Literatures and Cultures in English

Requirements apply to previously declared concentrations only. (4/1/11)

About the Concentration

Studying English at Brown is the best way to gain an introduction to the works and traditions that produce our sense of what it means to be a member of the human community. For 40 years the English Department at Brown has been at the forefront of innovations in the field of literary studies. A pioneer in interdisciplinary methods of reading, the department has also led a turn toward “transnational” approaches – a response to a world in which works of literature and literary criticism increasingly appear against a global rather than national backdrop. Our emphasis, as students, scholars and teachers, is on understanding how meaning is produced historically, and how literature contributes to and is formed by that process.

Students concentrating in English will learn to think about the relation between a literary text and its moment in history; develop a sense of the work as shaped by, and shaping, contemporary practices and debates; and encounter critical models as bodies of knowledge with their own histories, tensions and traditions. The principle of our activity in the English department is an alertness to our own historical moment as a prism in which new aspects of a work may come to light.

All concentrators must have their concentration programs approved by a concentration advisor. To declare a concentration, students need the Registrar's Declaration of Standard Concentration form and the English Department's concentration advising form.

Concentration Requirements

The concentration in Literatures and Cultures in English consists of ten courses. The ten courses must include one course in literary theory or the history of literary criticism as well as two courses in each of the following areas:

  1. I. Medieval and Early Modern Literatures and Cultures
  2. II. Enlightenment and the Rise of National Literatures and Cultures
  3. III. Modern and Contemporary Literatures and Cultures

Students are encouraged to choose at least one course in each area that will provide a coherent sense of the literary history and the major critical developments during a substantial portion of the period covered by the area. Courses numbered ENGL 0210, 0410, and 0610 are specifically designed for this purpose.

Concentrators also choose a four-course focus from one of the following focus areas: (a) historical development of literature, (b) historical period, (c) anglophone, post-colonial, and multicultural studies, (d) American, British, or another national/regional literature, (e) gender and sexuality, (f) genre, (g) theory, (h) nonfiction writing, or (i) independent. For further information about these specializations, see below.

A given course may satisfy two requirements (for example, a designated Area I course may also satisfy a focus requirement). However, a total of ten courses must be completed to satisfy requirements for the concentration. Five of the ten required courses must be at the 1000-level or above.

As many as two courses dealing primarily with the practice of writing rather than the interpretation of literature may be counted as electives toward the concentration. This provision differs slightly for students focusing in nonfiction writing (see below).

These courses must be 1000-level courses. Such courses may not be counted toward theory or scholarly area requirements.

Concentrators may count one ENGL 0200 Seminar in Writing, Literatures, and Cultures as an elective in the concentration, but such courses may not be counted toward theory, scholarly area, or focus requirements.

Up to two courses outside the English Department (e.g., Comparative Literature, History, Modern Culture and Media Studies, American Civilization, foreign literatures, Classics, Medieval Studies, Program in Literary Arts) may count toward the concentration requirements. Such courses must be approved by a concentration advisor. (Courses from other departments that are cross-listed with the English Department are regarded as English courses and do not require advisor approval.)

All substitutions and/or exceptions must be approved by the concentration advisor in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. A substitution or exception is not approved until specified in writing in the student’s concentration file housed in the English Department.

Models for the Four-Course Focus

Honors in English
Requirements are the same as those for the regular concentration, with the following changes and additions:
Honors candidates must complete at least three upper-level seminars or comparable small courses and complete ENGL 1991 and ENGL 1992. Honors candidates must also earn more A's than B's in courses taken as part of the English concentration (or receive the equivalent faculty evaluation on a Course Performance Report for courses taken S/NC).

Honors in Nonfiction Writing
Requirements are the same as those for the regular concentration. Eligible Honors applicants must have completed three upper-level seminars, two of which must be nonfiction writing seminars. Honors candidates must successfully complete ENGL 1993 and ENGL 1994. Honors candidates must also earn more A's than B's in courses taken as part of the English concentration (or receive the equivalent faculty evaluation on a Course Performance Report for courses taken S/NC).




Page last updated in February, 2012.

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