Saint Louis University

Major in English

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English Major (BA)

Director: Jennifer Rust, Ph.D. 

The SLU Department of English not only teaches courses on major authors and in major periods of British and American literature but is also home to creative writing, rhetoric, critical theory, postcolonial literature, African-American writing, native American writing, gender and sexuality, and the history of the English language. We also teach new and emergent areas of the discipline: film, new media, ecocriticism, literature and technology, business and professional writing, literature and pedagogy.

Through the study of language, literature, and film, students understand cultural values and meanings; they understand persuasive argumentation; they develop analytical thinking and effective writing skills; they learn about literary forms, literary genres, and literary history (the characteristics of, for example, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Victorian periods, as well as the differences between them; literary and artistic movements such as Romanticism and Modernism); they appreciate human creativity; they engage imaginatively with the experiences of diverse people from different times and cultures.

Introductory Coursework

These courses are designed to showcase how the study of literature offers a distinctive-even privileged-way of knowing and experiencing the world around us. These courses seek to reveal the powerful role literature and literary study plays in the creation of the whole person.

• English 2250: "Conflict, Social Justice and Literature"
• English 2350: "Faith, Doubt and Literature"
• English 2450: "Nature, Ecology and Literature"
• English 2550: "Gender, Identity and Literature"
• English 2650: "Technology, Media and Literature"
• English 2750: "Film, Culture and Literature"
• English 2850: "Nation, Identity and Literature"


Foundational Coursework

Form and Genre (ENGL 3000-3240)
These courses focus on texts as linguistic structures. They address genres (including the novel, drama, poetry), subgenres (such as satire, documentary, noir), literary and cinematic conventions (realism, stream of consciousness, first-person narration), forms (the sonnet, the heroic couplet), formal features (patterns of rhythm and rhyme), and matters of technique (in creative-writing courses). The emphasis is on the function of form in shaping textual meaning.

History and Context (ENGL 3250-3490)
These courses explore the difference that historical context makes to the reading of texts, attending to broad literary periods and emphasizing chronological breadth. Historical contexts include literary history (the chronological succession of authors and of periods); periodization (the division of one period of literary history from another and the major characteristics of these periods); political, social, and cultural developments; and the changing ways in which texts are produced and received by readers and audiences.

Culture and Critique (ENGL 3500-3740)
These courses explore how considering the embodied writer and reader changes the way we read texts, paying special attention to how texts offer critiques of their cultures. Points at issue include gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, disability, religion, place, space, and their intersections. In this category are also included courses that consider our relations with the natural world and the humanly created world. Courses in this group explore particular theoretical and conceptual perspectives, for example, feminist, spiritual, materialist.

Rhetoric and Argumentation (ENGL 3750-3900)
These courses introduce students to the practices of rhetoric and writing through sustained engagement in both. Beyond simply analyzing arguments or interpreting texts, students in these courses will invent arguments and produce texts. They will also perform various textual modes, including alphabetic, audio, and video. What distinguishes these courses is their regular attention to students' own creativity and work.


Advanced Seminars

• Students then complete FIVE 4000-level "Advanced Seminars" - open choice.
• These seminars expect students to utilize and build upon skills practiced at the 3000-level.
• Because the 4000-level requires only a NUMBER of courses (5) but not TYPE, students are free to pursue particular areas of interest within the major.

Senior Seminar

• Students also take ENGL 4940-"Senior Seminar" during the Fall / Spring of their senior year.
• Capped at 12, these seminars are smaller and more intensive versions of the 4000-level Advanced Seminars on offer each semester.
• Students must complete ENGL 4940 to graduate with a BA in English

Old English Major Checklist

New English Major Checklist [Effective Fall 2014]

Concentrations in the Major (Optional)

Department of English Undergraduate Program Learning Outcomes (adopted
Fall 2015)

Shared Departmental Outcomes Statements for 2000 / 3000 / 4000 level
English Courses


Higher purpose. Greater good.
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