Curriculum & Requirements

There is no required gateway course to the major.  All entering first-year students may enroll in first-year seminars, 1100-level courses, and some 2000-level courses.  All second-semester first years may enroll in any 2000-level course.  We encourage prospective majors to take a first-year seminar in their first year and an intermediate (2000-level) seminar in their second year.  Students planning to undertake an honors project are encouraged to take a 3000-level seminar and ENGL 2841 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory in their junior year.  

The department hosts an informational meeting for prospective majors and minors each February, before the College’s deadline for declaring a major/minor.

The Major in English 
The Major in English with Concentration in Creative Writing
The Minor in English and American Literature
Major/Minor Grade Policy
Curriculum Map of the English Major
The Major in English and Theater
Transfer Credit Policies 

The Major in English

The major requires a minimum of ten courses.  These must include the following:

1) Three pre-1800 courses (only one of which may be a Shakespeare course)
2) One intermediate seminar (2000-2099) 
3) One 3000-level seminar

The remaining courses may be selected from first-year seminars, introductory courses at the 1100 level, intermediate or advanced literature courses at the 2000 and 3000 levels, independent study, advanced independent study or honors courses (numbered 4000–4029), and introductory or advanced creative writing courses.

No more than two courses may come from the department’s roster of first-year seminars and introductory courses (numbered 1000-1050 and 1100-1199); no more than two creative writing courses will count toward the major. ENGL 1060 English Composition does not count toward the major; ENG 1070 Rhetoric is eligible for major credit.  

The Major in English with Concentration in Creative Writing

English majors with a concentration in creative writing must satisfy the requirements for the major, including an introductory-level and an advanced-level creative writing course in a single genre (fiction, non-fiction, or poetry), and an additional elective course in another genre of creative writing. Two of these creative writing courses may be the two allowed within the ten courses required for the major, with an additional creative writing course above the ten required (for a total of eleven courses).

The Minor in English

The minor requires five courses in the department. At least three of these must be numbered 2000 or higher. No more than one creative writing course may count toward the minor. ENGL 1060 English Composition does not count toward the minor. Students may not apply transfer credits to the minor.  

Major/Minor Grade Policy

Courses that will count toward the major and minor must be taken for a grade (not Credit/D/Fail), and students must earn grades of C- or better in these courses.

Curriculum Map of the English Major

Introductory Courses
First-year seminars in English offer reading- and writing-intensive introductions to Anglophone literature and film focused on particular themes.  They also introduce students to college-level analytical writing. 

ENGL 1060 English Composition is a skills-based and workshop-driven class aimed at helping students to improve their writing.   It focuses on the nuts and bolts of composition, including grammar and mechanics, modes of argumentation and analysis, and citation practices.  Students gain portable writing skills for college and for life, through practice and revision.  (Does not count for the English major.)

The ENGL 1070 Rhetoric is a workshop-driven class aimed at helping students perfect their writing and speaking.  Intended for confident writers, it focuses on imitating excellent models of analysis drawn from the history of rhetoric and literature, including etymology, use of literature for writing persuasive prose, and modes of public speaking. (This course does count toward the English major) 

Courses numbered in the 1100s are general introductions to Anglophone literature through broad overviews of particular genres, methods, and topics that transcend specific historical periods.  Students learn to apply basic methods to literary analysis and cultivate greater appreciation of primary texts.  Intended for prospective majors and non-majors alike.

Intermediate Courses 
2000-level courses constitute the core offerings in the major, covering all periods in the Anglophone literary tradition, from early medieval literature to the present.  

Intermediate seminars are 2000-level courses with a cap of 16 students per class.  They offer the opportunity for more intensive work in literary analysis and deeper focus on methodological skills required for advanced research in the major.  Students practice applying and move toward mastery of theoretical and critical paradigms.  We strongly encourage potential majors to take an intermediate seminar in their sophomore year.

Remaining 2000-level courses offer in-depth and period-based study of Anglophone literature through specific historical or cultural subfields.  Students learn to analyze literary texts informed by an engagement with secondary sources and develop greater awareness of critical paradigms and methodologies.

Advanced Courses
3000-level seminars offer a capstone experience in the major.  Students gain greater awareness of current critical trends within a literary subfield and develop facility with reading and evaluating scholarship.  These advanced courses offer students the opportunity for collaborative work and for conducting independent research that may lead to an honors project.

The Major in English and Theater

The interdisciplinary major in English and Theater focuses on the dramatic arts, broadly construed, with a significant emphasis on the critical and embodied study of drama and literature.

Students of English and theater may blend introductory and advanced course work in both fields, while maintaining flexibility in the focus of their work. Students who decide to take this major are encouraged to work with advisors in both fields. Honors theses in English and theater are listed as honors in both departments.  Students wishing to study abroad are allowed to count two courses in approved study away programs toward the requirements for the major.

Course requirements for the English/Theater major:

1. An English first-year seminar or introductory course (1100–1999).

2. One introductory theater course (1100–1999).

3. One course from English on drama before 1800, such as English 1115, English 2200, or the equivalent in English or another department.

4. One course in modern drama, such as English 2452, 2654, or the equivalent in English or another department.

5. One advanced course in theater (3000–3999), and one advanced English seminar (3000–3999).

6. One elective in English at the intermediate level (2000–2899).

7. One elective in theater or dance at the intermediate level (2000-2999).

8. Any three additional courses in theater.

The interdisciplinary major in English and Theater focuses on the dramatic arts, broadly construed, with a significant emphasis on the critical and embodied study of drama and literature.

Students of English and theater may blend introductory and advanced course work in both fields, while maintaining flexibility in the focus of their work. Students who decide to take this major are encouraged to work with advisors in both fields. Honors theses in English and theater are listed as honors in both departments. Students completing an honors project should be guided by faculty in both fields.  Students wishing to study abroad are allowed to count two courses in approved study away programs toward the requirements for the major.

Transfer Credit Policies

No more than two courses taken at an institution other than Bowdoin may be applied to the English major. Only one pre-1800 course may be transferred for credit. The department does not give transfer credit for 2000-level seminars or 3000-level seminars.  Majors may count one upper-level course in Cinema Studies, taken either at Bowdoin or another institution, toward the major.  One literature course in a language other than English, taken either at Bowdoin or another institution, may be counted as transfer credit with approval from the chair of the English department.

Minors may not apply transfer credit toward the minor.

Credit for Study-Abroad Semester(s)

Some English majors choose to study abroad (study-away) in their junior year. Below is the procedure for students arranging a study-abroad through the Off Campus Study Office, who wish to be awarded English major credit for courses taken at the study-abroad institution.

1) Before leaving for study-abroad, the student must get approval from his/her advisor, who will complete and approve the online registration of intent to study off-campus form. Course(s) will be considered in light of the student's overall study plan as a Bowdoin English major.  For best consideration of approval for the course(s) to apply to the English major, the student should provide his/her advisor with as much information as possible (catalogue course descriptions, course syllabi, etc.)

2) The student must confirm course registration with the Off Campus Study Office once he/she has arrived at the study-abroad institution and his/her course schedule is finalized.  If changes are made that require department major approval, the student should contact his/her advisor by email for a new pre-approval confirmation.

3) The student is responsible for ensuring that a transcript is sent from his/her study-abroad institution to the Registrar’s Office.  Some institutions will send a transcript automatically, but other institutions require a student to submit a formal request.  The student must confirm his/her host institution’s policy and take the necessary steps to send an official transcript to Bowdoin.

4) Upon return to Bowdoin, once the student receives an email from the Registrar that credit has been awarded on Polaris, the student meets with the English department chair to have his/her course officially approved to apply to the English major. Final approval is determined by successful course completion, and submission of supporting materials (i.e., syllabi, papers, catalogue descriptions, etc.) to the English department chair.

5) The chair emails approval to the department coordinator so a Degree Progress Exception Form can be filed on the student’s behalf.  A copy of the exception form submission will be emailed to the student, and the exception will be processed and applied to Polaris by the Registrar’s Office within 3-5 business days to reflect that the course(s) will be applied to the English major.

Credit for Summer Courses, Courses Taken During Medical Leave, Pre-matriculation Credit, and Online Courses

Students sometimes wish to apply credit for courses taken at institutions other than Bowdoin during the summer, during time away, or before matriculating. These institutions are usually other than Bowdoin's sanctioned study-away institutions.

1.  At least the semester before the student begins study at another institution, he/she should meet with the English department chair for provisional approval to apply credits to the English major and to complete the Application for Transfer of Credit.

2.  Upon completion of the course(s), the student must submit coursework (essays, syllabi, etc.) to the English department chair to confirm that the rigor and course content is comparable to a Bowdon course. 

3. The student is responsible for ensuring that a transcript is sent from the institution to the Registrar’s Office.

4. Once the transcript is received by the registrar and the chair has approved the course, the coordinator files a Degree Progress Exception Form with the registrar. A copy of the exception form submission will be emailed to the student, and the exception will be processed and applied to Polaris by the Registrar’s Office within 3-5 business days to reflect that the course(s) will be applied to the English major.