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Bachelor of Arts in English

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  • Course description
    To complete a major in English at Briar Cliff, you and your advisor will choose ten or more literature (ENGL) classes and at least three writing-and-language (WRTG) classes.

    FRESHMAN YEAR: WRTG 109, EN 110, WRTG 159 Sometime during your freshman year (or as soon as possible after you declare a major or minor), you should take the department's two "general survey" courses: Introduction to Writing (WRTG 109) and Introduction to Literature (EN 110). These two courses are designed to acquaint you with the basic principles for expressing yourself clearly in written English and for reading a literary text of any type carefully and creatively. You should take the other 100-level course offering, Contemporary Argument and Research (WRTG 159), as soon as possible during the freshman or early sophomore year; it introduces you to the tools and techniques needed to write upper-division argument and research papers in any discipline.

    THE 200's: FORMS AND CORNERSTONE COURSES Seven "sophomore-level" courses, numbered in the 200's, are offered by the English department to introduce students from all majors to the various forms (or genres) of literature. ENGL 210 = Modern Fiction, ENGL 211 = Modern Poetry, and ENGL 212 = Modern Drama, represent the core of this sequence. These three courses use selections from 20th-century authors to acquaint you with the history, content and styles in Modern Western literature. As an English major or minor, you must take one of these offerings; most students in the department take several.

    ENGL 243, Shakespeare, is the other 200-level course required of you as a major or minor. Shakespeare's plays form an important historical source for all literature written after them; and because any close reading of those plays involves such a large array of literary analytical tools, you should take ENGL 243 as a sophomore.

    The department also offers 200-level classes in Contemporary Drama(ENGL 214, covering drama written since 1950, with an emphasis on plays of the last decade), and Classics of World Literature(ENGL 260 derived from a range of cultures).

    THE 300's: HISTORY AND CULTURES Most of the upper-division offerings in English are more historically oriented, designed to acquaint you with the major eras, authors, writings and theories in both European and American literatures. Choices from the literature of pre-20th century Europe include these:

    ~ Classical literature (EN 310) ~ Renaissance literature (EN 320) ~ Enlightenment literature (EN 330) ~ British Romantic literature (EN 360) ~ Victorian literature (EN 365).

    The department also offers two American literary history classes: Nineteenth Century American Literature (EN 340) and Twentieth Century American Literature (EN 345). Most English majors, particularly those aiming toward graduate school, elect as many of these historical courses as possible; five of the seven offerings are required (two of which must be in pre-1800 eras).

    IR's: SKILLS AND SUBTLETIES All students majoring in English begin a sequence of six IR's during the first term of their junior year. ENGL 1 IR develops skills in analyzing and interpreting poetry, the most delicate and enduring of literary arts; in the Winter term (IR 2) you will explore possible careers for English majors, learn jobsearch skills, and practice articulating the skills you already have.  IR 3 studies writing for the web. IR 4 surveys mythological literature. IR 5 focuses on literary criticism.  In the last IR you will become a reviewer and evaluator of contemporary works.

    WRTG UPPER-LEVEL COURSES Meanwhile, you will also be selecting from a variety of advanced writing and language courses. One of these, WRTG 420 Composition Seminar/Internship, is a requirement; it is usually taken during the winter term of the junior or senior years (with department approval). WRTG 420 involves study of composition theories, practice in writing, and tutoring experience. You may also choose to study the history of the English language (WRTG 335 = Linguistics) or different contemporary methods for understanding and analyzing that language (WRTG 336 = Modern Grammar). You also have the opportunity to write creative fiction and poetry (WRTG 328 and WRTG 329).

    THE 400's: POSSIBILITIES UNLIMITED, AND A CAPSTONE As an upper-division student, you may want to register for EN 490, an internship course that allows you to apply your writing and organizational skills in professional job situations. Also available to you is EN 475, a one- or three-hour Independent Study course designed in consultation with one of the department's faculty. Students planning a secondary education minor are required to take EN 440, Special Methods, during the spring term before their student teaching experience.

    EN 460, a final term course taken by all English majors in the spring of the senior year, completes your overview of the history of literature. In this course you will review literature already read, fill in many remaining gaps on "famous" authors or works not yet studied, and make connections between ages and their writers through a sequence of "comprehensives," three essay and identification tests over what has been studied. Ideally, EN 460 forms the capstone on your literature studies. If you continue on to graduate school in literature, you should be excellently prepared.

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