34 semester hours required
ENGL 451 (1) – Senior Exercise Preparation
ENGL 452 (3) – Senior Exercise
The Senior Exercise in the English major involves successfully completing four credits in the senior year. In the fall course, each student will begin preliminary work on her senior thesis which she will complete in the spring as part of her senior seminar. The senior seminar also involves the further study of research methods, argumentation, and critical theory.
In the fall semester, each senior will take English 4xx, a one-credit course in which she prepares a thesis proposal and an annotated bibliography under the supervision of an advisor, whom she will acquire in the junior year. During the course, she will select a topic and line of inquiry that matches her strengths and interests. She will have the option to 1) re-envision and develop an earlier paper in ways that lead her into new areas of inquiry or 2) start a new project entirely. Each student should get departmental approval for her proposal by November 1. An annotated critical bibliography will be due by the end of the semester. The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis.
In the spring semester, each major will take English 452, a three-credit course in which she will write the senior thesis, participate in a weekly seminar, teach at least one class session related to her project, and give a public presentation of her work. The structured series of activities of the seminar will aid each student in building on the preliminary work she has done as an English major. Each student will contribute to her classmates’ projects by following their progress and offering constructive criticism of their work.
At least 3 of the following courses:
ENGL 235 (3) – Shakespeare
ENGL 239 (3) – Old English Language and Literature
ENGL 315 (3) – Swords and Shield-Maidens: Gender Politics in Medieval Heroic Epic
ENGL 319 (3) – Chaucer
ENGL 322 (3) – Romance and Renewal: Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama
ENGL 324 (3) – Revenge and Ravishment: Shakespeare and Jacobean Drama
ENGL 329 (3) – American Romanticism
ENGL 331 (3) – The 19th-Century American Novel
ENGL 340 (3) – The Sacred and the Profane in the English Renaissnace
ENGL 344 (3) – Women in the Renaissance
ENGL 367 (3) – Visionary Rebels: Romantic Artists
ENGL 386 (3) – Fatal Attractions: Death and Sex in the 19th-Century Novel
At least 2 of the following courses:
ENGL 221 (3) – Loveliness Extreme: Women Poets as Visionary Inheritors
ENGL 256 (3) – New Writing from Ireland and Scotland
ENGL 258 (3) – Native American Literature
ENGL 282 (3) – Modern American Authors
ENGL 330 (3) – African-American Literature
ENGL 332 (3) – Modern and Contemporary Women Writers
ENGL 382 (3) – Contemporary International Fiction
ENGL 393 (3) – Modern Poetry
ENGL 394 (3) – Contemporary Poetry
ENGL 397 (3) – Becoming Modern
Working closely with her advisor, each student should seek to construct a plan for the minor
that includes the following approaches to literary study:
These courses will highlight the construction of literary traditions in different periods.
2. Critical and/or theoretical
These courses will foreground the study and use of a variety of models of literary interpretation.
These courses will involve a significant focus on the study of literary texts and traditions from other countries in relation to those of England and the United States.
These courses will foreground the study of different genres and their conventions.
These courses will foreground the study of literature’s relationship to identity categories such as those based on class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
More details about the five approaches to literary study listed above can be found on the English Department website and can be requested from the chair of the English Department. Majors are encouraged to take multiple courses in each category. Some courses may be featured under more than one category.
A student may choose courses for her major that allow her to study an area of interest in greater depth; this may be particularly helpful as students prepare for the senior exercise. (For example, a major may focus on a particular historical period, a particular genre, the literature of a particular social group, or even a more narrowly defined area of interest.) A student may instead choose to craft a major that emphasizes breadth, pursuing courses in a wider range of topics. We encourage students to take courses in Creative Writing as well as courses in other departments that complement their course of study and their areas of interest in English.
Majors who want to study abroad often spend their junior year at the University of London or the University of St. Andrews, and/or a summer at Oxford University through the Virginia Program at Oxford. A student considering study abroad should consult with her advisor for recommended preparatory courses.
A student considering graduate school in English should confer with the chair of the department to be sure that she has planned an appropriate curriculum. Since most graduate schools require two modern languages and some require a classical language as well, the student should have a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language by the time of her graduation from Sweet Briar.