English & Comparative Literary Studies


MAJOR: A major requires a minimum of eleven courses (44 units). These must include three historical survey courses (ENGL 287, ENGL 288, and ENGL 289); students may substitute one of the corresponding first-year survey courses (187, 188, 189) for its 200 level counterpart (287, 288, 289), but may not receive major credit for both (e.g. 187 and 287). Students must also take three sequential seminars (ENGL 290, ENGL 390, and ENGL 490) in their sophomore, junior and senior years, respectively. The remaining five courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser. But they must include one course from each of the following four categories, with no more than two taken at the 200-level:

Group I: Medieval and Renaissance Literature (courses numbered 210-229 or 310-329)
Group II: 18th and 19th Century Literature (courses numbered 230-249 or 330-349)
Group III: 20th and 21st Century Literature (courses numbered 250-269 or 350-369).
Group IV: Emergent Literatures (courses that satisfy the department criteria for representing the study of literatures from historically marginalized groups or communities)
[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.]

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: Literary Criticism. 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. These must include ENGL 287, ENGL 288, ENGL 289, ENGL 290, ENGL 390, ENGL 490, and three courses from among the four upper division course categories noted above as Groups I, II, III and IV (only one of these may be a 200 level course). The four remaining electives must be creative writing courses. At least two of these must be from the English department. Other departments and programs that have offered writing courses include French, Theater, AHVA, 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.

MINOR: Five courses (20 units); two courses from 287-290 (one first year course from among ENGL 187, 188 or 189 may substitute for its 200 level equivalent); and three other courses, two of which must be taken at the 300-level.

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.

JUNIOR 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.

SENIOR 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.