First Year Program - English Skip Navigation

English (ENGL)

Chair: M. Davies

The Department of English offers courses in three programs of study, one in literature written in the English language, another in theater, and a third in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Students may pursue majors and minors in all these areas.

An English major develops students’ ability to use language effectively and enhances their critical and analytical skills by making them aware of the social and historical context in which writing, in any of its forms, is produced. English study provides an excellent basis for professional programs in law, journalism, publishing, and business as well as for graduate study in literature, creative writing, or the theater.

Students pursuing one of the majors in the department—in English, in theater, or in English with an emphasis in creative writing—take courses in specified categories described in detail below. There is considerable choice from among the courses that fulfill these requirements, and students should discuss their programs with an adviser in planning a major. English courses also serve as electives for students in other programs. Normally 200-level courses are for first-year and sophomore students; 300-level courses, for sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and 400-level courses, for juniors and seniors. There are a few specified prerequisites for individual courses.

Writing is an important component of coursework. First-year students take English courses because they want to take a course in literature, because they wish to explore English as a possible area of major for their degree, or because they are interested in the programs in creative writing and theater that, at Colgate, are part of the English department.

Students majoring in English literature, as well as those majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing, are required to take ENGL 200, ENGL 201, and a course in postcolonial literatures (may be satisfied by FSEM 164). Several courses in the theater program are currently open to first-year students. Please see the Theater program course offerings.


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ENGL 200, Major British Writers
Works by prominent British writers, from Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century to Seamus Heaney in the twenty-first. The course emphasizes the development of reading and analytical skills. Required of all majors, normally in their first or sophomore year.

ENGL 201, American Texts and Contexts
An introduction to American literature exploring the relations among key texts and various contexts, both critical and historical. The course engages a wide range of issues in American literary history, from the age of discovery through the colonial period and Revolution to debates over slavery and race in the decades before and after the Civil War. The diverse authors studied include Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Ouloudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Mark Twain. Required of all majors, normally in the first or sophomore year.

ENGL 202, Justice/Power-Postcolonial Lit
An introduction to significant debates and texts in the field of postcolonial literatures. This course explores how the field engages with questions of race, gender, sexuality, class, caste, and migration. It considers how writers located in the global south or in the West as migrants navigate their spaces when faced with inequality and marginalization. The course examines both the legacies that empires have left and the nature of new empires that are being constructed.