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Indiana University Bloomington

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The English Major

This part of the department site will acquaint you with courses, faculty members, career opportunities, and creative activities in English at IU Bloomington. Whether youíre already an English Major or just thinking about taking a few courses in English, you have many options before you, and these pages will help you find the opportunities and experiences you seek. For more specific advice about courses and requirements, for help solving problems, or for guidance with the University system, you should contact Shauna Melvin, Undergraduate Advisor, or Judith Brown, the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Ballantine 442).


English B.A. Guide


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The requirements for the English Major not only provide students with in-depth training in literary history and culture, but help students develop advanced skills in writing, interpretation, and critical thinking.

Total 33 hours

  1. ENG L260 - Introduction to the Advanced Study of Literature (3 cr.), recommended within the first 9 credit hours of the major.
  2. One introductory genre course (3 cr.) approved for CASE Intensive Writing credit, chosen from:
    • L203 - Introduction to Drama
    • L204 - Introduction to Fiction
    • L205 - Introduction to Poetry
    • L206 - Introduction to Non-Fiction Prose
  3. Three literary history courses (9 cr.), recommended within the first 21 credit hours of the major
    • L310 - Literary History 1: Beginnings through the Seventeenth Century (3 credit hours)
    • L312 - Literary History 2: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (3 credit hours)
    • L316 - Literary History 3: Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries (3 credit hours)
  4. L371 - Critical Practices(3 credit hours).
  5. Five additional electives in English (15 cr.):
    • Two courses (6 cr.) at or above the 200 level;
    • Two courses (6 cr.) at or above the 300 level;
    • One course (3 cr.) at the 400 level.

(Electives may be chosen from any English (ENG) course above the 100 level, excepting W202 and W205. A full list of course options may be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.)


The requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in English depend on when you first enrolled at Indiana University Bloomington as a degree-seeking student. The requirements in effect when you enrolled will remain the same throughout your undergraduate career. To understand your Bachelor of Arts degree requirements, select the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for the academic year in which you first enrolled as a degree-seeking student on the Bloomington campus. Click here for earlier degree requirements.


Our gateway to the major, L260: Introduction to Advanced Study of Language and Literature, introduces students to the four principles essential to the advanced study of literature: attention to the nuances of language and linguistic expression, understanding of the structures and variations of literary genres, interpretation through historical and cultural contexts, and analysis via traditional and contemporary theories of literature.

Alongside the gateway course, students are required to take an Intensive Writing class in a genre of their choice: L203: Introduction to Drama; L204: Introduction to Fiction; L205: Introduction to Poetry; L206: Introduction to Non-Fiction Prose. This requirement allows students to focus their training on a specific form of literature. It introduces them to the terms and issues of genre analysis as it prepares them for advanced writing in English. It helps students develop the skills they will apply throughout their coursework.

Our required literary history sequence, L310, L312, and L316: Literary History introduces students to the diversity of literatures in English as they unfold in time and in different parts of the globe. Taking these courses early in the degree and in chronological sequence greatly enhances understanding of the general evolution of literature and provides an essential framework for future coursework on more specialized topics.

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Finally, L371: Critical Practices introduces students to cutting-edge theories of literature and culture, enhancing student skills in the analysis and appreciation of language and literature.


Beyond the core curriculum, majors are free to pursue a wide range of topics and forms of cultural expression. Some electives are devoted to specific authors and literary periods (Chaucer, Austen, Wallace, Romanticism, Postmodernism, etc.) and some are devoted to the advanced study of specific genres (science fiction; nature writing; literature for young adults, etc.). Some are committed to a specific technology or media (the history of the book, film, the Internet, etc.), while others examine forms of literary culture (women and literature, Caribbean literature, African American literature, Queer literature, etc.). The department also offers exciting workshop courses in creative writing, composition, and digital media, which can also be taken as electives.

Given the diversity of our elective offerings, students should think seriously about their course of study, choosing courses that build on each other and deepen learning over time. Each student should seek a dynamic course of study, balancing general concepts with specific approaches, deep tradition with new forms of expression, familiar ideologies with alternative perspectives. Ultimately, given the flexibility of the degree, each student will develop an appreciation of the choices that inform learning in the humanities and a more expansive perspective that diverse readings in literature and history can afford.

With its divisions of 200-, 300-, and 400-level courses, our curriculum is structured to allow for a smooth progression of knowledge and skill. Over time, electives should build upon one another in both complexity and depth. Majors are required to take one 400-level capstone seminar in their third or fourth year. These courses, limited to fifteen students, offer a more intensive look at specific literary topics and serve to hone all of the studentís skills as a reader, writer, and researcher. They afford the English major a valuable opportunity to work hands-on with an instructor in learning and applying specific methodologies to the study of literature and culture.


Students wishing to pursue a more focused line of inquiry through the Major may elect to participate in one of the Departmentís several CONCENTRATIONS. To receive a certificate for concentration, students typically need to complete four courses in a specific area of inquiry (at least three of these courses must be at the 300 level or above). The Department has designated ten areas of inquiry, reflecting the specializations and unique talents of its faculty, and each semester a list of courses that fulfill each concentration will be provided for students.

  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Narrative and the Novel
  • Drama and Performance
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Post-colonial Literatures
  • Popular Culture and Cultural Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Media/Digital Media Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Public and Professional Writing

Upon completion, Concentrations in Creative Writing and Public and Professional Writing are posted on a studentís IU transcript. Other Concentrations are noted by an official department letter, which the department will keep on file as part of the studentís permanent record.

Another option available to students is a Concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies, for which the student, with the help of a faculty advisor, designs a course of study that includes coursework in English and another department in the College.


A departmental Honors Program is open to selected English majors. This program allows the student to craft an independent research or creative writing project and to work with a group of similarly motivated peers. The principle feature of this program is the writing and public presentation of a thesis in the senior year.