English Literature

Do you enjoy myths and mysteries? Have you always loved reading and writing? Do you get inspired by discussing books, films, and television shows with your friends? An English Literature major at RWU means developing the intellectual and critical thinking skills to analyze what you read and see defend your positions in papers, publications and discussions. At RWU, our student-centered program will teach you the strong writing, research and presentation skills you need to transform your passion into a career.

Course Offerings

Students painting. Whether you're interested in magic, nature, romance, or drama, the English Literature Program at RWU has a course for you.  Our courses celebrate British and American literature, while offering opportunities to explore authors and works from other traditions, including world literatures in translation and literatures that focus on cultures, genres, periods and themes representative of both non-western and western perspectives.

See Course Offerings 

Download Fact Sheet

Students working on computer.Magazine

As an RWU English major, learning happens both in and outside the classroom. Our student magazine, Voices, gives you the chance to submit your work and get published. Whether its poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or just snippets of daily life, we want to hear from you. Check out the magazine                  

RStudents presenting.esearch

We take your research seriously. Whether you’re analyzing the role of women in Harry Potter or exploring Marxism in Mean Girls, you will have the opportunity to make connections among pop culture, literature, and the world around you, and present your findings at national conferences. 

Explore presentation topics 

Student serving lemonade.Special Events

Whether it’s a Victorian high tea in English gardens or a career night to get you excited for your future, there’s always something going on in the English department. 

See events and awards


IAlumni panel.nternships

Internships in fields like marketing, communications, and publishing, help English majors apply their passions to a career path. Getting real-world experience before graduation will set you up for success.  

see internship opportunities

Students graduating.Your Future

Wondering what you can do with an English Literature major? The possibilities are endless! See where our alumni are working and get inspired. 

Future careers 

Degree Requirements

Majors pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in English must satisfy University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210. In addition, majors must complete the following 14 courses as specified and sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives taken outside the major toward a minor or second major.

see course requirements

To read more about our academic offerings, or to view full course descriptions, please refer to our University Catalog.

Student Learning Outcomes

100-level courses:

  • Formulate a succinct, well-constructed thesis statement
  • Identify the operative genre differences between novels, plays, and drama
  • Conduct close reading of primary texts
  • Complete at least two formal short essays (3-5 pages)
  • Complete frequent, regular writing assignments—textual commentaries (TC), 1-2 pages
  • Master literary terms
  • Carry this knowledge and these skills to subsequent English Literature courses

200-level courses:

  • Complete annotated bibliographies
  • Master more sophisticated literary  texts
  • Develop more sophisticated/thesis skills
  • Complete critical essays of 5-6 pages with both primary and secondary sources
  • Deliver formal oral presentations
  • In ENG 220 (Literary Analysis)
    a)  Recognize and apply a number of literary theories to any given text (e.g., Marxism, feminism, post-colonialism, Gender Studies)
    b)  Complete a critical / research essay: of 8-12 pages
    c)  Develop the paper in stages: proposal, draft of introduction with thesis statement, outline of paper, and multiple drafts

300/400-level courses:

  • Further develop reading/research/writing skills develop  in lower levels
  • Master additional literary terminology
  • Integrate additional theoretical approaches to studying texts with continued emphasis on close reading of primary texts
  • Complete a major critical essay of at least 10-12 pages that includes integration of critical sources
  • Deliver more sophisticated formal oral presentations
  • In ENG 480/481 (Senior Thesis):
    a)  Compose a formal thesis proposal with outline (ENG 480)
    b)  Complete a thesis – a minimum of 20-30 pages (ENG 481)
    c)  Participate in a public colloquium (ENG 481)
Headshot of Hannah Little

Building Her Future Career

Hannah Little, RWU Class of 2020
Creative Writing

In just two years at Roger Williams University, Hannah Little has gained enough experience to build a career on.

Read full story