With a concentration in English literature, you will explore and analyze literature as well as other texts from the past and present through a variety of perspectives and historical periods. You will learn to understand the historical and cultural conditions within which texts are produced and become aware of current theoretical approaches that shape the study of English today. Emphasis will be on effective writing in several critical modes, while employing a variety of theoretical approaches in your critical analyses.
Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:
- Analyze both verbal and visual texts from a number of genres and a variety of historical periods.
- Read texts critically and with sensitivity to the historical and cultural conditions within which they are produced.
- Demonstrate the ability to produce effective writing in a variety of critical modes, using the conventions of standard American English. In addition, students choosing to focus on creative writing will demonstrate appropriate ability in this area.
- Understand current theory and be able to employ a variety of theoretical approaches in their critical analyses.
- Incorporate secondary sources and/or traditional and nontraditional research material into the analysis of texts and using correct MLA style.
- Understand the goals of the major and assess the strengths and weaknesses of their program.
Writing in the Discipline
1. Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?
Writing is central to all aspects of the discipline of English. It is a means of thinking about texts and how writers create them, of reflecting on learning, of discovering and demonstrating new knowledge, of applying critical and creative ways of thinking to disciplinary issues and problems, of understanding oneself and the world, of developing intellectual agency and of working for social change.
2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?
The B.A. in English has the following WID courses:
ENGL 200: Reading Literature and Culture
ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory and Criticism
ENGL 460: Seminar in English
These courses were chosen because they represent key moments in each program where you will learn and demonstrate writing knowledge and skills. We would add, however, that virtually all courses in English, and especially those in creative writing and professional writing, are writing-intensive, where writing is assigned, taught and evaluated.
3. What forms or genres of writing will you learn and practice in your WID courses? Why these genres?
The range of genres or forms of writing in which you will engage and practice is too extensive to list in its entirety and depends, to a significant extent, on your chosen concentration within the major. Having said this, we offer a few examples of the writing students do in different concentrations below.
Within the literature concentration, students produce literary/cultural analysis papers that require skills of close reading and knowledge of and dexterity with applying critical and analytical approaches to texts.
Within the creative writing concentration students practice the writing skills that inform key literary genres such as fiction, poetry and nonfiction.
Within the professional writing concentration, students produce reports, proposals, analysis papers, research papers and various digital and multimodal texts.
Students in each concentration must take courses in the other concentrations, so they will range outside the genres described above to experiment with and practice a variety of academic, creative and professional genres of writing.
4. What kinds of teaching practices will you encounter in your WID courses?
The English Department has long prided itself on engaging in “best practices” when it comes to the teaching of writing. We will engage you in scaffolded writing assignments that initially include low-stakes or informal writing to help you make sense of challenging readings and materials; in this way you write to learn as you learn to write. You will also practice key moves in lower stakes writing assignments that inform higher stakes writing projects for midterm papers and final projects. Small group workshops and tutorials are a regular part of our practice and provide crucial feedback for effective writing. In virtually all of your courses we provide models and exemplars of the work we ask you to produce. We often hold one-on-one conferences to guide you in individual challenges and difficulties. In sum, we engage in the full-range of practices that research in the teaching and learning of writing has shown helps students learn to write well.
5. When you have satisfied your department’s WID requirement, you should be able to:
- Demonstrate intellectual competency, critical thinking, close reading, the ability to break large assignments into manageable pieces and the skills to revise and edit your own work.
- Use writing to problem solve, to collaborate and persuade, to reason and come to a conclusion based on reliable information and to reflect on yourself, your learning and the world around you.
- Produce writing that is guided by purpose and engages and moves an intended audience. You will, finally, know that learning to write well is a lifelong journey and that to succeed as a writer you must be adaptable and flexible, suiting your words to the situation. You will know that writing can help change the world.
Minor in English
Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities. Click below for information on the minor in English.