English Literature

English Literature is about more than reading plays, novels and poems. It’s about developing the intellectual and critical thinking skills to analyze what you read and 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’ll need to succeed in graduate school and any professional career.

Roger Williams University offers a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, as well as an English Literature/Secondary Education dual major.

The English Literature program at RWU celebrates the British and American canon, 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. Studies occur in an environment marked by strong faculty commitment to student-centered education. As a result, students are actively engaged in achieving individual excellence and are involved also in the larger life of formal and informal program activities in and out of class.

Social elements of the program include a literature society and the international honor society. The academic design of the curriculum fosters progressive intellectual development; depth and breadth of knowledge of literature and its many integrated contexts (especially philosophical, psychological, historical, aesthetic and cross-cultural); and the assembly of critical thinking, analytical writing, argument and defense, research, presentation and related skills, all of which prepare students for leadership roles, graduate study as well as a wide variety of professional careers in education and the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Degree Requirements

The English Literature Major

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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.

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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.

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