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Program Overview

NOTE: Students who have declared the English major prior to Winter 2016, you will follow the previous requirements (PDF).

The General Program

Students in the General Program must successfully complete 30 credits in English courses numbered 300 or above. The courses must include: three courses on literature written primarily before 1900, at least one of which must be on literature written primarily before 1642; one course in American literature; one course designated Identity and Difference, and one course of Poetry.

Identity and Difference courses: "These courses ensure that English majors will study literary, rhetorical, and cultural productions originating outside of dominant social groups and formations. Focusing on matters of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, gender, sexuality, and disability, “Identity and Difference” courses raise questions important to a diverse and democratic society about representation, publicity, canonicity, inclusivity, separatism, pluralism, dissent and political struggle."

A list of courses that fulfill a given requirement will be available each term in the Undergraduate Course Information section of this website.

Learning Goals for an Undergraduate Major in English Language and Literature

The University of Michigan’s English department, like other English departments in the U.S., has long been called upon to pursue four different projects: to survey and analyze the broad range of texts in the English language; to study the history of that language: to foster creative as well as critical writing; and to study and teach composition.  To be sure, as the profession of literary studies has developed over the past century, all four of these endeavors have undergone shifts in emphasis. Historical philology has been supplemented by literary interpretation; literary history has been enriched by theory, by the critical study of culture, by the methods and approaches of other disciplines; the study of language has embraced the vitality of real speaking communities, past and present; creative writing, commonly thought of as fiction and poetry, has expanded to include creative non-fiction, drama, film, and even performance; composition studies have looked closely at the socio-cultural and cognitive aspects of the writing process.  Even as we seek to respond to these ongoing developments in our field, and the debates they generate, we continue to maintain our commitment to all four of these endeavors.  Indeed, we consider them to be the basis not only of our rich intellectual life, and of our excellence as a research faculty, but also of our success as a teaching faculty serving large numbers of students in the College and the University.

The undergraduate major in English Language and Literature asks students to achieve:

  • Breadth of knowledge
    A broad critical understanding of literary culture, including canons, alternative canons, and critical histories of literatures in English; the variety of critical perspectives on literature; the history and theory of language; the history and theory of genres (or literary modes); modes of production; and the connection between literary culture and socio/historical contexts.
  • Depth of knowledge
    Mastery of a coherent body of more specialized knowledge that the student helps to formulate.
  • Heightened awareness of language as a medium
    The skills needed to recognize, analyze, and appreciate rhetorical, poetic, and other uses and functions of language; to produce close and critical readings of a wide variety of texts; to write clearly and effectively in a variety of modes; to develop and articulate a persuasive argument in speech and in writing; and, for some, to write creatively in various genres.