Jonathan D. Mulrooney, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair
The study of English is fundamental to a liberal education. It attends not only to literary works of the imagination — poems, plays, novels, short stories, and non-fiction — but also to the use of language as a means of communication. The Department of English offers the student the opportunity to develop an appreciation of literature and sensitivity to literary techniques and language, and to increase mastery of written expression. Courses in the department help students to become better readers, writers, and speakers, and thus have the added benefit of preparing students for graduate study in law, medicine, business, education and other professional fields that value effective communication.
Each semester the English department offers approximately 25 upper-division courses for majors, as well as numerous offerings for non-majors at the introductory and intermediate levels. Some courses are organized in terms of historical periods of English and American literature (Restoration and 18th-century Drama, Early American Literature, African-American Literature); some are organized according to literary type (Modern Drama, 19th-century Novel); and some are by author (Chaucer, Shakespeare); others are arranged thematically (Tragic View, Southern Literature); some deal with aesthetics and criticism (Feminist Literary Theory); and others concentrate upon the art of writing (Composition, Creative Writing: Poetry, Fiction, Non-fiction, and Expository Writing). Tutorials, seminars, and lecture courses on special topics are also offered, as well as a range of courses cross-listed with the College’s concentrations in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and International Studies.
English majors are required to take 11 courses in English, fulfilling the following specific requirements:
Two Introductory Courses, including:
1. Any Critical Reading and Writing (CRAW) course other than CRAW: Poetry [e.g. Fiction, Drama, Multigenre] or Montserrat “L” course that is (a) taught by an English Faculty member AND (b) receives approval of its instructor to substitute for the CRAW requirement.
2. Poetry and Poetics (prerequisite see #1, above).
Two Intermediate Courses:
1. Touchstones I
2. Either Touchstones 2A or Touchstones 2B
If the student intends to study abroad in a non-English speaking country in the junior year, it is particularly important that these Survey courses be completed in the sophomore year.
Seven Advanced Courses, fulfilling the following categories:
GROUP A (Pre-1800): 2 courses, each from a different period among Medieval, Renaissance, and 18th-Century historical periods.
GROUP B (19th century): 1 course from either the 19th-century British or 19th-century American historical period.
GROUP C (Marginalized Voices): 1 course. This group will include all courses focused on traditionally marginalized groups (i.e. courses that take as their primary focus literature or theory written by or about groups traditionally underrepresented in the canon — e.g. with respect to gender, ethnicity, class).
Group D (Theories and Methodologies): 1 course. This group will include all seminars and all courses that offer a sustained methodological or theoretical consideration of the study of literature or language (e.g. “Advanced Poetics,” “Critical Theory,” “Contemporary Critical Theory,” “Rhetoric,” “Queer Theory”).
Advanced courses can simultaneously fulfill any of these four groups. That is, “double-dipping” or “triple-dipping” is allowed (e.g. a seminar on “Gender in the Renaissance” could conceivably fulfill Groups A, C, and D at the same time). The remaining courses required for the major can come from any of the upper-division courses listed below, including courses that are approved for Study Abroad and tutorials and honors theses devoted to British or American literature. Up to two creative writing courses (at any level) may also be counted among these courses. If the student is in the Teacher Certification Program, which requires a full semester during senior year, it is also necessary to take all of the requirements for the major by the end of the first term of the senior year.
The purpose of these requirements is to (1) provide a formal grounding in the many forms literature has taken over time; (2) introduce the student to the cultural and historical issues that shape literary responses to their times; and (3) continue with development of close reading and analytical writing skills begun in the first-year courses.
Study Abroad: Students who study abroad for their junior year may transfer a maximum of four courses worth of credit toward the English major, with the exception that students studying at Oxford University or Trinity College, Dublin may transfer five courses worth of credit toward the major.
Creative Writing Concentration: Students have the opportunity to pursue a Creative Writing Concentration within the English major. The program allows students to specialize in poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction prose. In order to complete the requirements of the Concentration, students take one introductory writing course (either Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry, or Introduction to Creative Writing: Narrative, which includes both fiction and non-fiction) as prerequisite to taking two Intermediate Creative Writing courses, choosing from Intermediate Poetry Workshop, Intermediate Fiction Workshop, and Intermediate Creative Non-fiction Workshop. Majors who complete the three course sequence will have their transcripts certified as having completed the Concentration. Note that the limit of counting two Creative Writing Courses towards the English Major means that Creative Writing Concentrators will take a minimum of 12 courses in English rather than 11.
The English Department Honors Program is designed for selected members of the senior class who have demonstrated excellence and an aptitude for independent research in their studies of English or American literature. Candidates for honors in English, who are admitted to the program in their junior year, must take a course in literary theory and a seminar, in addition to writing a two-semester senior English honors thesis. Only one semester of this thesis may count as a course toward the major. Admission to honors is by invited application to the English Honors Committee in the junior year. Students may be members of both the College Honors Program and the English Honors Program. Such students need write only one English thesis for both programs.
Sigma Tau Delta — the national English honor society, was established at Holy Cross in 1987. Eligible English majors are elected to membership and actively engage in the promotion of English studies.
Advanced Placement Credit: Students with AP credit in English are not awarded credit in the major or advanced placement in the English curriculum.