Literature Option

The English Major's Literature Option gives you the greatest flexibility in pursuing your literary interests. It's the option best suited to most English majors, including those who are thinking of a career in business or law, and those considering graduate study in literature.

Every semester the Department of English offers more than forty sections representing more than two dozen different classes in literature and creative writing (see the Schedule of Classes for the current offerings and the Course Catalog for descriptions).


Foundations of Literary Study (350:308) (offered at least every year and often every semester)

Survey of English Literature I (350:321) (offered at least every year)

Two Pre-1900 classes (several are offered every semester)

One Post-1900 class (several are offered every semester)

One Authors class (several are offered every semester)

One 400-level seminar (at least one is offered every semester)

Five electives, most of them at the 300- or 400-level


We encourage students to take the widest possible range of classes, mixing subjects that already interest you with things you’ve never studied before, combining classic canonical English and American literature (Shakespeare, Milton) with authors and movements that have been largely neglected.

The desire to encourage this sort of intellectual diversity is the reason for the requirements: at least two courses focused on literature before 1900, at least one course focused on literature since 1900, and one class focused on a single author. But reading widely is your responsibility. We encourage you to challenge yourself by taking the widest range of classes you can, from as many professors as possible. All our upper-level classes are taught by internationally recognized scholars, so take advantage of their expertise and study things outside your intellectual comfort zone.

A Four-Year Plan

This is just one way to get through the Literature Option in four years. Those going through the program at a different pace, and those who transfer into Rutgers - Newark, can adjust the timeline to suit their needs.

First Year

Take all required composition classes (including 355:101 and 355:102)

Take two core literature classes (200-level), preferably one each semester

Second Year

Finish any remaining composition requirements as soon as possible

Declare an English major in the department office on the fifth floor of Hill Hall

If you're interested in creative writing, take Introduction to Creative Writing (200:201) to satisfy your core requirement in Arts and Media

Take the two required classes for the English major, Foundations of Literary Study (350:308) and Survey of English Literature I (350:321) as early as your schedule permits

Take one or two additional 300-level literature classes

Third Year

This is your chance to explore your interestsTake the widest possible selection of 300-level classes in subjects 350 and 352

You can count one 300-level creative writing class toward the major's Literature Option.

Fourth Year

Continue the plan from the third year, taking more 300-level classes

If you’ve been taking a range of classes you’ll probably have already satisfied the pre-1900, post-1900, and authors requirements; if not, be sure to do that in your senior year

Take at least one 400-level seminar (selected students have the option of taking a 500-level graduate-level class in place of a 400-level class)

The Fine Print

Only two 200-level literature classes usually count toward the major’s Literature Option. Under special circumstances the department will approve additional 200-level classes. See your adviser before you register.

No more than two creative writing classes count toward the major’s Literature Option. If you're interested in taking more than that, you can either take the Literature & Creative Writing Option, or you can keep the Literature Option as your major and take a minor in creative writing.

Under special circumstances we can count a small number of upper-level courses offered by the departments of African American and African Studies; American StudiesArts, Culture and Media; History; Spanish & Portuguese Studies; and Women's & Gender Studies toward the English major. See your adviser before you register.

The required composition courses (355:101 and 355:102) ) do not count toward the English Major. Upper-level courses offered by the Writing Program (subject code 355) also do not usually count, though you can discuss your options with an adviser in the department.

More Information

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