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English Department changes requirements

Prospective and declared English majors met with department
faculty on Tuesday to learn about the new major requirements.

Cynthia Scheinberg, chair of the English department, informed
students of the new major requirements and addressed questions and
concerns for students who have already declared as an English
major, but are considering the possibility of switching to the new

The changes resulted from departmental review in conjunction
with student and faculty critiques.

In addition to the previously reported option of Shakespeare or
the Bible as Literature, the new requirements also include the
Introduction to Literature course-a new class geared to providing
the basic background information English majors need, with poetry,
drama, and fiction as well as thesis writing and terminology used
in literary criticism. Scheinberg said students switching to the
new major should take this class, to be offered every fall and
spring, as soon as possible.

English majors must still take three survey courses, with the
new option of Survey of African American Literature and the new
requirement that two of the surveys must be in historical and
national sequence, a senior thesis seminar in literature or
creative writing, and six credits planned with an advisor along a
specific focus or theme which may include relevant literature
courses from other departments. Three of these credits must be
workshops for creative writing students.

“Students are going to have to take more responsibility for
their studies, but you’ll also have more freedom,” Scheinberg said.
“Think about the notion of getting to shape a field for yourself
when you think about switching.”

She said that students who have already declared but want to
switch won’t be required to take the survey courses in sequence.
She encouraged everyone to meet with an English advisor about the
best choice depending on credits already accumulated, especially if
undeclared but considering English.

Professor Ruth Saxton said, “We’re preparing you in different
ways now.”

Classes for the old major requirements are still being offered,
but Scheinberg said students may see some changes in what courses
are offered when.

Yalitza Ferreras, an undeclared freshwoman planning on majoring
in English, said she liked the new requirements. “It seems like it
allows for more of a focus in what you want to do. It’s a good idea
they’re making students take the survey courses in order even
though it’s harder, it’s better for us,” Ferreras said.

Major requirements for graduation are governed by the catalog at
the time a student declares her major. Students who are undeclared
will need to declare before the end of the semester if they wish to
remain under the old requirements.