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Special Programs


Honors Program

The English Honors program is designed for students of demonstrated critical ability and commitment.  Students in the English Honors Program spend the senior year working closely with a faculty advisor in order to research and write an Honors Thesis, a scholarly essay of about 60-70 pages.  Graduates with Honors degrees in English are well prepared for a number of post-graduate careers, including not only graduate study in English, but also working in publishing, journalism, advertising, the law and anywhere else where analytic ability and strong writing skills are valued.

Honors Program Requirements:

  • Students wishing to enter the honors program must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30, and a major GPA of at least 3.50, and will take a minimum of eleven courses in the English department (including the two independent studies devoted to thesis work).
  • By May 1 of the junior year, the student must submit a preliminary proposal endorsed by a faculty mentor, to Dr. Alec Marsh, the Director of the Honors Program.  This proposal should be roughly 3-5 double-spaced pages and must include a working bibliography of primary and secondary resources.
  • A more detailed prospectus and bibliography, developed during the fall semester of independent study, must be submitted by November 15 to the Honors Committee, who will decide whether the student may proceed with the Honors Program.  Students who are not cleared to pursue honors instead finish out the fall semester as a simple independent study with no further commitment.
  • Honors students present their work at a public forum, usually in mid to late April, submit their work to their advisors and two additional faculty readers by May 1 of the senior year, and defend it in a year-end conversation with these three faculty members, who determine the degree of honors to be awarded (none, honors, high, or highest).


We have included here four examples of Honors Theses by recent graduates in English.

Meghan Winch, 2006:
     "Aunt Pidgie can tell you a thing or two":
     Reading Molly Keane Through the Forgotten Plays
Meghan Winch’s “‘Aunt Pidgie can tell you a thing or two’”: Reading Molly Keane through the Forgotten Plays” recovers six of the Irish writer’s plays and examines how they relate to the performative aspect of her better known novels. Winch’s correspondence with Molly Keane’s daughter, her original research and discoveries, and her analysis of the steady growth in power of the maiden aunt figure in these works help to illuminate Keane’s career and highlight her shifting views and ideals.

Matthew Moore, 2004:
Matt Moore’s “‘Terrible Beauty’: Postcolonialism, Modernism, and the Fate of Tragedy in the Abbey Theatre 1897-1907” explores the relationship between two seemingly incompatible aesthetic movements – Modernism and Postcolonialism – in the political context of their emergence in the Irish nation. Moore analyzes the work of three members of the Celtic Revival: W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn. He then traces the response to this work embodied in J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (1907).

Sarah Kersh, 2003:
     Paradise Revised:
     Christina Rossetti, H.D. and Problems with Poetic Tradition
In “Paradise Revised: Christina Rossetti, H. D., and Problems with Poetic Tradition,” Sarah Kersh contributes to feminist studies that construct a history, or her-story, of female poets, emphasizing the major role women poets played in shaping the literary canon. Her study focuses on Rossetti’s revisionist poetics and her influence on the Modernist work of HD. Both writers challenge a number of traditional figurative sites used by male poets – especially landscape and the image of the garden.  

Jackie Starner, 2008:
     Shelley and Plato:
     Metaphysical Formulations
In “Shelley and Plato: Metaphysical Formulations,” Jackie Starner examines how Percy Shelley consciously incorporates Plato’s philosophy in imagining important early works like Alastor and “Mont Blanc” and then reworks Plato’s metaphysical ideas in later poems such as “To a Sky-Lark,” Adonais, and the unfinished fragment, The Triumph of Life. In both his poetry and prose writings, Shelley assimilates but radically rethinks Plato’s philosophy in Ion and The Symposium to create his own metaphysical view.  


Teacher Certification

Students seeking certification for the teaching of English in secondary schools are required to take the following nine courses in fulfillment of their English major. A student who chooses ENG 277 or 278 Nationalism, Romanticism, & American Literature or ENG 338 or 339 City, Frontier, & Empire in American Literature to fulfill both the nineteenth century and American literature requirements must enroll for an additional course numbered 300 or greater to fulfill the nine-course minimum.

  • ENG 275 Theory & Methods of English Studies
  • One elective in American literature drawn from: ENG 271 or 272, 273, 277 or 278, 338 or 339, 349 or 350, 356 or 357
  • One course in Nineteenth Century literature drawn from: ENG 202, 206, 212, 214, 277 or 278, 329 or 330, 331 or 333, 338 or 339, 378 or 379, 391 or 392.
  • One writing process or theory course: ENG 240 or 241, 245 or 246, 298
  • ENG 247 or 248 Shakespeare or ENG 321 or 322: Shakespeare Reproduced
  • One additional Genealogies course drawn from: ENG 216, 313 or 314, 315 or 316, 323 or 324, 325 or 326
  • One course in a literature other than British or American: ENG 217, 340 or 341, 343 or 344, 345 or 346, 375, or a comparable course offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures
  • ENG 295 or 296 The English Language.
  • ENG 400-449: CUE: Senior Seminar.