Diversity permeates everything that happens in the English Program at Salem — diversity in our people, our backgrounds, our outlooks and in the way we approach literary inquiry. This, coupled with a philosophy of “small classes and large offices,” presents students with an experience that is both intimate and expansive.
The English Program stresses the importance of diversity in all of its endeavors. A traditional class in the works of Milton will also address the writing of women in the 17th century. Each class stays abreast of current literary trends, while also emphasizing how culture and history inform literary productions. Additionally, the program emphasizes women writers and perpetuates an understanding of how race, class and gender continue to affect today’s literature.
Students in the program are smart, socially conscious young women who bring a keen awareness of their obligation to leave the space in which they live better than how they found it. Our students go beyond the role of “learner” and become a “knower.” Several students each year typically graduate with departmental honors, and many participate in such activities as Incunabula—Salem’s literary magazine—as well as Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society.
Professors in the program bring a passion and keen intelligence that is hard to describe. They all are active scholars, have been published and present their work at conferences every year. Rarely are their office doors closed, and they embrace the fact that their job never ends with the end of a class period. They find new and creative ways to ignite the spark of curiosity in each of their students.
Graduates of the program are in great demand because of their ability to write well, think critically and effectively interpret written communication. They are sought after by graduate schools and law schools, and often teach in public schools, community colleges and four-year colleges. You will also find recent graduates working for non-profit organizations, as editors, published authors, and several have won national literary awards.
The English department focuses on English and American literary history, including literature by women and by writers from diverse cultures; on skills for reading various kinds of literature with comprehension and delight; on historical, social, intellectual and aesthetic contexts for literature; on skills for writing powerfully, clearly and correctly; and on knowledge of the world and the self that comes through literature and writing. The department also strives to provide a solid foundation for those who wish to teach English at the secondary level and for those who wish to pursue a higher degree.
Salem’s department of English offers both a major and minor in creative writing. See the separate entry for creative writing.
English Major (B.A.)
The major in English requires 11 courses, including one course each from categories I and II, two courses from category III, either ENGL 352 or 399 (offered only in the fall), ENGL 380 (offered only in the spring), and five electives. (Although some courses are listed in two categories, each course may be used to fulfill requirements in only one category.) Appropriate special topics, major authors, or honors courses may be substituted for courses in each category with the permission of the department. Two creative writing courses can be used as electives toward the English major. A maximum of one internship (ENGL 270) can be used as an elective towards the major; typically, a maximum of two independent or two honors independent studies can be used as electives. Any exceptions must be approved by the department.
The minor in English requires the completion of five English courses of which at least four must be literature or theory courses. At least three of the five courses must be completed at Salem.
English Courses (ENGL)
200. Independent Study in English One-quarter to one course
Independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with a 3.0 G.P.A. in the major and permission of the chair of the department. Independent study may take the form of readings, research, and will include a substantial written project. Independent study may be taken for a total of two courses, no more than one in any term.
208. Early-Modern Female Dramatists: Sinners, Saints and Sapphos One course
Theatrical conventions used by English women dramatists during the Restoration and 18th century. Examination of how women playwrights both resisted and upheld the patriarchal dictates of period and how they treated notions of race, class, gender and religious/political affiliation. Spring, alternate years.
211. Advanced Composition One course
Advanced study and practice of the writing process and its rhetorical elements. Discussion of selected literary critical perspectives and samples from fiction. Intensive critical thinking, writing, and reading practiced in workshop atmosphere. Fall, alternate years.
221. Special Topics in English One course
Intensive investigation of a topic or author not studied in depth in traditional courses. The subject matter of the course will be announced prior to the beginning of the course.
223. Modern Drama One course
Major trends in continental, British, and American drama from 1850 to the present. Spring, alternate years.
231. Survey of English Literature, 1370-1789 One course
Selected works of major English writers and important literary movements of the period. Spring, alternate years.
232. Survey of English Literature, 1789-Present One course
Selected works of major English writers and important literary trends of the period. Spring, alternate years.
249. Shakespeare One course
The tragedies and later comedies. Fall, alternate years.
270. Internship in English One course
The opportunity to use the knowledge and skills that the English major/minor has learned through coursework in a real setting. The apprenticeship aspect of the internship implies that the students will increase her knowledge and skills by direct contact with an experienced mentor. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with at least a 3.0 average in the major; no more than one internship can count towards English electives; admission only by application.
288. Women Writers, 1900-Present One course
A study of the novels, short stories, poetry and essays of notable women authors such as Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, Isak Dinesen and Adrienne Rich. Spring, alternate years.
290. Honors Independent Study in English One course
Advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 G.P.A. in English, subject to the approval of the chair of the department. Honors Independent Study may be taken for a maximum of two courses.
292. American Literature before 1870 One course
Major American writers to about 1870. Emphasis on such writers as Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville and Whitman. Spring, alternate years.
293. The Culture of African American Literature One course
African American writings of the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Using a backdrop of social history, the course will investigate how African American writers discursively depict class, racial and gender/sexual oppression and privilege in a radical effort to problematize “American” individualism. Readings will include slave narratives, prose of the Reconstruction writers, fiction of the Harlem Renaissance, literature of the War eras and literature of the Black Arts Movement, as well as contemporary fiction. Fall, alternate years.
294. American Literature from 1870 to the Present One course
Major American writers and their contributions to an evolving American literature. Studying representatives of American realism, naturalism and modernism. Mainstream as well as minority writers discussed. Spring, alternate years.
295. Selected Southern Writers One course
Influential Southern writers from Kate Chopin to the present with emphasis on writers of the twentieth century, such as Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty and Robert Penn Warren. Fall, alternate years.
298. Twentieth-Century American Poetry One course
A study of important trends in American poetry from 1900 to the present with emphasis on Frost, Bishop, Williams, Ammons and Rich. Spring, alternate years.
315. Major British and American Writers One course
An intensive study of the works of one or two important American or British writers. Emphasis on themes, style and artistic development of each writer. Fall, alternate years.
316. History of the English Language One course
Study of the historical development of English. Offered as a conference course. Spring, alternate years.
320. Contemporary American Fiction One course
American fiction since World War II. Close reading, class discussion and writing about post-modernist, experimental as well as realistic fiction. Includes selections from both ethnic and women writers. Fall, alternate years.
325. Global Literature: Modern Writings from Women of the Non-Western World One course
This course endeavors to guide students to a critical analysis of literature from cultures outside of the Euro-American literary tradition. Using selected texts, students will become familiar with female authors and their works, which will represent literature from multiple countries and multiple voices within them. The course will be designed to provide students with a foundational understanding of the historical, political, social and cultural conditions that influenced the development and production of the literature addressed.
341. The Romantic Era, 1786-1832 One course
Social and aesthetic ideas of the period in the poetry and prose of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats. Fall, alternate years.
346. The Victorian Era, 1832-1900 One course
Poetry and prose of the chief Victorian writers with consideration of the political, religious and social problems of the period as they are exhibited in the literature. Spring, alternate years.
347. The Twentieth Century American Novel One course
A study of the American novel before World War II. Emphasis on modernist experimentation and social realism in fiction. Selections from male, female and ethnic writers. Fall, alternate years.
348. The Rise of the Female Novelist, 1684-1900 One course
An examination of the rise of the female novelist in England with an emphasis on how women writers crafted their writings to produce idealized depictions of gender and sexuality, nation, race and class. Emphasis on how Anglo women writers generated a new version of “true womanhood” that was class- and race-specific and dependent upon racial and social “others.” Fall, alternate years.
349. Multi-Cultural Literature in the United States One course
A study of selected contemporary writers representative of Native American, African American, Asian American and Hispanic American literatures. Focus on close reading, discussion and writing about individual texts in their specific social, historical, cultural and aesthetic contexts. Consideration of the impact ethnic writing has on the canon of American literature. Spring, alternate years.
352. Milton and Seventeenth-Century Culture One course
An examination of Milton’s major and minor poetry and prose in the context of revolution and the Civil Wars. Topics will include early-modern gender and race relations, educational bias, political power and colonial and imperial authority. Along with Milton’s work, we will read women’s texts to investigate how they altered and influenced revolution. Fall, alternate years.
380. Senior Seminar One course
This seminar will involve a sustained exploration of a literary topic, which could include a literary period, genre or the oeuvre of a specific author. Students will undertake extensive primary and secondary reading on the specified topic. The outcome of this reading will be an independent research project that the student will develop into a major paper (or thesis). In conjunction with the department members, the professor teaching the course will determine the course topic. This course is required of English majors. Enrollment limited to seniors.
399. Introduction to Contemporary Literary Theory One course
Introduction to literary theories developed since the early 20th century: structuralism, deconstruction, new historicism, cultural materialism, Marxist, reader-response, psychoanalytic, feminist and postcolonial criticism among others. In depth study of major theoretical concepts and their application to specific literary texts. Intensive reading, writing and seminar discussion format. Recommended for all English majors. Fall, alternate years.
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