English

Overview

Courses in the English department engage students in the close critical study of English-language literature in an international and interdisciplinary context, encompassing works from British, American, and other Anglophone literary traditions. In keeping with Occidental’s mission values of equity and excellence, students in English courses read the work of both long-studied writers and of those previously excluded from traditional literary history. Majors will 1) become proficient in close reading and focused discussion of individual literary works, 2) learn to situate those works in their generative historical, geographic and social contexts, and 3) become skilled in interpreting them through a range of theories and methods that characterize the evolving discipline of literary studies. Non-majors will develop their capacity to engage in close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Most courses in the department are seminars or combinations of lecture and discussion. This pedagogical orientation underscores the department’s strong emphasis on faculty-student interaction and the collaborative production of knowledge. Introductory survey courses (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289) expose students to the breadth and diversity of Anglophone literary history. Upper division courses (ENGL 300 level classes) develop sophisticated skills in literary analysis, interpretive writing, and oral presentation. Methodological and research-oriented seminars in the sophomore, junior and senior years (ENGL 290, ENGL 390 and ENGL 490) direct students in the practice of original independent analysis that places primary textual interpretation in dialogue with secondary critical research.

Major Requirements

A major requires a minimum of eleven courses (44 units).

COURSEWORK

Historical surveys:

ENGL 287Early British Literary Traditions

4

ENGL 288Modern British Literary Traditions

4

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4

*Students may substitute one of the corresponding first-year survey courses (ENGL 187, ENGL 188, ENGL 189) for its 200 level counterpart (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289), but may not receive major credit for both (e.g. ENGL 187 and ENGL 287).

Seminars

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4

ENGL 390Junior Seminar in English

4

ENGL 490Senior Seminar: Comprehensive Project

4

Group 1 - Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 210 – 229

Or

ENGL 310 – 329

Group 2 - 18th and 19th Century Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 230 – 249

Or

ENGL 330 – 349

Group 3 - 20th and 21st Century Literature

Students must select one course numbered:

ENGL 250 – 269

Or

ENGL 350 – 369

Group 4 - Emergent Literatures

Students must select one course from the list:

ENGL 241The "Deviant"

4

ENGL 341Race, Law, and Literature

4

ENGL 34719th Century Novel and Bollywood Cinema

4

NOTE: “Emergent Literature” courses will typically fall under the Group II or III categories. However, they cannot count for both a period requirement (such as Group II or III) and the Emergent Literature requirement.

Elective:

ENGL One additional ENGL course

*A maximum of two courses taken at the 200-level can be applied to the Group 1-4 requirement.

Students considering graduate work in literature are strongly encouraged to take additional English courses beyond the minimum of eleven in order to broaden and deepen their knowledge of literary history and their practice of literary interpretation. They should also take ENGL 370. Most graduate programs require proficiency in at least one foreign language.

CREATIVE WRITING EMPHASIS

Students majoring in English may elect to take additional courses in order to complete a Creative Writing Emphasis, a special track that provides a strong background in both literary history and creative writing skills. 

Students choosing this emphasis will take a total of 13 courses.

Historical surveys

Students must select one course from the list below:

ENGL 287Early British Literary Traditions

4

ENGL 288Modern British Literary Traditions

4

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4

*Two must be at the 200-level. Students may not receive major credit for both ENGL 187 and ENGL 287, for example.

Seminars

Students must complete the courses listed below:

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4

ENGL 390Junior Seminar in English

4

ENGL 490Senior Seminar: Comprehensive Project

4

Three upper division courses:

Choose from categories noted above as Groups I, II, III and IV (only one of these may be a 200 level course).

Four creative writing electives

At least two of these must be from the English department. Other departments and programs that have offered writing courses include French, Media Arts and Culture, Theater, and Writing and Rhetoric. Students interested in pursuing the Creative Writing Emphasis must work out a careful program in consultation with their adviser and the department chair.

ADVANCED PLACEMENT POLICY

English majors who have completed the AP test in English with a score of 4 or 5 may petition the department chair to be allowed to graduate with 10 courses (including all required courses and Group I-IV categories) rather than the 11 specified above.

WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in English satisfy the final component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing ENGL 390 in the junior year and receiving a notation of "Satisfactory" for its writing component.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

All majors must take ENGL 490 (Senior Seminar) in the fall of the senior year, where they will design, develop, and complete a significant project involving literary research and analysis. The project will result in a substantial essay of original interpretation and pertinent secondary research, and a formal conference-style oral presentation at the Senior Symposium held during the spring semester. See the department website for more details.

HONORS

Honors may be awarded to graduating seniors who demonstrate excellence in course work and who successfully develop their comps project into an honors thesis. To be eligible, students must have a 3.65 grade point average in courses taken toward the major and an overall 3.5 grade point average. Qualified students will be invited to apply for permission to proceed to honors by the department prior to the beginning of the spring semester. Upon review by department faculty, students whose applications are accepted will register for ENGL 499 (Independent Study), for two units in the spring semester. They will complete a thesis to be orally defended before a faculty committee during the spring semester. Honors candidates are encouraged to take ENGL 370, preferably in the junior year. For further details, consult with your department advisor.

Minor Requirements

Five courses or 20 units.

COURSEWORK

Historical Surveys

Students must select two courses from the list below:

ENGL 287Early British Literary Traditions

4

ENGL 289The American Experience in Literature

4

ENGL 290Introduction to Literary Methods

4

*One first year course from among ENGL 187, ENGL 188 or ENGL 189 may substitute for its 200 level equivalent

Three additional electives

Any three ENGL courses, two of which must be taken at the 300-level

Courses

English Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Leila Neti, chair

Associate Professor, English

B.A., UCLA; M.A., Ph.D., UC Irvine

Daniel Fineman

Professor, English

B.A., Franklin and Marshall College; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University

James Ford III

Assistant Professor, English

B.A., Morehouse College; M.A., PhD, University of Notre Dame

Ross Lerner

Assistant Professor, English

B.A., Haverford College; M.A., Princeton University; Ph.D., Princeton University

Warren Montag

Brown Family Professor in Literature, English

B.A., UC Berkeley; M.A., Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School

Michael Near

Professor, English, Emeritus

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Eric Newhall

Professor, English; Advisory Committee, American Studies

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

Martha Ronk

Irma and Jay Price Professor of English Literature; English, Emeritus

B.A., Wellesley College; Ph.D., Yale University

John Swift

Associate Dean for Core Curriculum and Student Issues; English; Core Program; Advisory Committee, Urban and Environmental Policy

B.A., Middlebury College M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia

Raul Villa

Professor, English; Advisory Committee, American Studies; Advisory Committee, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

B.A., Yale University; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz

Jean Wyatt

Professor, English

A.B., Pomona College; Ph.D., Harvard University

On Special Appointment

Danzy Senna

Writer in Residence, NTT faculty member