literary history and their practice of literary interpretation. They should also take ENGL 370. Most graduate programs require proficiency in at least one foreign language.

Concentration in Creative Writing

Students majoring in English may elect to take additional courses in order to complete a concentration in Creative Writing, a special track that provides a strong background in both literary history and creative writing skills. Students choosing this concentration will take a total of 13 courses.

Historical Surveys

ENGL 287English Literature 1077-1660

4 units

ENGL 288English Literature 1660-Present

4 units

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4 units

Students may substitute one of the corresponding first-year survey courses (ENGL 187, ENGL 188, ENGL 189) for its 200 level counterpart (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289), but may not receive major credit for both (e.g. ENGL 187 and ENGL 287).

Seminars

Students must complete the courses listed below:

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4 units

ENGL 390Junior Seminar in English

4 units

ENGL 490Senior Seminar: Comprehensive Project

4 units

Three Upper Division Electives

Choose from categories noted above as Groups I, II, III and IV (only one of these may be a 200-level course).

Creative Writing Electives

Students must complete four creative writing electives. At least two of these must be from the English department. Other departments and programs that have offered writing courses include French, Media Arts and Culture, Theater, and Writing and Rhetoric. Students interested in pursuing concentration in creative writing must work out a careful program in consultation with their adviser and the department chair.

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students majoring in English satisfy the second-stage writing requirement by successfully completing ENGL 390 in the junior year and receiving a notation of "Satisfactory" for its writing component.

Comprehensive Requirement

All majors must take ENGL 490 (Senior Seminar) in the fall of the senior year, where they will design, develop, and complete a significant project involving literary research and analysis. The project will result in a substantial essay of original interpretation and pertinent secondary research, and a formal conference-style oral presentation at the Senior Symposium held during the spring semester. See the department website for more details.

College Honors

Honors may be awarded to graduating seniors who demonstrate excellence in course work and who successfully develop their comps project into an honors thesis. To be eligible, students must have a 3.65 grade point average in courses taken toward the major and an overall 3.5 grade point average. Qualified students will be invited to apply for permission to proceed to honors by the department prior to the beginning of the spring semester. Upon review by department faculty, students whose applications are accepted will register for ENGL 499 (Independent Study), for two units in the spring semester. They will complete a thesis to be orally defended before a faculty committee during the spring semester. Honors candidates are encouraged to take ENGL 370, preferably in the junior year. For further details, consult with your department advisor.

Minor Requirements

Five courses or 20 units.

COURSEWORK

Historical Surveys

Students must select two courses from the list below:

ENGL 287English Literature 1077-1660

4 units

ENGL 288English Literature 1660-Present

4 units

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4 units

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4 units

*One first year course from among ENGL 187, ENGL 188 or ENGL 189 may substitute for its 200 level equivalent

Three additional electives

Any three ENGL courses, two of which must be taken at the 300-level

Transfer Credit Policies

The English Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for details. English majors who have completed the AP examination in English with a score of 4 or 5 may petition the department chair to be allowed to complete the major with 10 courses (including all required courses and Group I-IV categories) rather than the 11 specified above.

Courses

English Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Warren Montag, chair (fall)

Brown Family Professor in Literature

B.A., University of California, Berkeley; M.A., Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School

James Ford III, chair (spring)

Associate Professor 

B.A., Morehouse College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame

Daniel Fineman

Professor

B.A., Franklin and Marshall College; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University

Ross Lerner

Assistant Professor

B.A., Haverford College; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University

Leila Neti

Associate Professor

B.A., University of California, Los Angeles; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Irvine 

Raul Villa

Professor

B.A., Yale University; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz

Jean Wyatt

Professor

A.B., Pomona College; Ph.D., Harvard University

On Special Appointment

Zinzi Clemmons

Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor

Writer in Residence

B.A., Brown University; M.F.A., Columbia University

Andre Naffis-Sahley

Non-Tenure Track Instructor, English

B.A., University of Leicester; M.Litt., University of St. Andrews