Curriculum & Requirements

Bowdoin students are required to declare their major in the spring of their sophomore year. In February, the English department hosts an informational meeting for new majors.

The English Department does not have any one specific course, or set of specific courses, that all majors/minors must take. Instead, majors and minors make their choices from a wide variety of courses at the first-year seminar, 1000-, 2000-, and 3000-level. Each year, the English Department offers a reasonable number of courses at each of these levels. Typically, we offer more than five first-year seminars, four 100-level courses, and three or four 3000-level seminars a year. The rest of our courses are at the 2000-level. Because our majors must take three courses in British Literature written before 1800, each semester we offer three or four courses that will satisfy this requirement (these may be at the 2000- or 3000-level).

The Major in English and American Literature

Please note: beginning with the class of 2017, majors will be required to take an intermediate (2000-level) seminar. The department strongly recommends that majors take an intermediate level seminar before taking a advanced (3000-level) seminar.

The major requires a minimum of ten courses. Note: for classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016, one of the ten courses must be chosen from offerings in literature of the Americas.

Each student must take one first-year seminar or introductory course, either of which will serve as a prerequisite to further study in the major.

At least three of the ten courses must be chosen from offerings in British and Irish literature before 1800. These are courses in Old English and Medieval literature, Renaissance literature, and the literature of the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. The individual courses that satisfy this requirement are identified by a note in the course description. Only one of these three courses may be a Shakespeare drama course, and only one may be a Chaucer course. Only one transfer course may count toward this requirement.

Also, each student must take at least one advanced (3000-level) seminar in the department. Students may, when appropriate, also count the advanced seminar toward one of the requirements listed above. Transfer credits will not count for the advanced seminar requirement.

The remaining courses may be selected from the foregoing and/or first-year seminars; Introductory or Advanced Creative Writing; 2000 and/or 3000 Literary Analysis; Independent Study; and Advanced Independent Study/Honors. No more than two courses may come from the department's roster of first-year seminars and introductory level courses; no more than two creative writing courses will count toward the major.

As one of two courses outside the department, one upper-level course in film studies may be counted toward the major; courses in expository writing, journalism, and communication are not eligible for major credit. Credit toward the major for advanced literature courses in another language, provided that the works are read in that language, must be arranged with the chair.

Majors who are candidates for honors must write an honors essay and take an oral examination in the spring of their senior year.

The Major in English with Concentration in Creative Writing

The requirements for the Concentration in Creative Writing are identical to those of the English major, with these additions: a level I and a level II creative writing course in a single genre (poetry or fiction), and an additional elective course in creative writing.

The Minor in English and American Literature

The minor requires five courses in the department, including one first-year seminar or introductory course. At least three of the remaining four courses must be numbered 2000 or higher.

No more than one creative writing course may count toward the minor, and no courses in expository writing, film, or communication will count. 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.

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 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. Honors theses in English and Theater are listed as honors in English and theater, rather than in either field individually. Students completing an honors project should be guided by faculty in both fields. Students who decide to take this major are encouraged to work with advisors in both fields. Students wishing to study abroad are allowed to count two courses in approved study away programs such as the National Theater Institute or elsewhere toward the requirements for the major.

Course requirements for the English/Theater major:

1. An English first-year seminar or 1000-level course.

2. One 1000-level theater course, preferably Theater 1201.

3. Three theater courses from the following: 1101, 1302 (same as Dance 1302), 1203 (same as Dance 1203), 1202 (same as Dance 1202), 2501 (same as Dance 2501), 2201, 2202, 2502 (same as Dance 2502), 2401 (same as English 2850), or 2203.

4. One course from English 2150 (same as Theater 2810), 2151 (same as Theater 2811), 2152 (same as Theater 2812), or 2108; one course from English 2200 (same as Theater 2823), 2300 (same as Theater 2830), or 2009.

5. One course in modern drama, either English 262 (same as Gender and Women's Studies 262 and Theater 262), 2654 (same as AFRS 2630), or the equivalent in another department.

6. One 3000-level course in theater, and one 3000-level English seminar.

7. One elective in English and one elective in theater or dance at the 2000 level or higher.

Off-Campus Study

The English encourages its students to study abroad for a part of their junior year, particularly in programs that allow them to supplement the department's course offerings. Typical destinations for junior majors include schools in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. With the help of department advisors, students should choose their study abroad programs carefully from the many options available in order to integrate their learning at Bowdoin and beyond.

One new option is the CBB (Colby, Bates, Bowdoin) Program in Modern and Contemporary British Literature and Culture. The program consists of three courses in literature and one in contemporary British history. Although this program is ideal for majors wishing to do advanced work, it is also suitable for students with some training in literature, history, art history, women's studies, or lesbian and gay studies. Interdisciplinary literature courses give students the opportunity to read across genres and disciplines (literature, art, and film), to conduct independent research in London and nearby archives, and to take advantage of the many cultural events in London: readings, lectures, performances, theater, film, and gallery exhibits. For more information, contact the Off-Campus Study office at Bowdoin.

For a copy of the English's guidelines regarding study-away courses (and other extra-departmental courses), please contact the department coordinator.