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Undergraduate Program

Honors Program

The department’s honors program gives our seniors the opportunity to conduct intense and independent work in English literature and language. The program begins in the fall semester with an Honors Seminar, in which all honors students are required to enroll.

In the spring semester, each student completes an honors thesis on a topic of their own choosing. The thesis is ordinarily an extended scholarly or critical essay, but majors in creative writing can submit extended work in prose or poetry as their thesis.

While the fall seminar is intended to prepare and focus students for the in-depth work of writing an honors thesis, the possible topics for theses need in no way be bound to the seminar topic.

All junior English majors are invited to apply.

You may complete the application online. Applications for Fall 2020 are due March 9, 2020. If you have any questions about the honors program, please contact Professor Will Miller at

Fall 2020 Honors Seminar (ENGL 396)

What is Tragedy
Professor William Miller
TR  11:05-12:20 p.m.


This course on tragedy has three parts. The first concentrates on ancient Greek tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles). The second considers the revival of tragedy in early modern England both as a prestigious neoclassical form and as a vehicle for domestic themes traditionally associated with comedy (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dryden). The third takes up the disappearance--or transformation--of tragedy in more recent times (Beckett, Lorca). In addition to primary texts, we will examine a number of important theories of tragedy (Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche, Weil, Benjamin, Arendt). Our readings will be guided by such questions as: what might the story of this genre tell us about the longer history of representation? And how does tragedy illuminate basic problems such as the appeal of violence and vengeance, the role of religion in society, and the difficulty of finding an ethics that works for all people?