English, as a discipline, stresses the intensive study of writers and their works in literary, cultural, and historical contexts. It is keyed to the appreciation and analysis of literary language, through which writers compose and organize their poems, stories, novels, plays, and essays. We offer a wide range of courses: introductory courses in literary skills; more advanced courses in influential writers, historical periods, and themes in English, American, and world literatures in English; and numerous courses in creative writing, including screenwriting and creative nonfiction.

Our course offerings strike a balance between great authors of past centuries and emerging fields of study. We teach courses on topics ranging from literature and memory to Asian-American Literature to the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. We emphasize analysis and argument in paper-writing, critical thinking, and literary research, and we foster and develop a deep, complex, passionate response to literature.

Courses at the 100 level presume no previous college experience in literary study. They provide good introductions to such study because of their subject matter or their focus on the skills of critical reading. ENG 120 (Critical Interpretation) and ENG 121 (A Survey of English Literature) are open to all students, but are primarily designed for prospective English majors. The course trains students in the skills of critical reading and writing. 200-level literature courses are open to all students without prerequisite. They treat major writers and historical periods, and provide training in making comparisons and connections among different works, writers, and ideas. 300-level literature courses encourage both students and instructors to pursue their special interests. They presume a greater overall competence, together with some previous experience in the study of literature. They are normally open to juniors and seniors who have taken two literature courses in the department, at least one of which must be 200 level, and by permission of the instructor to other qualified students. For independent work (ENG 350), students with at least a 3.33 GPA in courses in the department will have first consideration. Students are encouraged to confer with the instructors of courses in which they are interested. Students should consult the more complete descriptions of all courses, composed by their instructors and available from the department academic administrator.

The English department also offers beginning and advanced courses in poetry (ENG 202 and ENG 302), in fiction (ENG 203 and ENG 301), in children’s literature (ENG 205), and in screenwriting (CAMS 204/ENG 204 and CAMS 308/ENG 308) and writing for television (CAMS 208/ENG 208). A literary nonfiction writing course (ENG 206) covers different genres (for example, reviewing the arts, travel writing, personal essay, and memoir). The Theatre Studies department offers an introductory playwriting course (THST 221). These courses are open to all Wellesley College students. Creative writing courses are taught mandatory credit/noncredit.