The Bowdoin English department 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. Our 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 seminars to fiction-writing workshops and advanced seminars. At the introductory level, the department offers first-year 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.
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.
English Composition (1060) 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 Art of Rhetoric (1070) 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. (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.
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. 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.
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.
This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue