Learning Goals

Learning Goals

The Department of English at Bowdoin College takes a broad and varied approach to the study of Anglophone literature (British, American, and global) across a range of periods and genres.

Curriculum Map of the English Major

Students undertake a flexible path of rigorous study through the major in order to become engaged, informed, and resourceful readers and writers. Majors develop fluency in critical methodologies and paradigms of the field. Students may also choose from courses in creative writing, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting. The department's curriculum contributes to Africana studies; Asian studies; cinema studies; environmental studies; gender, sexuality, and women’s studies; and theater.

The department offers courses across all levels, from first-year writing seminars to fiction-writing workshops and advanced seminars. At the introductory level, the department offers first-year writing seminars and 1100-level courses. In addition to more advanced classes at the 2000 and 3000 levels, the department also offers opportunities for independent work, such as independent studies and honors projects.

Introductory Courses

First-year writing 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 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 sixteen 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. Potential majors are strongly encouraged 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.

Options for Majoring or Minoring in the Department

Students may elect to major in English, the English and theater interdisciplinary major, or to coordinate a major in English with digital and computational studies, education, or environmental studies. Students pursuing a coordinate or interdisciplinary major may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in English.

Department Website

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue