The English Department aims to cultivate cultural and media literacy in our students by introducing them to the range of literary traditions, broadly conceived, in the English language, and to familiarize them with major or defining instances of filmic, performative and visual texts. Our courses provide students with opportunities to cultivate particular and deep understanding of specific periods, genres, authors, movements, and aesthetic or analytically significant issues.
Our courses provide opportunities to:
- cultivate particular and deep understanding of specific periods, genres, authors, movements, and aesthetic or analytically significant issues.
- grow into discerning and careful readers responsive to formal, stylistic, and thematic elements of texts, and capable of understanding them as responses to the cultural contexts in which they emerge.
- develop an interdisciplinary approach to reading literature that crosses borders and makes interesting connections with material and methods in other disciplines and cultures.
In our curriculum we seek to maintain a working balance between:
- canons of British, American and global literatures, including African American literature, Asian American literature, Postcolonial literature, South African literature, and Irish literature, and
- courses inflected by particular theoretical foci, such as performance theory, queer theory, postcolonial theory, trauma theory, media and visual studies, and environmental studies.
- Admission to the major requires completion of two courses at the 200 level by the end of the sophomore year; one of these must be an "introductory emphasis'' course (a list of such courses will be issued each semester). ENGL 150L may be presented in place of one 200 level course.
- ENGL 298 and 299, the two-semester Junior Seminar in English 298 and 299, the two-semester Junior Seminar in English
- ENGL 298J, the yearlong Junior Seminar tutorial
- ENGL 399F (fall) and 399B (spring) for Senior Conference
- Seven courses at the 200 and 300 levels of which
- at least two must be in literature written before 1800
- at least two must be at the 300 level.
Note: The department will give major credit for a semester course in a foreign literature in the original language or for Comparative Literature 200. No more than four major credits will be awarded for work done beyond the Tri-College Consortium, whether abroad or in the U.S. Courses taken in the Bryn Mawr English Department and the Swarthmore English Department may also be counted towards the major at Haverford.
Creative Writing Concentration
Creative writing courses at Haverford are open to all students. Only a handful of English majors per year, however, are accepted into the Creative Writing Concentration.
The Creative Writing Concentration entails:
- two courses in creative writing (only one of which is counted toward the major)
- writing a senior thesis composed of an original creative text (usually poetry, fiction or drama) and a rigorous critical introduction.
Students interested in completing the Creative Writing Concentration apply for acceptance in the spring semester of their junior year by submitting a portfolio of creative work to the department chair in March of their junior year. Each portfolio is read closely by the departmental concentration committee. Admission depends on the number of applicants and the committee’s assessment of whether the work demonstrates a readiness to generate a substantial literary project.
The culminating research experience for our majors is Senior Seminar, ENGL 399. Senior conference is integral to the entire effect of the curriculum and workings of the department. As the capstone course to the major, it plays a crucial role as the central unifying activity of the student's own self-understanding and shared sense of purpose, completing as it does the work put in place in Junior Seminar. The course, which carries 1.5 credits, involves two parts: a critical essay based on independent research and reading and a comprehensive oral examination that covers the thesis and the coursework the student has done towards the major.
A detailed description of the format, goals, and assessment criteria for the senior experience can be found in the complete departmental statement in the Catalog (PDF).
Requirements for Honors
The department awards honors in English on the basis of performance in coursework within the Tri-College departments, the senior essay and the oral examination conducted at the end of the senior year. The department reserves high honors for distinguished achievement in all three of these areas.
Concentrations & Interdisciplinary Minors
The English major shares a number of courses with concentrations including Gender and Sexuality Studies, African and Africana Studies, Peace, Justice and Human Rights, as well as interdisciplinary majors including comparative literature. Students are encouraged to consider exploring these and other cognate areas in relation to the major.
Students who major in English often study abroad during their junior year. The department urges students choosing between the fall and spring semester abroad to opt for the spring. A small number of majors also study abroad for the full junior year.
The department awards up to four prizes annually:
The Terry M. Krieger '69 Memorial Prize: Established by members of his family for the graduating senior demonstrating the greatest achievement in writing during the junior and senior years, to be chosen by the English Department.
Newton Prize in English Literature: A prize established by A. Edward Newton may be awarded annually on the basis of departmental honors in English, provided that the work of the leading candidate, in the judgment of the English Department, merits this award.
William Ellis Scull Prize: A prize established in 1929 by William Ellis Scull, Class of 1883, is awarded annually to the junior or senior who has shown the greatest achievement in voice and in the articulation of the English language.
Ian Walker Prize: A prize established in 2002, by friends, family and classmates as a memorial to honor Ian Walker, class of 1950. This prize is awarded to either a junior or senior English major.