Jul 13, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

English Language and Literature

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Prerequisites for Entry into the Department

To declare a major in English, students must achieve a grade of C or better in ENWR 1510 (or the equivalent). In addition, all students must achieve a grade of C or better in an ENLT course—the prerequisite for the English major.

Requirements for Major

Students planning to declare a major in English should first read the booklet English: A Handbook for Majors, available online (www.engl.virginia.edu) and in the Undergraduate English Office (236 Bryan Hall). They should then visit the Director of Undergraduate Studies during office hours. No appointment is required.

For a degree in English, a student must take ten upper-division courses (those numbered 3000 or above). The prerequisite ENLT course is not included among these ten courses. All majors must take the three-semester survey sequence, ENGL 3810, 3820, 3830 (History of Literatures in English). Majors must also take:

  1. Two courses in literature pre-1800 (ENMD, ENRN, or ENEC). Only one of these may be a course in Shakespeare.
  2. One 4000-level seminar in literature.

Students participating in the Distinguished Majors Program are allowed to take five courses in the ENGL category, while students enrolled in an area program (e.g., modern studies) may take a fourth course under an appropriate rubric. Students who elect to take more than 30 credits of English may, of course, go over the nine credit limit in any category in choosing their electives. Normally, only courses numbered through the 5000-level are open to undergraduates.

Majors must maintain at least a 2.000 GPA in their English courses each semester. Students who fail to maintain this average are put on departmental probation. If the problem continues, they may be invited to declare a different major. No course with a grade below C- may be counted toward the major, and a 2.000 average in the major is required in order to graduate.

Transfer of Credits

With approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies, student may transfer up to two courses to the major (no transfer credit is awarded for the minor).  These two courses include those taken at other universities in America or abroad; however, J-term courses, Semester at Sea courses, and summer-only study abroad course will not be granted major credit. As one of the transfer courses, a student may apply for credit after completing a major level course in a foreign literature (either in English or the original language), or a CPLT course at the 2000 level or higher.  Eight of the ten required courses for the English major must be completed in the English department at UVa.

Special Programs in English


Admission to advanced creative writing undergraduate seminars is by permission of the instructor only. Students should apply to the instructor during registration. Students wishing to take Independent Study (ENGL 4993, or ENWR 4993) should apply to the Director of the Undergraduate Studies. Students wishing to write an honors thesis (ENGL 4998-4999) should apply to the director of the Distinguished Majors Program.

Independent Study

Only one semester of independent study (in writing or literature) may be counted toward the English major; students should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the semester before the semester in which they wish to pursue their project.

For students who want to work on an individual critical enterprise under the direction of a faculty member, ENGL 4993 allows considerable flexibility. There are no formal limitations on the project’s nature, as long as a faculty member is willing to direct it and the proposed course of study does not duplicate what is already available in regular courses. The student and faculty member determine the length of the reading list and the nature of the written or oral work required. Students may register for this course only if they have completed four 3000- or 4000-level courses and have a GPA in English of at least 3.300. They should have their projects at least roughly defined when they submit their applications to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Students who wish to pursue an independent project in creative writing may do so under the rubrics ENWR 4993. Once they have found a faculty member who is willing to direct their work, they should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval of their plans. Students who wish to enroll in ENWR 4993 must have completed four 3000- or 4000-level courses and have better than a 3.300 GPA in the major.

Distinguished Majors Program in English

Majors who wish to be considered for a degree with distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction in English are expected to complete at least two 4000-level seminars and the two-semester distinguished majors tutorial (ENGL 4998, 4999). In the tutorial, these students pursue a project of their own devising that they would not have the opportunity to develop in the department’s regularly scheduled courses. The reading requirements for the project are determined by the student and the faculty member who has agreed to direct the enterprise, and each student produces a long essay (approximately 50 pages), carefully revised for final submission to the Honors Committee. In awarding honors, the committee considers: two faculty evaluations of the thesis; the quality of the student’s work in all 4000-level English seminars taken; and the student’s overall performance in the major. Using these criteria, the committee recommends either no distinction, distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction.

Students who wish to be admitted to the Distinguished Majors Program must have a GPA of 3.600 in the major and 3.400 overall, and must submit a formal application to the Director of the Distinguished Majors Program in early April of their third year.

Requirements for Minor

Students wishing to minor in English must complete 18 credits of upper-level English courses (numbered 3000 and above). The 18 credits must include any two semesters of the three-semester survey sequence ENGL 3810, 3820 and 3830, (History of Literatures in English). No more than six credits may be in any one of the following distribution categories: ENMD, ENRN, ENEC, ENNC, ENMC, ENAM, ENCR, ENGN, ENWR, and ENSP. However, students may take all three parts of the core survey (ENGL 3810, 3820, 3830) and apply them to the minor.

The American Studies Program

See description under the American Studies Interdisciplinary Major.

Area Programs in English

The English department’s area programs are interdisciplinary in focus and offer majors the opportunity to examine the interrelationships between literature and history, religion, philosophy, and the fine arts. Each area program has its own formal requirements, but all of them ask the student to take courses both in the English department and in other departments of the University. All of them include special seminars and colloquia—sometimes limited to students enrolled in the area program—that are expressly designed to help students formulate methods of interdisciplinary study and synthesize material from other areas.

The area programs currently offered are Medieval/Renaissance studies and Modern Studies. These programs are very demanding and may require more credits than the regular English major. Students should apply to them no later than the end of their second year. A full description of each programs requirements and the names of their current directors may be found in English: A Handbook for Majors.

The Area Program in Poetry Writing

The Area Program in Poetry Writing allows talented undergraduate writers to pursue serious study of the craft of poetry writing within the contexts of the English major and of an interdisciplinary curriculum individually tailored to nurture and inspire each student’s particular work and developing aesthetic. The program is a two-year course of study; students apply in the spring semester of their second year. Along with declaring an English major, students must take 30 credits of courses in English, including ENGL 3830 and either ENGL 3810 or 3820; 12 credits of upper-level (3000 or above) poetry writing courses or independent studies; two poetry writing area program seminars (ENPW 4820); and either Shakespeare or one pre-1800 course in English at the 3000-level or above. A poetics course is recommended as well, when offered. The student may also (but is not required to) apply to the Distinguished Majors Program in English and submit a thesis for honors.

The Poetry Thesis Program is modeled on the Distinguished Majors Thesis option already in place in the English Department, and will be administered by the Director of the Distinguished Majors program in cooperation with the Director of Creative Writing. It is a year-long course—a directed poetry writing project for students in the English Department’s Undergraduate Area Program in Poetry Writing, leading to completion of a manuscript of poems and an accompanying essay. Both semesters of the course are required for honors candidates, and the students will be graded on a year-long basis.

Additional Information

For more information, contact Ms. Pam Marcantel, Undergraduate Secretary, 236 Bryan Hall, P.O. Box 400121, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4121; (434) 924-7887; Fax: (434) 924-1478; mpm3a@virginia.edu; www.engl.virginia.edu.

Course Descriptions

Introductory Seminars in Literature

These courses are designed primarily for first- and second-year students interested in becoming English majors and for non-majors at all levels. The purpose of the ENLT series is to introduce students to the aims, methods, and skills involved in reading literature and in writing about it. All ENLT courses fulfill the second writing requirement.

Upper Division Courses in English

The following courses are designed primarily for English majors and for students who have some previous experience or special ability in reading and writing about literature.

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