english

The English major teaches students to appreciate and use the English language and literature effectively for critical thinking, effective communication, citizenship, and career success. English majors build strong writing skills and engage in high-level critical and analytical thinking. They encounter enriching, enduring, experimental, and complex works of literature. And they grapple with perspectives far distant from their own, examining their deepest values. Instructors introduce students to a wide range of genres and cultural perspectives, and pay close attention to all aspects of student thinking and writing, from logic and evidence to originality and style. Fostering communication skills, stimulating creativity, developing cultural sensitivity, and sharpening analytical abilities, the English major prepares students for a broad range of careers.

English majors choose one of three tracks: the general major (which emphasizes literary and cultural studies), creative writing, or language and linguistics. All majors take a core curriculum that introduces them to a range of approaches to literature and language, including courses in literary and cultural history. Students who opt for the general major build on core courses with intermediate and advanced classes that focus on texts from across a range of periods and places, investigating literature and culture using multiple methods and approaches. Students pursuing the emphasis on creative writing take the core curriculum with a sequence of creative writing workshops. Students wishing to emphasize language and linguistics choose options in grammar, the history of the English language, phonology, and language acquisition.

Teaching Major

Those who wish to prepare for teaching careers at the secondary level should complete the undergraduate English major and then apply for a teaching certificate or graduate education program. For further information, students should make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor in English or the graduate advisor in curriculum and instruction.

Information about the English major can be found on the department website and also in the department office, 7195 Helen C. White Hall. Students interested in declaring the major should schedule an appointment with Dr. Karen Redfield, the undergraduate advisor. Students must complete 6 credits of introductory literature before they declare, but are welcome to meet with the advisor at any time. These 6 credits must carry the “L” breadth designation, regardless of the subject in which they are taken.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

30 credits in intermediate- and advanced-level ENGL courses numbered 204 and higher.1

English (literature)

Survey of Literature
ENGL 241 Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century3
ENGL 242 Literature and Culture II: from the 18th Century to the Present3
American Literature (1 course)3
Vladimir Nabokov: Russian and American Writings
American Literary Cultures
Literature by American Indian Women
Women in Ethnic American Literature
A Survey of Asian American Literature
Indigenous Literature of the Great Lakes
American Indian Oral Literatures
Colonial and Early Romantic American Literature
Nineteenth-Century American Fiction
Major American Poets
Literature of the American Renaissance
Modern and Contemporary American Literature
American Fiction since 1900
The American Short Story
Chicana/o and Latina/o Literatures
African and African Diaspora Literature and Culture
Topic in Early American Literature and Culture
A Study of an Outstanding Figure or Figures in American Literature
Topic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture
Topic in American Literature and Culture since 1900
Major American Writer or Writers
Three American Novelists
Topics in Ethnic and Multicultural Literature
Race and Sexuality in American Literature
Asian American Women Writers
Asian American Poetry
Contemporary American Indian Literature Since 1953
Topic in Contemporary Literature
Feminist Theory and Women's Writing in English
Literature of Jewish Identity in America
Selected Topics in Afro-American Literature
Pre-1800 course (two course)6
You may take one (only) Shakespeare course:
Shakespearean Drama
Shakespearean Drama
Early Works of Shakespeare
Later Works of Shakespeare
Old English
You must take at least one course that is not Shakespeare:
Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture
Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture
Stage and Page in the Long Eighteenth Century
Eighteenth-Century Novel
The Anglo-Saxons
Outstanding Figure(s) in Literature before 1800
Topic in Medieval Literature and Culture
Medieval Drama
Medieval Romance
Chaucers Courtly Poetry
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Topic in Early Modern Literature and Culture
Spenser
Milton
Topic in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture
Advanced Old English Literature
Topic in Travel Writing before 1800
ENGL 245 Seminar in the Major3
Language or Composition & Rhetoric (1 course)3
Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy
The English Language
Composition & Rhetoric In and Beyond the University
Advanced Composition
Seminar on Tutoring Writing Across the Curriculum
Writing in Workplaces
Writing Internship
Topics in Composition and Rhetoric
Electives9
any course from ENGL 204-699 1
Total Credits30

English Language and Linguistics

NOTE:  This is a track and will not appear on the transcript.

An optional emphasis on English language and linguistics is available to the interested L&S undergraduate who wishes to combine a background in literature with a concentration of courses in the history and structure of the English language. The major requirements are distributed as follows:

Survey of Literature
ENGL 241 Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century3
ENGL 242 Literature and Culture II: from the 18th Century to the Present3
American Literature (1 course)3
Vladimir Nabokov: Russian and American Writings
American Literary Cultures
Literature by American Indian Women
Women in Ethnic American Literature
A Survey of Asian American Literature
Indigenous Literature of the Great Lakes
American Indian Oral Literatures
Colonial and Early Romantic American Literature
Nineteenth-Century American Fiction
Major American Poets
Literature of the American Renaissance
Modern and Contemporary American Literature
American Fiction since 1900
The American Short Story
Chicana/o and Latina/o Literatures
African and African Diaspora Literature and Culture
Topic in Early American Literature and Culture
A Study of an Outstanding Figure or Figures in American Literature
Topic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture
Topic in American Literature and Culture since 1900
Major American Writer or Writers
Three American Novelists
Topics in Ethnic and Multicultural Literature
Race and Sexuality in American Literature
Asian American Women Writers
Asian American Poetry
Contemporary American Indian Literature Since 1953
Topic in Contemporary Literature
Feminist Theory and Women's Writing in English
Literature of Jewish Identity in America
Selected Topics in Afro-American Literature
ENGL 245 Seminar in the Major3
ENGL 214 The English Language3
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL 315 English Phonology3
ENGL 514 English Syntax3
or ENGL 516 English Grammar in Use
Electives6
any course from ENGL 204–699 1
Total Credits30

Emphasis on Creative Writing Named Option

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all ENGL courses and all major courses

2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major, taken in residence2

15 credits in ENGL, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Thesis of Distinction

Students majoring in English who are not completing Honors in the Major may choose to complete a two semester senior thesis project.  Thesis of Distinction is granted for an exceptionally well written thesis in ENGL 691 Senior ThesisENGL 692 Senior Thesis and requires the recommendation of both the sponsoring faculty member and the honors coordinator. For further information consult the department advisor or the honors coordinator.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the English Major in consultation with the English undergraduate advisor. To be eligible to declare Honors in the English Major, students must:

  • Complete ENGL 241 Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century, ENGL 242 Literature and Culture II: from the 18th Century to the Present, or ENGL 243 American Literary Cultures
  • Complete one additional course in the major
  • Have completed at least 6 credits in the Department of English
  • Have established a 3.500 GPA for all ENGL courses

Honors in the English Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in English, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all ENGL 204 through ENGL 699 courses and courses counting in the major
  • Complete 12 credits, taken for Honors, with a grade of B or better to include:
    • ENGL 245 Seminar in the Major or ENGL 381 Sophomore Honors: Research Methods in English
    • ENGL 481 Junior Honors Seminar in the Major, and
    • Either a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in ENGL 681 Senior Honors Thesis in the Major and ENGL 682 Senior Honors Thesis in the Major for a total of 6 credits or ENGL 680 Honors Project 

Honors in the English Major Requirements, Creative WRiting option

To earn Honors in the Major in English–Creative Writing Option, students must satisfy the Option requirements (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all ENGL courses and courses counting in the major
  • Complete Sophomore Honors-Research Methods (for Honors) with a grade of B or better: ENGL 245 Seminar in the Major or ENGL 381 Sophomore Honors: Research Methods in English
  • Complete ENGL 481 Junior Honors Seminar in the Major with a grade of B or better, and
  • One Advanced Level Creative Writing Workshop for Honors, with a grade of B or better: ENGL 407 Creative Writing: Nonfiction Workshop, ENGL 408 Creative Writing: Fiction Workshop, ENGL 409 Creative Writing: Poetry Workshop,ENGL 410 Creative Writing: Playwriting Workshop, ENGL 411 Creative Writing: Special Topics Workshop, ENGL 508 Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction Workshop, ENGL 509 Creative Writing: Advanced Poetry Workshop
  • Directed Creative Writing: ENGL 695

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. (History of literature and language) To demonstrate knowledge of major forms, techniques, social conditions, values, and genres that have shaped the history of English literature and language.

2. (Critical thinking) To be able to discern and integrate divergent and contradictory perspectives, identify and question assumptions, and assess evidence and methods.

3. (Creativity) To generate original ideas and texts, experimenting and taking risks, solving problems, and answering questions in a range of genres and media.

4. (Critical writing) To write original, coherent, and compelling arguments that push beyond summary to analysis and independent and critical thinking in clear prose that meets expectations for grammatical correctness.

5. (Citizenship) To develop empathy by learning about the experiences of others, and to gain an understanding of how we participate in communities (including the classroom) and the public sphere.

ADVISING

Karen Redfield, Undergraduate Advisor
advisor@english.wisc.edu
(608) 263-3760
7195E Helen C. White, 600 North Park Street
English Undergraduate Advising

CAREERS and INTERNSHIP ADVISOR

Career & Internship Coordinator
careers@english.wisc.edu
7195E Helen C. White, 600 North Park Street
English Career Advising

The English department encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after declaring their major. Our career advisor also partners with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to their success.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Faculty

Professors Auerbach, Barry, Begam, Bernard-Donals, Bow, Britland, Castronovo, Dharwadker, Foys, Friedman, Guyer, Hill, Johnson, Keller, Kelley, Kercheval, Mitchell, Olaniyan, Ortiz-Robles, Purnell, Raimy, Sherrard-Johnson, Steele, Wanner, M. Young, R. Young, Yu, Zimmerman

Associate Professors Allewaert, Bearden, Cooper, Olson, Samuels, Trotter, Valenza, Vieira

Assistant Professors Calhoun, Cho, Druschke, Evans, Fawaz, Vareschi, Zweck

Writing Center

The Writing Center, located in 6171 Helen C. White Hall, offers free individualized help with writing. Students are welcome to come to the center for help with writing assignments in almost any course. In half-hour tutorials, instructors help students clarify and organize ideas and offer advice about revising a draft. The center also offers short-term classes on various facets of writing, including classes on writing about literature, writing research papers, writing book reviews, writing essay exams, and on many other topics. The Writing Center also has a computer lab.

To make an appointment, students should call 263-1992 or stop by when the center is open. During busy times of the semester, the center often is booked several days in advance, so students should plan ahead. For complete information about the center, including hours, schedules for writing assistance in the Multicultural Student Center and residence halls, extensive handouts about writing, and information about the Undergraduate Writing Fellows program, see the center website.