English Major (Fall 2021 and After)

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the English Department will enter a transition period, as we begin to phase in a new set of requirements for the English major and the modified English major for students who want to pursue a teaching license.

This page summarizes the new requirements for the standard English major. These requirements will apply to all students who enter St. Olaf in the fall of 2021 or thereafter.

Students who began their studies at St. Olaf prior to the fall of 2021 are likely to have the option of continuing with the old requirements for the English major. Changing to the new set of requirements for the English major may also require changing to the new OLE Core general education curriculum. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for further information.

In addition to our standard English major (outlined here), we also offer a modified version of our standard major for students who wish to receive a teaching license: the English major with Communication Arts/Literature Teaching Licensure. Click on the tab marked “Major #2 – English major with Teaching License” for more information on that option.

Please see the college catalog for more information (here). The college catalog is the official record of the requirements for all majors.

Description of Requirements for the English Major

The standard English major is organized around three categories (American literature, Anglophone literature, and British literature) and requires ten courses: English 185, three courses in specified categories, one course that fulfills the department’s antiracism requirement, and five electives. Among the courses taken at level II, at least one must be in literature before 1800. Among the ten courses required for the major, at least two must be at level III, and at least one of these level III courses must be in literary studies. Independent research cannot count as one of a student’s two level III major requirements.

One Core Course
ENGL 185: Literary Studies
Note: ENGL 185 is meant to help you build a foundation in literary studies. It does not necessary need to be your first English course, but we recommend taking it during your first or second year. Class year limits are used to restrict seats in the course to first-year and sophomore students. If you need to take the course as a junior or senior, please contact the English Department chair or the instructor.
One Course in American Literature
ENGL 203: Asian American Literature
ENGL 205: American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 207: Women of the African Diaspora
ENGL 209: Arab American Literature and Film
ENGL 232: Writing America 1588-1800 (Pre 1800)
ENGL 251: Major Chicano/a Authors
ENGL 261: Counterculture and American Literature
ENGL 263: Narratives of Social Protest
ENGL 279: Psychopathy in American Culture
ENGL 340: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: American
ENGL 345: Topics in American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 392: Major American Authors
NOTE: On occasion, the English Department may offer additional courses that satisfy the American literature requirement, such as topics courses at the 200- or 300-level with an American focus. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about other courses that may qualify, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad.
One Course in Anglophone Literature
ENGL 201: Transatlantic Anglophone Literature
ENGL 204: South Asian Literature
ENGL 206: African Literature
ENGL 212: Literature of the Eastern Caribbean (abroad)
ENGL 347: Topics in Post-Colonial Literatures
NOTE: On occasion, the English Department may offer additional courses that satisfy the Anglophone literature requirement, such as topics courses at the 200- or 300-level with an Anglophone focus. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about other courses that may qualify, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad.
One Course in British Literature
ENGL 208: Black and Asian British Literatures
ENGL 222: Ecocriticism and Renaissance Literature (Pre 1800)
ENGL 223: Old and Middle English Literature: The Weird and the Wonderful (Pre 1800)
ENGL 225: Neoclassical and Romantic Literatures (Pre 1800)
ENGL 228: Romantic/Victorian/Modern British Literature
ENGL 229: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
ENGL 243: Arthurian Legend and Literature (Pre 1800)
ENGL 256: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Pre 1800)
ENGL 269: Art, Design, and Literature in Britain Since 1950
ENGL 271: Literature and the Scientific Revolution (Pre 1800)
ENGL 330: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: British
ENGL 380: Shakespeare
ENGL 391: Major British Authors
ENGL 395: Chaucer from an Ethical Perspective
NOTE: On occasion, the English Department may offer additional courses that satisfy the British literature requirement, such as topics courses at the 200- or 300-level with a British focus. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about other courses that may qualify, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad.
One Course that satisfies the English Department Antiracism Requirement
NOTE: You must fulfill the antiracism requirement and the other category requirements (American, Anglophone, and British) with different courses. In other words, you cannot “double dip” by using a single course to fulfill both the antiracism requirement and the American, Anglophone, or British requirement.
ENGL 203: Asian American Literature
ENGL 205: American Racial and Multicultural Literatures
ENGL 208: Black and Asian British Literatures
ENGL 232: Writing America 1588-1800 (Pre 1800)
ENGL 360: Literary Criticism and Theory
Five Elective Courses
Any course taught in the St. Olaf English Department (with the prefix ENGL) can count as an English elective. Students who finish the entire Great Conversation sequence receive one elective credit toward the English major. ID 258: Theater in London also functions as an English elective. Please consult the English Department chair with questions about courses that may qualify as electives, as well as questions about fulfilling this requirement with transfer credit or during study abroad. Note that English elective credit is only given for courses that focus on literature originally written in English. This means that students will not earn elective credit for courses that focus on literature in translation or literature in another language.
Among the courses taken to satisfy English major requirements, one must be a 200-level course in literary studies in pre-1800 literature.
See the courses marked “Pre 1800” in the American, Anglophone, and British categories.
Additional Comments

In comparison with our previous English major requirements, three changes are particularly significant. First, the revised major requirements outlined above introduce a new set of categories for English major coursework–American literature, Anglophone literature, and British literature–that will replace our previous categories: literary history, cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary, and genre. By doing so, we hope to provide students with a more thoroughly global understanding of literature and culture. Second, the revised major includes a new requirement, the antiracism requirement, that will give students an opportunity to explore the ways in which antiracist pedagogies and practices are transforming a variety of subfields within literary studies and creative writing. Third, the revised major allows students to take courses to satisfy the category requirements (American, Anglophone, and British) and the antiracism requirement at either the 200- or the 300-level. We see this last change as a way to offer more flexibility to students in charting a path through the major that reflects their interests.

With this new set of requirements, five of the ten courses that a student takes toward the English major will be relatively restricted: English 185, one British course, one American course, one Anglophone course, and one antiracist course. (The pre-1800 requirement could be fulfilled simultaneously with the British, American, Anglophone, or antiracism requirement. We expect many but not all students to do so.) The other five courses required for the major will function as electives, enabling students to broaden or deepen their work in the English major according to their own priorities. Students are encouraged to take additional courses in our three geographic categories, as well as to take courses that don’t readily fit within these categories, including courses in creative writing, journalism, rhetoric and composition, professional writing, and publishing.